Carlos Quentin and his backups
Despite the great performances by Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner at the end of the season and the solid workhorseman effort all season long by Eric Stults, the pitching was a disaster. The bWAR for the entire staff on the season was 3.4, which was even worse than 2012's 4.6. Yes, that 2012 that featured starts from Kip Wells, Jeff Suppan and Ross Ohlendorf. There was a laundry list of troubles and failures that all contributed to the pitching staff not pulling it's weight:
- No one except Tyson Ross brought in during the offseason. Many of the available free agents turned out to be busts for their teams, but that does not let the team off the hook for not finding someone else who could throw some productive innings.
- Injuries lingered for Cory Luebke. There was talk of a return from Tommy John in May or June, but southpaw never even threw a competitive pitch in 2013.
- The two highest paid starting pitchers on the staff, Clayton Richard and Edinson Volquez, combined for -4.2 bWAR. Over $10 million spent on two players that arguably helped the team lose 4 more games than it should have.
- The bullpen did not produce. Huston Street started the season slow. Luke Gregerson was not as productive towards the end of the season. Dale Thayer could not repeat his 2012 breakout. And none of the team's young arms who showed promise in 2012 (Brad Brach, Brad Boxberger, Tommy Layne, Miles Mikolas, Anthony Bass) were able to produce in 2013.
- The minor leagues produce very little help. We went over some of the relievers already, but Colt Hynes and Burch Smith were also used and did not shine. Smith also struggled in the rotation where fellow prospect Robbie Erlin also had some issues before settling in a little. Admittedly, part of this problem was related to injuries. Two high level, well thought of prospects in Casey Kelly and Joe Wieland spent the whole season on the DL.
The Savior was finally living up to his tongue-in-cheek nickname during the second half of 2012. However, an early season injury prevented him from rolling that success over in 2013. Most would have guessed he could not replicate his 2012 success entirely, but I think even the skeptics were surprised by how badly Headley slumped at times. In the end he did not have a bad season, but the bar was raised in 2012 and Headley missed it. There were certainly times when the team would have benefited greatly if his bat had just a bit more pop in it in 2013.
No one in their right mind expected Quentin to be healthy all season. The Padres were probably banking on him to play in more games in 2013 than 2012, but he fell short (86 vs 82). Quentin's diminished health is only one problem though. In fact it is a problem with an attainable solution. You need some solid backups. Mark Kotsay and Jesus Guzman are not viable insurance policies against Quentin's balky knees. This was compounded when Cameron Maybin got hurt because either Denorfia or Venable were not available to fill in for Quentin or if they were then Alexi Amarista had to be stretched in CF. Similarly Kyle Blanks could have filled in, but he had his own injuries and had to fill in a 1B for Yonder Alonso at times.
Two promising young players served suspensions for performance enhancing drugs in 2013. Both Everth Cabrera and Yasmani Grandal had to serve their time, but also left clouds of speculation hovering over the club. Cabrera's was especially damaging considering that he was the team's All Star and was having a career year before having to miss the final 50 games of the season. The Padres also had to scramble to fill the giant void at SS, whereas at catcher Nick Hundley was ready to earn back his starting role.
Injuries always cause problems for teams, but it was especially damaging because of who got injured. Casey Kelly was ready to win a spot in the rotation before having to go under the knife. The team had big plans when it gave guaranteed money to Cory Luebke a while back and he has had setback after setback. Cameron Maybin was also given a sizeable chunk of change and he had multiple injuries including a chronic wrist problem. Yasmani Grandal was a huge part of the deal that sent Mat Latos to Cincinnati and his injury (especially combined with the time lost serving the aforementioned suspension) causes him to miss a lot of key development time. This stuff starts to take its toll when combined with the normal DL stints that happen during the season (Alonso, Gyorko, Headley, Venable, Blanks, Quentin, Forsythe, Marquis, Richard, Ross, Street, Wieland all missed time). That toll will be paid in 2013 and beyond.