RF – Will Venable
SS – Jason Bartlett
3B – Chase Headley
LF – Carlos Quentin
1B – Yonder Alonso
C – Nick Hundley
CF – Cameron Maybin
2B – Orlando Hudson
SP – Tim Stauffer
SP – Cory Luebke
SP – Edinson Volquez
SP – Clayton Richard
SP – Dustin Moseley
CL – Huston Street
Five things to think about:
– PETCO is a pitcher’s park, but it’s a lot worse on lefthanded power hitters than it is on righties. Quentin – though injury-prone – has 30-homer potential and is being overlooked in early drafts. Draft him as a low-end OF4.
– Adrian Gonzalez hit twice as many home runs on the road as he did at home during his final four seasons with the Padres. Alonso is no Adrian Gonzalez. Pass unless you’re in an NL-only league.
– Maybin had a breakout fantasy season in 2011, with nine homers, 82 runs and 40 stolen bases. He’ll turn 25 in April, and improvement seems likely. Maybin is a solid OF3 in mixed leagues at this point – I have him ranked 33rd at the position, but that might be too pessimistic.
– Luebke was underappreciated in FOXSports.com leagues last season, and therefore made some people (including yours truly) very happy as a streaming starter. It’s not going to happen again, as all the cool kids are on the Luebke bandwagon. He’ll be one of the top 40 starters drafted, and deservedly so. There’s one small red flag: Luebke pitched 139 2/3 innings in 2011, and you have to wonder if he’ll be capped at 170-180. Keep an eye on this angle if you draft him, but don’t let it deter you.
– Looking for a pitching sleeper for deep or NL-only leagues? Volquez walked a boatload of batters last season, but he maintained a strong strikeout rate (187 Ks in 196 IP between Triple A and Cincinnati), still induces plenty of ground balls, and will move from an extreme hitter’s park to an extreme pitcher’s park.
Odd man out: Hulking OF Kyle Blanks doesn’t appear to have a lineup slot, and will probably need another slow start by Venable to get his chance.
Farm system: Starters Robbie Erlin, Joe Wieland and Casey Kelly all may have opportunities to pitch their way into the Padres’ rotation at some point this season, and any PETCO pitcher will be worth a look for you. Catcher Yasmani Grandal batted .305 with 14 homers at three levels of the minors last season, and might be the team’s best prospect. He could be ready by midseason.
Backup closer: Flamethrowing former Cub Andrew Cashner is the likely replacement if Street goes down.