Originally Posted by Reds/Flyers Fan
In that division, with the team that's won two of the last three World Series and a mega-market Goliath that just bought half the AL All-Star team? Not to mention a stacked National League with the Reds, Cards, Nats, Braves, Phillies (they'll be back next year) and a pair of others (Marlins and Brewers) that in all likelihood won't underwhelm again like they did last year? I wouldn't hold my breath on a Padres playoff appearance anytime soon.
I don't think that the Padres offensively are tangibly worse than the Diamondbacks, Nationals, or Phillies (an argument could be made that they are better than all three), and are probably on par with the Dodgers, Cardinals, and Braves. They aren't a clear world-beater on that side of the ball, but with a core of Headley, Alonso, Quentin, Grandal, and some good role players like Maybin and Venable, combined with the fences being moved in (which should specifically help Quentin and Alonso), they should be able to score enough runs to stay competitive.
Their starting pitching leaves a lot to be desired. Volquez and Clayton Richard were probably their only two consistent starting pitchers (the two of them combined for about 400 innings, no other starter had even 100), and only Cory Leubke and Eric Stultz started any games at all with an ERA+ of 100 or better (that's right- two starters out of 15 pitchers who made starts for them this year!). This is why I said that getting a top-end starter like Garza- maybe Haren could work, Price or Shields certainly would if the Rays get cheap- could dramatically improve their team. Their 15 starters contained a lot of depressing names like Marquis, Bass, Ohlendorf, Wells, and Suppan. It was almost like the mid-aughts Reds #5 starters had a reunion in San Diego. Somehow getting ~400 innings out of two starters with an ERA+ of 115 or better to replace ~400 innings of an ERA+ of 80 would go a long way given their offensive pieces and the new ballpark dimensions.
A back end of the bullpen that contains Street, Gregerson, Boxberger, and Vincent should be competitive. While every bullpen needs to be addressed in the offseason because of the volatility of relief pitching, they have a good core already there.
I agree that the National League has a lot of competitive teams, but I think that the Padres can be one of those competitive teams if they can improve in their one truly weak aspect of their squad- the starting pitching.