Can the Padres repeat what the 2012 Athletics did?
The 2012 Oakland A's put together a historic season that made "Moneyball" look like nothing.
Now, the question is, can the 2013 San Diego Padres put together the same kind of run?
Last year, the A's came into the season with a payroll of $55.37 million. Still, they won 94 games and won the American League West.
This year, the Padres will come in with a low payroll, but do have pieces in place to at least compete in the National League West.
So, let's look at some of the factors that will determine whether San Diego will find success.
Can San Diego do what Oakland did in 2012?
As with any team, success depends on starting pitching, unless you're the 2012 Baltimore Orioles.
For the Padres, there are good pieces in place in Edinson Volquez, Clayton Richard and Casey Kelly.
Volquez was serviceable in 2012, going 11-11 with a 4.14 ERA. Richard was an innings-eater as he went 14-14 with a 3.99 ERA in 218.2 innings.
Kelly saw a little time in the majors last year, but struggled to find his groove. This year could be much different as he grows more comfortable at the next level.
There's not much to be confident about in the No. 4 and 5 starters for the Padres. However, there are at least a few good pieces in the rotation for the team to work with.
Yasmani Grandal had a .297 average with eight home runs and 36 RBI in 60 games last year. He's the Padres' backstop for at least the next decade and should be even better this year.
Of course, it doesn't help that he's been suspended for 50 games for testosterone use. But, the Padres should be able to overcome that.
Then there's third baseman Chase Headley. What else can you say: He had a spectacular 2012. He batted .286 with 31 home runs and 115 RBI.
There was speculation that he could be traded before the deadline last year. However, no deal was good enough for San Diego and Headley remained.
Yonder Alonso was thought to be a prize when acquired from the Cincinnati Reds, but Petco Park zapped his power.
Everth Cabrera is a good option for the leadoff position. He has speed and can get on base. The one area he must improve is his .246 average. That is unacceptable for a leadoff hitter.
Signing Carlos Quentin to a long-term deal was the best thing the Padres could do.
Not only does Quentin provide a power bat in the middle of the lineup, but he also provides leadership in the clubhouse.
On a team where most players are still in their 20s, leadership is the biggest thing.
Will Venable and Cameron Maybin are serviceable outfielders. They're not going to wow anyone with their play, but they do provide speed on the bases and in the field.
San Diego has a back end to its bullpen that is one of the best in baseball.
With Huston Street closing and a slew of young arms, the bullpen was a definite strength in 2012. The bullpen had a 3.24 ERA, which ranked eighth in baseball.
Among the young arms are Brad Boxberger, Luke Gregerson and Dale Thayer.
Those same young arms will return, in addition to Street, and should be one of the best bullpens in baseball again.
The Padres seem to have better offensive pieces than the 2012 Athletics did, while the pitching is stronger in Oakland.
The reason Oakland was able to do so well was its play within the division (33-24 record) and 25-18 record in one-run games.
If San Diego can mirror those two traits, then it can have success. The Padres had a little of that success last year, going 34-38 in the division and 26-21 in one-run games.
Winning the division can be done.
The Athletics did it with less, so surely the Padres can do it with more.