The San Diego Padres should be an entertaining team to watch this season. They look good on paper but injuries and underperforming expectations have both become a trend for the Friars. The Padres lost starting pitchers Edinson Volquez and Clayton Richard over the offseason and it was probably for the best. They combined to allow almost 150 runs in about 200 innings. Luke Gregerson and Logan Forsythe are both gone. The Padres beefed up their bullpen with the additions of Joaquin Benoit and Alex Torres. Josh Johnson was signed for a bargain price in free agency and San Diego also traded for Seth Smith to give them even more depth in the outfield.
The Padres infield is one of their biggest positives heading into 2014. They have a core of young and talented guys which should provide them with great flexibility in the years to come. Starting at third base will be Chase Headley who is coming off of a disappointing season. He hurt his thumb in spring training last season and that injury seemed to doom the highly touted third baseman. In 141 games, he batted .250 with 13 home runs and a 3.6 WAR. Everth Cabrera is at short stop and he is getting better offensively plus his base running skills are among the league's best. Jedd Gyorko is at second after being sixth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting last year. He hit 23 home runs in 525 plate appearances and might be the NL's best power-hitting second baseman. Yonder Alonso is at first and he hit .281 in 375 plate appearances last season. If all these pieces can remain healthy, they could combine for one of the NL's best infields.
Will Venerable heads the outfield core after putting up career best power numbers last season. He hit 22 home runs, benefitting from Petco Park bringing in the fences and making it easier on left-handed hitters. Venerable will also be a threat when on base. He has stolen more than 20 bases four season in a row. Carlos Quentin is next on the depth chart and he has played in just 168 games in his last two seasons. The Padres will definitely need more out of him this year. Newly acquired Seth Smith will round out the outfield. He hit .253 with eight home runs and 40 RBIs in 2013.
Nick Hundley will be the starting catcher on opening day but Yasmani Grandal is waiting in the wings. Hundley has been very good at the plate during spring training, batting .310 over 29 plate appearances. Grandal has gone 2 for 5 in limited action. He was picked up when San Diego shipped Mat Latos to the Reds a couple years ago.
The Padres staff was not too impressive last season but they've made some nice strides to shore up their rotation. Ian Kennedy is projected as the staff's number one and the Friars are hoping he can have a bounce back season. Kennedy has posted back-to-back 4+ ERA seasons with each season having over 30 starts. In the number two slot is Andrew Cashner who had a breakout year in 2013. He's 27 years old and has only thrown 286 innings at the MLB level but scouts are high on him. Cashner has the stuff to be an ace on the Padres but we're expecting a small regression following his fantastic season last year. Josh Johnson is penciled in as the club's number three starter. He was signed to a one-year deal worth eight million dollars. It's a nice gamble for the Padres management especially since his career ERA is in the low 3's. Johnson will also benefit from pitching at Petco. Tyson Ross is plugged into the four spot after spending time in the bullpen and the rotation last year. He posted a 3.17 ERA with almost nine strikeouts per nine innings. The final spot in the rotation goes to Eric Stults who is coming off of a fantastic year where he went 11-13 with a 3.93 ERA. We expect San Diego's pitching staff to be better this season but they probably don't have enough talent to hang with the big boys in the NL West.
The Padres bullpen was pretty terrible in 2013. They were ranked 6th in the NL when it came to ERA but reloaded for 2014 with the additions of Joaquin Benoit and Alex Torres. Benoit is a nice replacement and set-up man for Huston Street who is injury prone. Street is the closer currently but if anything happens Benoit will be able to fill in. Torres is going to be utilized due to the Padres lack of depth when it comes to left handers. Nick Vincent is also a solid option and will be put into several hold situations. Tim Stauffer is marked as San Diego's long reliever but he will be a diverse piece of the puzzle for San Diego.
The Padres are certainly going to need to remain healthy to compete in the difficult NL West. They've got some great talent throughout their roster. Their bullpen and rotation have improved and they'll have healthy bodies to start the year. Bud Black is also an underrated manager. The Padres haven't had a winning season since 2010 and we don't think they'll start now.
Projected Record: 79-83
Odds to Win World Series: +6500