With spring training games around the corner, the San Diego Padres are going to have a lot to prove to both themselves and fans in 2013.
Their 76–86 record in 2012 may not have been very impressive, but their play in the second half of the season (42–33 after the All-Star break), gives fans something to be excited about going into the new season.
Not only that, but the Padres also have a large group of young, hungry players and plenty of depth in both their major league team as well as in the minors.
And though a lot of youngsters will be fighting for regular playing time, many veterans are going to have to prove they are still worthy of full-time positions.
Let's be honest here, outside of Chase Headley, there wasn't a single veteran player that could classify their 2012 season as exemplary.
With a lot of question marks going into the season, it will be nice to see how this healthy competition fuels the play on the field.
Will there be more surprise breakout seasons like Headley's in 2012? Can the pitching staff not only stay healthy, but also find guys to fill out and secure the remaining three spots in the rotation? Will the new dimensions at Petco Park make a difference in the offensive production of the team?
Sure there's some uncertainty, but there's also a lot of optimism looking into the future.
Let's have a look at this year's San Diego Padres and see what's in store for 2013...
Key Arrivals: (RHP) Freddy Garcia (minor league contract), (RHP) Tyson Ross (from Oakland), (RHP) Sean O'Sullivan (minor league contract), (OF) Travis Buck (minor league contract), (RHP) Fautino De Los Santos (waivers from Milwaukee), (2B) Adam Buschini (minor league contract), (IF) Cody Ransom (minor league contract), (LHP) Chris Rearick (from Tampa Bay),
Key Departures: (IF) Andy Parrino (to Oakland), (LHP) Andrew Werner (to Oakland), (OF) Blake Tekotte (to White Sox), (RHP) Ross Ohlendorf (minor league contract with Washington), (RHP) Matt Palmer (minor league contract with Los Angeles), (INF) Vincent Belnome (to Tampa Bay), (LHP) Josh Spence (waivers to Yankees), (RHP) Neil Wagner (minor league contract with Toronto).
While the front office spoke of adding two starting pitchers to the rotation, the outcome of their results have been disappointing at best.
And though Tyson Ross, Freddy Garcia and Sean O'Sullivan look to be competing for a spot in the 2013 rotation, general manager Josh Byrnes should have added at least one solid starter this offseason.
The upside, however, is that the Padres have depth.
And though the front office didn't really address potential needs in right field or the middle infield, the abundance of players both young and old will leave a lot of healthy competition internally this spring.
Overview: The Padres had a very uneventful offseason and should have done more to strengthen the team—especially in starting pitching.
Projected Starting Rotation:
The biggest question mark the San Diego Padres have going into 2013 is their starting rotation.
I hate to sound redundant, but it's painfully clear that the front office did not feel that this was a pressing issue going into the offseason.
However, it's also apparent that the Padres have quite a number of available starting options in spring training as well as later in the season as injured pitchers recover.
1. Clayton Richard (14–14, 3.99 ERA, 107 K's, 218.2 IP, 1.23 WHIP) — Coming off of three straight seasons with an ERA below 4.00, Richard proved in 2012 that he can bounce back from injury and pitch quality innings for the Padres. Now if he can only keep his hit and home run totals down (he led the National League in both categories last year), Richard should have a solid 2013..
2. Edinson Volquez (11–11, 4.14 ERA, 174 K's, 182.2 IP, 1.45 WHIP) — Volquez, like Richard, also proved that he could bounce back from injury and three mediocre years of pitching in Cincinnati. His strikeout totals were good, but he also led the league in walks. If Volquez can finally learn to harness control of his pitches, he could be a great pitcher and possibly surpass the totals he put up in 2008 (17–6, 3.21 ERA, 206 K's, 196 IP, 1.327 WHIP).
3. Jason Marquis (8–11, 5.22 ERA, 91 K's, 127.2 IP, 1.67 WHIP) — Marquis has always been a mediocre pitcher with a lifetime 4.60 ERA, but when healthy, he can eat innings and throw strikes. Though I personally feel that he should be pitching long relief out of the pen, Marquis will more than likely land the number three spot in the rotation this year.
4. Eric Stults (8–3, 2.91 ERA, 55 K's, 99 IP, 1.20 WHIP) — Stults had a fine season with the Padres last year, however, the chances that he repeats those numbers are unlikely. Will he make the rotation out of spring? He probably has a pretty decent chance with his performance from last season. Will he keep his spot in the rotation for the duration of the season? We shall see...
5. Casey Kelly (2–3, 6.21 ERA, 26 K's, 29 IP, 1.69 WHIP) — The Padres' fourth-ranked prospect may have had a rough outing in his first year of big league experience (minus his debut against Atlanta), but he's poised to make a strong run at the rotation this spring. The former first-rounder has no lack of ability, but has to show better command of his pitches and learn to keep the ball down. With a strong spring, Kelly could very likely land the fifth spot in the rotation.
