The Padres held on to Adrian Gonzalez this winter when most figured he would follow former ace Jake Peavy out the door for a rebuilding club. After all, with Peavy and Gonzalez, the Padres would still be picked to finish last in the NL West in all likelihood.
But, be careful writing the non-Gonzalez Padres off in Fantasy leagues. The rest of your league is almost certain to do it for you. That will make for some great sleepers and late-round values for yourself.
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Remember what closer Heath Bell did for Fantasy owners last year? There are some diamonds in the rough here ready to surprise the Fantasy masses.
Breakout: Kyle Blanks, OF
There was a very, very big reason the Padres were even entertaining dealing their breakthrough 27-year-old superstar Gonzalez -- 6-foot-6, 285-pound big of a reason. If you haven't seen Blanks, look to the southwest in the direction of San Diego. You might be able to catch a glimpse of him on the horizon. Built more like a football player than a first baseman-turned-outfielder, Blanks has to occupy a corner outfield spot since A-Gone remains in town. Blanks' size won't make him much of a defensive player, but his power just has to be in the lineup regularly. He promises to put up some impressive power numbers in his first full season in the major leagues. Having exhausted his rookie eligibility, hitting 10 homers in 148 at-bats, Blanks is one of those superb overlooked sophomores that can be a sleeper on Draft Day and a breakout candidate to help in any format throughout the year, especially when he is on one of his power tears.
Bust: Heath Bell, RP
After we almost completely missed the boat on Bell in our preseason rankings and projections last year, we figure we will compound the error by cautioning on the bad-bodied closer again this spring. Bell was a breakthrough closer at age 32, saving 42 games and discrediting the notion a closer on a bad team doesn't make for a must-have Fantasy option. Now, we do like Bell as a nice mid-tier closer, evidenced by our projections (37 saves), but for all those people expecting 40-plus saves again, you're overpaying. For one, Bell is an injury risk because he could eat himself to the DL. Two, he is a trade-deadline candidate. After all, what good is a closer as a commodity for a team that doesn't figure to win a lot of games? Answer: trade bait, mostly. A midseason trade to a contender would almost certainly render your high-priced closer pick a glorified setup man. That could hurt. Three, Bell just cannot be as good as he was a year ago. In fact, there are warning signs to track from the second half of last season, when Bell posted a 3.90 ERA and blew five saves. Five blown saves in one half of baseball is quite a few. Solid, yes. Great, no. You will be paying for great on Draft Day.
Sleeper: Mat Latos, SP
The Padres are a team full of potential sleepers -- Rotisserie/stealing gem Everth Cabrera, the powerful Blanks, fellow overlooked sophomore Will Venable -- a sneaky speed-and-power threat -- the streaky Scott Hairston and anyone on the pitching staff that will get to work half their starts in arguably the best pitcher's park in baseball. Injury-returnee Chris R. Young will prove to be a late-round steal if he can finally keep that big body healthy, but the lightning-armed Mat Latos is our pick for the sleeper to watch here. He is a Low Investment Mound Ace (L.I.M.A.) capable of a huge sophomore splash. We figure he has a rotation spot to lose and could sneak up to be a great member of mixed-league pitching staffs in his first full season.
| ||Pos.|| |
|1||Everth Cabrera||SS||1||Jon Garland||RH|
|2||David Eckstein||2B||2||Chris R. Young||RH|
|3||Adrian Gonzalez||1B||3||Kevin Correia||RH|
|4||Kyle Blanks||LF||4||Mat Latos||RH|
|5||Chase Headley||3B||5||Clayton Richard||LH|
|6||Scott Hairston||CF||Alt||Tim Stauffer||RH|
|7||Will Venable||RF||Top bullpen arms|
|8|| ||C||CL||Heath Bell||RH|
|Top bench options||SU||Mike M. Adams||RH|
|R||Tony K. Gwynn||OF||RP||Luke Gregerson||RH|
|R||Jerry Hairston||UTL||RP||Edward Mujica||RH|
|R|| ||C||RP||Joe Thatcher||LH|
|1||Jaff Decker||20||OF||Low Class A||High Class A|
|He is going to put up some huge numbers in the hitter-friendly California League this year.|
|2||Donavan Tate||19||OF||High school||Low Class A|
|The 2009 first-rounder was drafted No. 3, right after Stephen Strasburg and Dustin Ackley.|
|3||Aaron Poreda||23||LH SP||Majors||Triple-A|
|He's getting hammered for poor control, but lefties are notoriously erratic; don't lose faith.|
|4||James Darnell||23||3B||High Class A||Double-A|
|With Headley and another 3B prospect ahead of him, he might be a candidate to move to 2B.|
|A Mark Teahen-like line-drive hitter who projects to post a strong OBP; a potential June 1 guy.|
|Best of the rest: Simon Castro, SP; Wynn Pelzer, SP; Cory Luebke, SP; Everett Williams, OF; Edinson Rincon, 3B; Chad Huffman, OF; Cesar Carrillo, SP; Will Inman, SP; Kellen Kulbacki, OF; Matt Antonelli, 2B; Cedric Hunter, OF; Craig Italiano, SP; Corey Kluber, SP; Ryan Webb, RP; Eulogio De La Cruz, RP; Andrew Bovich, RP; Lance Zawadzki, SS; Jeremy Hefner, SP; Dexter Carter, SP; Jerry Sullivan, SP; Nick Schmidt, SP; Keyvius Sampson, SP; Jason Hagerty, C; Rymer Liriano, OF; Adys Portillo, SP; Jonathan Galves, SS; Allan Dykstra, 1B; Luis Durango, OF; Cole Figueroa, SS; Blake Tekotte, OF; Beamer Weems, SS; Ernesto Frieri, RP; Steve Garrison, SP; Drew Cumberland, SS; Drew Miller, SP; Ivan Nova, SP; and Mitch Canham, C.|
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