1. Jake Peavy
-Miraculously, the Padres did not trade Jake Peavy this offseason. A Peavy trade seemed inevitable, but thankfully, GM Kevin Towers came to his senses. Or better yet, Towers did not find an offer good enough for Peavy. Or perhaps, Peavy's no trade clause prohibited a trade from taking place. No matter what the reason, the Padres still have their ace and Padres fans still have a reason to go to PETCO.
2. Can Heath Close?
-The Padres made a bold move this offseason by not resigning franchise icon Trevor Hoffman. By letting Hoffman walk, the Padres are putting their trust in Heath Bell, who was Hoffman's trusty set-up man in 2007 and 2008. But the question remains: can Bell close? Bell only has two career saves and has some huge shoes to fill. Bell has electric stuff and should be able to succeed, but it remains to be seen if he has the mentality of a closer and enough moxie to replace a legend.
-It's been a long time since the Padres have had a homegrown hitting prospect with as much potential as Chase Headley. The left fielder will finally be assured of consistent playing time with the Padres in 2009, so look for the 24 year old to flourish. There is no reason to think that Headley cannot hit .290 with 15-20 HR this season, even in the spacious PETCO Park. The Padres lifeless offense needs Headley to come through in 2009.
4. Adrian Gonzalez: superstar
-Does anyone outside the greater San Diego area realize just how good this guy is? Gonzalez put up huge numbers in 2008 (36 HR, 119 RBI) despite playing one of the worst hitters ballparks in baseball and being surrounded by the worst offense in the National League. If the Padres can put some offensive talent around him (doubtful at best), look for Gonzalez to emerge as a legitimate star in 2009. Enjoy him while you can, Padres fans...Gonzalez is a free agent after 2010!
5. Can Mark Prior do anything?
-At one time, Prior looked like he was about to become one of the best pitchers in baseball. But then a vast array of injuries and arm troubles set in, and Prior has not come close to fulfilling his potential. The sad reality of this situation is that Prior has not had a good season since 2005. Yikes. Prior is now with the Padres on a minor league deal and it would be quite gratifying just to see Prior on a major league field once again.