Other Possible Starters:
Freddy Garcia (7–6, 5.20 ERA, 89 K's, 107.1 IP, 1.370 WHIP) — The former two-time All-Star was the one "big name" signing for the Padres this offseason. If Garcia can stay healthy, Petco could prove to be a fine location for the right-handed pitcher. However, at 36 years old and without a completely healthy season since 2006, Garcia's best days are long behind him.
Anthony Bass (2–8, 4.73 ERA, 80 K's, 97 IP, 1.320 WHIP) — If given the opportunity, Anthony Bass could be a fantastic starting pitcher in the big leagues. Though he wasn't impressive across 15 starts in 2012, if the 25-year-old can improve his walk ratio, he will definitely compete for a starting spot this spring.
Cory Luebke (3–1, 2.61 ERA, 23 K's, 32 IP, 1.161 WHIP) — If Cory Luebke can stay healthy, he should be a mainstay in the Padres' rotation for many years to come. The former first-rounder underwent Tommy John surgery last season after experiencing soreness in his left elbow. Though he's expected to miss the first two months of the season continuing his recovery, he could provide above-average strikeout and walk ratios upon his return.
Andrew Cashner (3–4, 4.27 ERA, 52 K's, 46.1 IP, 1.317 WHIP) — The 26-year-old Cashner suffered a lacerated tendon in his right thumb during a hunting accident in December and will more than likely miss the beginning of the season. He also suffered from a strained right lat muscle last season after 27 relief appearances and three starts. However, when healthy, Cashner is a strikeout machine with a fastball that clocks in the upper-90s. If he can just stay healthy, it would be nice to see Cashner get a shot at the rotation. It would also be great to see a return on the trade that sent Anthony Rizzo to the Cubs.
Tyson Ross (2–11, 6.50 ERA, 46 K's, 73.1 IP, 1.814 WHIP) — Ross was one of the two "key starting pitchers" that the Padres added this offseason. Though he struggled with the Athletics last season, he is a hard-throwing right-handed pitcher who had good success in the minors. If he can keep his walk rate down, Ross may have a place in the Padres rotation this year.
Joe Wieland (0–4, 4.55 ERA, 24 K's, 27.2 IP, 1.265 WHIP) — I can't wait to see the Mike Adams trade pay off. After just five starts last season, Wieland (like many other Padre starters) hit the disabled list with right elbow soreness, which led to Tommy John surgery in late July. With an expected return sometime around the All-Star break, Wieland should get another shot at proving himself in the bigs.
Overview: 2013 will certainly be an interesting season for the Padres' rotation. They internally have the arms, but will they be able to pitch well — and more importantly — stay healthy during a full season? I hope to see some surprises here in this group, but I also wouldn't be too surprised to see sub-par ERA's and only two to three guys with 150+ innings pitched at the end of the year.
Projected Starting Lineup:
Not much of a change from last season, but it will be exciting to see what this group of players can do now that they have proven that they can put runs up on the board.
1. Everth Cabrera — SS — (.246/.324/.324, 44 SB) — Cabrera has always been able to run (he led the National League last year) and he has a decent glove, now if he can just hit for average, the Padres will have one of the best lead-off hitters in the game.
2. Will Venable — OF — (.264/.335/.429, 24 SB) — Like Cabrera, Venable needs to learn how to hit for average. He has all of the tools to be a great all-around player, now he just needs to put all of the pieces together. With some talented minor leaguers close to being major league ready, this year will be a make-or-break season for Venable.
3. Chase Headley — 3B — (.286/.376/.498, 17 SB) — Headley didn't get off to a stellar start last season, but he sure ended it with a season to remember. The National League player of the month in both August and September finally lived up to expectations and there is no reason why he won't be able to follow up his performance from last season in 2013. That is, if he doesn't get traded and puts up those numbers for another team.
4. Carlos Quentin — OF — (.261/.374/.504) — If Quentin can stay healthy for an entire season, he has the skills and ability to put up huge numbers — even in Petco Park. The problem is, he hasn't been able to stay healthy for an entire season since he broke into the majors. Will 2013 be that year?
5. Yonder Alonso — 1B — (.273/.348/.393) —In his first full season of play, Alonso put up decent numbers and proved he can be a durable, full-time first baseman. However, his power numbers weren't what were expected with only nine home runs in 2012. Regardless, Alonso hits for good contact and I expect to see great things out of him in the near future.
