This is part of a series of posts in which we call out all 30 teams for their wily offseason moves and tragic offseason blunders.
Despite the team’s logo, the Padres rarely make waves in the offseason, usually standing pat or filling what holes arise with reasonably priced free-agents until a prospect from their own system is ready to take over.
This year has been more of the same.
Faced with a gaping hole at third base that they struggled to fill all last season and never really found the answer for, the Padres moved quickly, trading their starting second baseman Josh Barfield to the Indians for major-league ready third base prospect Kevin Kouzmanoff.
This seemed to leave the Padres with an equally gaping hole at second, but the Friars had an ace up their sleeves in the form of free agent second baseman Marcus Giles, formerly of the Braves, who desperately wanted to play alongside his brother Brian, and wasn’t going to waste too much time haggling over his contract.
Meanwhile, the Padres pulled off a minor coup by signing Greg Maddux away from the archrival Dodgers, who seemed strangely uninterested in retaining the future Hall of Famer, and don’t even have to give up any draft picks thanks to Ned Colletti’s mysterious decision not to offer Maddux arbitration.
The Padres picked up another Dodgers castoff in outfielder Jose Cruz, Jr. to replace departed fan-favorite Dave Roberts in left field, and opted to allow catcher Mike Piazza to leave as a free agent after a breakthrough season at the plate by the much younger backup, Josh Bard.
Most recently, the Padres re-signed 44-year-old control artist David Wells to a low-risk, incentive-laden contract to hold down the fifth spot in the rotation while hot pitching prospect Tim Stauffer matures in AAA.
Overall, the Padres return a team very similar to the one that won the National League West Division in 2006. Maddux should approximate Woody Williams’ numbers, Marcus Giles can be expected to provide a similar offensive contribution to Josh Barfield, and the rookie Kouzmanoff should at least equal the anemic production of the 5-headed monster the Padres tried at third base last season (Vinny Castilla, Todd Walker, Mark Bellhorn, Geoff Blum, and Russ Branyan). Bard may not quite approach Piazza’s numbers once he is exposed to the league as an everyday starter, but the Padres can reasonably expect increased production out of developing young players like Khalil Greene and Adrian Gonzalez.
Although the Padres were not able to acquire the big bat fans were hoping for to bolster a weak offensive attack, history has shown that a strong offense is not necessary to win at Petco Park, which is perhaps the best pitchers park in the game. Wisely, the Padres have been quietly assembling one of the best starting rotations in baseball over the past few years and the Maddux and Wells signings ensure that the starting staff will once again be a strength.
Overall, the Padres have done just barely enough to give themselves a reasonable shot of repeating as champions in what most people agree is baseball’s weakest division.
Offseason Grade: B
Greg Maddux, Marcus Giles, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Jose Cruz Jr., Heath Bell, Royce Ring
Mike Piazza, Dave Roberts, Josh Barfield, Woody Williams, Ryan Klesko, Alan Embree, Jon Adkins, Scott Williamson, Ben Johnson
Projected Lineup, Rotation, and Closer
2B Marcus Giles – .262/.341/.387, 11 HR
CF Mike Cameron – .268/.355/.482, 22 HR
RF Brian Giles – .263/.374/.397, 14 HR
1B Adrian Gonzalez – .304/.362/.500, 24 HR
SS Khalil Greene – .245/.320/.427, 15 HR
C Josh Bard – .333/.404/.522, 9 HR
LF Jose Cruz, Jr. – .233/.353/.381, 5 HR
3B Kevin Kouzmanoff – .379/.437/.656, 22 HR (combined 2006 AA/AAA stats)
RHP Jake Peavy – 11-14, 4.09
RHP Chris Young – 11-5, 3.46
RHP Greg Maddux – 15-14, 4.20
RHP Clay Hensley – 11-12, 3.71
LHP David Wells – 3-5, 4.42
CL Trevor Hoffman – 46 SV, 2.14