The Bar: It’s Prediction Time, Baby!

This is where we gather from time to time to talk about something big in the Padres world or just the Padres or just baseball. It’s a roundtable discussion. Except, you know, no round tables. This is a Public House . . . so we’re at the bar.

The Bar

A season just wouldn’t be a season without bold win predictions rooted in gut feelings and hypothetical scenarios of injury-free summer months. So we gathered behind the scenes here at Padres Public to offer-up our thoughts on 2014.

What is your win projection for the 2014 Padres and why?

RJ’s Fro (Rick)

After last off-season I was probably one of the more vocal critics towards the lack of moves the Padres made. You usher the same 76 win roster out there, that isn’t exactly young (14th oldest average age in MLB), while the rest of the division is improving their lineups from top to bottom, then the results most likely won’t get any better. That theory held up, as the team won 76 games yet again. On the plus side, they didn’t get any worse.

This year GM Josh Byrnes had SP Josh Johnson fall in his lap, traded for the “Final Piece” Seth Smith, acquired SP Ian Kennedy at the 2013 trade deadline, signed RP Joaquin Benoit and threw a few more minor deals in there to fill the remaining holes.

Smith and Benoit is an obvious upgrade over Mark Kotsay and Luke Gregerson. A rotation of Andrew Cashner, Johnson, Kennedy, Tyson Ross and Eric Stults, on paper, is an upgrade over last years rotation that included Clayton Richard, Jason Marquis and Edinson #EVHAU Volquez.

With that said the offense didn’t improve much. However with a returning from suspension Everth Cabrera, a returning from injury and suspension Yasmani Grandal, a healthy Chase Headley and a returning Cameron Maybin then that may be enough to push this team from a 76 win team to a 87 win team. Add to that the backing of the Colonel in the sky and I’ll say this team gets to 90 wins which, going off the 2013 standings, would be good enough to get them into a Wild Card spot.

Vocal Minority (Nate)

In a world where health and general upgrades are all you need to win a championship, this team is ready to make that run. Unfortunately, that isn’t the real world, and this team, even with better health and general upgrades, is set to stay stuck in the middle: not bad enough to get a protected 1st round pick, but not good enough to make the playoffs. I predict a much more entertaining season than the past two, but in the end, 84-78 doesn’t get you much more than that.

Oscar’s Thoughts

There are way too many question marks for me to think this could be anything better than an 85 win team. Everyone seems so confident in the rotation. Tyson Ross showed for five years that he couldn’t be a starter. Suddenly two good months changes that? Is Eric Stults going to give you the same innings and durability as last year? I’m not even sure I want him out there every fifth day. Josh Johnson hasn’t been healthy in years, and he’s supposed to be your second best starter. I think the offense will make the team exciting and fun to watch. They might even scare a few teams late in August. I’ll go with 83 wins. They stay in contention long enough to sell a few extra tickets, Fowler et al can call it progress and Chase Headley is let go because he’s a greedy, #BelowAverage bastard. Everybody wins!

The Sacrifice Bunt – Melvin

This Padres team has an above average ceiling combined with a low floor. It’s easy to see why national pundits would choose the Padres as a sleeper playoff team, and there are built in excuses if things don’t pan out. If the injuries and other issues truly have been a function of bad luck, I think it’s fair to expect the team to top out at 84 or 85 wins. But there also comes a time when the Padres’ problems become of managerial competence and not just luck. For some fans that time is well past. For others, including myself and potentially ownership, that time is coming soon. An average-ish showing may turn the plan from “win soon and preserve most of the future” to “win now and screw the future.”

I agree with Oscar and will guess 83 wins, plus a non-trade and free agency departure for Chase Headley, and a trade of a top prospect for a win now player during 2014-2015 off-season.

Vocal Minority (David)

Positives: Byrnes made some decent moves to generally upgrade a team that he’s essentially sat on on the last two off-seasons. The rotation looks solid, with the potential to be great. A healthy Padres lineup looks pretty good to me. The bullpen is shaping up well. On paper, you have to like what you see.

Negatives: Once again, the Padres are using the “…if everything goes exactly right” method, which hasn’t worked the last two years. We are still relying on players successfully returning from injuries and/or historically injury-prone players. I don’t feel like we have the depth to deal with long-term losses of any of our key pieces, and as such I want to temper my enthusiasm.

