Well well well, the Winter Meetings have come and gone, and San Diego Padres' GM Josh Byrnes was about as active as a rainfall meter in the Sahara. That's not to say that he did anything wrong–after all, scarcely anything happened at the Meetings for any team. We're left with the impression that the most exciting news to come out of Nashville was Tommy Lasorda singing karaoke.
Still, there is a sense of disappointment. No effort to go after a big-name free agent pitcher. No trades. Their one and only move was to re-sign starting pitcher Jason Marquis to a one-year, $3M contract. Nothing against Marquis; he did a fairly solid job last season, going 6-7 with a 4.04 ERA in 15 starts. But…
Did you see that? This photo is what Padre players and fans want. And no, I don't mean another division title for the San Francisco Giants. So the question is, if the Padres' roster is basically the same in 2013 as the 2012 version, do they stand a chance in the competitive NL West? Can they go toe-to-toe with the Giants, LA Dodgers, and Arizona Diamondbacks?
Obviously, there is still plenty of time in the offseason for one or more new fish to be lured to San Diego. We already know they are only going after starters, and who can blame them after their dramatic improvement in the second half of 2012? From July 1 to the end of the season, the Padres offense scored the fifth most runs in the National League. As Bud Black put it, "Position players are set."
Can they compete in the NL West? What if cleanup hitter Carlos Quentin hadn't missed the first two months of 2012? What if they had not gotten off to a horrendous start and bottomed out at 25 games under .500? With fewer injuries, especially to key players, and a better start, where would they have ended up?
They finished 18 games behind the Giants, so it's not likely that even with everything clicking at optimum levels, they would have challenged for the division title. How about a wild card? The second wild card team, the St. Louis Cardinals, finished 12 games in front of San Diego. It seems safe enough to surmise that, sans all the injuries, and with a solid start, the San Diego Boys could have been right there in the thick of the playoff chase.
If the Cardinals lose their ace starter, Kyle Lohse, to free agency, and the Padres land one more reliable starter, who knows what could happen in 2013? As for winning the West…let's save that topic for another day.
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