The San Diego Padres looked like they'd be a dumpster fire over the course of the 2012 season in the first half of the year. They just didn't look like a good team at all. Then, something happened: the Padres improved tremendously in the second half, and finished with a respectable (if not overly great) 76-86 record thanks to finshing nine games over .500 in the second half. And of course, the team's prospects for 2013 just took a massive hit when Chase Headley broke his thumb.
Depth Chart (as of 3/19)
C: Nick Hundley
1B: Yonder Alonso
2B: Jedd Gyorko
SS: Everth Cabrera
3B: Logan Forsythe
LF: Carlos Quentin
CF: Cameron Maybin
RF: Will Venable/Chris Denorfia
SP: Edinson Volquez
SP: Clayton Richard
SP: Jason Marquis
SP: Eric Stults
SP: Freddy Garcis
CL: Huston Street
The Padres brought in Tyson Ross from the A's to join his brother Joe in the Padres organization. Veteran starter Freddy Garcia was inked to provide rotation depth. And that's about it…San Diego largely stood pat going into 2013.
They released Micah Owings…and lost pretty much no one else you've heard of. What a boring winter to be a Padres fan.
San Diego is apparently going to be rolling the dice with elite hitting prospect Jedd Gyorko at second base. Gyorko came up as a third baseman, but the Padres feel confident enough in him shifting across the diamond to give him the inside track on an Opening Day nod at second. Most of San Diego's other top prospects are in the lower minors or dealing with injuries (including Tommy John surgery for both Casey Kelly and Rymer Liriano). If you want a guy to keep an eye on in 2013, Robbie Erlin would be it. He only threw 60 2/3 innings in 2012 (plus time in the AFL), but was pretty damn good and could reach the majors this season.
The aforementioned Gyorko has the edge for the second base job, but Chase Headley's broken thumb will force Bud Black's hand and put Gyorko's main competition at second, Logan Forsythe, in the lineup to replace Headley. Andrew Cashner will miss the start of the year, but should be back before the end of May and knock someone (like Garcia or Eric Stults) out of the rotation. Former top prospect Kyle Blanks also seems like the odd man out for a bench job once again, losing a roster spot to a similar player in Jesus Guzman.
Headley will likely end up missing all of April with his broken thumb, a huge blow to the San Diego offense. Cashner will also likely miss the start of the season after lacerating his thumb in a hunting accident. Starting pitcher Joe Wieland had Tommy John at the end of last July, and probably won't be ready until near the end of the summer, if at all in 2013. Another starting pitcher, Cory Luebke, also had Tommy John last May, and won't be ready until the summer. Tim Stauffer is recovering from flexor tendon surgery and may not be ready for Opening Day. Top prospect Casey Kelly is staring Tommy John in the eyes, and won't pitch this year if he has the surgery. Outfield prospect Rymer Liriano had the same TJ surgery, and likely won't play this year either. It's not an injury, but catcher Yasmani Grandal will miss the first 50 games of the season after a PED suspension. Good lord, that's a lot of blown out elbows.
Can the Padres keep their heads above water without Chase Headley and Yasmani Grandal to start the year?
I think the Padres could contend for a wild card with a little luck this year. The starting rotation is ugly, but the bullpen once again looks stout and the offense could be a huge surprise in 2013.
The team could completely collapse early on without Headley and Grandal and lose 100 games, costing Bud Black his job in the process.
The success of the Padres in 2013 will revolve around their rotation in my opinion. Only the Twins got less fWAR out of their rotation in 2012 than San Diego, and the Padres bring back their top four starters from that crew. It could be an ugly year if the offense isn't able to carry this team.