12/05/12 9:37 PM ET
Padres pleased with offensive options in-house
Club seeks pitching at Winter Meetings; Black says 'position players are set'
By Corey Brock / MLB.com
Whereas in his first six visits to the Winter Meetings with the team Black presided over a roster heavy on pitching and light on offense, just the opposite is true this winter.
The Padres seek a starting pitcher and actually have no qualms about opening the 2013 regular season with the same cast of characters -- position players, that is -- that ended the 2012 season.
"Our position players are set," Black said Wednesday, an unusual refrain from his annual gathering with reporters as baseball's annual Winter Meetings.
No, this isn't the '27 Yankees here, but the Padres find some comfort in knowing that they can indeed score runs, after ranking fifth in the National League in runs scored from July 1 to the end of the 2012 season.
"I think overall run production and just the names in the lineup and what they were doing is probably as good as we've seen in my six years," said Black, who took over as manager before the 2007 season.
The Padres scored 651 runs last season, their third-highest total in Black's six seasons. They scored 665 runs in 2010 when they won 90 games and 741 runs in 2007, when they made it to the infamous Game 163 in Colorado.
It should be noted, though, that 380 of the Padres' runs last season game in their final 83 games. They scored 271 runs in only four fewer games to begin the season.
The Padres will start the season with Yonder Alonso at first base, coming off a rookie season where he hit .273 with 39 doubles and 62 RBIs. Rookie Jedd Gyorko will be given a chance in spring to win the starting job at second base, though Logan Forsythe accounted well for himself in 2012. Everth Cabrera is the shortstop and Chase Headley -- coming off a monster year, with an offseason trophy haul to boot -- returns at third base.
Left fielder Carlos Quentin had minor knee surgery after the season and is working out. He wants to play at a lighter weight. Quentin had 38 extra-base hits in 86 games but was slowed by soreness in the knee that was first repaired in March. Center fielder Cameron Maybin hit 71 points higher during the second half. In right field, the Padres will likely again use Chris Denorfia and Will Venable in a platoon.
With Yasmani Grandal serving a 50-game suspension to start the season, the Padres will use John Baker and Nick Hundley at catcher.
"I'm very encouraged. Almost any way you look at it, there are signs of encouragement. We had a deep lineup, a good bench, a left-right balance, we had some power and speed," said Padres general manager Josh Byrnes.
"There are guys where we think there's more offense in there. But for several months, that was a pretty good offense."
A key figure for the Padres in 2013 is Quentin, who provided some much-needed pop to the lineup and also allowed players like Headley and Alonso to slide into spots in the order where they possibly saw a better set of pitches or where they could better succeed.
"I think with [Quentin] in the lineup and what he can do, it makes us a better roster for sure," Black said. "If he's hitting fourth, certain players might take a little different approach to hitting fourth. He does take a little pressure off of guys, and he's a good offensive player. He makes us better."
Quentin had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee two days after the end of the regular season. He said at that time that he would change his training regimen and try to come in at a lighter weight to start the 2013 season in order to take stress off his knees.
"Seeing him down at the ballpark, he's in great spirits about how his knee feels. He feels good about his offseason program," Black said. "He knows this is a big offseason for him. He's not taking it lightly as far as his responsibility of what he means to our club, and that's a great thing."