Top 5 Make-Or-Break Players For San Diego Padres In 2014
San Diego Padres: Top 5 Make-Or-Break Players In 2014
Any fan of professional baseball knows that there are two types of franchises in MLB when it comes to financial status -- The haves and the have-nots. Fans of the San Diego Padres have been reminded offseason after offseason that the Padres are on the latter side of things when they have to constantly watch the former spend ridiculous amounts of money on players to fill up their rosters, all while the Padres shop the clearance rack so to speak.
The Padres' two big offseason acquisitions, starting pitcher Josh Johnson and relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit, both signed deals that average out to a little over $7 million per player per season combined. To put things into perspective, the New York Yankees signed outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and three other players this offseason to deals the average out to whopping $18.9 million per player per season.
This kind of financial discrepancy leaves little room for error if the Padres want to stay competitive. When you don't have three or four superstars in your lineup, the "must have things go your way" factor is of much more importance, because when things go wrong for certain players on a team playing under those circumstances, the impact on the team's performance is much more severe.
Although the Yankees' signing of Jacoby Ellsbury will definitely make them better, the fact that the Yankees have four or so other players with comparable talent in their lineup ensures his extended removal from the lineup or ineffectiveness wouldn't necessarily break their season. The Padres however, have certain players on their roster that make them better and could absolutely break their season if any of the many dire things that could happen over a baseball season were to occur.
With that being said, here are the top five make-or-break Padres players entering the 2014 season.
5. Josh Johnson
The Josh Johnson signing will go either really good or really bad for the Padres in 2014, and I honestly see no in-between in the situation. While a healthy recovery from offseason surgery and return to pre-2013 form for Johnson would make this Padres rotation a force to be reckoned with, another Johnson injury or a 2013-like season in 2014 would really hurt this team. With a boatload of inexperienced pitchers as the only options to replace Johnson if the need presented itself, the Padres really need his talent and experience to come through all season.
4. Alex Torres
The Padres tend to find themselves in a lot of close games, and close games are usually decided by the bullpen. Alex Torres, while pitching in the dangerous AL East for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2013, held left-handed batters to a .175 batting average 2013. His ability to bring that level of dominance to the mound against left-handed batters in late-game situations for the Padres will be invaluable this season. Torres struggling would be bad news for the Padres as the team has no real plan B, making him the most important piece of the Padres' bullpen in my opinion.
3. Chase Headley
If Chase Headley plays like the MVP candidate he was in 2012, the Padres either have a very talented player who is either a cornerstone on a strong trade chip. On the flip side, If Headley's 2013 performance carries over into 2014, the Padres will have lost their chance to move him for top value, and his impact on the team's offense will again be minimal.
2. Carlos Quentin
A healthy Carlos Quentin is without a doubt the Padres' most dangerous hitter. His combination of veteran experience and legit 30-HR ability are two dynamics that are uncommon throughout the Padres lineup. The problem is -- he just can't stay healthy. Quentin missing from the batting order in 2014 can make or break the middle of the Padres' lineup, especially from a power standpoint.
1. Everth Cabrera
Shortstop Everth Cabrera's ability to get on first and then put himself in scoring position by stealing bases is irreplaceable on this Padres team. The San Diego lineup is totally different without Cabrera, and the team was under .500 without him in the lineup in 2013 further proving his importance.
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