6. Cameron Maybin — OF — (.243/.306/.349, 26 SB) — Like many other Padre players already discussed, Maybin is another guy who needs to learn how to hit for average. The former 2005 first-round pick has all the tools to be a great player, but he hasn't been able to put it all together since breaking into the big leagues. I personally think 2013 will be Maybin's year and expect to see him excel this season.
7. Jedd Gyorko — 2B — (N/A) — I've always been a fan and a strong proponent of Jedd Gyorko taking over the starting second base position this year for the Padres. If Gyorko can consistently hit the way he has in the minors, I wouldn't be surprised to see him competing for the National League Rookie of the Year Award. Now the question is if he can adjust to playing second base on a regular basis.
8. Nick Hundley — C — (.157/.219/.245) — With an extremely disappointing 2012 season, Hundley will get another chance to prove himself with Yasmani Grandal out for the first 50 games of the season due to a positive Performance Enhancing Drrug (PED) test. If Hundley can re-find his stroke and perform the way he did in 2011, he could create some nice competition for the starting catcher position when Grandal returns.
Overview: If this lineup can perform the way they did in the second-half of last season, 2013 can surprise a lot of folks. However, if the non-hitting San Diego curse plagues the team again, it could be a long year for Padre fans. Luckily the team has depth in the minors and a talented roster of guys on the bench.
Projected Bench Players:
If there's one thing the Padres have in 2013, it's depth. Not only that, but they have proven guys that have been solid bench players and spot starters in the past.
If the injury bug comes back to bite the Padres this season, at least the team knows it has options in their current roster as well as in the farm.
Chris Denorfia — OF — (.293/.345/.451, 13 SB) — Denorfia has been a model of consistency ever since coming over to the Padres in 2010. The problem is, there's been younger guys with more potential tools that have been receiving the majority of the playing time—without the productive results. This season looks to be the same for Denorfia, but expect to see him get his fair share of pinch-hits and spot starts in the outfield.
Logan Forsythe — 2B — (.273/.343/.390) — Logan Forsythe deserves the starting job at second base due to his solid play last season, however, he'll probably start the season as a back-up middle infielder with Cabrera and Gyorko taking most of the starts at second and short. If he can keep the errors down on the field and continue to swing a good bat, Forsythe could eventually take over at second if Gyorko struggles.
Jesus Guzman — OF/1B — (.247/.319/.418) — If given the opportunity to play on a regular basis, Guzman would knock in a ton of runs. He's an imposing hitter and when he connects, the ball flies. However, like Denorfia, he's blocked by other guys. For the time being, Guzman will remain a bench player, but he's also an injury away from getting the opportunity to play full time.
Alexi Amarista — 2B/SS/OF — (.240/.282/.385) — Amarista provides the Padres with a solid defensive glove in both the middle infield and outfield. He may not be a starter now, but if he can prove that he can hit as well as he fields, he may surprise you in the near future.
Mark Kotsay — OF/1B — (.240/.282/.385) — The good ol' reliable veteran. Kotsay may not be the player he was when he was with the Padres from 2001–2003, but he brings veteran leadership to a relatively young team and can still get on base and provide solid pinch-hit at-bats when necessary.
John Baker — C — (.238/.310/.280) — Like Hundley, Baker is benefitting from Yasmani Grandal's absence from the lineup. While he's no standout either offensively or defensively, he's still a solid back-up catcher that can relieve Hundley should the pressures of starting day-to-day take a toll on his performance.
Overview: The Padres have a good bench in 2013 and if injuries hit, they'll be covered by guys who have filled that position before. Also, expect to see a lot of new faces coming off the bench this year with many younger players close to being major league ready.
The San Diego Padres once again had a fantastic bullpen in 2012. With the fifth-lowest relief ERA in the National League last season, the Padres look to go into 2013 with a bullpen that is relatively unchanged.
Huston Street (Closer) — (1.85 ERA, 39 IP, 47 K's, .718 WHIP)
Luke Gregerson — (2.39 ERA, 71.2 IP, 72 K's, 1.088 WHIP)
Dale Thayer — (3.43 ERA, 57.2 IP, 47 K's, 1.127 WHIP)
Brad Boxberger — (2.60 ERA, 27.2 IP, 33 K's, 1.446 WHIP)
Brad Brach — (3.78 ERA, 66.2 IP, 75 K's, 1.245 WHIP)
Tommy Layne — (3.24 ERA, 16.2 IP, 25 K's, .720 WHIP)
Miles Mikolas — (3.62 ERA, 32.1 IP, 23 K's, 1.454 WHIP)
Nick Vincent — (1.71 ERA, 26.1 IP, 28 K's, .987 WHIP)
Joe Thatcher — (3.41 ERA, 31.2 IP, 39 K's, 1.389 WHIP)
Overview: As always, the Padres' bullpen is one of the bright spots for fans year in and year out. If they can stay healthy and avoid the disabled list, there is no reason why this list of relievers won't experience success again in 2013.
