Author's Note: This is part of a five-part series examining players on the San Diego Padres roster who need to improve during this offseason if the Padres are to be successful, and if said players are to legitimately earn their paychecks. The other players examined are Chris Denorfia, Will Venable, Orlando Hudson and Jason Bartlett.
After a surprising 2010 season in which they narrowly missed a postseason berth, the San Diego Padres and their fans entered the 2011 cautiously optimistic, despite the loss of Adrian Gonzalez.
That optimism was misplaced, however, as the Padres finished the season with a 71-91 record—good enough for dead last in the NL West.
The offseason so far has also been rocky, as the Pads have lost their top two starting pitchers from last season, Aaron Harang and Mat Latos. The offseason transactions thus far bode well for the future, but render the upcoming season's forecast quite bleak.
If the Padres are to have any hope of once again pulling off an overachieving, surprise season, they are going to need several players to step it up big time and improve dramatically during this offseason.
Combined with Aaron Harang's recent departure, the deal that sent Latos to Cincinnati and brought Volquez to San Diego left the Padres without a true No. 1 starter. Clayton Richards and Tim Stauffer are reliable starters, but certainly don't have what most teams look for in a No. 1 or No. 2 pitcher.
The "ace" on the Padres is Volquez's for the taking, if he wants it enough. He certainly is not lacking in talent and ability, as he had an absolutely dominating 2008 season in which he posted a 17-6 record and 3.21 ERA en route to an All-Star year. He was also the Reds' Opening Day starter last season.
However, Volquez was quite disappointing in 2011, albeit in Cincinnati and not San Diego. Perhaps his underachieving is what helped San Diego land him in the first place.
In 2011, Volquez went 5-7 with a 5.71 ERA. He also spent some time demoted to Triple-A Louisville.
A move to the pitcher-friendly confines of Petco Park should help Volquez's stats, but if he truly wants to regain his dominant form and once again be an "ace," he is going to have to be dedicated and step up his offseason training.