Predictions for 2013 (Part 3)

In the past few days, we’ve seen the reasons for optimism (momentum from ’12, young guys like Alonso and Forsythe getting better, great bullpen, and of course Chase Headley), and pessimism (lack of proven starters, Cameron Maybin’s inconsistency, lack of proven starters, Yasmani Grandal suspended for 50 games, and lack of proven starters). 

So, where does that leave the Padres for 2013? Let me preface my prediction with one word: intangibles. 

These are always going to change the possible outcomes. For instance, while most people realized last year that Orlando Hudson was declining, no one predicted he would be as horrendous as he was. On the bright side, Eric Stults was a pleasant surprise who exceeded expectations, and kept them from losing more than 90 games.

What will the 2013 intangibles be? We don’t know; there are too many possibilities. 

 

So with that in mind, here’s how I think the Padres will do: they will come in fourth with an 80-82 record. 

Not too exciting, is it? But here’s the major reason for my prediction:

While their offense should be fine, the starting pitching looms large. In the 1990s, the Blue Jays had a slogan for their rotation: “Hentgen and Clemens, the rest are lemons.” The Padres could have their own, too…if  they could think of a good word that rhymes with Volquez or Richard. 

But seriously, the guys they have to start the season just aren’t that good. While Casey Kelly may be good one day, he’s going to have growing pains. This likely will not be his year. Getting Cory Leubke back in July will help, though, but they have to wait until then. In the meantime, Volquez  and Richard (“the rest are…” {sigh} never mind) will have to carry the load. 

For the Padres to rise above this mediocre prediction, here’s what has to happen: the intangibles have to go their way. All of them. This includes:

  • Headley picking right back up where he left off;
  • Cameron Maybin finally arriving as a consistent hitter;
  • Carlos Quentin’s knees holding up;
  • Leubke and Andrew Cashner coming back and making huge contributions to the starting rotation;
  • Freddy Garcia and Jason Marquis being at least serviceable starters;
  • Casey Kelly rising to the occasion;
  • Jedd Gyorko showing that he is the next Jeff Kent;
  • The 2013 Dodgers being the 1992 Mets reincarnated (i.e., “The Worst Team Money Could Buy”), and the Giants and D-Backs also flopping.

In short, the 2013 Padres are still in the process of rebuilding, so we shouldn’t set our sights too high. They have an “okay” team, but that’s about it. As a fan, it hurts to say that. But as a commentator, I have to be honest. Yes, all or most of the intangibles could go their way. That is possible; it happened in 2010, at least until the Padres’ late-season collapse. 

They could also make a trade. They desperately need a proven starting pitcher. Or, they could shoot for the moon and acquire Giancarlo Stanton. Yes, his cost would be steep, but he is a proven commodity, and ballplayers like him aren’t available every day.

So until that big trade happens, here’s my advice to Padre fans this year: just relax, enjoy the game, and don’t set your expectations too high. After all, with the fences moved in, you’re going to see a lot more offense. But in particular, enjoy watching Alonso, Forsythe, and Grandal develop into even better hitters than they were last year. This bunch is going to be fun. Starting in 2014, they will have a three to four year window in which they can be serious contenders. When that happens, watch out!

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