Khalil Thabit Greene
I look at this player's stats and hold my nose. I'm so overwhelmed by what he doesn't do well that I am temporarily unaware of what he does do well. It's the stench of a low on-base percentage that gets me every time. His OBP last season was 0.291. His career OBP is 0.312. Those are some rotten numbers. I don't catch a whiff of the sweet smell of 27 home runs and decent defense from the shortstop position.
On the road Greene is undeniably a good, though flawed, player. On the road he's a 0.800 OPS shortstop. Man, you sure don't turn up your nose at that kind of player. Okay, so his road on-base percentage is a little low, at 0.320 most years. You can live with that given all the power he brings. Heck, Greene's road stats are similar to the road stats of young Rockie phenom Troy Tulowitzki, save for the small fact that Greene's slugging is 100 points higher!
It's at home that Greene delivers the true stink-bomb. Okay, most everyone knows that Petco is a tough place to hit. Every Padre regular with the exception of Milton Bradley took a big hit in offensive stats at Petco last year. ( Bradley had close to a 1.000 Petco OPS in a mere 23 games there last year. ) The great Adrian Gonzalez becomes a 0.760 OPSing weakling in Petco. So it happens. But at least all these other players are able to maintain respectable home on-base percentages. They all get on base about 1 out of 3 times at home. But not Greene. He only gets on base 1 out of 4 times at Petco. His home on-base percentage was a putrid 0.258 last year. Why? Is it the strikeouts? He had 77 at home last year. Lucky sevens, for opposition pitchers. He only had 51 on the road. Why would players strike out more at Petco Park, anyway, as they do as a group? Is it just because the park is bigger? Something about the San Diego air? The mound? I don't get it.
The Padres signed Greene to a two year deal this off-season to avoid arbitration. That's probably a good thing, since arbitrators are unlikely to care about things like on-base percentage and instead focus on counting stats like home runs. On the other hand, arbitrators are unlikely to care about park-factors as well. Nevertheless, he's signed, and now the Padres should try to trade him. So much of Greene's value is sucked away by Petco Park. He's not good enough defensively to make up for being so bad at home. He's no Adam Everett with the glove. Last year by hardballtimes.com's zone rating (RZR) Greene was slightly above average; in previous years he was about average.
But the Padres don't really have any young shortstop who is close to being ready to take over for Greene if they traded him, so they'd have to get a shortstop back in a trade. It would be hard for them to find a good fit, I think. Teams don't much go for challenge trades anymore, where you swap guys of the same position for each other. It's a pity for the Padres, since they aren't getting full value from Greene's talents. Greene would be great with the Phillies, for example, his talents maximized there. Not that the Phillies need a shortstop!
The Padre third basemen may end up as a 0.850 OPS guy on the road. That's good. He has power, but as is usual Petco Park kills his home home run total. But even on the road his on-base percentage is a middling 0.330. Between him and Greene a lot of outs are being used up. That's not something to dismiss lightly --- outs are precious, in limited supply. You only get 27 per regulation game, and here are two of the Padres better offensive players sucking them down. Kouzmanoff was average with the glove last year based on the RZR stat from hardballtimes.com.
Kouz finished aces last year, with a 1.031 OPS in September. He hit 0.380 that month --- he's not going to come close to that over a full season, so this month should probably be viewed as just a lucky hot stretch. If, however, his dip in strikeout rate in September was real, then maybe some of that apparent improvement is also real. So how good is he going to be? Who knows? How good will Matt Kemp or James Loney of the Dodgers be, or Justin Upton of the Snakes be? The big difference between those players and Kouzmanoff is that Kouz is already 26. He's not likely to get a whole lot better, though a small improvement in last year's stats seems indicated here. It is, however, a good bet that the Padres will get more production out of third base than the Dodgers, especially if LaRoche is stuck behind Garciaparra by veteran loving Joe Torre.
He signed a one-year deal with the Padres this offseason to play second base. Given how awful Marcus Giles was last year, he almost has to be an upgrade. But he may not be. His road OPS over the past three years is just 0.709. His overall batting line doesn't look too bad, because of hitter-friendly home parks in southside Chicago and Philadelphia, but once he's forced to take half his hacks at Petco this year his overall line may end up closer to the cumulative 0.661 OPS Padres second basemen put up last year.
