As we enter the last half of January, it is evident that after the few moves which the Padres have during the offseason that G.M. Josh Byrnes and San Diego’s brass are likely preparing to go into the 2013 season with a Starting Staff composed of players already within their organization, and might have planned to do so all along.
You know, unless they could swing a trade for Rick Porcello and use their Bullpen depth and a prospect or two from their deep Farm System as bait. But with Saunders and Marcum likely out of the picture for the already quiet Padres, the idea that the Padres will head into the regular season with their projected Starting Staff already on their roster is becoming more of a reality by the day. I mean, it would be awesome to see Kyle Lohse at Petco Park, but it is not like the Friars are working with deep pockets to acquire the League’s best and eligible players.
Last season, one of the biggest pre-Spring Training storylines that surrounded the Padres was the question of “How will the then-new players (Quentin, Alonso, Volquez) perform in their first years’ with the team?” This year however, the most important “non-Yasmani Grandal” storyline is sure to surround the Friars’ Starting Rotation, and how this unit can ultimately perform over a 162 game span. Although it might be unsettling to some Padres fans, I have somewhat warmed to the idea of the Padres entering the 2013 season with the current pool of Starters they have at their disposal.
First of all, I am definitely interested to watch who exactly will make up the Padres’ Starting Rotation to begin the year, and who will be “waiting in the wings” in case injuries strike like they did in 2012. As it stands now, there are likely four spots in San Diego’s “Starting Five” which could be spoken for in 2013. Edinson Volquez, Clayton Richard, Eric Stults, and the recently re-upped Jason Marquis should all get “first crack” at winning a role. Volquez (11-11, 32 Starts, 4.14 ERA last season) and Richard (14-14, 33 Starts, 3.99 ERA) are all but locks as they were the Friars’ most consistent and consistently healthy work-horses last year, and Stults (8-3, 14 Starts, 2.92 ERA) definitely deserves a chance to build off of his strong finish to the 2012 campaign.
And while the wily veteran Marquis (6-7, 15 Starts, 4.04 ERA w/Padres) should win the #3 or #4 spot, he could encounter a large amount of competition from some younger and hungrier hurlers on the roster as the Padres will look to round out the back-end of their Staff. Anthony Bass, who started 15 games last year, as well as the newly acquired Tyson Ross should be in the mix to garner work as Starters. In addition to Bass and Ross, Casey Kelly, who made his Big League debut last year, could be used if he makes the team, and farm-hand Robbie Erlin might also find his way onto the Padres if injuries strike as well.
Besides actually watching who will make up the Starting Rotation from top to bottom, I am also intrigued to see what types if any contributions that currently injured/rehabbing Starters Andrew Cashner, Joe Wieland, and Cory Luebke can make over the course of the 2013 campaign. Over the last month, I have alluded to and referenced how both Lubke and Wieland have been working their way back from Tommy John surgeries they underwent last year. Although both will not begin the regular season healthy, Luebke and Wieland could be done with their rehab periods in time to help the Padres at some point late in the Summer if they are needed to eat some Innings. Cashner on the other hand will not be returning from elbow surgery, but hand surgery after the bizarre meat-dressing accident which happened December. While Cashner did receive more work last year as the Padres Setup man, he was used in a Starting capacity, and likely did well enough to at least throw his name into the mix this year if Manager Bud Black elects to not use him in a Bullpen role.
While there might not be a large amount of new faces coming in from outside the organization, the Padres should not necessarily be in dire straits when in comes to their Starting Rotation in 2013. In fact, from a roster evaluation standpoint, the Padres will at least be able to project and determine which “in-house” candidates can serve this franchise well into hopefully contending seasons of 2014 and 2015.
Remember readers, the rebuilding process is not over in San Diego, not by a long shot. If this team was supposed to contend as early as this year, I might be worried about the numerous questions surrounding the Starting Staff, and the few offseason acquisitions used to try to answer them. But you know what? I am not fretting.
Heck, it could inevitably serve the Padres well to determine which Starters they have in the present are a part of their long-term plans, if they figure in somewhere else on the roster (i.e. Bullpen), and which players are simply stop-gap solutions until either Minor Leaguers or Trade/Free Agent acquisitions can fill the void in the future. Signing Free Agents just to sign them to fill a need even if they will not be the best of fits would be an unwise strategy for the Padres’ brass to employ right now. Si if they believe that their “in-house” candidates are better than what is out on the market or can do a decent enough job, I won’t complain.
While I would not object to seeing the Padres pursue some more Starting Pitching help, it certainly does not look like they will make any huge acquisitions. Will it benefit them to stand pat? Only time will tell, but I am definitely intrigued to see what happens.
Stats & Contract Information Courtesy of: Baseball Reference