As the MLB season quickly approaches, we here at Cosby Sweaters wanted to provide you with the necessary tools to go into this year confident in your 2013 baseball knowledge. Over the next 4 weeks we will supply you with a summary of all 6 divisions and 30 teams that make them up. We will assess each team’s line-ups, pitching rotations, potential downfalls and give a final outlook on what to expect from each franchise as the season plays out.
We won’t forget about all of you fantasy geeks either, as we will give you some players to target or avoid in your upcoming drafts. All of this will lead up to our staff predictions, the week before opening day, on this season’s playoff outcomes and individual awards. The smell of nacho helmets and overpriced beer is almost upon us. We hope you are as ready for Baseball to be back as we are!
San Diego Padres: For the San Diego Padres, 2012 was a tale of two very different stories. While they had an abysmal first half of the season and ended the year with a less than appealing 76-86 record which landed them in fourth place in the NL West, 42 of those wins did come after the all-star break in what ended up being a very encouraging second half. With such a positive finish to the season, there was talk and some level of expectation that the front office would take this offseason to make a few moves that would bolster some areas of weakness to help solidify a young and hungry team. It ended up being an extremely quiet off-season though, and this year’s roster is looking very similar to last years. Whether that momentum from last year will carry over into 2013 is still up in the air, but at least the players in the Padres clubhouse know if there is going to be any hint of that 2012 success present in this upcoming season, it’s going to be with the same core of guys who made it happen last year.
1. Everth Cabrera (SS)
2. Logan Forsythe (2B)
3. Chase Headley (3B)
4. Carlos Quentin (LF)
5. Yonder Alonso (1B)
6. Will Venable (RF)
7. Cameron Maybin (CF)
8. Nick Hundley (C)
Bench: Yasmani Grandal (serving 50 game suspension), Chris Denorfia, Jedd Gyorko, Mark Kotsay, Jesus Guzman, John Baker
1. Edinson Volquez
2. Clayton Richard
3. Andrew Cashner
4. Jason Marquis
Bullpen: Huston Street (closer), Luke Gregerson, Dale Thayer, Joe Thatcher, Tyson Ross, Brad Brach
Team Overview: When looking at this roster on paper from top to bottom, I think it’s tough to get overly excited about expectations for 2013. Aside from third baseman Chase Headley who led the Padres in every significant offensive category and had his official coming out party as an elite offensive player last year, there isn’t really a bat in this line-up that will strike fear into opposing pitchers. First baseman Yonder Alonso, who came over from Cincinnati in the Mat Latos trade last offseason, is the next closest thing to an impact bat on this roster and he will be looking to make major strides in his second big league season. He was one of the most heralded prospects in the game when the trade was completed and did have a productive rookie season last year, but will be looking to build on his power numbers in his second go round as his 9 HR’s and 62 RBI’s are a little but under the expectations of an everyday first baseman. Being protected by Headley and Alonso, Left fielder Carlos Quentin can be a force in the middle of the line-up, but injuries have been a constant issue with him over the duration of his career to this point. Carlos has only topped 130 games twice in his career and I wouldn’t hold my breath on him contributing throughout a full season this year either.
One of the biggest gripes among Padres fans and players alike over the past 8 years, has actually had nothing to do with the on-field performance of the team. Since it’s unveiling in 2004, Petco Park, where San Diego plays their home games has been widely considered as the most pitcher friendly park in the majors due to its excessively spacious dimensions. There is little doubt that the initial construction of the park has directly affected the Padres offensive totals over the duration they have called it home. So this offseason, team officials finally took the cries seriously and have moved in the outfield fences around 11-12 feet in all areas. This will inevitably help the stats of above mentioned bats that make up the middle of the Padres line-up. Regardless of where they move the fences though, Headley, Alonso and Quentin’s run producing numbers are solely dependent on the on-base percentages of a few key teammates. The Padres are loaded with speed in players like SS Everth Cabrera (who led the NL in steals in 2012) and OF’s Cameron Maybin and Will Venable, and for this offense to fully reach it’s potential, these guys must get on base at a much more consistent rate than they did last year.
While San Diego’s offensive unit may be ecstatic about the newly introduced field dimensions, I’m confident the pitching staff may feel quite the opposite about them. For an average and inconsistent pitching staff that finished near the middle of the pack in most of the important statistical categories last year, a new playing field that nullifies a competitive advantage is not too welcome of a sight. I believe their top two listed starters, Volquez and Richard, are most likely number three and four starters on a good amount of current MLB teams. It also isn’t encouraging when the two most talented pitchers on the staff in closer Huston Street and starter Andrew Cashner have constantly dealt with injuries throughout their careers. One of their top prospects, Casey Kelly (23 years old) could possibly break camp as a starter and along with Cashner, could head this rotation for years to come. But anytime you tell me that Jason Marquis (34 years old) and Freddy Garcia (36 years old) are likely to begin the season with rotation spots, I’ll tell you that you are in for a long season.
Fantasy Spin: Aside from Chase Headley, who is my 9th ranked fantasy 3rd baseman and has been going around the 5th-6th round in early mock drafts, there isn’t much to see here. I didn’t bring up young prized catcher Yasmani Grandal in my above preview because he’s sitting out the first 50 games of the season due to a suspension for testing positive for PED’s. But from a fantasy perspective, there is some value there because like most years, catcher is such a watered down position again this year. If you have an IR slot on your roster and feel the early portion of your draft has gone well, don’t be afraid to pull the trigger on Grandal towards the middle/end of the draft as he will be an asset once back from his suspension. One player I’m monitoring with a close microscope over the next few weeks is Andrew Cashner. He has had a multitude of injuries in his young career, but when healthy has all of the tools to be a dominant strikeout machine. He battled a significant lat injury that had him miss over 2 months of action last year and most recently a severed tendon in his thumb, but if he breaks camp healthy and poised to pitch every 5 games, I’m absolutely taking a late round flier and hoping for the a healthy 2013 campaign. For me, those are really the only 3 players on the Padres that I’m looking to potentially roster on any of my teams.
Prediction: As was the case for the Diamondbacks and Rockies, I just don’t see it happening this year for the Padres. Not enough firepower on either side of the diamond for them to make a surprise run this year. With the top of this division only getting more potent by the year, San Diego’s front office will really have to do some self assessing over the next couple seasons and decide if they want to be a player in the near future. Unfortunately, in the NL West it’s looking like any major progress towards changing the culture of a franchise will have to start with the pocketbook. I like a few core pieces of this team, and really appreciate manager Bud Black’s approach to leadership, but I see them in a battle with Colorado to finish 4th and eventually losing out and ending the year in 5th place. At least San Diego is still a beautiful city in October.