In the This Is My Nightmare series, we'll take a look at what the absolute worst case scenario for each team would be in 2013. Think of it as the negative complement to our You May Say I'm A Dreamer series that we'll be running during our preview series.
The Padres might actually be screwed over early on in the 2013 season. With Chase Headley likely missing two to four weeks of April and Yasmani Grandal missing the first 50 games of the year after a PED suspension, the Padres could fall into a huge hole (especially on offense) without either of those players. Because of how many divisional opponents the Padres play in the first two months of the year, there's a very real chance that San Diego could be out of first place in the division by double digits before we even get to the summer.
Going back to Headley, his broken thumb isn't expected to have an adverse effect on the rest of his season once he recovers. But what if it does, and Headley is a shell of his seven win self from a year ago? Headley was one of the best players in baseball last year, and the Padres are counting on him to be just as good this year. If he struggles, it's going to be rough for the team to contend in 2013.
The Padres rotation is going to be an issue all year. They only had two guys throw at least 100 innings last year (Edinson Volquez and Clayton Richard), and while both return, neither was overly impressive last year. In fact, Volquez led all Padres pitchers in fWAR…at 1.3. Journeyman Eric Stults was probably the team's best starter in his 14 starts, but his 4.97 strikeout rate and 87 mph fastball tells me that he's a prime candidate for regression after he had a 2.92 ERA a year ago. San Diego's other two starters are veterans Jason Marquis (whose homer-prone tendency could be masked over a full year in Petco Park) and Freddy Garcia (who has had an ERA under 4.00 once in the last seven seasons). That's a rotation that could be a complete horror show, even if it will get a boost from Cory Luebke later in the year.
Past Headley, the Padres offense actually isn't too bad. However, left fielder Carlos Quentin is notoriously injury-prone, and the team really shouldn't count on him playing more than 130 games. Center fielder Cameron Maybin was a disaster in the first half before turning things around after the All-Star Break, but despite his age, his career has been so erratic thusfar that I have no idea who the "real" Cameron Maybin even is anymore. What about second baseman Jedd Gyorko? He mashed the hell out of the ball in the minors, and is holding his own at second so far in Spring Training, but the regular season is a whole different animal, and we've seen many hyped prospects fall flat on their faces in the majors.
The Padres did next to nothing this winter, bringing back the majority of a 76 win team from a year ago. They've got a pretty solid core of players, but the team just reminds me of a house of cards that can collapse in an instant if you blow on it the wrong way. If the Padres get off to an awful start in 2013 like they did in 2012, they're going to need to make some changes.