2014 NL West Preview: San Diego Padres

USA TODAY Sports

Today we look at the Padres, who always seem on the edge of contention. Will they jump into the ravine of it this season?

Relevant Facts

2013 Record: 76-86 (Tied for 3rd in NL West)

2013 Pythag Record: 72-90

Manager: Bud Black

General Manager: Josh Byrnes

Notable Offseason Acquisitions: Joaquin Benoit (F.A. Tigers), Josh Johnson (F.A. Blue Jays), Seth Smith (Trade, Athletics) , Alex Torres (Trade, Rays).

Notable Offseason Losses: Clayton Richard, Luke Gregerson, Logan Forsythe, Edinson Volquez

Former Diamondbacks On Some Roster In Organization: Tony Sipp, Blaine Boyer, Xavier Nady, Ian Kennedy, Carlos Quentin.

Probable Lineup

Everth Cabrera - SS
Will Venable - CF
Chase Headley - 3B
Carlos Quentin - LF
Yonder Alonso - 1B
Jedd Gyorko - 2B
Seth Smith - RF
Nick Hundley - C

Probable Rotation

Ian Kennedy - RHP
Andrew Cashner - RHP
Josh Johnson - RHP
Eric Stults - LHP
Tyson Ross - RHP

Bullpen Pieces

Huston Street (RHP)
Joaquin Benoit (RHP)
Nick Vincent (RHP)
Dale Thayer (RHP)
Alex Torres (LHP)
Tim Stauffer (RHP)

Bench

Chris Denorfia - OF
Kyle Blanks - OF/1B
Alexi Amarista - Util
Tommy Medica - 1B

Notable Injured Players

Cameron Maybin - CF (Ruptured Left Bicep)
Cory Luebke - LHP (Second Tommy John Surgery)
Yasmani Grandal - C (Knee Surgery)

Overview


The Padres always seem like a team that make moves that seem to make sense, and should put them in a position to contend, but it never really comes together for some reason. I wonder why?

*Scrolls up to earlier in article. Sees who their GM is.*

Okay, that makes some sense.

Whether they will eventually be or not, the Padres went into this past offseason with the mindset of being a contender. The acquisitions of Torres and Benoit shore up an already decent-looking Bullpen on paper. They've taken a lottery ticket on Josh Johnson, and if he stays healthy, he could dominate with Petco as his home park. They're also banking on a bounce-back performance from Ian Kennedy (sounds familiar). If everything goes right, their pitching staff could be formidable, and could be much better than the 3.98 ERA put up by the entire staff last season (good for 11th in the National League, and that's playing half their games in Petco, if they were at Coors or something it would probably be like 70.22. That might be a slight exaggeration.)

The problem is, their batters combined for a .686 OPS last season, 13th in the National League. Again, you can point to Petco, and there is some merit to that, as their OPS improves to .698 away from it, which is 7th best in the NL among Away OPS totals, but it's not like they're setting the world on fire in that department. They also had a wRC+ of 94, which is not great if I'm honest.

It doesn't feel like they've upgraded their offense enough. Losing Cameron Maybin for a lengthy period of time after he ruptured a bicep on a diving catch in Spring Training doesn't help. (The lesson here, kids? Never try hard at anything.)

They will, presumably, get Everth Cabrera for a full season after he was suspended for having his name written down on a piece of paper in the Biogenesis thing. If Carlos Quentin stays healthy a full season, that will also help. However "If Carlos Quentin stays healthy a full season" is on par with "If Rob Schneider wins an Oscar" on the pantheon of improbable conditional statements.

The biggest storyline, in traditional sports media parlance, for the Padres is the contract status of Chase Headley. At one point a few years ago it seemed like Headley would become the face of the franchise long term, but Headley and the Padres have yet to come close to a deal, and Headley will not negotiate with the Padres during the season. It's certainly possible that something gets done and he stays with San Diego long-term, but in my opinion, and in the words of the greatest broadcaster of our time, he gone. If the Padres falter this season, Josh Byrnes will probably be fielding a lot of phone calls from contending teams for Headley.

Yet, for some reason, the Padres have been a thorn in the side of the Diamondbacks. Last year they went 12-7 against the Sedona Red Brigade. It's hard to explain why this happens, it just does. I know that's not the most thought out or well researched analysis, but anybody who has watched the D'Backs knows what I am talking about. When someone says "Man, we make that guy look like a hall of famer!" when talking of a starting pitcher dominating the D'Backs lineup, they're talking about Eric Stults.

Their new Triple-A team is called the "El Paso Chihuahuas"

Links

SBNation Blog: Gaslamp Ball (Enter at your own risk)

ZiPS Projections

Pectoa Projected Standings (Has them 3rd in the NL West)

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