In the latest installment of our series of team eulogies, we say a mournful goodbye to the 2013 San Diego Padres, who were recently and officially eliminated from playoff contention ...
What went right
Precious little. Will Venable was a pleasant surprise with the bat (leading to a contract extension), Everth Cabrera was a deserving All-Star (more on him in a moment), Andrew Cashner was solid in the rotation, they bought reasonably low on Ian Kennedy via trade. They've played .500 ball in the second half. Once you correct for ballpark tendencies, the offense, which ranked 10th in the NL in runs scored, wasn't terrible.
What went wrong
Let us take a peek inside this cornucopia ... Carlos Quentin, Cameron Maybin, Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal -- all core contributors -- were severely limited by injuries. The wheels came off Jedd Gyrko's hot start (.211/.235/.411 in the second half). Chase Headley's overall numbers declined significantly from 2012 levels. Jason Marquis and Casey Kelly underwent Tommy John surgery, and Clayton Richard hasn't pitched since June because of shoulder problems. In a related matter, this may have been the worst rotation in all of baseball. Also, efforts to make Petco Park less of an extreme pitcher's environment didn't quite work as planned. Cabrera accepted a 50-game suspension for his role in the Biogenesis scandal.
MVP: Absent his suspension, this honor would've gone to Cabrera, but things as they are it falls to Venable, who's presently batting .274/.317/.500 with 22 home runs in 472 plate appearances. Adjust those numbers to reflect league and home park conditions, and Venable's 2013 slash line comes to .290/.334/.533.
LVP: Alas, he is a Padre no more, but Edinson Volquez takes this "honor" thanks to his 6.01 ERA and 1.67 WHIP authored across 27 starts.
Free agents to be: INF Ronny Cedeno, SP Jason Marquis
Gameplan heading into the offseason
Add some low-cost rotation depth. The Padres aren't going to raid the coffers, but they need some certainty and innings. They'll be hoping for better health from Richard, and Cory Luebke may be able to bounce back after missing the entire season following his May 2012 Tommy John surgery. With that said, more depth is called for.
Ridiculously premature prediction for 2014
Improvement. It's never wise to bank on drastically better health up and down the roster, but the Padres were so blighted by injury in 2013, that things almost can't help but get a little better. There's upside in the young lineup, particularly if Cabrera, Grandal and Alonso are able to contribute near-full seasons. Contention seems unlikely, but a .500-ish season is a possibility. This team's in a bit better shape their 2013 record would lead you to believe.