CHICAGO, September 20, 2013 — Yesterday’s Better Luck Next Year series looked at the Mariners and Blue Jays’ seasons. Today, the San Diego Padres are under the microscope. Here is wishing them better luck next year.
What Went Right: The Padres entered the season with the 14th ranked farm system according to Baseball America. Their top hitting prospect, Jedd Gyorko, broke spring training with the club and posted a solid rookie campaign. Gyorko had a .251/.299/.434 slash line with an OPS+ of 108 which is very good for a cost controlled rookie second baseman and he should be one of the Padres’ building blocks going forward.
Will Venable also posted a very good year offensively for the Pads as he had a .268/.309/.486 slash line with an OPS+ of 124. While Venable is older than Gyorko, he is still under contract at a reasonable price, and will not be a free agent until 2016.
The Padres also have more talent on the way from their minor league system. Matt Wisler and Max Fried both are progressing nicely in the minors and while they will not be counted on for next year, they may be able to make September debuts with the big club if they have good seasons next year.
With the big club, Andrew Cashner showed signs that he may be able to be a starter long term logging 168 innings, by far a career high, with an ERA+ of 109. Cashner’s performance makes his acquisition for Anthony Rizzo look like a much better trade. Finally, Huston Street has had another solid season with an ERA+ of 137 although he saw his strikeout rate dip to a career low 19.3%. Street is under contract through next year at $7 million with a club option for 2015 at the same amount so it may make sense to deal Street at the trade deadline next season, as it seems the Padres ballpark helps them find effective relievers easier than other clubs.
What Went Wrong: There was a lot of discussion in the offseason about either extending or trading Chase Headley. The Padres did neither and now in hindsight it seems they should have traded him. Headley posted a .244/.338/.392 slash line in 2013, well below the .286/.376/.498 line that he posted last year. The benefit here is that they may now be able to extend Headley at a much cheaper price than they would have last year.
Everth Cabrera being suspended as part of the Biogenesis case also hurt the team. Cabrera had a .283/.355/.381 line with 37 steals in just 95 games. There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about Cabrera next year, but there are also reasons to doubt him with the question of what he took and how long.
The back end of the Padres rotation was a mess in 2013 as Edinson Volquez had a 58 ERA+ in 142.1 innings before being released and Clayton Richard put up an ERA+ of 50 in 52.2 innings. Those two found there way into the rotation as two other Padres pitchers, Cory Luebke and top prospect Casey Kelly, missed the season with injuries.
What to Look for in 2014: If Luebke and Kelly can come back strong, the Padres rotation should be stronger. The team could contend for a wild card with better health as many players missed time this year. A more realistic target for competing would be 2015 though as there is a lot of depth in the Padres farm system but most of it won’t be ready next year.
Free Agents/Options: Jason Marquis
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