While there are many X-Factors that will surely apply to the 2013 season, four questionable areas of uncertainty stick out as essential needs to the Padres success.
Production and Health in the Middle of the Lineup - It was great that Chase Headley had the season he did last year which helped motivate the Padres run during the second-half of the season, however, when Carlos Quentin hit the disabled list, the only consistently productive bat was Headley's.
Not only does Quentin need to stay healthy, but the bats before and after the three and four spots in the lineup need to do their share of getting on base, creating run scoring opportunities and driving in runs.
Petco Park's New Dimensions - Will Petco's new dimensions be a factor in the Padres' 2013 season?
With so many balls that would surely be home runs at other ballparks falling short at Petco, the new dimensions should definitely play a role in increased run production this season.
Problem is, will it also raise the team ERA and home runs allowed?
Struggling Veterans — Cameron Maybin, Will Venable, Nick Hundley and even Everth Cabrera need to step it up this year. Padre fans have waited too long for them to be "consistent" contributors and 2013 should be considered a make-or-break year for all four.
Starting — Not only does the pitching staff need to stay healthy this year, but the team needs to find regular fixtures to the rotation.
With only two pitchers with over 180-innings pitched last season (Richard and Volquez), the Padres should commit to developing guys that will remain as fixtures in the three, four and five roles—that is of course if they can avoid injury.
Prospects to Keep Your Eyes On:
Daniel Robertson — With Rymer Liriano out for the season, outfielder Daniel Robertson can make a big impact in the Padres' lineup this year. Robertson can play all three outfield positions with a solid defensive glove and has been the model of consistency with his bat and base running abilities in every level of the minor leagues. Mark my words, keep your eyes on Robertson, when (not if) he makes it to the show, he's going to turn some heads.
Kevin Quackenbush — In two seasons of minor league ball, Kevin Quackenbush has been a stud. In that time, he owns a 0.81 ERA, 45 saves and a 10.9 strikeouts-per-nine ratio. He has also only given up one home run in 99.2 innings pitched. With a fastball that sits in the low 90s, solid command of his pitches and deception in his delivery, Quackenbush could make an immediate impact in the Padres bullpen.
Robbie Erlin — Another starter that came over in the Mike Adams trade, Erlin has an above-average fastball, curve and change up and is able to throw strikes and keep hitters off-balance. Though he missed three months last year due to elbow tendinitis, he did come back strong with a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League. Expect to see great things out of him one day—if not this year.
Donn Roach — I can't wait to see Donn Roach make it to the majors and see what he can do. This kid has done nothing but pitch exceptionally while in the minors. Though he's really only a two-pitch guy with a heavy sinking fastball that hits 94 mph and an above-average splitter, Roach may find himself in the pen before he gets the opportunity to start. Regardless of where he lands, his minor league numbers speak for themselves and it will be fun to see how he transitions to major league hitting.
Matt Stites — Matt Stites, like Kevin Quackenbush, will be another stud in the San Diego bullpen one day. Last season with Class A Fort Wayne, Stites went 2-0 with a 0.74 ERA, 13 saves and 60 strikeouts in 48.2 innings pitched. He also finished tied for second in the organization in saves. With an overpowering fastball, a hard dropping slider and an above-average changeup, Stites may have what it takes to be the Padres' future closer one day.
Others Players to Watch:
Tim Stauffer — After pitching only one game for the Padres last year before season ending surgery, can Tim Stuaffer climb back and find a spot for himself in the pitching staff? Over parts of seven seasons, Stauffer owns a 3.94 ERA and posted a 1.85 ERA over 32 games (seven starts) in 2010 for the Padres. He was also the 2011 Opening Day starter and finished the season with a 9-12 record, 3.73 ERA in 31 starts. Hopefully he can stay healthy, because he deserves another shot.
Kyle Blanks — Blanks was quite the beast in the Padres system, but his hitting skills never quite translated into the majors and his progression was derailed by constant injury. The 6-foot-6 slugger, however, will get another chance to prove he can still play in 2013. If he can stay healthy, could this season be the year that his bat finally comes alive?
With plenty of uncertainty riddling this year's team, it's hard to say with definitive certainty how this group will translate in the standings. As a fan, my optimism is high, but as a baseball realist, my expectations are somewhat neutral.
However, with ample depth and a solid core of young and intriguing prospects, it's certainly an exciting time to be a Padre fan and I know it will only be a matter of time before we have another competitive team back out on the field.
Will 2013 be the year? Probably not. But it will hopefully be a progressive season for the team and should bring a lot of clarity to the future of the ball club and to the direction of many players.
Projected Record: 81-81, tied for third in the National League West.