San Diego Padres: 6 Reasons Why the Padres Will Contend in the NL West

Gary OusdahlCorrespondent IIDecember 22, 2012

San Diego Padres: 6 Reasons Why the Padres Will Contend in the NL West

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    As recently as 2008, the National League West was considered a sub-par division and filled with mediocre teams barely breaking the .500 mark.  

    In 2005, for instance, the Giants, Dodgers, Rockies and Diamondbacks all finished the season with losing records, while the San Diego Padres won the division with a mere 82-80 mark.

    Mediocrity aside, 2013 looks to be an exciting year for the National League West and its fans.  

    The Dodgers, with new ownership in place, have already proven that they are not afraid to spend and—on paper—are beginning to look like Yankee teams of the recent past.  The San Francisco Giants are the reigning World Series Champions and have won the title two of the last three years.  And though it may look to be a tough year for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks, both teams have decent leadership and could make some noise next season.

    The San Diego Padres, moreover, finally look ready to compete.  With new ownership in place, a solid group of players largely unchanged from last season and one of the strongest farm systems in all of Major League Baseball, the Padres are looking to turn some heads in the National League in 2013.

    Let's look at six reasons why the San Diego Padres should be a contender in 2013 and beyond:

Momentum

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    The Padres may not have started 2012 with a bang, but they sure ended the year strong with a 42-33 record after the All-Star break.

    With a relatively young squad of players looking to make a name for themselves, the Padres aim to continue their momentum going into 2013.  

Depth

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    For the first time in recent history, the Padres look to have solid depth in their 2013 roster.  

    With the exception of their starting rotation, the Padres are deep in all positions and haven't had to make any drastic changes or moves this offseason.  They are also stocked with a stellar farm system of major-league ready prospects.

    If they can stay healthy and play the kind of baseball they showed in the second half of last season, the Padres will have plenty of depth should the injury bug bite them again in 2013.

Chase Headley

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    With a monster season in 2012, San Diego third baseman Chase Headley should come back with a vengeance in 2013.

    In a career year with the Padres, Headley batted .286 with 31 home runs and an NL-leading 115 RBI.  He also had 17 stolen bases and won both the Silver Slugger and Golden Glove awards at third base.

    The National League Player of the Month in both August and September, Headley will look to continue his dominance in the Padres lineup in 2013.   

Carlos Quentin

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    Though he missed the first 49 games of the season with a right-knee injury, Carlos Quentin proved to be very productive in the 86 games he played for the Padres in 2012.

    Quentin batted .261 with 16 home runs and 46 RBI.  He also had an .877 OPS, which was his best since 2008.  

    If he stays healthy, Quentin will be a formidable run-producing threat in the middle of the lineup next year.

Manager Bud Black

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    Former left-handed pitcher Bud Black has been a consistent leader and figurehead for the Padres ever since Bruce Bochy left for the rival San Francisco Giants in 2006.

    Though Black has had to deal with constant restructuring and abysmal payrolls during his tenure as Padres manager, he is a fantastic motivator and has proven to be successful in growing and developing young talent.

    The 2010 National League Manager of the Year finally has a solid base to work with and should lead the Padres to the top of the National League West standings in the near future—perhaps even in 2013.

The O'Malley-Seidler-Fowler Group

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    The Padres' new ownership group consisting of the O'Malley family, Tom Seidler and San Diego businessman Ron Fowler look poised and determined to turn the team into a contender for many years to come.

    Though the team may not see a huge change in payroll in 2013, the group looks committed to winning and have already shown that commitment to the city of San Diego.

    The extensions of closer Houston Street and outfielders Carlos Quentin and Cameron Maybin show that the new owners plan to change the Padres' previous agenda of trading star players, with the group looking to retain fan favorites and team leaders in the future.  

    Though it is too early to speculate what their ultimate goal will be, the owners have already proven that their commitment to the fans is legitimate and genuine.

    If the team can re-sign third baseman Chase Headley and bring in one more solid starting pitcher, the Padres will be able to compete in 2013 and beyond.

    What do you think of the Padres' chances next year?