Iguchi isn't a glove wizard either. His American League RZR had been consistently near the bottom the last few years. Iguchi isn't awful, I guess. He'll steal a few bases, draw some walks, hit a few home runs, but when you put it all together he's a below average second baseman, and at 33 he's not likely to get any better. The Padres had a great opportunity to really improve their second-base production from last year and it looks to me like they blew it. Of course it's easier to say "let's get a better second baseman" and harder to actually do it. This is a position they might look to upgrade at the trade deadline, but more likely they'll be more pre-occpupied with getting a decent outfielder onto the team at that point.
On the road Gonzalez is a +0.900 OPS star. He's what the Dodgers hope Loney will become. It would be better for the Padres if he was more of a 0.400-0.500 guy than the 0.350-0.550 guy that he is: in other words, it would be better for the Padres if he was more of a high walk/good power guy than a medium walk/great power guy. So much of Gonzalez's great power is wasted in Petco ( 10 HR at home, 20 HR on the road ) and while his 0.347 on-base percentage is decent the Padres could really use a 0.400 OBP kind of guy to balance out those high power/high out guys on the left side of the infield. It's really kind of goofy and counter-productive that the strength of so many Padre players is home run power. This is just quibbling, though. Gonzalez is the Padres best offensive player by far.
Last year in 80 plate appearances Gonzelez had a 0.450 OPS against Dodger pitching, with just one home run. Probably just a one year fluke. In spite of getting nothing from Gonzalez the Padres won 10 of 18 from the Dodgers last year.
The Padres signed Tony Clark for some reason. He can only play first base, so does that mean he'll take at-bats away from Gonzalez?
Joshua David Bard and Michael Patrick Barrett
Barrett is a 31-year old catcher who had a 0.650 OPS last year after three straight +0.800 OPS years. I'm going with the pessimistic interpretation here and saying that Barrett's skills are decomposing. It's rarely wise to bet on a catcher older than 30. Bard isn't that much younger at 29, but he seems by far the better of the two and I think he'll eventually see about two thirds of the starts behind the plate. Bard actually had a higher on-base percentage than Adrian Gonzalez last year. He's a nice complementary player for the Padre lineup. Goodness knows they need to get something from their catcher given the lousy production they can look forward to from the outfield in 2008.
Scott Alexander Hairston
I guess he's the starting left fielder for the Padres in 2008. I'm looking at their roster, trying to see if there is another option. Paul McAnulty? He's even more of a AAAA fourth-outfielder type than Hairston is. At least both Hairston and McAnulty are 27. Maybe one of them will break out with a career year. More likely they'll hit 15 home runs combined, with an on-base percentage hovering around Khalil Greene territory. The Padres are going to miss Milton Bradley so much. Why didn't they try harder to resign him?
Brian Stephen Giles
I guess the plus side of him losing his power is that the Padres can't miss it at Petco. Now he did hit 11 home runs in the last two months of 2007 after only 2 in the previous four months, so maybe some injury healed ( unlikely, right? --- since when do injuries heal while playing regularly in the middle of the season? ) or maybe he "fixed" his swing. He's still a good on-base guy regardless of his power issues, which the Padres sorely need. But he's 37 and apparently on the very steep downslope of his career. It's no sure thing that the Padres will get anything like even 150 games out of him. They need help in the outfield.
James Patrick Edmonds
And Edmonds is not that help. He seems to be an even older 37 than Giles' 37. He was really wretched in 2007, after being not so great in 2006, after being very good in 2005, after being unbelievable in 2004. Here's the OPS progression from 2004 to 2007: 1.061 -- 0.918 -- 0.821 -- 0.728. He loses a shcoking 100 points a year, so this year he'll have an OPS of 0.631, give or take a few points. Don't laugh. Now that he's playing half his games in Petco, it could happen.
Edmonds no longer matches his defensive reputation either. His RZR the last two years has been in the bottom half of the National League.
There are rumors that the Padres might try to trade for Brewer outfielder Gabe Gross. Gross isn't much with the bat either, but given how unlikely it is for both Giles and Edmonds to stay healthy all year they just need more warm bodies. The Padres may also give prospects Headley and Antonelli a shot at left field. Sounds good, except that neither has played extensively above AA, and neither has even been an outfielder in the minor leagues!
The Padre offense is going to struggle in 2008, and it's going to be because of their outfielders. The Dodgers have a lot of question marks on their offense, but unlike the Padres they Dodgers have very young players likely to improve and relatively young players likely to bounce back from poor performances last year. The Padres have a lot of old, declining players. Gonzalez is great, Kouz should be a little better than last year, Greene is good on the road, Bard is solid, and that's about it. It's all about the pitching for the Padres, even more so than in past years. The Padres may yet finish better than the Dodgers, but I don't see their offense being good enough to win the NL West.