Skip to content

2013 Preview: San Diego Padres

Mar 23, 2013, 11:00 AM EDT

Bud Black AP

Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2013 season. Up next: The San Diego Padres.

The Big Question: Can the Padres build on their strong second half from last year?

While the Padres had their second straight losing season last year with a 76-86 record, they very quietly went 42-33 after the All-Star break. And that’s with losing 10 out of their last 15 games. The major reason for the turnaround was the offense, as they were fifth in the National League in runs scored during the second half. We’re not used to seeing that from a team which calls PETCO Park home.

Cameron Maybin, Yonder Alonso and the right field platoon of Will Venable and Chris Denorfia all finished strong and Carlos Quentin provided pop when his knee wasn’t hurting, but the big key for the offense was Chase Headley. The 28-year-old unexpectedly broke out by hitting .286/.376/.498 with 31 home runs and an NL-leading 115 RBI. He finished fifth in the National League MVP balloting and also took home his first Gold Glove Award for his defense at third base. Unfortunately, Headley recently suffered a small fracture at the tip of his left thumb and is expected to miss the entire month of April. So much for the momentum narrative.

While the Padres will try to stay afloat until Headley is ready to return, they are also waiting on two other important pieces. 24-year-old catcher Yasmani Grandal, who hit .297/.394/.469 with eight homers and an .863 OPS in 60 games as a rookie last year, was suspended 50-games for testing positive for synthetic testosterone and isn’t eligible to return until late May. Cory Luebke, who signed a four-year, $12 million extension with the Padres last year, is currently working his way back from Tommy John surgery and isn’t expected to rejoin the starting rotation until around June or July. By the way, there’s even a chance that Quentin could begin the season on the disabled list due to continued soreness in his surgically-repaired knee.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Padres get off to a slow start, as a rotation led by Edinson Volquez, Clayton Richard and Jason Marquis isn’t good enough to make up for a mediocre offense, but Bud Black’s squad certainly has the pieces to get better as the year goes along. I don’t think they are strong enough to challenge the Dodgers or the Giants, but they could surprise some folks in the NL West.

What else is going on?

• Rotation hopeful Tyson Ross might be the biggest addition the Padres made over the winter, but things will still look a little bit different at PETCO Park this season. That’s because the team has made some alterations to the dimensions of the stadium. The most dramatic change is in right field, where the fence was moved in 11 feet and lowered to eight feet. The left-center field wall was also moved in from 402 feet to 390 feet. With the thick marine air, PETCO Park will never be a hitters’ paradise, but perhaps it will play something closer to neutral. That’s the goal, anyway.

• Top prospect Jedd Gyorko is poised to make the Opening Day roster, though it hasn’t been decided whether he’ll play exclusively at second base or help fill in for Headley at third base, which is his natural position. The 24-year-old has done nothing but hit in the minors, compiling a .319/.385/.529 batting line over his first three professional seasons. It will be interesting to see how he responds to the pressures of playing a big role in the lineup early in the season. If he produces, the Padres may be more open to moving Headley in a trade at some point down the road.

• The Padres continue to have some pretty rotten luck with pitching elbows. After Luebke and Joe Wieland both needed Tommy John surgery last year, now it’s Casey Kelly‘s turn. As we learned yesterday, he’s scheduled to have surgery on April 1 and will miss the entire 2013 season. Kelly was acquired from the Red Sox in the big Adrian Gonzalez trade and has been a highly regarded prospect for quite a long time now, but his condition of his elbow has slowed his progress over the past year. He’ll hope to get back on track in his age-24 season.

• While the starting rotation is questionable, the back-end of the bullpen is one of the team’s biggest strengths. Closer Huston Street is quietly coming off a brilliant season. While the 29-year-old right-hander served two stints on the disabled list, he posted a 1.95 ERA to go along with 23 saves in 24 chances and finished with his highest strikeout rate since 2007. Meanwhile, Luke Gregerson continues to fly under the radar as one of the best set-up men in the game.

• One potential difference maker for the rotation is Andrew Cashner. Acquired from the Cubs in the Anthony Rizzo deal, the 26-year-old right-hander began last season in the bullpen before being moving to the rotation around midseason. There are questions about his health, as he missed time with rotator cuff and lat injuries over the past two seasons and is coming off December surgery to repair a torn tendon in his thumb, but his electric arm carries plenty of upside.

Prediction: Fourth place, NL West. I like what they have going here, but I’m just not sure the starting pitching will be there.

Latest Posts
  1. So, the Rockies are headhunters now?

    Jul 31, 2015, 3:22 AM EDT

    wong

    It’s fortunate this one didn’t get ugly.

  2. Giants to acquire Mike Leake from Reds

    Jul 31, 2015, 12:24 AM EDT

    cD05ODdlNmNhY2MwMjRlZWQzNTJhM2ViYTQ1Y2VlY2YzOCZnPWVkMWIyYmQzZjIyZDc1ZDBlM2Q5ZGUwM2I0NGRhODNj Getty Images

    Leake has a 3.56 ERA and 90/34 K/BB ratio in 136 2/3 innings over 21 starts this season.

  3. Video: Jason Castro powers Astros past Angels with walk-off three-run homer

    Jul 31, 2015, 12:00 AM EDT

    HOUSTON, TX - JUNE 03:  Jason Castro #15 of the Houston Astros swings at a pitch in the second inning during their game against the Baltimore Orioles at Minute Maid Park on June 3, 2015 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The Astros completed a three-game sweep of the Angels and now hold a two-game lead in the American League West.

