Greetings! The first time we've visited the same division for a second time!
Projected Starters - Nick Hundley/Yasmani Grandal (suspended) (C), Yonder Alonso (1B), Logan Forsythe (2B), Everth Cabrera (SS), Chase Headley (3B), Carlos Quentin (LF), Cameron Maybin (CF), Will Venable (RF)
Chase Headley had a monster break-out campaign in 2012. He was worth 7.5 WAR (on Fangraphs), which was good for 6th in all of baseball, and he hit 31 homers, stole 17 bases, and ended with an .874 OPS while playing half his games in Petco. That's a big-time year. It's a shame that the rest of the lineup doesn't match that pace. Cameron Maybin's value comes from defense, and he lost his power (8 homers in 561 PA's) last season, while Yander Alonso (their prize acquisition in the Mat Latos deal) managed to hit for average and get on-base, but with surprisingly little pop (.393 slugging). They are in desperate need of a power surge from Quentin and/or Venable in the corners, and some on-base magic from Forsythe or Cabrera (who stole 44 bases in 449 PAs). It's not a disaster, but it isn't good, and Headley probably can't be counted on for another top-10 season.
Projected - Clayton Richard, Edinson Volquez, Jason Marquis, Eric Stults, Tyson Ross/Casey Kelly
The #1 pitcher (by Fangraphs WAR) for the 2012 San Diego Padres was worth 1.3 WAR. His name is Edinson Volquez, and while he's a talented pitcher, 1.3 WAR is 4th/5th starter material. Yikes. Since we're talking about Volquez, he's a guy with big-time strikeout stuff who just can't seem to get the walk-rate (over 5 per 9 last year) under control enough to be a high-end pitcher. Richard is a control-only, "Petco" guy who never strikes anyone out (4.4 per 9!), but threw 218 innings of 3.99 ERA ball last year and returns as their "consistent" guy. After that, it's a mess. Marquis started 15 games in San Diego, and while I'm actually bullish on him in that ballpark, he wasn't spectacular (4.04 ERA, 4.28 FIP) in the second half. Stults had a tremendous 2.92 ERA between the bullpen and rotation last year, but his peripherals scream "fluke" as his xFIP climbs to 4.44 and he strikes out a Richard-like 4.97 batters per nine. Casey Kelly is the prize prospect that they got in the Adrian Gonzalez deal, but he's struggled mightily with the big club, and he'll battle the former Oakland A's prospect Tyson Ross for the final spot. Because of the ballpark, they could post deceivingly low ERA's, but this isn't a good group.
Projected - Huston Street (closer), Luke Gregerson, Dale Thayer, Brad Brach, Nick Vincent, Joe Thatcher
This is historically a strength for San Diego. Huston Street is always good when he pitches, but he's also always hurt and threw just 39 innings last year. If they can keep him healthy, that's a slam-dunk for productivity. After that, Gregerson is 70 innings of quality relief in the bank, and they really like what Dale Thayer did in the closer role last year (seven saves). The ballpark helps, but they really, really need a healthy Street.
This is one of the least exciting teams in the majors. They have one "star" but he's a guy that they've openly discussed in trade deals (to save money), and he isn't the most exciting guy in the first place. The rotation is where they need to make waves, but the arms just aren't there at the major-league level right now. It's going to be a long year in San Diego... except for the 80-degree weather and sunshine.
69-93, 4th in NL West