With a young roster thin at several positions, the San Diego Padres will need to stay healthy if they want to contend in 2017.
The San Diego Padres have a lot of upside, without a doubt. Unfortunately, not many outside of the fan base can see this, as they are quick to overlook any 68-94 club.
With exciting young talent, the future is bright. But so often forgotten in the analysis of the rebuilding process are situations out of the club’s control. Most notably, this refers to injuries.
Looking at 2017, there are several positions where a lack of depth at the major league level could cost the team in the unfortunate event of an injury. These circumstances could single handedly derail the organization’s hopes, so it is critical to note the club’s soft spots.
These three positions are where avoiding injuries becomes most important to the Padres’ hopes.
Many fans overlook the first base position, and understandably so. Wil Myers is an all-star power hitter, an RBI machine, and a Gold Glove finalist.
This bodes very well for the Padres, as long as Myers can remain healthy. If he doesn’t, there is no first baseman currently listed on the depth chart behind him.
In AAA El Paso, Brett Wallace is currently occupying the position. So in the event of a Myers injury, the club would have some major league experience at the position. However, hitting just .189 last season, this would be a major drop off in talent. The position is clearly a bit thin, and losing Myers for an extended period of time would have a devastating impact.
Entering 2017, it looks as if Luis Sardinas will man the shortstop position for San Diego. This comes after the departure of Alexi Amarista, who served as a valuable utility infielder for the club in 2016.
Now, despite the promise for the position in the minor leagues, this season will be a difficult one for the position if Sardinas goes down. San Diego’s Rule 5 pick, Allen Cordoba, is the only shortstop on the roster behind Sardinas.
El Paso is a bit thin at the position as well, as Dusty Coleman currently holds the position with no prior major league experience. The Padres could move Carlos Asuaje over or compensate in some other way to get by, but an injury at the shortstop position would still damage the team’s hopes for this coming season significantly.
The pitching staff is arguably the most critical part of any baseball team. And despite San Diego’s recent efforts to strengthen the club in this area, they enter 2017 with a thin rotation.
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If no further moves are made this offseason, it appears that Clayton Richard will be the Opening Day starter, followed by some combination of Jhoulys Chacin, Christian Friedrich, Luis Perdomo, and either Jarred Cosart or Paul Clemens.
Some would argue that even some of these starters are not major league caliber. But even if they do pleasantly surprise, an injury to any one of them would prove costly. There is little room for error here, as the next starters in line would be Cesar Vargas and Tyrell Jenkins.
There are some promising arms in El Paso such as Dinelson Lamet, Andre Rienzo, and Kyle McGrath. However, none will be adequately prepared for the big leagues in the event of an injury to the rotation.
For these reasons, one of the keys to 2017 for the Padres will be health. As is always the case, a poorly timed injury to just the right position can completely change the course of a season. Hopefully injuries do not occur this season, but the reality is that they will. If San Diego can avoid injuries in these three areas though, they will be on track to overachieve in the early stages of this rebuilding process.