KFFL answers some important fantasy baseball questions for each Major League Baseball team as spring training approaches. What must fantasy baseball players know about the San Diego Padres?
Now that Adrian Gonzalez is in Beantown, how will the Pads score?
Even less frequently. But their additions up the middle - Jason Bartlett, Orlando Hudson - should provide them with more stability and consistency.
Brad Hawpe, an inexperienced first baseman, can't fill the void. The 31-year-old showed signs of decline before last year; Coors Field (his former home) and PETCO Park are a little dissimilar. Still, poor health played a part in Hawpe's 2010 struggles. He won't hit 20 homers, but he should rebound.
Cameron Maybin needed to leave the Florida Marlins' environment of impatience. He still has a world of talent but needs major league nurturing. SD's emphasis on larceny makes Maybin an intriguing post-hype steals play.
So ... the Pads have upside
Maybe the club can lean on Ryan Ludwick and Chase Headley a bit more. A big key to success on offense will be Will Venable, though. Bud Black is strongly considering batting the 28-year-old in the top spot, where he excelled in a short 2010 stint. His late-season swing adjustments, increasing patience, 20-homer pop and 30-steal speed make him a high-upside fantasy choice.
Did the Friars receive anyone for A-Gon who'll make a 2011 impact?
Neither Reymond Fuentes nor Eric Patterson is that man. Anthony Rizzo, 21, could be a long-term solution at first base, however. He deposited 25 pitches over the fence in a breakthrough year between two farm levels. He has the makings of a consistent power threat and could debut this summer. For now he needs more development time and the consistency.
The biggest catch - Casey Kelly, 21 - has been a pitcher exclusively for only a year. But he has what you look for: low control rate, good (and prospectively better) grounder rate and developing strikeout ability. SD will monitor his innings count, but management may be eager: He's adaptable and could thrive in that environment. He really needs experience, though.
Who'll the PETCO Park darlings be this year?
A deserving All-Star, Mat Latos is scheduled for some statistical reckoning, but he's still the unquestioned ace. The three to watch: Tim Stauffer, Cory Luebke and Aaron Harang.
Optimism for Stauffer may be relatively high given his 2010 line. However, he made most of last year's appearances in relief and still has to shake his injury-prone past. There's upside, but it may not be as great as you think.
Luebke has a solid pedigree (good K/BB, ground-ball tendencies) but must learn to repeat his successes. For that reason, he's not a lock to remain in the bigs all year, but he has serious potential as an NL contributor.
The Padres took a low-risk chance on Harang, 32, whose health problems have derailed his career. He normally minimizes damage by limiting free pass issuance, and his skill set (which more than leans fly ball) is suited to SD. He has been too hittable, but a return home offers hope of an NL revival.
Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.
The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.