5 things to watch in 2022 – NBC 7 San Diego

For Padres fans, the first half of 2021 has been pretty awesome. The second part, however, stank. A (new) season-ending slump put them under .500 for the year, not where no one in the baseball world expected this obscenely talented roster to be.

On Monday, the big leagues camp finally resumes. With every new year comes a new question and this season is certainly no exception. So here are the five biggest unknowns facing the Padres as spring training begins:

1. What impact can Bob Melvin have?

The new skipper arrives in San Diego with an impressive resume, but can one man turn around in 20 games? Melvin is one of the most respected managers in the game and is used to extracting the last drop of talent from his players.

Melvin deserves a ton of credit for keeping the low-spending Oakland A’s in the hunt for the playoffs for the better part of a decade. He has a steady hand and sets the tone for victory in any clubhouse. Above all, his teams are something the Padres haven’t been in years:

Coherent.

Over the past four years, the A’s winning percentage was 0.599, 0.599, 0.600, and 0.531. This is despite opening day payrolls ranking 30th, 25th, 26th and 24th. It is a massive overproduction.

Bob has also put together a whole new coaching staff with moxie (Matt Williams) and young and talented, but largely unproven products (coach Michael Brdar, who will be 28 on opening day ). It’s a bold collection of personalities, of course.

If Melvin and his new staff can just get his roster of arguably more talented Padres to just avoid the long stretches of inconsistency, he just might be able to get the Brothers back into playoff contention.

2. Can the starting rotation hold?

On paper, the Padres had one of the most daunting starting rotations in baseball last year. At the end of the year, they were counting on Jake Arrieta to start the games with their playoff life on the line.

It’s not great.

Yu Darvish was an All-Star but battled nagging injuries in the 2nd half. Blake Snell didn’t find his form until late in the season, but once he did, he looked like the 2018 Cy Young Award winner that he is. Grossmont High School alum Joe Musgrove was the most consistent and often the best arm in the rotation.

Chris Paddack has struggled to regain his 2019 form. Ryan Weathers appeared to run out of gas in his first full major league season. Adrian Morejon was lost during Tommy John’s surgery in April. MacKenzie Gore didn’t develop the way they thought.

Getting a full season of the good Snell and another campaign like Musgrove’s are reasonable expectations. Darvish missing multiple starts with sores might be the norm, but when he’s on he’s still one of the best in the game. The real wild card is Mike Clevinger.

He is back from TJ surgery and all reports have been overwhelmingly positive. If he’s back to his dominant form and Paddack can find some sort of consistency (as well as the addition of Japan’s Nick Martinez), then this rotation should be exponentially better than it was a year ago. year.

But, as we all know with arms, staying healthy for an entire season is a huge IF.

3. Who manages the 9th round?

In 2021, Mark Melancon signed a one-year deal and led the National League in saves. He left for the Diamondbacks, leaving the Padres without an obvious closer.

They have several candidates, the most obvious being Drew Pomeranz. He’s handled Round 9 before, but just had flexor tendon surgery. Emilio Pagan struggled mightily in the last month of the year, but saved 20 games for Tampa Bay just a few seasons ago. And, there’s always the possibility of a free agent or trade play coming to town before opening day.

4. Is it time to cut corners?

Eric Hosmer is a corner player. Wil Myers is a corner fielder. Both guys had All-Star seasons. Both guys have significantly underperformed based on their skill levels and have been on the trading block since at least last year’s trade deadline.

The Padres want to move them. The big question is are they?

It’s easier to deal with Myers as he’s in the final year of his contract, but he’s also the more likely of the two to be a productive member of the roster. Hosmer has regressed both offensively and defensively and while his leadership skills were praised by some players, he was also blamed for some of the chemistry issues at the end of 2021.

How Preller assesses the level of urgency to move on from these two will have a major impact on the power of the Padres lineup.

5. Where does power come from?

Fernando Tatis Jr. will rake. Just like Manny Machado. Jake Cronenworth’s left-handed bat is as stable as it gets. After that, things get a little sparse.

If Hosmer and Myers are still on board, we can assume they’ll give what they’ve been giving recently, around 30 HR combined. That’s why the Friars try to add a hitter like Nelson Cruz as DH and/or Seiya Suzuki in the outfield. Both of these bats are likely to be very productive without breaking the bank.

It would also be great to have a healthy full season with receiver Austin Nola and center Trent Grisham, two guys who have had success in the past but have been distracted by various ailments. Ha-Seong Kim taking a big step forward in his 2nd major league season would be a bonus, as would a top prospect like CJ Abrams forcing his hugely talented way into the Petco Park roster.

The offense is very similar to the throwing stick. If he’s healthy, he could be among the best in the game. If not, depth could be what’s still sinking the Padres’ playoff hopes.

LISTEN: With NBC 7 San Diego’s Darnay Tripp and Derek Togerson behind the mic, On Friar will cover all things San Diego Padres. Interviews, analysis, behind the scenes… the ups, downs and everything in between. Tap here to find On Friar wherever you listen to podcasts.