Padres Could Contend In 2013

When the San Diego Padres extended both Huston Street and Carlos Quentin this summer, they effectively signaled an intent to contend in the NL West in the near future. The organization felt that future was imminent enough to forego acquiring additional young talent via the trade market and instead committed valuable resources to injury-prone (though productive) assets who play non-premium positions.

All this from a team who owned a 34-53 record at the All-Star Break this season. Needless to say, the moves ruffled a few feathers and caused some to question whether the organization was truly intent on building a World Series contender or simply staving off an inevitable attendance decrease that normally accompanies mid-season fire sales.

If the Padres’ recent performance proves to be a believable measuring stick for its future, though, the front office in San Diego understood something that the vast majority of baseball fans did not. Their team was ready to start winning ballgames much earlier than expected.

Since the All-Star Break, the Padres have compiled a 37-24 record thus far in the second half, highlighted by an eight-game winning streak in late August. And one of the perennial question marks in San Diego, the offense, has been brilliant as of late. In the past 30 days, the Padres have the second-highest wOBA in all of baseball at .349.

Third baseman Chase Headley has carried the bulk of the offensive production throughout the year, but he has found some help in recent weeks. Our own Jeff Sullivan wrote about the resurgence of Cameron Maybin, but Logan Forsythe, Will Venable, and Yasmani Grandal have also established themselves at the plate over the past month. Almost everyone in a Padres uniform is hitting on all cylinders right now. Even the light-hitting Everth Cabrera has compiled a .322 wOBA in the past 30 days.

Of course, we should not assume recent offensive production will necessarily carry over to next season. After all, it’s a small sample size of only 30 days, and the Padres are benefitting from a .360 BABIP. This recent stretch, however, could be a sign that the youngsters are collectively turning a corner.

Left fielder Carlos Quentin is currently the oldest player in the Padres’ everyday starting lineup. He’s just turned 30 years old last month. Otherwise, Will Venable and Jesus Guzman are the veterans at 29 and 28 years old, respectively. It’s a young lineup that was built to grow up together and find success together. Every one of their starting position players are poised to return next season with another year of development under their belts.

Even if they’re due for regression based upon the random variation of BABIP, it seems likely we’re going to see more of the second-half Padres’ offense rather than the first-half variety simply based upon their age and the expected trajectory of development of young players.

The offense is currently carrying the team to its current good fortunes on the field. The starting rotation has been mediocre, and the bullpen hasn’t been anything to write home about with a 3.88 FIP in the last 30 days.

Much of the struggles surrounding the pitching staff, however, can be attributed to injury. The starting rotation has been without Cory Luebke and Tim Stauffer for much of the season, after both went down with elbow injuries, and the bullpen has been functioning without their closer, Huston Street. Not to mention Dustin Moseley and promising-prospect Joe Wieland are both on the 60-day DL, and big right-hander Andrew Cashner has fought injuries for the majority of the season.

The pitching staff has a chance to be much improved next season. Many of the injured pitchers should return, and the stability of the position players should allow GM Josh Byrnes to focus his energies on acquiring quality pitching. Cot’s Contracts calculates that the Padres have only $27.98M committed in payroll next season, aside from raises due to arbitration (and Chase Headley is going to get paid handsomely after this season), which suggests the organization could have money to spend on the free agent market to acquire a number two or three starter. Someone like Anibal Sanchez or Edwin Jackson could significantly upgrade the rotation and neither currently project to break the bank.

Josh Byrnes could go a different route, however. He could focus his attention on the trade market. The Padres have a talented and deep farm system — one that Keith Law rated as the best in the league coming into the 2012 season — which could be utilized to acquire quality pitching. We witnessed the Milwaukee Brewers dramatically overhaul their starting rotation prior to the 2011 season via the trade market, and the Padres have a much deeper farm system from which they could deal without mortgaging the future of the organization.

As a whole, the San Diego Padres are perched on the precipice of contention. Their young, cost-controlled core of position players have shown signs this second half of collectively putting it together. The starting rotation and the bullpen have been decimated by injuries this year, but the organization has the resources — both in payroll space and prospects — to upgrade the pitching staff to be more competitive and compliment the promise of its offense.

And in a cavernous home ballpark such as PETCO, it’s much easier to upgrade a pitching staff than it is to upgrade a team’s offensive production. The Seattle Mariners serve as a worthwhile comparison in that regard.

Though far from a guarantee, the Padres could be a much improved team coming into the 2013 season. Their young position players seem to have turned a corner in their collective development and could provide above-average production throughout the year, and the organization is in good position to upgrade a pitching staff that needs a couple of pieces to be above average, as well. If the pieces fall into place this winter and the second-half improvement proves legitimate, the San Diego Padres could be threatening for a postseason berth much more quickly than most predicted coming into this season.




Print This Post



J.P. Breen is a graduate student at the University of Chicago. For analysis on the Brewers and fantasy baseball, you can follow him on Twitter (@JP_Breen).


46 Responses to “Padres Could Contend In 2013”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
  1. Metsox says:

    Looks like my dream of Chase Headley playing in Baltimore might be a bit of a long shot….

