The San Deigo Padres currently have the worst record in all of baseball, at 38-62. And yet as of this writing they haven’t made any significant moves toward rebuilding the team, and are still acting as if they are trying to contend.
It’s time to get a move on that rebuilding, as the Padres are not going to be contending any time soon if they stand pat.
What the Padres need to do is build a team that can play well in their ballpark. This means building teams the way the Dodgers used to do back when Dodger Stadium was the game’s greatest pitcher’s park.
The Padres should focus on defense. They especially need to find outfielders who can cover the big gaps in the outfield at Petco, and especially in center field. Losing Mike Cameron after last season was a huge blow to the pitching staff.
On offense the Padres should focus on acquiring or developing hitters with skills that won’t be as affected by the big outfield. Hitters who draw a lot of walks, hit line drives, and hopefully have some speed. The Padres should not pay an extra premium to get hitters who hit a lot of home runs in other parks, because a lot of that value will be lost at Petco.
Similarly, when it comes to pitching the Padres should look for pitchers with who don’t walk a lot of guys. There is an opportunity here, in that the Padres can look for flyball pitchers who put up lousy numbers in other parks and can be had for cheap, but who will have a chance to succeed in cavernous Petco Park.
To acquire more of these types of players, the Padres should be prepared to trade most of their big-name veterans, as this year’s team is going nowhere but down any time soon.
In particular, the Padres should look to trade Kevin Kouzmanoff, Khalil Greene, Trevor Hoffman, Randy Wolf, and Tadahito Iguchi. These are all fairly big-name guys who other teams will want, but who are not useful to the Padres. Kouzmanoff and Greene have terrible on-base percentages, and thus have no business playing in a pitcher’s park like Petco, and Kouzmanoff is forcing up-and-coming prospect Chase Headley to left field, where his bat is not as valuable. Meanwhile, Hoffman, Wolf, and Iguchi are big-namers who are set to be free agents, so there is no need to keep them on a last-place team.
Update: The Padres have reportedly traded Randy Wolf to the Astros (!)