SAN DIEGO PADRES (NL WEST)
2013 record: 76-86 (T-third, 16 GB)
Projected 2014: 78.5
World Series odds: 60/1
Key additions: Josh Johnson
X factor: Chase Headley
Projected starting lineup: Infield: C – N. Hundley; 1B – Y. Alonzo; 2B – J. Gyorko; 3B C. Headley; SS – E. Cabrera. Outfield: LF – C. Quentin; CF – C. Maybin; RF W. Venable.
Starting rotation: A. Castner, I. Kennedy, J. Johnson, T. Ross, E. Stults.
Closer : H. Street
San Diego could be a threat in the NL West if they can only put a team on the field capable of staying healthy.
The latest hurt is Josh Johnson, the one major addition and expected ace of the pitching staff. The two time All Star has been battling arm and shoulder problems for two years and now it’s flaring up again.
Manager Bud Black plans to sit Johnson out from 10 to 14 days, but reports out of camp fear it will be longer than that. On the flip side Ian Kennedy, who was so good a couple of years ago for Arizona, is well and expected to pitch the season opener. It will be either Kennedy or Andrew Castner.
The Padres showed signs of being a player in the West race late last season, finishing with 76 wins to tie San Francisco for third. While that record was a downer for the Giants, it represented an upturn for the Padres.
The ballclub basically stood pat and has plenty of depth. Chris Donafrio led the team in batting at .279 but is listed as an outfield reserve. The infield of Alonzo, Gyorko, Cabrera and Headley could be one of the best in the majors if that potential is ever realized.
Jedd Gyorko led the Pads in homers with 23 and RBI with 63. Good numbers for a second baseman. Bad for San Diego overall.
Chase Headley off a tremendous second half of the season two years ago when he led the majors in homers and RBI had a terrible season last year and was the subject of trade rumors. If Headley can find that form of 2012, San Diego could be a surprise threat to the favored Dodgers.
Carlos Quentin played in just 82 games, but if healthy brings 30 HR, 100 RBI capability. The Padres open with six straight home games – three apiece against the Dodgers and Marlins.
Bottom line: It is difficult to gauge how the 2014 season will go for San Diego. Johnson on the shelf is a major blow and he is not taking it well. With him they should crack the .500 mark. Without him, probably not.
On deck: San Francisco Giants
Mark Mayer has over 35 years covering sports events and is the sports editor at GT. Reach him at [email protected].