Sunday, July 22, 2012
Competing in 2013
The Padres signed local boy Carlos Quentin to a 3 year, $27 million contract, ending all conversations about whether (and for what) he would be traded. He won't be. He is here to stay.
But this isn't a conversation about the merits of that deal. For the most part I like it, though the no-trade clause is always dangerous. But time will tell whether this was a smart move.
No, today I'm more interested in what this means about the organizations expectations for the immediate future. A signing like this would seem to indicate that the rebuilding process is in its final leg. That the team is planning to be competitive, perhaps as soon as 2013. So, let's look at that.
For one, 2012 has provided little in the way of a barometer regarding the Padres pitching staff. The current staff is a hodgepodge of players who happened to be available and answered their phone. For example, currently I'm watching Ross Ohlendorf pitch, a player who started 2012 in Pawtucket. Kip Wells, Jason Marquis. To paraphrase a sage mentor "these are not the starting pitchers you are looking for."
By now the Padres injury struggles are well documented. Needless to say, the post-Latos trade projected starting 5 of Volquez, Luebke, Stauffer, Richard and Moseley/Bass spent precious little time on the field.
Then there's the middle infield. I hate to do this to you and I'll make it fast but, we started this year with the Hudson/Barlett tandem. A distant memory now, it took awhile to rectify this situation because, you guessed it, injury. Forsythe and Cabrera were injured, Amarista was an Angel. The times were different.
But not anymore. Hudson is gone. Bartlett is going to be gone. Hundley's struggles (and now injury) are in Tucson. The lion share of the Latos trade is on the field in San Diego. The team is drastically different then it was to start the year. Hell, it's different from where this team was on Memorial Day.
Yes the team is playing better. Yes the competition has been weaker. But keep in mind, this is a team that got swept from the Cubs so beating even weak teams is progress.
Can they compete in 2013? Here's what their lineup by mid-June should look like. This obviously takes the optimistic view that they will not suffer as many injuries next year as this.
C Yasmani Grandal
1B Yonder Alonso
3B Headley or Gyorko
SP Bass or whoever 2013's Volquez/Harang type person is
Closer: No idea
Now, let's look at the NL West. Currently the Giants lead the West with a 53-42 record despite being 11th in Runs Scored in the NL. (The Dodgers are 13th in that category BTW). It doesn't take a ton of firepower to win the West. It does take pitching.
So, can this team compete in 2013? I imagine that depends on how you define "competing?" I define it as playing important baseball games in September. Can the team above stay in the race in the West in 2013? I think they've shown in the past 3 weeks that they can. It's a young team, but, thanks to injuries in 2012, many of the young pieces are getting MLB experience ahead of schedule. That can only help moving forward.
It's for that reason that I like the Quentin signing. The team believes they are close. The product on the field is better. And the NL West is not top-heavy. You don't extend Quentin when you are rebuilding.
It appears that rebuilding process is now near its end.