2014 Outlook: San Diego Padres

2014 Outlook: San Diego Padres
January 31, 2014, 4:00 pm
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2013 record: 76-86, 3rd place in NL West

Manager: Bud Black, 8th season

Estimated 2014 payroll: $81 million

Key additions: RHP Josh Johnson, RHP Joaquin Benoit, OF Seth Smith

Key losses: SS Ronny Cedeno, RHP Luke Gregerson, 1B/OF Jesus Guzman, IF/OF Logan Forsythe

Projected lineup
SS Everth Cabrera
CF Will Venable
3B Chase Headley
LF Carlos Quentin
1B Yonder Alonso
2B Jed Gyorko
RF Seth Smith
C Nick Hundley

Projected rotation
RHP Ian Kennedy
RHP Andrew Cashner
RHP Josh Johnson
RHP Tyson Ross
LHP Cory Luebke

Top relievers
CL Huston Street
RHP Joaquin Benoit
RHP Dale Thayer

Biggest questions entering 2014
1. Can they score enough runs? The Padres can pitch, that we know. But that pitching staff still needs some offensive support, something that was in short supply last season. San Diego ranked 11th in the NL in batting average, 12th in runs scored and 13th in slugging. Plain and simple, they need several key regulars (Yonder Alonso, Chase Headley) to start producing with more regularity.

2. What happens to Chase Headley? Speaking of Headley, this is a pivotal year for the Padres third baseman. He torched the ball in 2012, clubbing 31 homers with an NL-leading 115 RBI, but he saw his numbers cut in half last season. He's due to become a free agent next winter, so that makes him a prime trade target come this summer. If the Padres are competitive and in a pennant race, they'd be foolish to deal their No. 3 hitter. But if they're under .500 again, Headley is most likely going to be headed elsewhere (with the Bronx among the strongest possibilities).

3. Can Josh Johnson stay healthy? The Padres took a chance on the veteran right-hander, signing him for $8 million. If he manages to stay healthy, though, there's really no gamble here. Johnson has topped 100 innings pitched four times in his career. His combined totals in those four seasons: 46-32 with a 3.12 ERA. The problem is, Johnson has failed to pitch 100 innings in four other seasons due to injury. The Padres are hoping beyond hope they got Johnson during one of his healthy seasons. If they did, they probably pulled off the steal of the winter.