  4. Cubs, Blue Jays, and Dodgers among teams interested in Yovani Gallardo

    Jul 30, 2015, 11:29 PM EDT

    Yovani Gallardo Getty Images

    Gallardo isn’t going into the trade deadline on a high note, as he has allowed five runs in three straight starts.

  5. Report: The Diamondbacks have made an offer for Aroldis Chapman

    Jul 30, 2015, 10:55 PM EDT

    Aroldis Chapman AP

    The Diamondbacks are trying to make a play for All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman.

  6. Video: Ryan Rua hits inside-the-park home run against Yankees

    Jul 30, 2015, 10:20 PM EDT

    ARLINGTON, TX - JULY 30:  Ryan Rua #16 of the Texas Rangers celebrates his in the park homerun against the New York Yankees in the fourth inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on July 30, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

    It was made possible due to a misplay by Jacoby Ellsbury in center field.

  7. Orioles talking to Brewers about Gerardo Parra

    Jul 30, 2015, 9:33 PM EDT

    against the Milwaukee Brewers at Chase Field on July 23, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. Getty Images

    The Brewers traded center fielder Carlos Gomez to the Astros earlier tonight along with right-hander Mike Fiers and they could be close to another deal.

  8. Report: Reds willing to trade Jay Bruce to Mets for Zack Wheeler

    Jul 30, 2015, 9:08 PM EDT

    CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 18:  Jay Bruce #32 of the Cincinnati Reds takes an at bat during the game against the Cleveland Indians at Great American Ball Park on July 18, 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) Getty Images

    As the Mets try to pick up the pieces after their deal for Carlos Gomez fell apart, they reportedly have an interesting proposal to consider from the Reds.

  9. The Dodgers have already designated Michael Morse for assignment

    Jul 30, 2015, 8:40 PM EDT

    Michael Morse Marlins Getty Images

    Morse is owed $8 million next season, but the Dodgers covered it in order to complete Thursday’s 13-player trade with the Marlins and Braves.

  10. Astros acquire Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers from Brewers

    Jul 30, 2015, 7:33 PM EDT

    gomez Getty Images

    Carlos Gomez was nearly dealt to the Mets last night before the deal fell apart, but it didn’t take long for the Brewers to find a new suitor.

  11. Report: White Sox interested in Yoenis Cespedes and Justin Upton

    Jul 30, 2015, 7:10 PM EDT

    CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 21: Chicago White Sox General Manager Rick Hahn (front) and Robin Ventura #23 of the Chicago White Sox watch batting practice before the game between the Chicago White Sox and the Cleveland Indians on April 21, 2015 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) Getty Images

    It wasn’t too long ago that we were talking about the White Sox as sellers, but now they are trying to buy a big bat.

  12. Mike Trout back in Angels’ lineup Thursday

    Jul 30, 2015, 6:32 PM EDT

    ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 26:  Mike Trout #27 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim rounds third base after hitting a home run in the first inning during a game against the Texas Rangers at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 26, 2015 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Angels slugger Mike Trout is back in tonight’s lineup against the Astros after missing two games with left wrist inflammation.

  13. Pirates bolster bullpen, pick up Joakim Soria from Tigers

    Jul 30, 2015, 6:09 PM EDT

    cD05ODdlNmNhY2MwMjRlZWQzNTJhM2ViYTQ1Y2VlY2YzOCZnPWUxMWY3Njc0ZTU3N2M3NzRjMDUyODFiNWJhYWE1Mjg3 Getty Images

    After dealing ace David Price to the Blue Jays earlier today, the Tigers have traded closer Joakim Soria to the Pirates.

  14. Marlins president Mike Hill hopes Marlins fans are “educated enough” to see the team’s plan

    Jul 30, 2015, 5:05 PM EDT

    marlins logo

    Of course, experience is education too, and based on that I’m quite sure that even the most intelligent Marlins fan would be justified in being confused and thinking the organization has no clue whatsoever.

  15. Yankees acquire Dustin Ackley from Mariners

    Jul 30, 2015, 4:44 PM EDT

    Dustin Ackley Getty Images

    No. 2 overall pick in the 2009 draft behind Stephen Strasburg.

  16. The Mets have had an extremely Metsy 24 hours

    Jul 30, 2015, 4:07 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 3.57.11 PM

    Defeat from the jaws of victory and then they got all wet.

  17. Daniel Nava designated for assignment by the Red Sox

    Jul 30, 2015, 3:50 PM EDT

    ALCS - Detroit Tigers v Boston Red Sox - Game One Getty Images

    Nava hit .303 in 134 games for the Red Sox in 2013, playing a key role in the team’s World Series title.

  18. Pirates DFA Vance Worley to make room for Joe Blanton

    Jul 30, 2015, 3:46 PM EDT

    Vance Worley AP

    It’s like we’re in Philly all over again.

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. C. Hamels (5499)
  2. C. Gomez (4258)
  3. T. Tulowitzki (4192)
  4. M. Trout (3806)
  5. J. Cueto (3750)
  1. C. Gonzalez (3512)
  2. A. Rodriguez (3512)
  3. D. Price (3273)
  4. T. Clippard (3070)
  5. J. Reyes (2750)