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The San Diego Padres move into the 2008 season as a bit of an enigma. Having missed the playoffs in 2007, the team is clearly thinking playoffs this season, but with a stacked NL West, the likelihood appears clouded. True, Bud Black and co. forced a game 163, but lost basically due to a coin flip that awarded the Colorado Rockies with the home game. Furthermore, the Padres had the game in the bag in the 13th until ol' reliable Trevor Hoffman blew the save and eventually catapulted the Rockies to the WS. I guess then, the coin flip didn't really matter at that point.
Scott Hairston, Jim Edmonds (might start the season on the DL), Brian Giles? WTF?! Damn. Edmonds and Giles are a combined 300 years old (actually 74) and Hairston is basically a piece of garbage career .245 hitter. Who knows, there are some old dudes that are still productive into their 40s. Granted, they are probably all on 'roids, but this squad isn't too bad. Well, I only say that because Chase Headley was scorching the Earth in spring training and should be correctly situated in left field before summer time.
Kevin Kouzmanoff is coming off an average rookie season and needs to bring some much needed offense to a Padres team that ranked 20th in runs in 2007. Also, not too put to much pressure on Kouzy, but they are completely changing the life of hot prospect natural 3B Headley and putting him in left, so a sophomore slump would be that much worse for him and the organization. Adrian Gonzalez is a little known beast at 1B and wields a major stick. Khalil Greene is coming off a monster year power wise, and if he keeps up the 2007 pace (27 HR 97 RBIs) this team's offense could be potent. Tadahito Iguchi and Josh Bard are decent 7-8 spot line up guys who are more for defense than anything else. (Congrats to rule 5er Callix Crabbe for making the squad, potentially solid utility player)
Jake Peavy and Chris Young are beasts anchoring an interest pitching staff for 2008. Greg "Never Say Die" Maddux is in the three spot in the rotation for now, but I don't  forecast him making more than 25 starts at best. Randy Wolf, the lone lefty in the top 5, has a heavily incentive laden deal for the Pads and doesn't scare me facing other 4's in the National League. And now to the most interest of all, Mark Prior, the penciled in #5 dude. After breaking into the league like gang busters torching dudes, he, like Kerry Wood, has been plagued by injuries for much of the past 3 seasons. If he can stay healthy, he could be a steal. Not likely, but I am rooting for the guy, plus he won't be ready until May according to my sources. Look for Justin Germano to start in his absence until then.
Kevin Towers, and to a lesser extent Bud Black, know what they are doing. The Padres may have to swing a deal for a vet outfield or extra arm, but they'll be battling for the NL West all season. Jake and Chris are just too good for this team to have a long losing streak. As long as their 28th ranked team batting average improves, true it may have more to do with Petco Park's dimensions, they'll get into the playoffs. Wait Hoffman could still be saving a potential lead in game 163 in Dodger Stadium Oct 1? Umm.. yikes!