Is there reason for optimism?
San Diego Padres fans are used to preseason predictions of failure. After all, this is a franchise that has made it to the postseason five times. The lowly Kansas City Royals have made it into the playoffs more (seven times).
Padres fans should not be surprised. The team finished 18 games back last year and 23 back the year before. The 2010 season, where San Diego went 90-72, is the only time in the past five years the Padres finished above .500, and they *STILL* missed the playoffs.
But things are not as grim as they seem in Petco Park.
There are four legitimate reasons San Diego Padres fans have to be optimistic headed into the 2013 season and beyond.
San Diego finished strong last year, going 45-36 in the second half of the season. A solid finish to a season could spell a hot start the next. Case in point, the 2009 Padres. The Friars finished that season 75-87. The team went 31-26 after July and carried over the momentum to the next season. In 2010, San Diego had 90 wins and was one game shy of the NL West crown.
Padres fans have seen bits and pieces of Cameron Maybin shining, but never for a full season. The talented center fielder hit .331 in the final 37 games. If Maybin can stay healthy and build on the end of last year, the critics may be silenced regarding the middle of San Diego’s outfield.
It is too early to tell what type of owner Ron Fowler will be, but at least the drama that surrounded the on-again, off-again rumors about a sale are over.
It was agonizing to have the pending sale looming and dominating conversations. Is Phil Mickelson going to be an owner? Is Tony Gwynn a part-owner?
Padres fans can rejoice in talking about actual baseball instead of the business of baseball.
Yonder Alonso had quite a year last year. He not only led San Diego with 39 doubles, but that was also the most by all rookies. The first baseman was acquired from the Cincinnati Reds in the Mat Latos trade, and he made a big splash in his debut season.
Alonso did not have a lot of oomph in his swing (14 home runs in 549 at-bats), but he was third on the team in OPS (.741).
With Petco bringing in the fences this year, the former Miami Hurricanes star should see his power numbers increase.
His growth should make Padres fans happy and forget about Adrian Gonzalez being traded to Boston.
Everth Cabrera is currently the starting shortstop. He did well last season, hitting .246 with 24 RBI and 98 hits. But his real contribution was his speed.
The fourth-year man out of Nicaragua led the National League with 44 stolen bases. At only 26, he is just hitting his stride and has many years of production left in him.
While Logan Forsythe is penciled in as the starting second baseman, it will not be long until Jedd Gyorko takes over. Gyorko is considered a top prospect by most scouts.
With Gyroko and Cabrera in the middle infield and Alonso and Chase Headley on the corners, the Padres have a dominating mixture of power and speed, youth and experience.
Padres fans should feel blessed their team has a talent like Chase Headley on the roster.
The third baseman is a little under-the-radar to most of the country, probably because he doesn’t play in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles or San Francisco.
One thing is certain, though: baseball enthusiasts know who Headley is.
He finished fifth in MVP balloting last season because he was solid in the field and a terror at the plate. He led the National League with 115 RBI and also hit .286 with 31 home runs.
While you never want to say one man is responsible for wins and losses in a team sport, the success of Padres and the success of Headley are definitely linked.