The San Diego Padres made some strides during the 2013 season.
There were ebbs and flows for the 2013 Padres. At times, they looked liked the best team in the NL West. And you know at other times means they were about the worst. Tying for third in the NL West – along with the defending champs in the San Francisco Giants – could seem like a feather in the cap. But they can’t afford to do that.
Will Venable was no doubt the team’s best players, posting career-highs in games played (151), home runs (22), RBI (53), batting average (.268), slugging (.484) and OPS (.796). If there was one negative to attach to Venable’s season, it would be the decrease in walk rate as compared to previous three seasons.
Converting Andrew Cashner from bullpen to starter appears to be on the right track. Usually, teams that move a hard-throwing reliever into the starting rotation doesn’t see the success the Padres did with Cashner. At least not these days (see: Feliz, Naftali; Bard, Daniel; Chamberlain, Joba).
And adding Cashner to the rotation didn’t weaken the bullpen as some may have feared.
Despite losing closer Huston Street for a period of time, the Padres bullpen put together a solid season. Even with the fourth most innings pitched among all NL bullpens, this Padres unit managed the league’s sixth-best ERA (3.39) and WHIP (1.26), along with the fourth-best save percentage (75%).
Injuries played a big factor in the Padres ending the season ten games under .500. And to some extent, the players that landed on the disabled list is a Padres who’s who. Carlos Quentin played in 82 games. Yonder Alonso appeared in 97. Chase Headley began the season on the DL. Cameron Maybin played in only 14 games. Yasmani Grandal missed all games after the beginning of July.
The absences of Quentin and Maybin created a revolving door situation across the outfield. Here’s the breakdown for each:
LF: Quentin-69, Guzman-25, Denorfia-18, Blanks-16, Kotsay-15, Decker-7, Forsythe-7, Amarista-5
CF: Amarista-53, Venable-52, Denorfia-36, Maybin-14, Fuentes-7
RF: Venable-68, Denorfia-51, Blanks-33, Kotsay-5, Guzman-3, Forsythe-2
And let’s not forget that three Padres pitchers which pitched in 2012 did not appear in a single 2013 game. Casey Kelly, Cory Luebke and Joe Wieland all missed the entire season. And get this. All three are recovering from Tommy John surgery. As part of Wieland’s rehab, he pitched in the Arizona Fall League.
Jason Marquis (TJ surgery) and Clayton Richard (illness, shoulder surgery) missed games as well. Marquis appeared in 20 games and Richard pitched in 12 while starting 11. Richard refused his assignment and opted to become a free agent.
And let’s not forget how the Biogenesis hub-bub ensnared the Padres. Yasmani Grandal started the season on the suspended list due to a failed test. In August, Grandal and Everth Cabrera were two of numerous players mentioned within the now-shuttered clinic’s documents. It was determined that Grandal would not have to serve another suspension, but Cabrera would.
San Diego has already made one prominent addition to their rotation in signing free agent pitcher Josh Johnson. Nabbing Johnson is a low-risk, high-reward type deal (one year, $8MM). When JJ is ready to go – he starts a throwing program on December 1 – he will sit atop the Padres rotation. Of course, provided all goes well for the righty.
As MLB.com’s Corey Brock notes, adding to the rotation was not high on the list of off-season priorities. Johnson kind of fell into their laps.
Brock now sees a glut of talent for the rotation’s five spots. Along with Johnson, the Padres have Cashner, Tyson Ross, Ian Kennedy and Eric Stults. Don’t forget Luebke, Wieland and Burch Smith and Robbie Erlin. The last two impressed a bit in September.
The question now becomes the contract status of Headley. Or shall I ask this: Will the Padres re-sign him or trade him? He’s in his final year of arbitration eligibility and is due to hit the free agent market after the upcoming season.
There are building blocks. If Cabrera and Jedd Gyorko (who led the team in HR and RBI) can build off their positive seasons, toss in a healthy season from the veteran Quentin, along with a dose of Headley, and the Padres are heading in the right direction.