By Tony DeMarco …..Tony is a long time baseball writer and offers more 2016 MLB Baseball Predictions here at Vegas Pro Insiders Daily, where he will be one of our baseball experts.
SAN DIEGO PADRES
2015 record/finish: 74-88, 4th place
Front office/manager recap: The jury definitely remains out of AJ Preller after last season didn’t match the promise of an off-season flurry that created false hope. Andy Green was a surprising choice off Chip Hale’s staff in Arizona — after this front office didn’t find Bud Black, Pat Murphy or Dave Roberts to its liking.
Payroll change: From $110 million in 2015 to $102 million in 2016
Key arrivals: RHP Fernando Rodney, SS Alexei Ramirez, LHP Drew Pomeranz, OF Jon Jay, LHP Matt Thornton
Key departures: RHP Craig Kimbrel, OF Justin Upton, RHP Ian Kennedy, 1B Yonder Alonso, IF Jedd Gyorko, OF Wil Venable, RHP Joaquin Benoit
Rotation: RHP Tyson Ross, RHP James Shields, RHP Andrew Cashner, RHP Brandon Maurer, LHP Robbie Erlin // RHP Brandon Morrow, RHP Colin Rea
Relievers: Closer: RHP Fernando Rodney; Setup men: RHP Kevin Quackenbush, LHP Drew Pomeranz; Setup men: LHP Matt Thornton, RHP Carlos Villanueva, RHP Nick Vincent, RHP Luis Perdomo // RHP Jon Edwards LHP Christian Freidrich
Regulars: 2B Cory Spangenburg, 1B Wil Myers, 3B Yangervis Solarte, RF Matt Kemp, C Derek Norris, SS Alexei Ramirez, LF Jon Jay, CF Melvin Upton Jr.
Role players: C Christian Bethancourt; 1B/3B Brett Wallace, IF Alexi Amarista, IF/OF Jose Pirela, OF Jabari Blash (Rule 5)
Rookies of impact: OF Blash, C Austin Hedges, OF Travis Jankowski, OF Hunter Renfroe, OF Manuel Margot
2015 run differential: -81 (650 scored; 731 allowed)
Run production: The fences being moved in at Petco Park last season seemed to hurt Padres’ pitchers more than it benefitted their hitters. Justin Upton is gone, leaving a huge power void. Myers needs to fulfill potential, or this group is in trouble. Ramirez is better than last year’s shortstops, but he’s in decline.
(Roster Resource.com projections: 26th Ave, 28th OPS, 25th Runs, 27th HR, 9th SB)
Run prevention: You’ll hear a lot of positives about the rotation’s top three, but Ross issues too many walks, Shields served up 33 homers last season, and Cashner never has broken out. After those three, it’s a crapshoot. And Rodney as the closer? That might not last long, so needless to say, Kimbrel will be missed. Three-fourths of the infield is new, and there are no Gold Glove candidates to be found among the projected regulars.
(23rd Wins, 16th ERA, 19th QS, 24th BB, 15th K)
Risers: Myers. Spangenburg has some breakout potential. Cashner won’t be as bad as 2015, but could be traded mid-season.
Contract years: Cashner, Jay, Villanueva, Ramirez (2017 mutual option), Rodney (2017 club option)
Vegas says: OU 74 wins
Predicted record/finish: 70-92, 5th place. This team lost a lot of talent through free agency and future-oriented trades, and the big-league roster has thinned to where there are no obvious strengths.
2015 record/finish: 67-95, 4th place
Recent history: After three 90-plus-win regular seasons and playoff appearances in a four-year span (2010-13), it’s been a swift decline to 79 and 67 victories. The teardown/rebuild plan has its sights set on 2017 and beyond, so it’s going to be another rough season.
Front office/manager recap: The John Hart/John Coppolella tandem is safely ensconsed, and eyeing the move to a new stadium in Cobb County in 2017. Fredi Gonzalez’s record has taken a hit these last two seasons, and he is in his last guaranteed season.
Payroll change: From $108 million in 2015 to $85.2 million in 2016
Key departures: SS Andrelton Simmons, SP Shelby Miller, OF Cameron Maybin
Rotation: RHP Julio Teheran, RHP Bud Norris, RHP Matt Wisler, RHP Williams Perez, LHP Manny Banuelos // RHP Adam Weber, RHP Mike Foltynewicz (DL)
Relievers: Closer: RHP Jason Grilli; Setup men: RHP Arodys Vizcaino, RHP Jim Johnson; Middle Relievers: LHP Ian Krol, RHP Chris Withrow, RHP Evan Rutckyj (Rule 5), RHP Dan Winkler, LHP Paco Rodriguez
Regulars: CF Ender Inciarte, SS Erick Aybar, RF Nick Markakis, 1B Freddie Freeman, 3B Adonis Garcia, C AJ Pierzynski, 2B Jace Peterson, LF Michael Bourn
Role players: C Tyler Flowers, 1B/OF Nick Swisher, IF Gordon Beckham, IF/OF Emilio Bonifacio, IF/OF Kelly Johnson
Rookies of impact: IF/OF Hector Olivera could end up with significant playing time. OF Mallex Smith, RHP Aaron Blair
2015 run differential: -187 (573 scored; 760 allowed)
Run production: A boost should come from Freeman, who played in only 118 games last season. Aybar will be an upgrade here from Simmons. But there really isn’t much to like here, and power is definitely short.
(Roster Resource.com projections: 18th Ave, 27th OPS, 28th Runs, 30th HR, 22nd SB)
Run prevention: The two most-effective starters from last year (Miller and Alex Wood) are gone. Aybar will be a downgrade here from Simmons. Inciarte only played 22 games in CF last season, but did log 76 games there in 2014. The numbers below say it all – even the Rockies’ staff has better projections than these:
(Roster Resource.com projections: 28th Wins, 28th ERA, 30th QS, 28th BB, 29 K.)
Risers: Garcia and possibly Olivera are the best shots for unexpected production.
Regressers: Pierzynski isn’t like to hit .300 again at age 39. Aybar, Bourn. Don’t expect too much of an up-tick from any of the young starting pitchers.
Contract years: Aybar, Pierzynski, Beckham, Jim and Kelly Johnson, Norris; Grilli has a 2017 club option. Swisher and Bourn have 2017 vesting options, but aren’t likely to reach them.
Vegas says: O/U 65 wins
Predicted record/finish: 64-98, 5th place. Vegas has this one about right. This is a bad team for 2016.