Overall, the Padres finished 76-86, forth place in the NL West. 3B Chase Headley became a star, hitting .286, 31, 115 while winning the NL Gold Glove for third basemen. High ceiling pitching prospects Casey Kelly and Andrew Cashner are expected to make big impacts this season. Other than that, some can perceive the team's roster to look pretty pedestrian. I think there is enough upside for this team to surprise some, but I stop short to see this team challenging for the NL West.
I could have seen the Padres being a little more active pursuing free agents and trades this off season. With the new ownership group, 2012 potential free agents like Cole Hamels and Josh Hamilton would have been the big splash the team was looking for. The decision not to make a splash may be a sign the team expects to make a push this season. Headley is the center of the team, with returnees such as Yonder Alonso (.273, 9, 62) and oft injured Carlos Quentin (.261, 16, 46) making up the middle of the order. A lot has been expected from Cameron Maybin (.243, 8, 45) but his he was outproduced by RF Will Venable (.264, 9, 45). Venable's 24 steals were just 2 behind Maybin's 26. The catching situation will be interesting as Nick Hundley (.157, 3, 22) gets a chance to win the job from Yasmani Grandal (.297, 8, 36) and John Baker (.238, 0, 14). Grandal has his own issues being suspended for PEDs last season and being mentioned in that anti-aging clinic in Miami. Grandal has the biggest upside, assuming he can remain clean. But don't discount Hundley, who hit .288 with 9 HR in 82 games in 2011. Jesus Guzman was a super sub last season, but can fill in everyday either at 1B or in the OF. Guzman played in 120 games, hitting .247, 9, 48 after batting .312 with 44 RBI in 76 games the year before. The Padres will not expect a lot of offense from SS or 2B, where Everth Cabrera (.246, 2, 24 with 44 steals) and Logan Forsythe (.273, 6, 26) will man the positions respectively.
I can see the middle of the order being productive if Quentin is healthy, as Alonso's power numbers should increase and I expect to see better numbers out of the catcher position. I would order them like this: Cabrera SS, Venable RF, Headley 3B, Quentin RF, Alonso 1B, Hundley/ Grandal C, Maybin CF, Forsythe 2B. Their top prospect, Jed Gyorko, could make a big impact if he is ready to be the everyday 2B. Gyorko hit .311, 30, 100 last season in the minors.
Clayton Richard pitched very well in the 2nd half for the Padres, finishing the season 14-14, 3.99 in 33 starts, finishing with a team leading 218 2/3 IP. Edinson Volquez (11-11, 4.14 in 31 starts) led the team with 174 Ks. Former Dodgers castoff Eric Stults pitched well going 8-3, 2.92 in 18 games, 14 starts. Freddy Garcia (the Padres most known free agent addition) should get a chance to win a stop in the rotation in spite of his tough 2012 season with the Yankees (7-6. 5.20 in 30 games, 17 starts). Jason Marquis (8-11, 5.22 in 22 starts) pitched better for San Diego (6-7, 4.04 in 15 starts) than he did for Minnesota. It is the Padres hope that Marquis and Garcia can eat up some early innings before Cashner, Kelly, Tyson Ross and Andrew Bass are ready to gain full time spots in the rotation. Ross, in spite of struggling with Oakland, has a lot upside.
Huston Street (2-1, 1.85, 23 saves) and Luke Gregerson (2-0, 2.39, 9 saves) give the Padres a solid 8th and 9th inning combo. Unfortunately, outside of Brad Brach and Brad Boxberger, the Padres have little options to go outside of the prior mentioned two. Veterans Dale Thayer and Joe Thatcher should be part of the mix.
Vegas has the Padres over/under at 74 1/2. They won more than that last season, and I see them winning more than that this year. Bud Black is one of the more underrated managers in the game. I think the team will get more out of the middle of the order, especially if Gyorko competes for NL Rookie of the Year, like I predict. The young pitchers can make the starting rotation much better. While I see them competing surprisingly for a National League Wild Card spot, I still see them falling short, but at a respectable 80-82 record, good for 3rd place in the NL West.