Strong 2nd half, Headley’s season give Padres hope
A strong second half, fueled by Chase Headley’s breakout season,
showed that there’s promise for the low-budget San Diego
That hope was strengthened when the Oakland Athletics, who have
baseball’s lowest player payroll, won the AL West.
General manager Josh Byrnes said the TV in the Padres’ clubhouse
was tuned to the A’s game against Texas on Wednesday.
”Seeing Oakland, if that doesn’t sort of get your attention,
big market or small, our players were riveted watching that game,”
Byrnes said Thursday. ”I thought it was a great achievement. We
want to be that team.”
The Padres, who had the second-lowest payroll, went 42-33 after
the All-Star break. While far better than their awful start, it
wasn’t enough to prevent them from finishing 76-86, their fourth
losing record in five seasons. They were fourth in the NL West, 18
games behind the San Francisco Giants.
San Diego hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2006.
The Padres believe they have most of the pieces in place to
contend next year under manager Bud Black. Byrnes said they’ll need
to add starting pitching, mostly because their rotation was hit
with a rash of injuries early in the season that contributed to the
team winning only 17 games through May and being 22 games under
.500 – 24-46 – on June 20.
”I do think the personality of who we want to be, the mix in
there of Buddy, players, coaches, is very good,” Byrnes said. ”So
I think we’ve taken a big step in kind of the personality we want.
To me, from a personnel standpoint, I think our starting pitching
needs to get better. Even the winning we did over the last 100, 110
games, wasn’t on the backs of our starting pitching. At times, even
in September, we kind of ran out of gas. But it’s a tough area to
address and a lot of our good ones are hurt, so projecting when
they return next year, how many innings we can count on are
unknowns and will make the planning tricky. But as far as things
we’re trying to go get in the offseason, the focus will be on
The Padres had only two pitchers throw more than 100 innings,
lefty Clayton Richard with 218 2-3 and Edinson Volquez with 182
2-3. Besides Richard and Volquez, 22 pitchers threw at least 16
While the pitching was an issue, Headley’s season was
phenomenal. He won the NL RBI title with 115. Among his other
career-bests were 31 homers, 173 hits and 95 runs scored.
The Padres have given several players long-term deals, but
Headley isn’t among them. Byrnes said the team has discussed a
multi-year deal for the third baseman, but the Padres control his
rights for two more seasons. At the very least, Headley will
certainly cash in via arbitration.
Asked if the Padres were wrong for not extending Headley, Byrnes
said: ”Probably, yeah.”
Byrnes pointed out that the extensions the team has given were
either to players approaching free agency – left fielder Carlos
Quentin and closer Huston Street – or younger players including
center fielder Cameron Maybin, pitcher Cory Luebke and catcher Nick
Hundley. Luebke was among several Padres pitchers who required
surgery and Hundley struggled after getting his deal and later was
Byrnes said Headley falls in between those two groups.
”The good news is, two years is a long time,” Byrnes said.
”If having such a good year makes negotiations difficult, we’ve
got a lot of time. He’s a home-grown guy, he’s invested in this
franchise, but the system is designed for a reason. It protects
him, because he’s going to get a nice raise because he had such a
nice year, and it protects us because we control him for at least
two more years.”
Until this year, Headley hadn’t put up the power number expected
of a third baseman. The switch-hitter said he worked hard at
elevating the ball on the pull side.
On that topic, Byrnes and Black said they support moving in the
fences in certain parts of Petco Park. Byrnes said the club is
still discussing the matter and that no decision has been made.
”I think there are certain parts of the park that play a little
bit extreme, that I think will help balance out some well-hit
balls,” Black said. ”In simple terms, if you hit a ball a long
ways, and hit it well, it should be a home run.”
Black said the areas that need to be addressed are right-center,
which has flummoxed Padres hitters since the park opened in 2004,
and a bit in left-center.
”My sense is it wouldn’t be a drastic change,” Byrnes said.
”I think the extreme parts of the park would be corrected. … We
know when a ball’s really crushed, the park has been a bit
The Padres were purchased in August by a group headed by the
O’Malley and Seidler families and local businessman Ron Fowler.
They haven’t said what their target player payroll is for 2013.