Padres fans, do not be ashamed. Your team, the San Diego Padres, have a good chance at returning to the National League postseason for the first time since 2006. You may ask how, or just not believe me at all. However, in reality, your team is ready to take the next step in the National League and return to the playoffs.
The Padres finished third in the NL West in 2013, with a 76-86 record. There was a lot to like from your season. Six of the Padres' starting eight finished with an OPS+ above 100 (only catcher Nick Hundley and outfielder Alexi Amarista fell short). Three of those six players fell short of playing in 100 games, which may have been a reason of the disappointment. They got fantastic play from rookie second baseman Jedd Gyorko who hit a team-high 23 home runs while driving in 63. With some improved health, the Padres offense could really improve into 2014. There is a lot to like.
The Padres pitching was not the greatest in 2013. Their starters posted the eight-highest ERA in Major League Baseball, even with the Petco Park effect (For those of you who do not know, Petco Park is a pitchers' dream because the ocean air pushes the ball out of the air.). In September, after the Padres acquired Ian Kennedy and finally released Edinson Volquez, there was a lot to like from their pitching staff. They posted the sixth-lowest ERA in the Majors in September, while leading the MLB in lowest Batting Average Against for the month. The 28-year-old Kennedy led the National League in wins in 2011 for the Diamondbacks, and should benefit from San Diego's park. I expect him to vastly improve from his horrid 2013 campaign (career-low 75 ERA+). I also expect the Padres pitching to be improved as well.
This offseason the Padres continued to build their team, signing former 4th round pick and two-time All Star Josh Johnson. The 30-year-old pitcher went 2-8 with an ugly 6.20 ERA (66 ERA+) in 16 games with the Blue Jays in 2013. He had many arm issues that kept him sidelined and had a knee injury that bothered him all season. A healthy season is exactly what Josh Johnson needs to regain his All Star form. Another signing the Padres made was of Joaquin Benoit, the former Tiger. The 36-year-old Dominican native went 4-1 with a 2.01 ERA and 24 saves in 66 games for Detroit last season. He should help bolster the back end of the bullpen. The Padres also acquired Alex Torres from the Rays, a dominant young left-hander. He should also help balance the bullpen.
I have high hopes for the Padres in 2014. A very good team plus a very good offseason should really make the team much better in 2014. I like what GM Jed Hoyer did, as he attempts to turn this team into a winner. And if it does not happen this season, it will happen soon. The Padres have pieces that they can develop, and since they made good acquisitions, they will be a very solid team in 2014. Padres fans, it's only a matter of time.