3 steps backward...5 more steps back? The San Diego Padres 2009 Preview

Nothing like an ugly divorce to start the season right.

San Diego Padres owner John Moores divorce from wife Becky has sent the already financially strapped and terrible Friars into a tailspin.

The Padres have spent most of the offseason trying to sell of assets like they're going out of business. Couple that with allegations of domestic violence against outfielder Brian Giles and you find yourself feeling that the Padres should just shut down baseball operations this season.

All that being said I don't think San Diego is as bad as its record indicated in 2008. They still have former Cy Young award winner Jake Peavy in top form.... for now. They also feature a young lineup that should continue to get better.

First baseman Adrian Gonzalez leads the talented young crew at the age of 26 with his second consecutive year of 30 home runs and and 100 plus RBIs. In Petco Park, it makes the numbers even more impressive considering how tough it has been to put up power numbers there.

While 23-year-old second baseman Matt Antonelli only batted .193 in limited time in 2008, he has been tabbed to be a front line starter for the Padres for years to come. Batting second at high Class A Lake Elsinore in 2007, he had a slash of 318/.427/.475 and showed good speed with 13 steals in 14 attempts before struggling a bit up the rest of the baseball ladder.

Kevin Kouzmanoff, a 27-year-old third baseman had a good year in the majors going deep 23 times and driving in 84 runs. He'll need his .260 average to climb with his low .299 on-base percentage to take the next step.

The final piece of the young puzzle is 24-year-old Chase Headley. Headley has been at the top of the prospect list since he arrived in the Padres organization and delivered during his 2008 call up. He batted .269 with nine home runs and 38 RBIs in 331 at-bats.

Couple this young lineup with the signing of scrappy shortstop David Eckstein and this lineup has the potential to be pretty good.

The pitching, on the other hand, is a gigantic question mark outside of Peavy especially now that the bullpen is weaker because San Diego decided to let future Hall of Fame closer Trevor Hoffman leave for the Milwaukee Brewers.

Chris Young should hold down the second slot in the rotation but is he going to be healthy enough? Young will have to carry a heavy load after starting only 18 games in 2008 because the back end of the rotation is unproven or bad. Josh Greer and Wade Leblanc have nine major league starts between them and Cha Seung Baek posted a 6-10 record with a 4.79 ERA in 21 starts in a pitchers park for the most part.

The Padres are almost certainly not a playoff team but that shouldn't be the most important thing to them. The key is to develop the back end of the young rotation, cultivate the young talent on offense and to avoid selling off Peavy for minimal value.