2013 Record: 76-86 (t-3rd Place NL West, 16 GB)
Wait. Chase Headley hasn’t been locked up to an extension yet? The Padres have been talking about doing that for what seems like years on end. He’s set to be a free agent after the season (and it seems that both parties have tabled talks until then), which could leave the Padres hoping to capitalize on the end of his tenure.
Unfortunately for the Friars, there’s not really very much to capitalize on. It might be a rough season in an NL West that has a lot of talent.
RHP Josh Johnson (1 year/$8M)
LHP Álex Torres (acquired in trade for INF Logan Forsythe)
As a lifelong Marlins fan, I will always remember the 2009-11 Josh Johnson with plenty of appreciation and wonder. In that stretch, he was 29-12 with a 2.64 ERA in 70 starts. He also struck out 433 batters in 453 innings and had a WHIP of 1.11. He was an absolute beast and his 2012 season, after coming back from injury, was still good with a 3.84 ERA. But in his only season with the Blue Jays after getting traded to Toronto, he was 2-8 with a 6.20 ERA. If Johnson can return to his 2009-11 form, he will be the stalwart of the Padres rotation. For now, the number one starter will be Ian Kennedy.
Torres could be one of the most unheralded relievers in all of baseball. He ended up with a 1.71 ERA over 58 innings with the Rays last season. He hadn’t let up a run through the first 10 games of his season. Through 21 games, his ERA was 0.26. He didn’t pitch in very many high-pressure situations, as he had a gmLI of 1.1, which is just a bit above average pressure. But he definitely has a chance to move up from a middle relieving role with the Padres. Torres came over in a preposterously large seven-player deal between the Rays and Pads that sent Logan Forsythe to Tampa Bay.
Luke Gregerson: Declared “king of the hold” by many (including staff writer Zachary F. Becker), Gregerson has been a dominant seventh-inning man (if such a thing exists). His 2012 season saw him entering 77 games and holding a 2.39 ERA. His career WHIP over five years is a low 1.09 and he has a low BB/9 at 2.8. His role should be filled in by an aging Joaquin Benoit, and he’s definitely a solid middle reliever. But the combination of Benoit and Gregerson would’ve been even better, but the Padres preferred Seth Smith.
Cory Luebke: The 29-year-old will be out for the season after a second reconstructive surgery on his elbow. He hasn’t pitched since April 27, 2012. The Padres could have slotted the 2007 first round pick toward the back-end of their rotation, but he will be gone again. To make matters worse, he’s in the third year of a four-year, $12 million contract. That’s a lot of blown money for the Friars, a team that tries to save money when possible.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Carlos Quentin: The 31-year-old was perfectly serviceable last year for the Padres, but he didn’t have much pop. He hit 13 homers, compared to an average of 27 a season while with the White Sox. With a lineup that doesn’t have very much “pop-potential,” getting a couple of extra long bombs away from Mr. Quentin could go a long way.
Projected Opening Day Lineup
Andrew Cashner, Josh Johnson, Tyson Ross, and Eric Stults should round out the rotation.
So, the Padres probably don’t have enough talent to compete right now in the NL West, it’s that simple. It’ll be fun to see them scrap, but it probably won’t amount to much.