April will make or break 2013 for the Padres


Mar 17, 2013; Tempe, AZ, USA; San Diego Padres first baseman Yonder Alonso (left) is congratulated by manager Bud Black (right) after scoring during the sixth inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The MLB season is, of course, a marathon. Six months of a grueling schedule with few days off in between games, coupled with dozens of travel days and nights on the road. There are a lot of games to be played and we’ve seen teams get hot at the end of the year to sneak into the playoffs. However, the Padres could very well have their season all but decided before May rolls around.

In 2012, the Padres were an abysmal 7-17 in the month of April (and for the record, an equally bad 10-18 in May). In fact, at 20-41 in the middle of June, the Padres had the worst record in baseball at that time. But it all started with their terrible April which, by the way, included 15 of their 24 games at the (not so) friendly confines of Petco Park. The Padres dug themselves into too deep of a hole and, despite a very solid 42-33 record post All-Star break, it was too little too late.

So this brings me to this season, which was initially filled with tons of hope and promise, especially given the success at the end of the year in 2012, but has now turned into a “let’s try and keep it together” situation. The Padres will be without their best player, 3B Chase Headley, for at least the first couple weeks of the season. Their main source of power and corner outfielder, Carlos Quentin, is continually battling knee issues and, while he does appear to be healthy enough to play lately, we all know that could change literally any day. Padres starting catcher, Yasmani Grandal, won’t be back with the club until around late May, as he will be serving his 50-game drug suspension.

There’s also questions that remain with CF Cameron Maybin. Is this the year he finally breaks out? Last April, Maybin racked up a grand total of 15 hits. It took him until after the All-Star break to really get going, when he actually hit a fairly respectable .283. Can he pick up where he left off? He’s not a rookie anymore; it’s time for him to step up and produce every day.

And then there’s the starting rotation. A couple years ago, the organization had envisioned a much different crop of starting pitchers this 2013 season. As I mentioned earlier this week in my weekend roundup, Cory Luebke, Joe Wieland, and Casey Kelly were all thought to be in the rotation by now, but all are on their way to or recovering from Tommy John surgery. So what are the Padres left with? A wildly, erratic Edinson Volquez as the team’s number one, a steady but below-average number two in Clayton Richard, and Jason Maquis as their number three starter.  Any club with those three guys manning the front end of the rotation can’t feel too confident about the depth and quality of the arms they can roll out on any given day.

The Padres play 18 games in April, of their 26 total, against division opponents, including six against the World Series Champs Giants and six against the new look Dodgers. The Padres had sub-500 records against both of those teams last season. There’s also six games mixed in with the Rockies as well. There are also series against the Mets and Brewers, two teams that will more than likely be competing for a NL wild card spot. Those are a lot of important games to be playing early in the season with a lineup that is going to be in flux. They cannot afford another slow start to the season like 2012, or else we could be talking Chargers football sooner than we want to be.

So can the Padres play respectable ball in the month of April and at least keep their record around .500 until there’s a bit more stability in the lineup?