Following a strong finish to the 2012 Season, can the Padres build off that momentum and contend for a playoff spot in 2013?
5.23: The Padres starting pitchers' road ERA in 2012. It was rough for San Diego's starters when they ventured out of pitcher friendly PETCO Park last season. Compared to their home ERA (3.70), Padres starters surrendered just over 1.5 more earned runs per nine innings on the road. The Padres pitching struggles on the road was one of the major contributors to the Padres less than stellar 34-47 road record in 2012. The fences have been moved in at PETCO Park for the 2013 season and it will be interesting to see the effect the smaller dimensions will have on the Padres pitching staff.
.378: Chase Headley's 2012 wOBA. Headley has a career year in 2012. An unexpected power surge (.212 ISO) allowed Headley to hit 31 home runs, nearly twice his career home run total. Headley also exhibited improved plate discipline, walking in 12.3% of his plate appearances.
2012 Season in Review:
The Padres stumbled out of the starting blocks in 2012 finding themselves with a 24-46 record and 18.5 games out of first place on June 20th. Struggling with injuries, including the loss of key SP Cory Luebke for the season, the Padres battled to finish 52-40 from June 20 through the end of the season. Despite their mid-season surge, San Diego finished 18 games back of division winner San Francisco, with an 76-86 record.
Key Offseason Moves:
Signed Freddy Garcia to a minor league deal: At 36 years old, it's difficult to be certain what Freddy Garcia has left in the tank. Garcia posted a 5.20 ERA in 30 appearances (17 starts) for the Yankees last season. His FIP (4.68) indicates he was slightly better than his ERA suggests, but he should have a difficult time making the Padres rotation to start the season. Garcia will make about $1.3M plus incentives in 2013 and would be a great pickup for the cash strapped Padres if he can make the rotation and have a solid year.
Traded Andy Parrino and Andrew Werner to Oakland in exchange for Tyson Ross: A former second round draft pick, Tyson Ross has struggled at the major league level so far. Ross put up a 6.50 ERA in 18 appearances (13 starts) for Oakland last season. He struggles with his control at times and holds a career 4.24 BB/9. He's impressed the Padres management so far in spring training, but has walked eight in 16.1 innings.
Resigned Jason Marquis to a one-year, $3 million contact: After struggling early in the season and being released Minnesota Twins, Jason Marquis found his way to San Diego and made 15 starts for the Padres before fracturing his wrist in late August. Marquis is projected to open the season as the Padres No. 3 starter, behind Clayton Richard and Edinson Volquez.
Depth Chart: The Padres everyday lineup remains mostly intact from the end of the 2012 season. Nick Hundley is projected to handle the catching duties while Yasmani Grandal serves a 50-game suspension after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. The lone addition to the everyday lineup is promising young prospect Jedd Gyorko, who should see the majority of the action at 2B to start the season. Will Venable and Chris Denorfia will continue to platoon in RF. John Baker, Jesus Guzman, Mark Kotsay and Alexi Amarista are expected to provide support off the bench. The front four of the rotation will be familiar to Padres fans, with Freddy Garcia and Tyson Ross battling for the fifth spot.
2013 Outlook: With the Giants, Dodgers and Diamondbacks projected to have strong seasons, it looks like 2013 will be another long season for Padres fans. Cory Luebke should return from Tommy John surgery at some point mid-season and provide a boost to the rotation. The key to the 2013 Padres season will be the development of the young players from a farm system that was recently ranked sixth by John Sickels at Minor League Ball. If a few of their young players have breakout seasons the Padres could make a run at one of the NL Wild Card spots. According to Baseball Prospectus's Playoff Odds, a postseason appearance is unlikely, but with a talented farm system the Padres could be serious contenders in 2014 or 2015.
Bold Prediction: After spending the first couple of weeks on the disabled list with a broken thumb, Chase Headley will build upon his breakout 2012 campaign and take advantage of the smaller dimensions at PETCO Park, hitting 25 home runs. Headley will contribute 5 WAR and finish in the top 5 of the NL MVP voting.