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. Spike says:

    Might be the right time to run back what they did a year ago by dealing for a SP. Niese could be a good fit. With the emergence of Headley & Forsythe, would they consider dealing Gyorko now? Niese for Gyorko, Hedges & Blanks?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • John Ford-Griffindor says:

      I would think that’s too much for Niese. Gyorko and a less prospect than Hedges would be better

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Spike says:

        but they are set at C. Same way Reds were a year ago. I’m not even that high on Hedges but I’m sure Mets would substitute another prospect.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • They don’t plan on dealing for SP, they plan to go free agency. New owners are willing to spend a little and with the strafing of the staff this year due to injuries they need as much depth as possible. SP and Bullpen will be targets this offseason, perhaps right fielder since Venable is so inconsistent and he’s no longer a younger player.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Matt says:

        Niese is no Latos, or even close to that. The Reds had 2 catchers major league ready, Hedges isn’t close to major league ready.

        replying to spike

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • YODA777 says:

      I say the Padres should go bigger. Gyroko, Hedges, Blanks, and Kelly for Stanton from the Marlins.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Matt says:

      That would be a absolutley terrible deal for the Padres. Niese is a 3/4 and you are asking the Padres to trade a first division 3B, a potential superstar catcher, and another prospect. Hedges has a higher ceiling than Grandal because of his defense, and is a couple of years away there is no reason to trade him unless you are getting a star back. I wouldn’t be surprised if Grandal is the one being traded when he is getting expensive and Hedges is ready to be in the big leagues in a couple of years.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Gordon says:

      Your placing way too much value on a decent #3 in a good rotation.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. juan pierres mustache says:

    carlos quentin’s only 30? this blows my mind for some reason

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • David K says:

      Funny, I looked at it the other way around…Quentin is 30 ALREADY? It seems he just came up with the Dbacks not that long ago.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. Chris Headley says:

    I really wish my Tigers had thought up of a trade for Chase Headley.
    Him at 3rd, Cabrera at 1st, Fielder DHing, and Delmon gone?
    That would have been wonderful.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • David says:

      They might have thought something up. But unless they have a fantastic hypnotist on their staff somewhere, they weren’t going to get many teams thinking they wanted anything from that farm system!

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. TX Ball Scout says:

    Rachel Phelps will never let that happen.

    +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. RMD says:

    You can tell if a team is well put together if they play well at home. The Cubs are awful, but have a ~.500 record at home. I wouldn’t be surprised if they made big strides either.

    -5 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • PiratesHurdles says:

      False, the pirates were good at home several times throughout the 2000’s. Even in 2010 when they went 57-105 they had a 40-41 home record and that team was terribly put together. In fact theyewere near .500 at home almost ever year at PNC park. There is no correlation between home win % and impending future success.

      +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. big red machine says:

    Headley’s HR/FB is ridiculously high compared to anything else he’s ever done before, at its current 21.9%… so call me skeptical about his value into the near future given he’s never been above 11% for a season in the majors. His HR totals and HR/FB for 2008- 2012 look almost exactly like Joe Mauer’s 2005- 2009. I think he would be a key to 2013… if he regresses to career norms, they might have some trouble with that lineup

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • evil kevin towers says:

      at his career norms he’s still a really good hitter, just with less power. his wOBA is .377 this year, but it was .344 last year when he managed just 4 home runs. i think its safe to expect his rate stats to fall somewhere between 2011 and 2012 going forward. so around .285/.385/.440 would seem reasonable. for a guy that plays excellent defense at the keystone and plays half his games at PETCO, that’s still star-level production.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. Hurtlockertwo says:

    The Padres were great in 2010, sucked in 2011, great the second half of 2012, so who knows what happens in 2013? Can the Padres really count on the offense to take the load in a pitchers park?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • The Padres were lucky in 2010. Look at their pitching staff, in the first half of the season, they were pitching like aces when they clearly, based on prior performances and their minors, they were not. Then they regressed in the second half, which enabled the Giants to catch up as the Giants were good, only the Padres were higher than they should have been.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Drew says:

        On the same token, we could talk about the career years of Huff and Torres, or the success of Burrell and Ross after their acquisition by the Giants, but nah, that wasn’t luck, Giants were good.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. I’ve been thinking the exact same thing. I was looking into them because they suddenly rose so high in the West to near Arizona. Since their low of 22 games below .500 (first on June 20th and last on June 28th), they have played 16 games above .500 (47-31 or 43-27). Even at the former, that’s a 97-98 win season, the later 99-100 wins, and at basically a full half season of play.

