(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first of 30 previews for the upcoming 2018 major league baseball season. In the on-deck circle Tuesday are the Minnesota Twins.)
In terms of season wins, the San Diego Padres have been stuck in the mid to low 70’s since 2011. But with a projected win total of 71 and management finally spending some cash, things may finally be looking up.
There was one big offseason signing and one major trade thus far. In came free agent 1B Erik Hosmer from Kansas City for 8 years and $144 million. Prior to the signing, GM A.J. Preller negotiated a deal with the Yankees to bring back 3B Chase Headley along with SP Bryan Mitchell. Headley is the name, but Mitchell is the hope. He certainly has the opportunity to break into a starting rotation, whose top winner on the returning roster is Clayton Richard with 8.
As for Hosmer, he’s as good on the field as he is in the clubhouse. It was thought that Hosmer would be a Kansas City Royal his whole career, but at 28 he figures to have a long, successful stay in San Diego. Hosmer comes off a .318, 25 HR, 94 RBI season for KC and adds a winning presence off two straight AL pennants and a World Series title during his stay.
With Hosmer aboard, San Diego’s best player from 2017 Wil Myers moves from first to right field. Myers led the Padres in homers (30), walks (70), steals (20) and unfortunately strikeouts (180). The K’s were flowing last year and nobody batted over. 270. But chicks do dig the longball and the Padres have five players capable of 20 to 30 homers – Hosmer, Myers, Headley, C Austin Hedges and LF Hunter Renfroe.
What second year manager Andy Green will have to come up with is a pitching rotation lacking a bigtime No. 1. Jake Arrieta is still out there in the free agent universe and would dramatically improve that situation. But the Padres have never been known as spenders, which is why the Hosmer move was unexpected and appreciated.
The LA Dodgers are the clear favorites to win the NL West and the improved Giants have won the World Series three times this decade so the challenge for the Padres is to approach 80 wins. Only once this decade (2016) have the Padres not won at least 71 so at 200-1 odds of winning World Series, we would suggest to look at OVER 71 for total wins and third place for the most optimistic finish.
Encore: The Padres play the first 7 games at Petco Park, three vs Milwaukee and four against San Francisco. They will play all interleague games against the AL West.
2017 record: 71-91
2016 record: 68-94
2015 record: 74-88
World Series win odds: 200-1 (Westgate)
Odds to win NL West: 60-1 (Westgate)
2018 season win total: 71 (South Point)