The Padres' 2012 season was like a Zen koan. Did it even exist? Almost half of San Diego didn't get the Padres on TV because of a dispute between Fox Sports San Diego and Time Warner. There were rumors that Kip Wells was on the team. Kip Wells. In 2012. Next thing you know, the Padres will be signing guys like Ross Ohlendorf and Jeff Suppan. Do you even know what the Padres' record was?
FanGraphs has the Padres finishing with a record of "participated" instead, so use your metric of choice. The 2012 season was always supposed to be a stepping stone between a last-place 2011 team and a future filled with prospects and glory. And that's exactly what it was. To put it in the terms of evolution, everyone remembers the fish with legs, but no one remembers the fish with toenails. The Padres were in the "evolving toenails" stage last year, which is a boring-but-necessary step that leads to the final product. I don't even know what that means, but it's the Padres and you don't care, so I'm not going back to change it now.
I actually thought the Padres were going to be kind of good last year. And they probably would have been if it weren't for those meddling tendons. In the end, they were just there, wandering around baseball with a vacant stare. What were they supposed to do? To answer that, here's a look back at the Padres' 2012 season preview.
Overall tone of preview
Really optimistic. Like, it might have been the most optimistic Padres preview on the Internet. The hook was that the Padres had a starting lineup that didn't project to have any holes.
What actually happened
76-86, fourth place.
What changed between the preview and the end of the season
The story of the season was injuries. The Padres used 30 pitchers in 2012, which is kind of a lot, but more impressively, they used 15 different starting pitchers.
Tim Stauffer: Great day to be at the yard!
/tears flexor mass
Cory Luebke: Really love this team! I'd love to sign an extension!
Anthony Bass: Don't worry, guys. I'll absorb the lost innings.
Andrew Cashner: Wow, this sure puts a lot of pressure on me.
/shoulder turns into a vapor that shoots comically out of his ears whenever he gets mad
Kip Wells: Let me check my calendar nope nothing going on so I can join your baseball team
/is Kip Wells
The rotation should have been good. Or, at least, interesting. Cory Luebke was supposed to lead the way, Tim Stauffer and Anthony Bass were supposed to give the Padres some okay innings, and Andrew Cashner and Joe Wieland were supposed to ease their way into the starting rotation by year's end. All of them went down for an extended length of time.
Even with that, though, the Padres still managed to finish the season strong. After a loss to the Dodgers on July 13, the Padres slipped to 34-54, just a half-game ahead of the Astros in the race to the bottom of the NL. Then the Padres got hot, closing out the season on a 42-32 run. They kind of pootered out at the end of the season, but for a while the Padres were the hottest team in baseball.
Player(s) I ignored for whatever reason
The only mention of Chase Headley was in a projected lineup. That's it. I neglected to mention that he was clearly the best player on the team or pay any special attention to him. Do you realize that he led the National League in RBI? That's like a Rockies pitcher leading the league in ERA, or a Yankee leading the league in humility. Headley had one of the best seasons by any hitter in Petco Park's history, hitting 23 home runs in the second half.
He's never been an All-Star. That will probably change next year.
Obscenely stupid quote
Unless you're convinced that the Royals can find competent starting pitching, the Padres are probably your best bet for a surprise season.
Tone of next preview
It would be a lot more optimistic if a lot of those pitchers were back by opening day, like Luebke, Wieland, and Cashner. Instead, there's a Clayton Richard/Edinson Volquez/Jason Marquis troika at the top of the rotation, and that's not going to be enough for the kind of optimism I had about the Padres before last season. Still, it's a team going in the right direction. They just need to get healthy.