    But they are built backwards, they should have started with pitching first, because while you can win with a poor offense when you have great pitching, you can’t usually win regularly with a poor pitching staff, no matter how good your hitting is. And the studies I’ve seen on success in the playoffs says that offense has little effect on a team going deep into the playoffs, it is all pitching and fielding, that is, the defense, that gets a team deep. And if you want to win in short series more reliably, you need to have a great pitching staff, as well as a reliable closer.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • David says:

      They weren’t built backwards. They reconstructed on the fly in the midst of horrible injury luck backwards… 60% of their opening day starting rotation have combined to pitch 41 total innings this year. The guy they brought in from the transitional bullpen slot to fill the breach made it all the way to 90 IP. The guy they brought up from Triple-A to fill the next breach got in 27.2 innings. The two top pitching prospects they had waiting in the wings went on the DL within a week of each other and spent a combined 170 days on the minor league DL.
      They’ve resorted to the makeshift pitching they’ve used through the second half of the year because at one point, EVERY pitcher on their 40 man roster was either in the majors or on the DL.

      Bringing in one strong starter and having even moderate luck with injuries next year would go a LONG way toward making the pitching staff look pretty good.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Garrett Smith says:

      I’m an avid padre fan, watch when their good and when their bad, What you don’t realize is that the padres are completely built on pitching… Did you know that they have used 15 different starting pitchers because of injury this year!?!? And the bullpen has been Luke gregerson (great set-up guy) and 6 rookies…. Both of those are completely un-heard of. The fact our farm system has been able to sustain those loses… Wait not just sustain, but succeed is nothing short of incredible. Next year should be interesting.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Jason says:

      I have to disagree with that one. Its worked for the Giants but the reality is that pitchers are more prone to injury and variation in peformance than hitters. You could have a team of great pitchers and have them all hurt by the time the hitting matures (as evidenced by this year’s Pads). Whereas if you develop good hitting you can have a resonable expectation that it will remain consistently productive over a longer period so your contention window stays open long enough to find the pitching.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Gordon says:

      Built Backwards? What in the world are you talking about obsessivevaginatalfan? This team was ONLY built on pitching for the longest time. They had Adrian, and then a big ball park with pitchers who could succeed in it. That’s it. The offense is finally coming around, only two of the pitchers on our staff were their when the season started as the rotation has been completely decimated by injuries. Playing in this ballpark, they have always emphasized pitching, the friggin’ ballpark itself puts pitching first. So I just don’t understand, like, what you have been watching or what your even regarding. Because none of what you just said is even close to the truth, let alone an educated opinion. When did this team start with offense? When they needed some in the offseason? When they traded Latos for two everyday players and two PITCHERS. I’m sorry, but statements that are not only based on nothing, but are also entirely wrong and ill-informed piss me off. I’ve been a fan of the Padres for as long as I can remember, and it’s no secret they have been terrible for much of that time, but since this team has moved to Petco they have done nothing but pitch. I can’t even remember, other than the last two months, the Padres even being an average offensive team. If anything, this team needed to put more emphasis on the offense. Out

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. Max says:

    If the Padres want to trade for young pitching, they should trade Yasmani Grandal, Yonder Alonso, and Brad Boxberger to the Reds for Mat Latos. While you’re at it, throw in Edinson Volquez.

    +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

  11. Chris from Bothell says:

    Hey, do the Padres have a quality 1b and corner OF they can spare from that best-in-class farm system? Maybe the fierce rivalry between the Padres and Mariners can have a temporary cease-fire over the offseason. Send them a pitching prospect and a reliever, get back anything that looks like league-average offense, and 10 months later BAM! Padres/M’s World Series!

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Gordon says:

      How about a Kyle Blanks or Matt Clark type for Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, Danny Hultzen and Felix (with the M’s picking up, say 90% of his deal)?

      But in reality, I still think Blanks can play if given a shot, he could actually be a good fit in Seattle if they have the patience for him. He’s one of those rare players who if he can just make contact, has the power to hit it out of anywhere. Maybe for a Tyler Pike or Leon Landry if the pads want some more good outfield depth in the minors.

      Btw, fierce rivalry, between the M’s and Pads. that’s awesome. Cause, y’know, these geographical rivalries really bring out the competitive nature of these teams, who are so closely interconnected.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • evil kevin towers says:

        i’d think they’d be more interested in jesus guzman. Blanks is too reliant on the long-ball for value and Safeco murders righty power the way Petco murders lefty power.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  12. Marver says:

    After the projected arbitration values for the Padres, the team payroll will already surpass 60 million with absolutely no evidence to suggest that the team will significantly increase payroll.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  13. shthar says:

    I think I’ll wait till spring training to start kidding myself.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  14. Baltar says:

    I’m not impressed. This is just the standard set of “reasons” that every team’s fans use to tout how good their team is gonna be.
    They’ve been hot (for a cherry-picked length of time).
    Their injured players will return next season (and there will be no new injuries).
    They are young so they are sure to improve (because all young players always improve).
    They have salary room for FA’s (if arbitration doesn’t cost them too much and the rich teams don’t outbid them).

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • PadresFuture says:

      Wrong on so many levels.
      1) hot for multiple consecutive months is not exactly cherry picking, especially when it coincides with major roster changes
      2) do you even know how many injuries the padres have had this year? Far more than normal, we dont need to have no injuries, just less than the insane outlier year of 2012
      3) all young players dont always improve, if just a couple improve this would be great
      4) th padres will have no problem enticing a front line pitcher to sign and play at petco… should they refuse to sign with the padres,we have the farm system to aquire 1 if need be.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>