2007 San Diego Padres Capsule

Mar 30, 2007 - 1:28 AM By Tom Covill PA SportsTicker Staff Writer

Say Hello To: RHPs Greg Maddux, 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff, 2B Marcus Giles

Say Goodbye To: 2B Josh Barfield, RHPs Woody Williams, Chan Ho Park, Rudy Seanez and Jon Adkins, LHP Alan Embree, C Mike Piazza, OFs David Roberts and Ben Johnson, 1B Ryan Klesko, IF Mark Bellhorn

Projected Starting Lineup:

C - Josh Bard (knuckler struggles led to trade; led NL Cs with .338 avg., .407 OBP) 1B - Adrian Gonzalez (young star posted .862 OPS; hit .336 after break; big winter) 2B - Marcus Giles (hit career-low .262, .251 in leadoff role; reunited with brother) 3B - Kevin Kouzmanoff (tore up minors in '06; 3 HR for Indians but .279 OBP in 56 AB) SS - Khalil Greene (finger injury late in season ruined his best offensive season) LF - Terrmel Sledge (battled injuries since hitting .269 with 15 HR for Expos in 2004) CF - Mike Cameron (won 3rd Gold Glove and posted career-best .837 OPS) RF - Brian Giles (.771 OPS well below .933 career OPS; 29 HR, 223 BB 2005-06)

Projected Starting Rotation:

RHP - Jake Peavy (previous ERA and SO king should bounce back from sub-par 2006) RHP - Chris Young (led NL in avg against (.206) and flirted with three no-hitters) RHP - Greg Maddux (333 career wins will help on mound; makeup will help mentor others) LHP - David Wells (big-game pitcher has 230 career wins; can he stay healthy?) RHP - Clay Hensley (6-6, 2.66 ERA last 13 starts; very little run support)

Projected Closer:

RHP Trevor Hoffman (active leader in avg against (.208) and OBP (.264))

Two questions the Padres need to answer?

1) Can Peavy return to the form that made him one of the best pitchers in the NL in 2004-05, and can Maddux and Wells have success again past the age of 40? Maddux, 40, has been solid but not spectacular the past four seasons and Wells, recently diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, is coming off injury-plagued campaigns in 2005-06. Peavy was arguably the most dominant starter in the NL before the World Baseball Classic threw him out of sync last March leading to a down year. The 25-year-old righthander had a 2.27 ERA in 2004 and a 2.88 ERA in '05 but managed just a 4.09 mark last season.

2) Can the lineup generate any power? The Padres traded Barfield to the Indians in the offseason for power-hitting Kouzmanoff and immediately handed the 25-year old the starting job. Kouzmanoff will be the righthanded bat in the middle of a lineup that features lefties Brian Giles, Sledge and Gonzalez, who led the club with 24 homers in 2006 and is primed for another big year. However, Brian Giles hit just 14 homers last season - his lowest full-season total - and will probably move up to second in the lineup. That leaves Sledge and Kouzmanoff - neither of whom has ever played a full major league season - as the primary protection for Gonzalez and Cameron. Russell Branyan, a career .232 hitter, has been crushing the ball this spring and will be a backup at third base and the corner outfield spots.

Pivital Player: Righthanders Scott Linebrink and Cla Meredith will have the assignment of getting the ball from the starters to All-Star closer Hoffman. Linebrink was the subject of trade rumors this past offseason after posting a 3.57 ERA in 73 appearances last season and will again assume the main setup role for the club this season. Meredith nearly was unhittable after coming over from the Red Sox in a trade last May, posting a 1.07 ERA in 45 games. With the lineup not expected to generate many runs and a starting rotation not expected to surrender too many runs, the middle innings will be key. If Linebrink and Meredith can match their 2006 production, the Padres will have a good chance to win their third straight NL West crown.

Spring Training Notes: The hitters have performed well in the Arizona sun. Sledge, Branyan, Gonzalez and Greene are all driving the ball. Branyan and Sledge tied for the team lead at six homers and Greene and Gonzalez are just one back. Cameron (.244) is the only hitter projected in the everyday lineup with a average below .295. ... Wells and Young have struggled on the mound, combining to surrender 23 runs in 27 2/3 innings thus far. ... Righthanders Doug Brocail and Justin Germano and lefthander Heath Bell likely will make the club in the bullpen. Rob Bowen will backup starting catcher Josh Bard and Geoff Blum will serve as utility infielder.

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