Overall: I’m feeling optimistic. I believe in perennial punching bags Headley (who still had a good 2013 despite having to overcome both injuries of varying degree and being #BelowAverage) and Maybin. On the other hand, I don’t buy into Alonso and really want him to prove me wrong. Grandal is a toss-up, and we’ll also have to see how he deals with the media hand-wringing from the likes of Huitzilopochtli. This team has had time to jell, seem to have a good clubhouse, and they’ve added a few key pieces who should help tremendously on the field. I think the Padres finish the season over .500, probably somewhere between 84-90 wins. It’s exciting to even think about this, but I completely buy into the idea that we can get into the Wild Card Game. Aim for the division, though you have to assume it’s the Dodgers’ to lose.

Note to the Beer Baron: If they’re competing near the deadline, give Byrnes authorization to upgrade as needed. Please?

VM (Nate)

I can definitely envision a world where the team has multiple 3-4 fWAR starting pitchers, 4 solid bullpen options, and a bunch of good seasons from Gyorko, Headley, Cabrera, Grandal, and a couple of the outfielders. That could certainly get them into the playoffs. However, I don’t see any reason other than pure fan optimism to think this is a likely scenario, so I’ll believe it when I see it.

Oscar’s Thoughts

Let’s say everything does go right. The rotation stays (relatively) healthy. Headley, Gyorko, Grandal and Maybin all have 3.5+ WAR seasons and the bullpen does its job. Is that enough? I don’t think so. The Dodgers, Giants, Reds, Cardinals, Pirates, Nationals and Braves are all better than the Padres. They’d have to be good AND lucky. That’s asking way too much.

Ghost of Ray Kroc

Seriously, if the Padres managed to hit .500 for this season, I’d consider the season a success. I’m not optimistic enough to pronounce them Wild Card contenders before they’ve even played a Spring Training game.

The pitching, if healthy, will keep them in a lot of games that they weren’t in the last couple of seasons. And the offense — again, if healthy — should be better than the last couple of years. The defense probably isn’t going to be much different than what we’ve seen.

Now, do I think they’ll actually get to .500? Well, it’s going to be close. Some Vegas books have the Over/Under for them at 78.5 wins. I think that’s more than fair given what we’ve seen from the Padres the last two seasons.

 AJM

Unfortunately assessments of the 2014 season always begin with, “If the Padres can stay healthy . . .”, which makes for a precarious existence. But the starting rotation could be really good as could the line-up. And hey, the bullpen looks solid! If the Padres can just stay healthy . . .

I’m intrigued by this season. It’s a show-me year for guys like Alonso, Grandal, and Maybin. Do these guys have a future in San Diego? I see Chase Headley bouncing back and finishing the year out in San Diego. Unfortunately I’m with Mel in the belief that Chase will walk for greener pastures next winter but the fact that he finishes the year in a Padres uniform might be a good thing.

I could see the Padres hitting a disappointing 77 win total or magically getting to 89 and a run at the 2nd Wild Card. By nature however, I’m neither that pessimistic nor optimistic so I find my equilibrium settling in with the all too familiar sound of 83 wins – and truthfully, that feels pretty optimistic, doesn’t it?

Padres Trail

I was out last night with a couple of friends and we got to talking about the Padres schedule, to the point where we started actually looking at it. San Diego closes their last home stand with 3 against the Giants and 3 against the Rockies. The comment was made “those games won’t mean anything, but wouldn’t it be nice if they did.”

That sums up being a Padres fan in 2014. We’re living in a Beach Boys song. Wouldn’t It Be Nice.

On paper they should be better. Grandal for a full season. Cabrera too. Johnson/Kennedy/Cashner/T. Ross/Stults are better on paper than Marquis/Volquez/Stults/Cashner/Richard. But it depends on their collective health, as others have pointed out. We have depth in the minors, but we don’t have that ML-ready depth you need to survive the 162-game grind.

If everything breaks wrong, this is a 76 win team again. If everything breaks right, 90 is not overly optimistic. Pencil me in with the hope for an 84-win season, plus the hope those game results in late September have a major say in the playoff race. For us, of course; not SF and/or COL.

