A 10-Step Plan for Transforming the Padres Back into a Contender

Kevin Goldberg@kevin_goldbergCorrespondent IJanuary 2, 2013

A 10-Step Plan for Transforming the Padres Back into a Contender

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    It’s time for the San Diego Padres to stop being a “rebuilding” team, and start being a contender once again. However, it is easier said than done. 

    The current Padres roster isn't far off from being competitive once again. Even some of my Bleacher Report colleagues have penned them to be a sleeper team this coming season.

    Given the success the team saw in the second half of the 2012 season, combined with the development of highly-touted prospects, the 2013 Padres should be exciting to watch. Although, they’re not complete contenders yet. Here’s how I feel they could regain their old form.

1. More Money

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    I realize it’s an easy cop-out to say more money will make a better team. However, looking at other contenders spending habits shows the Padres cannot be an elite team without opening up their pockets more than they have in the past. 

    The new Padres’ ownership has hinted they are willing to spend more, yet they haven’t proved so during this offseason. 

    As I have pointed out in other articles, the Padres 2013 team salary will most likely be between $50-$60 million. 

    I’m not advocating spending money like the Yankees or Dodgers, but it would be nice to see a team salary north of $70 million while still maintaining fiscal responsibility.

2. Spend on Pitching

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    Starting pitching---according to GM Josh Byrnes---was supposed to be a main target this offseason. However, after failing to sign the coveted free agents---Dan Haren, Brandon McCarthy and Edwin Jackson---the Padres may look to acquire an ace via trade. 

    I believe the Padres are one top-of-the-rotation guy away from having a formidable staff, especially once Cory Luebke recovers from his Tommy John surgery last May. 

    If the Padres want to spend somewhere, make it pitching.

3. Extend Chase Headley

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    Is there really a more blatant answer to this? Extend Chase Headley! 

    After a monster 2012 season, hitting 31 home runs and an NL-leading 115 RBI. His success granted him fifth in MVP voting, a GIBBY, a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger. All these accolades, while still being paid at a relatively cheep value ($3.475 million in 2012). 

    The Padres want to keep him rather than cash in on his ridiculously high trade-value right now. In December, Scott Miller of CBS Sports reported that the Padres aren't interested in trading Headley after the rumors of a Rodriquez-less Yankees were pursuing. 

4. Revamp the Outfield

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    The Padres outfield, though not entirely dazzling, gets the job done. The problem; however, is the lack of quality depth. 

    Carlos Quentin is more than injury-prone, and I still have questions about how long the 30-year-old will last in the MLB

    I also am not sold on Will Venable being an everyday outfielder. 

    Cameron Maybin seems to be the only long-term piece, as his recent extension puts him with the Padres through 2017

    San Diego’s outfield could definitely use upgrades. Shin-Soo Choo would have been a great addition to the Padres’ roster and ongoing quest for more speed. However, after his trade to the Reds, management needs to look elsewhere.

5. Prospect Development

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    There are countless articles written about next-generation Padres. Names such as Jedd Gyorko, Cory Spangenberg and Austin Hedges should be familiar to most Padres fans by now. 

    The new slew of rookies and young studs like Yasmani Grandal, Casey Kelly and Yonder Alonso will be crucial to the upcoming success of the Padres. 

    Developing these players should be one of the Padres' biggest concentrations in the 2013 season.

6. Sign a Marquee Player

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    Along with Chase Headley, the Padres should search for another marquee player to fill the seats. 

    The Padres ranked 21st in average attendance in 2012. A big reason suspected is the lack of a superstar. 

    As I pointed out on a previous slide, the Padres need more money to put up a championship-caliber team. Put a product on the field people want to see and less seats will be empty.

7. Retain Veterans

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    The Padres have done a great job of this already by signing Huston Street and Cameron Maybin to extensions. 

    Obviously, the glaring missing example is Chase Headley. 

    The presence of solid veterans is crucial for the development of the young players the Padres will rely so heavily upon.

8. Keep Bud Black

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    Bud Black is one of the most underrated mangers in the league right now. Even though he won the NL Manager of the Year in 2010, somehow his name is often overlooked.

    The Padres did the right thing in picking up the options in his contract and retaining him until 2015. Yet I’m advocating for an even longer extension. 

    His management of players’ egos, development and pressure is truly remarkable.

9. Continue Great Scouting

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    This has been one of the most successful areas of the Padres organization in past years. My colleagues rank the Padres farm system as fourth-best in the MLB

    Having great prospect depth helps a team in countless ways (depth, trade chips, never-ending young players, etc).

10. Perform

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    Lastly, the Padres need to perform. All the great pieces in the world don’t matter without performance and achieving goals. 

    Gyorko and the other rookies need to live up to their potential and the Padres should climb up the power rankings.