Strengths: Talent. Believe it or not, this team is loaded with talent. They added Josh Johnson to their rotation and he should be able to turn his career around in spacious PetCo Park and is an excellent #2 behind Andrew Cashner. Chase Headley has proven he is for real, the outfield is solid, and the Padres have two starting caliber catchers. In addition to quality starting players at every position, they have quality utility men in Alexi Amarista and Logan Forsythe to serve as depth.
Weaknesses: Top level talent. While the Padres have quality players at every position, they do not have a star. Their top two prospects won’t fit the bill either. Max Fried has the potential to be a top of the rotation pitcher, and there is nobody in the minor leagues I am higher on than Austin Hedges, but Hedges is a defensive wiz and is average at best at the plate. While Headley has proven he is a legit middle of the rotation bat, he is far from a superstar.
Off-Season Needs: A difference maker. Problem is, the Padres aren’t exactly big spenders, and there isn’t a difference maker that can come at a reasonable price. Robinson Cano, Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo, and Curtis Granderson will simply cost too much for the Padres. The Padres ballpark doesn’t make it a popular destination for one year contracts, so Corey Hart, Mike Morse, and Nate McClouth aren’t legit options. The signings that might fall within budget and fit the team best would be surprises, but former Red Sox Jonny Gomes and/or Stephen Drew could lift the Padres to playoff contenders.
2014 Projection: .500. The Padres have enough talent to not be bad, but not enough to be good. They are the epitome of a .500 club.