GRAK

I thought I was being optimistic with my 81-win prediction, but I see now that I’ve brought the room down once again.

VM (David)

I think what we’ve made apparent is that all of us can see the positives with this team, but the line between success and failure with this club is very thin. Not unreasonable to split the difference.

Left Coast Bias

“If they can stay healthy” is true of every team. And as with every team, the answer to some degree will be “no.” The question is whether the Padres are better equipped to survive an injury to Johnson or Maybin etc. I think they are. The rotation has enough young arms that now have MLB experience to handle a few weeks of starts if needed. The addition of Seth Smith should help cushion any injury to an OF, avoiding the Amarista experience.

Coupling that with a better (on paper) bullpen that should turn 9 inning game into 7 inning games, and no.other team in the NL West that scares me other than LA, I’d say the Padres playing meaningful September games is a strong likelihood.

Put me down for 88 and in the WC hunt. That’s 2 more wins per month plus a 7-13 start vs a 5-15 start.

VM (David)

“If they can stay healthy” is true for every team, but not in the context in which it’s being used for the Padres. We’re relying heavily on key players returning to form/from injury, to not be as injury-prone as they have been, etc. Those guys make or break this season. While I’m confident and positive, it’s not the same as saying “Barring major injuries, the Dodgers should win the NL West.”

***

What do you think? Pull up a stool . . .

You are encouraged to comment using an exisitng Twitter, Facebook, or Google account. Upvote comments you find helpful, and only downvote comments that do not belong. The downvote is not a 'disagree' button.

  • Dani

    I’m going to go with 85 wins. I’m still in my usual pre-season “I believe this could be our year” phase, which makes me want to say 90 wins. But as a Padres fan, I know I can believe until I’m blue (brown?) in the face and something will still find a way to go wrong. So knock off 5 for being overly optimistic and there you go.

  • ItsDis

    78-80 feels about right, still, somehow.

  • Billy Lybarger

    Put me down for 76 wins if the General Upgrades gets demoted to Private, and 88 wins if General Upgrades gets promoted to 4 stars.
    As many times as Bud Black has been willing to throw guys like Maybin, Headley and just recently Alonso under the bus this Spring Training, I’m hoping some pressure is brought on to him as well. This is a good team, and if Buddy can’t get them to play meaningful games in September, he should face the firing squad.
    I’m going to split the difference on good vs. bad and say 82 wins. A good, but not great season, solidly in the middle. Mike Dee will promote like they are a championship caliber team, and bring back Blue and Orange for ’15. Chase will sign an extension, because the Padres will come to their senses and realize they have ABSOLUTELY NO ONE to replace him.

    • NO, NO, NO! Didn’t you read the U-T earlier this week? They have Jedd Gyorko to replace Chase at 3B.

      //scours prospect handbook to see if a 2nd baseman is close to major league ready.

      • Billy Lybarger

        And who replaces Chase and his 115 wRC+ in the lineup?

  • Change the Padres

    A few things:

    – If you guys all believe these win totals you’re putting out there, you should all be placing wagers on it in Las Vegas. The lines there are currently 78 and 78.5 depending on the outlet, with upwards of 14/1 to win the West. Rather than all the optimistic hubris — at the very least, acknowledge that no truly objective source is predicting anything close: Fangraphs’ expected W is 79.5, Davenport is predicting 81, & Cairo is at 79 — I suggest a small wager to keep you honest. Optimism is fun, but if you truly believe it; why not? (For what it’s worth, I’m predicting 81 wins and AM betting on that in Vegas).

    – While the Padres won the same number of games in ’13 as they did in ’12, their run differential (and hence their pythagorean) actually declined quite a bit. In ’12 they were -59 for a 75 win pythag…in ’13 they were at -82 for a 72 win pythag. The “on the plus side, they didn’t get any worse” is only true if you’re judging the team based solely on wins and losses.

    – “If they can stay healthy” is NOT true for every team. Last year, the Sox and Cardinals both had a laundry list of injuries. More than the Padres in terms of lost projected WAR. David’s comment at the end is good.

    • Geoff Hancock

      I think you are missing my point when I said health is an issue for every team. My point was that every team suffers injury but that unlike past years the Padres appear better equipped to handle them when they occur. The Sox and Cardinals were equipped to handle their injuries and it showed. Which is exactly my point.

