Thanks to new general manager A.J. Preller, the San Diego Padres are on this MLB handicapper's radar. They've gone from being dull to being one of the most talked about teams of the spring.
San Diego Padres– Projected Win Total 84 wins – 2nd in the NL West
San Diego is the second choice in MLB odds at every sportsbook in the NL West behind the Los Angeles Dodgers because of all their off-season moves. The outfield is completely new with Justin Upton in left, Will Myers in center and Matt Kemp in right. The power potential of this trio is fantastic even at Petco Park. Each outfielder is essentially playing a new position compared to the past, while this might not be an elite defensive group, this is no longer the cavernous outfield of the past, since the fences have been moved in twice in the last two years and actually only ranks 16th in square footage among all big league parks.
The infield looks solid at the corners with Will Middlebrooks at third coming over from Boston and Yonder Alsonso at first. Manager Bud Black is counting on a more relaxed Jedd Gyorko at second and catcher Derek Norris could be a real stud behind the plate.
With the addition of James Shields, the Padres from a starting pitching perspective can be a factor in almost any series, with Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross and Ian Kennedy the top four hurlers. Black almost always creates a quality bullpen and this year should be no different.
No doubt this is a fluid situation for San Diego and given a few of the personalities in the clubhouse, a good start would help everything settle in.
The Padres will have a chance to create their own destiny to begin the season, facing the Dodgers and Giants 13 times in their first 26 games.
Hard to place MLB pick against San Francisco, but on paper is the more talented roster which should exceed 84 wins and finish second in the NL West and have a shot at the postseason.
Besides the home run power, Upton was 3 for 3 and Gyorko had two base knocks and two runs batted in among the Padres 14 hits.
Cashner allowed one run and four hits in 6 1/3 innings. The 6-foot-6 right-hander struck out six and walked one and pounded the strike zone with fastballs and good breaking pitches.