Padres lookahead: a season for building

Dylan Burke

 

 SAN DIEGO– The 2011 Padres finished the season in last place for the second time in the last four seasons with a record of 71-91.  The team has missed out on the playoffs now for five consecutive seasons.

The change is certainly here for the Padres; their general manager, Jed Hoyer, is now inChicago; their closer, Heath Bell, signed with the Marlins and their ace starting pitcher, Mat Latos is now with the Cincinnati Reds. However, the Padres have added to their team starting with a new general manager, Josh Byrnes. Barnes in his short amount of time as the team’s GM has acquiredHuston   Streetfrom the Colorado Rockies and Carlos Quentin from the Chicago White Sox.

In this fan’s opinion, Quentin should be able to provide the power in the lineup the Padres lacked in last year. Street will be the Padres’ newest closer filling in the role that Heath Bell had and before him Trevor Hoffman.

The Padres’ strength has always been good pitching and a ‘lights out’ bullpen; if the Padres want to have a successful season it is imperative they keep up their solid pitching performance.

Last year the Padres ranked third in runs, only scoring 593. They also hit the fewest home runs–91– among any other team in baseball.

Byrnes has made many moves that baseball fans can admire and Padres fans can believe in.  First baseman Yonder Alonso was acquired in the Latos deal withCincinnati, and the Padres have high hopes for the young prospect, who will have to earn his way into the starting lineup.

Jesus Guzman and Kyle Blanks both play first base. The Padres also welcome back Mark Kotsay who was a Padre in the 2002 season. He is an option player who may see a lot of time at first base should Blanks and Guzman get hurt. Kotsay is also expected to play the role as team leader.

The key players returning this season are Chase Headley, Jason Bartlett and Orlando Hudson. Although these three didn’t have the seasons the Padres expected they would have,  they’re hoping for more production this year.

Bud Black is the returning skipper. Black has been with the team for the last five seasons, has once won the NL Manager of the Year award and has a record of 388-423.

Although the team according to Las Vegas is expected to win just slightly over 70 games this year and finish in last place, many fans are finding some hope because the franchise has the best-ranked farm team in baseball and perhaps that young talent will find its way on the field in the next few years, making the Padres a force to be reckoned with.

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News editor Burke may be contacted at [email protected]