      • VM David

        Better equipped than last year? Absolutely. Overall (or as compared to STL/BOS)? I’m not so sure.

      • Geoff Hancock

        In comparison to STL or BOS? Agreed. Didn’t mean to imply otherwise.

    • Sac Bunt Melvin

      Agree about willingness to put your money behind your opinions, but I don’t know any trustworthy places to put money down. Any suggestions?

      • SDPads1

        I would gladly put money down. Perhaps a quick detour to Vegas on our way out to Spring Training????

      • Sac Bunt Melvin

        Better make the “quick detour” on the way home, since we all know how “quick detours” to Vegas turn out.

      • SDPads1

        Good point.

      • Change the Padres

        Every Vegas sportsbook.

      • VM David

        #PPSportsbook?

      • DaveRiceSD

        I’m going to be in Vegas for work several times over the next few months, thinking of putting around $200 on the over myself (my guess was at 84-86 wins before reading a bunch of banter from you guys that are smarter than me). Meet me at midnight, corner of Coronado and the ocean, just south of the bench where the drunk guy is sleeping…

      • Sac Bunt Melvin

        I’m not entirely sure what’s going on here…but I like it. I’ll be there.

      • DaveRiceSD

        I looked this afternoon on the way to the bar – either you didn’t hide the money well enough or you hid it too well. Whichever it is, all bets on your behalf are off.

    • Geoff Hancock

      I would put money on this but I don’t bet on my teams. Superstition.

      • SDPads1

        “I’ll bet you $20 that I can get you to gamble by the end of the day”

      • Geoff Hancock

        You’re on! Easy money.

        Wait…shoot.

      • Change the Padres

        Then bet the under for every team that plays the Padres.

      • Geoff Hancock

        If only my black magic worked so well.

      • Geoff Hancock

        What a weird statement for someone to downvote.

    • Nathan Veale

      I, for one, am not crazy enough to think that I know enough about what’s going to happen over 162 games to put money on any team’s over or under. All I have is the information at my disposal and my instincts, and then I throw a number out that feels close.

    • VM David

      I wouldn’t bet on the Padres winning the NL West, but I’d definitely be willing to bet the over.

      • Billy Lybarger

        Is this when I start my beer betting thread?

  • Jeremy_Nash

    85-90. All depends on health( ugh) and players playing to potential (double-ugh). But I tell you this, as long as Pepe Negro steers this vessel, it shall never run aground!

  • USMC53

    1. 86 wins, no playoffs.
    2. The roster is now more capable of withstanding injuries to pitchers and outfielders than it was before, but injuries will still take a bit of a toll. That’s the way of the world.
    3. I am happy for Buddy Black; this must be the first time in several years that he’s starting a Spring Training without having to feel like he’ll be managing the entire season with one hand tied behind his back. He must be excited about the roster and the depth on the 40-man.
    4. We’ll be within reach of the Wild Card(s) during August/September, which will keep things interesting and exciting. It will also keep Headley in a Padres uniform through the end of the season, at which point he’ll walk and we’ll get a draft pick. We got Zach Eflin with the comp pick we received when Heath Bell walked; maybe we’ll be so lucky again.

  • In the “Gun to the head” betting scenario I take the over. With the “Money in my wallet” scenario I would be OK going with $50 bucks. My hubris has limits.

    • Geoff Hancock

      “My hubris has limits” is my personal motto in life.

  • Thjbriggs

    I’m really interested in knowing how fan expectations factor in to what will or wont be considered a “successful season”, particularly in regards to Bud Black. If the Padres win 83 games, a seven game improvement and technically a winning season, is the season a success? Does Black get more time? Or do you look at his tenure and think, “Christ it’s been a long time since we’ve made the playoffs. It’s time for someone new to take the reigns.”

    If that’s the case, this season seems like a high stress one for Black and company.

  • Padres Prospects

    Going with 83 wins and WC contention until the final week for whatever that’s worth. The back of the roster is much improved. Obviously betting on improved health…eventually it has to happen.

  • ballybunion

    If the Padres could go from 75 wins in 2009 to 90 wins in 2010, they can go from 76 wins in 2013 to 90 wins in 2014. It’s even a game easier!