That was Then...
The bad news for the Padres in 2012 was that it took them until mid-June to string more than two wins together. Even those came against the minnows of the AL West: the Seattle Mariners.
After two months of sub-.333 baseball and a losing June, the Padres finally pieced it together with a solid June and a better July before finally getting going in August.
The good news for San Diego was Chase Headley.
Headley became just the second Padre ever to lead the NL in runs batted-in as he drove in 115, a healthy by-product of hitting almost 20 homers more than his previous career-high.
The Padres weren’t the worst team in the NL West thanks to the Rockies near-100 loss season, but that’s little consolation for a franchise that’s been scuffling for the better part of the last five years (2010 aside).
...This is Now
Cut to the Chase
Headley was a bright spot for San Diego in 2012, but will he be the next in a long line of All-Stars to leave town?
The news for the Padres got worse over the off-season.
Yasmani Grandal – one of the league’s top talents under the age of 25 and a key piece of last season’s Mat Latos trade – got popped for testosterone and suspended for 50 games. He would later be linked to a Miami-based PED scandal uncovered by that city’s New Times publication.
The other problem is that Headley, who was very much on the trading block prior to the 2012 trade deadline – may not be completely off it. Headley is arbitration-eligible for the last time after 2013 and is set to become a free agent in 2014.
With a young core developing around players like Grandal and Yonder Alonso, the 28-year-old Headley may have to go for the long-term benefit of the team. Any potential Headley deal would almost certainly bolster the team’s farm system - which already boasts five of MLB.com’s top 100 prospects –but for a team that has seen All-Stars like Jake Peavy, Adrian Gonzalez and Heath Bell leave town via trade or free agency, the return may be of only small consolation.
The team’s best hope for 2013 is the development of that young core and another career-year out of Headley. Alonso has the potential to be a powerhouse and Cameron Maybin and Everth Cabrera (see: YOUTH WATCH) have proven they can be a force on the base-paths.
Clayton Richard returned to full health last year and the team will now hope to see him return to his 2010 form when he put in a 14-9 record and a career-high in strikeouts. Edinson Volquez, too, returned to full health in 2012 and they’ll hope for a solid performance from him in his free agent season.
Every year, we look for players 26-years-old or younger that could make an impact on their team in the upcoming season. The player might have already established himself with a regular role with the team, or he could make their mark later on in the season.
Past Picks: 2012 - Yonder Alonso, 2011 - Luke Gregerson, 2010 - Mat Latos, 2009 - Wade LeBlanc, 2008 - Chase Headley, 2007 - Adrian Gonzalez, 2006 - Josh Barfield, 2005 - Sean Burroughs, 2004 - Khalil Greene, 2003 - Oliver Perez & Jake Peavy
Offense could once again be an issue, despite the emergence of Chase Headley.
At 25th overall, 3B Chase Headley is ranked ahead of the likes of Adrian Gonzalez and Matt Holiday.
A team with few bona fide offensive threats, the Padres get to start the season with 3B Chase Headley on the DL, but he remains both the Padres' best and one of baseball's best at the hot corner.
LF Carlos Quentin has serious power, but little else and has problems staying healthy, so know what you're getting if you look in that direction.
CF Cameron Maybin and RF Will Venable can steal some bases, but neither has hit consistently enough to be a valuable fantasy contributor. Same goes for SS Everth Cabrera, who is a top option for steals.
C Yasmani Grandal had a nice start to his major league career, hitting .297 with eight homers and 36 RBI in 60 games last season, but then got nailed for PED use, so he becomes a player to watch on the waiver wire once his 50-game suspension is done.
Among Padres pitchers, closer Huston Street has been solid, when healthy, but the starters – Edinson Volquez, Clayton Richard, Eric Stults – aren't consistent enough to be anything more than late-round picks or waiver additions.