How will the Padres replace Adrian Gonzalez at first base?
Maybe this is an unfair question, because the reality is they won’t be able to do so.
The Padres were 12th in the National League this past season with 132 home runs and 665 runs scored. Meanwhile, Adrian Gonzalez hit 31 home runs and drove in 101 runs -- that’s 23.5 percent and 15.2 percent of their offense, respectively. Taking a quick look at their team page over at Baseball Reference and you’ll see that no other Padres player topped either 13 home runs (Will Venable) or 58 RBI (Chase Headley). That’s a huge void to fill.
Making matters worse is that Kyle Blanks, who many considered a logical in-house replacement for Gonzalez at first base, is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery. Dan Hayes of the North County Times writes that the Padres believe Blanks will be able to swing a bat by spring training and that his arm will be 75 percent by then. Still, it’s hard to count on him for the early part of the 2011 season. Meanwhile, Anthony Rizzo is unlikely to arrive in the major leagues until late in the 2011 season or early 2012.
With that in mind, Hayes expects the Padres to look for help in free agency. We’re not talking about high-profile types like Paul Konerko or Carlos Pena, but temporary stop-gaps like Troy Glaus or Xavier Nady would make some sense.