San Diego Padres: Five Keys to Success in the NL West

Jack GodfreyContributor IIFebruary 12, 2013

San Diego Padres: Five Keys to Success in the NL West

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    The San Diego Padres and GM Josh Byrnes have left much to be desired this offseason.

    They have spent most of their assets on keeping their roster from last season and maintaining their farm system. This may be the best strategy for the Padres considering that they finished with a respectable 42-33 record after the All-Star break.

    There is tons of potential in the farm system with guys like Jedd Gyorko, Rymer Liriano, and Austin Hedges.

    The Padres will have stiff competition in the NL West now that the San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks have proven that they are ready to compete for a pennant.

    Here are the Padres' five keys to having a successful 2013 in the NL West.

Carlos Quentin's Health

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    The potential impact of Carlos Quentin cannot be understated when considering the Padres' hopes for the 2013 season.

    In 2008 Carlos Quentin slugged his way to fifth in the MVP voting by hitting 36 HR's and 100 RBI's for the Chicago White Sox. He looked like the next big thing in the MLB, but a slew of injuries has set him back. 

    Quentin missed the first 49 games of last season due to knee surgery, but came back and racked up 14 HR's and 46 RBI's. He is a proven power hitter, which is what Padres fans have been craving ever since the departure of Adrian Gonzalez.

Beating the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants

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    Beating the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants is vital for the Padres' 2013 campaign.

    The Giants are fresh off their second World Series Championship in three years, and the Dodgers have been spending rampantly in an effort to bolster their lineup.

    The last time the Padres made the playoffs was 2006. In that season, they managed to post a 12-6 record against the Los Angeles Dodgers and fared decently against the San Francisco Giants.

    In 2012, the Padres performed much worse against both teams and failed to reach a .500 record. If the Padres want to have any chance at winning the NL West and capturing a pennant, they will need to have success against both teams.

Headley's Performance

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    Chase Headley finished fifth in last season's MVP voting and carried the Padres on his back down the stretch.

    Despite failing to make the postseason, the Padres found some second half success due in large part to Headley's consistent contributions.

    If numbers don't lie, then it's safe to say that Chase Headley was a top 10 player in the Majors last season. He batted .286, hit 31 HR's and had 115 RBI's on one of the worst offensive teams in the league. He also came out of the season with an offensive WAR (wins above replacement) of 6.2, which was sixth in all of baseball.

    Headley is in the prime of his career and in order for the Padres to have a successful season, they will need to utilize every ounce of baseball left in him.

Success from Minor Leaguers

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    Many of the Padres hopes for next season rely on their studs in the Minor Leagues. ranks three players in the San Diego farm system in the top 100: Jedd Gyorko (50), Rymer Liriano (55), and Austin Hedges (73).

    Gyorko managed to hit above .300 and rip 83 RBI's last season in the minor leagues, which showed his ability at the plate.

    Liriano also showed tremendous potential in the minors by proving his assets on every part of the field. He managed to swipe bases in the California League.

    As for Hedges, he is a top 10 catching prospect. He has proven ability at the plate and with any luck will evolve into a future starter.

    The Padres have struggled with their position players over the last few years. In order for them to succeed in the NL West they will need to utilize the abilities of Gyorko, Liriano and Hedges.

Maintaining a Complete Rotation

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    The San Diego Padres pitching rotation and bullpen have always been their biggest strengths. However, last season their rotation was riddled with injuries and not up to par.

    RHP Dustin Moseley was acquired by the Padres prior to the 2012 season. He was supposed to be another pitcher to resurrect his career at PETCO Park. But after starting one game and giving up five runs, he went on the 60-day DL and underwent right shoulder surgery that shelved him for the season.

    SB Nation writer Marc Normandin is correct when he said some of these injuries were blessings in disguise. They opened the door for highly touted pitching prospects like Joe Wieland, Eric Stults and Robbie Erlin.

    The new task at hand is maintaining the latest rotation made up of young and talented SP's. 

    If the Padres hope to compete in the NL West they will need to shore up their rotation and search for the pitching prowess that made them competitors in the past.