What else can baseball fans do in January but dream of October? In You May Say I’m a Dreamer, the Outside Corner staff will imagine the route to a World Series in 2012 title for all 30 teams.
The Padres made all the right moves this offseason and have now built a winner, a World Series winner to be specific. As amazing as the worst to first story sounds, it actually makes perfect sense when you stop to look at their keen trades that were made in the 2011/2012 offseason. Even though this team only managed to accumulate 71 wins in 2011, they had to be considered among the most talented last place teams.
Cameron Maybin came to San Diego just as Florida had lost hope and proved to be the five-tool threat scouts labeled him as when he was a prospect. In 2012 he exploded for 30 doubles, 10 triples, 10 homeruns, 40 stolen bases, .275 batting average and a gold glove in center. Carlos Quentin came over from the White Sox in return for a couple of decent hit or miss pitching prospects and proved that if you hit the ball hard enough, no ball park in the country, not even Petco Park, can keep the ball in the yard as he amassed a .250 batting average and 30 homeruns. Kyle Blanks unexpectedly went from quadruple A player to potential homerun king with his 2012 breakout campaign (.255/.360 30 DB 35 HR). Chase Headley continued to provide steady production from third base as he hit .290/.375 with 30 DB 15 HR and 15 SB. But the biggest difference makers for the Padres this year came in the form of the prospects they received from Cincinnati in the Mat Latos trade. First baseman Yonder Alonso continued his assault on major league pitching by hitting .310/.370 with 40 doubles and 15 homeruns. Catching prospect Yasmani Grandal was promoted to the major league club after they deal catcher Nick Hundley at the trade deadline and hit over .300.
On the mound, the Padres were surprisingly solid. You’d think that after losing premier close Heath Bell and young ace Mat Latos they would be hurting for arms, but this simply wasn’t the case. Hard throwing Andrew Cashner (came to San Diego in the Anthony Rizzo trade) stuck in the rotation and provided 200 IP 180 K’s and a sparkling 3.17 ERA. Edinson Volquez (came over in the Mat Latos trade) rediscovered a glimmer of his all-star past tossing 150 innings with a 3.75 ERA and 160 K’s. Steady southpaw Clayton Richard (came over in the Jake Peavy trade) supplied the Padres with a much-needed 200 inning 3.50 ERA performance coming off an injured season. Former first round pick Tim Stauffer gave the San Diego staff another 200 inning, sub-four ERA performance and the rotation was rounded out by the surprising Cory Luebke, who built off his 2011 success with a solid 150 IP 180 K 3.40 ERA performance.
The bullpen was anchored by proven closer Huston Street, who was acquired shortly after Heath Bell chose to sign with Miami. Street posted another 30-save season on the strength of a sparking 2.40 ERA. Swing starter Dustin Moseley continued to resurrect his once promising career with an additional 20-holds and 3.17 ERA. Dynamic lefty Josh Spence burst onto the scene in late 2011 and proved to be one of the more dominant relievers in the game by putting up an ERA under two across 50 innings of relief. Luke Gregerson posted an ERA under three and led the Padres in holds for the second consecutive season.
As if winning the World Series with a bunch of newly acquired players weren’t enough, the Friars also had six prospects (1B Alsonso-39, RHP Kelly-50, OF Liriano-60, C Grandal-68, 3B Gyorko-71 and 2B Spangenberg-80) make the Top 100 prospect list, which strongly suggests that this team will continue to compete at a high level for the foreseeable future.