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Around the division: The offseason of the San Diego Padres

If I had won the Mega Millions jackpot the other night, this picture would have been on several billboards around the San Diego area.
If I had won the Mega Millions jackpot the other night, this picture would have been on several billboards around the San Diego area.

The Giants acquired Miguel Tejada this offseason. Thus endeth the offseason roster-building. And, hey, that’s kind of a good thing. The players the Giants wanted to keep were kept, with the exception of a certain middle infielder who previously inhabited a revered spot in the universe before becoming irrevocably corrupt, like Satan or Eric Clapton. Other than that, the Giants’ front office waited for the ink to dry on Tejada’s contract, and they hit the links. Good for them. Burrell is back. Everyone else is back. That’s all most of us wanted, especially considering that Jayson Werth and Carl Crawford can now afford to buy a former Soviet republic or three.

Other teams weren’t so boring lucky. So this is the first of a look at the rest of the division. Did the Giants’ division rivals improve? Deprove? There should really be a better antonym for "improve" than "worsen." I’ll go with "deprove" and see if it catches on because I’m a trendsetter.

First up, the San Diego Padres:


Jason Bartlett
Aaron Harang
Brad Hawpe
Orlando Hudson
Cameron Maybin
Dustin Moseley
Minor leaguers in the Adrian Gonzalez deal who probably won’t contribute this year


Adrian Gonzalez
Adrian Gonzalez
Jon Garland
Kevin Correia
Adrian Gonzalez
Tony Gwynn, Jr.
Ryan Webb
Adrian Gonzalez
David Eckstein
Edward Mujica
Adrian Gonzalez
Yorvit Torrealba
Miguel Tejada
Adrian Gonzalez

There are a lot of moves I like. A healthy Aaron Harang is a perfect fit for Petco – he’s absolutely an improvement over Jon Garland. I like the idea of snagging Cameron Maybin when his value is down. Orlando Hudson and Jason Bartlett are tremendous defensive upgrades, and they don’t have to do a lot to improve on the hitting from the middle infielders last year. Even though there’s a chance that Brad Hawpe is going to field first base like Adam Dunn would field shortstop, Hawpe has been good for an OPS+ over 120 for the four years prior to last season. There’s a chance he isn’t finished, and that he can go Huff on the NL. I can make arguments for almost every player.

But, man. Adrian Gonzalez. Gone. For a package that is okay, I guess, when you squint. If the Padres had made all of the above moves – bringing in a new middle infield, getting Hawpe as a power outfield bat, signing a flyball/strikeout pitcher like Harang – and kept Gonzalez? The Padres would have done a ton to improve their chances. As is, a Gonzalez-free team is going to score 500 runs. Maybe 400. Possibly twelve, and all of those in one Zito start.

The Padres didn’t have to trade Gonzalez now. They chose to. They figured that if they waited until the middle of the season and the team was contending, it would have been a PR nightmare to deal him then. They figured they had to get prospects back for him now, and that’s understandable. And it’s fantastic. Because while the Rockies are busy bringing wheelbarrows of cash to their fan-favorites, the Padres are trying to get by with the 2008 Giants. But Randy Winn is such a fantastic defender! And Fred Lewis’s’s UZR! And Omar Vizquel is great up the middle! And…oh, god, we don’t have to watch them bat, do we?

Maybe the Padres can contend again. After all, Fangraphs has Gonzalez as a 5-win player, and it’s conceivable that Bartlett, Hudson, and Hawpe, combined with some improvement from Chase Headley and Ryan Ludwick, could make up those wins. Maybe the Padres will scour the prep school lacrosse ranks for more relievers, and we’ll watch Daniel Pemberton, Mike Jakes, Chance Danders, and Adam Adams combine for 200 innings of sub-2.00 relief. The Padres might be the same annoying-yet-talented team that gives the Giants fits. Maybe they didn't deprove.

But no more Adrian Gonzalez. He gone. That is, without a doubt, the best news of the offseason. The Padres are still a smart organization, but they couldn’t keep their best player because of money. You aren’t smiling because you’re a ghoul who is lapping up the schadenfreude; you’re smiling because you can appreciate beauty. Okay, and maybe a little schadenfreude. Heh. It tastes like truffle butter.