Every day in spring training until we're finished with the entire league, Big League Stew takes a brief capsule look at each team we visit in Florida and Arizona. As we near the finish line, it's time to look at the San Diego Padres.
SAN DIEGO PADRES
2009 RECORD: 75-87, 4th in NL West
BIG ACQUISITIONS: Not only did new general manager Jed Hoyer bring back Scott Hairston(notes) from the Athletics, he also signed his brother Jerry Hairston. Scott and Tony Gwynn(notes) will wrestle for at-bats in center and Jerry will play all over the diamond. ... Despite a stockpile of decent young arms, they also added Jon Garland(notes). Another piece that could be traded by the deadline for more youth.
BIG DEPARTURES: Kevin Kouzmanoff(notes), steady as they go at third base, went to Oakland for Hairston. It's time, past time, for Chase Headley(notes) to show what he can do full time at third. ... Brian Giles(notes) left via free agency for the Dodgers, then retired because of poor health ... Edgar Gonzalez was sold to Japan, presumably because they can only have one set of brothers on the roster at one time.
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FIVE QUESTIONS TO ASK ABOUT THE PADRES:
1. How long before they trade Adrian Gonzalez(notes) and Heath Bell(notes)? Any second now. Moving Gonzalez probably will depress many Padres fans, even the ones who are resigned to it happening or "welcome" the move. It just makes sense to restock with prospects, considering that Gonzalez eventually would elect free agency and he'll command top dollar on the market. It makes even more sense to move Bell, who is 32 and a reliever — and who knows about most of those guys from year to year?
2. How quickly/well will the young pitchers develop? Wade LeBlanc(notes) and Clayton Richard(notes) have limited ceilings and Tim Stauffer(notes) is 27, but they all could be nice pieces as solid No. 3 or 4 starters behind Chris Young and Kevin Correia(notes). Mat Latos(notes) and Aaron Poreda(notes), meanwhile, bear more watching and for different reasons. Latos is just 22, stands 6-foot-6 and has pitched well at every minor-league level. Poreda was the prize in the Jake Peavy(notes) deal, but his results have been mixed so far and he was optioned to Triple-A this spring. He might be destined to be a reliever if his breaking pitches don't develop.
3. How is Chase "Lamarr" Headley going to turn out? The Padres messed around with Headley by putting him in left field for a couple of years, but have placed him back at third base. His defense there is probably average, but he has a chance to be a very good hitter. Back at his natural position, playing every day, this is his shot to show he can be a strong middle-of-the-order presence.
4. Will Kyle Blanks(notes) become a star this season? I'm saying by September, possibly. He's oversized (6-6, 270-plus pounds) but the 23-year-old has hit at every level. A 42nd-round pick, Blanks isn't a huge power threat, yet, but he hits for decent contact and hopefully won't project to strike out too much as he matures in the majors. His inside-the-park homer proves he can run a little, too. A tweak here or there with his swing, and he's a 30-homer, .300-average guy.
5. Can they stay out of the basement in the NL West? Somebody has to finish last, so probably not. The Padres actually overachieved last season — their runs-scored differential was more like a 67-victory team — and it's hard to imagine a team like the Diamondbacks underachieving or being so ravaged by injuries again. Trading Gonzalez and Bell is almost a certainty, which probably won't help the win column.