77-85, 3rd in NL West
It could be said that the Padres were one of the most boring teams in baseball in 2014. They had a solid pitching staff, but a lack of offense led to a sub-par season. They only reason their record and standing were that good is because they happened to have the Rockies and the Diamondbacks in their division.
2015 Additions / Subtractions
To say the Padres' lineup went through a transformation this offseason would be a grand understatement. Of the 2014 Opening Day starting lineup, only two players (Jedd Gyorko, Yonder Alonso) will remain come Opening Day 2015. Many of the former starters will now be backing up the likes of Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, Justin Upton, Will Middlebrooks, and Derek Norris. All these players were acquired via blockbuster deals this offseason. Add to that pitching ace and staff mentor James Shields, and you have gone from one of the most boring teams in the league to the of the best and most exciting. Who cares what they lost? They upgraded every position around the diamond.
Most Important Hitter
The new heart of the Padres' batting lineup now features the likes of Justin Upton and Derek Norris. However, the player that may determine the success or failure of the 2015 season is Matt Kemp. Only a few years removed from being votes away from winning an MVP, Kemp's career is on the rebound. After some injury plagued seasons, he finally seemed to be back on the right track in the second half of 2014. Kemp had, however, overstayed his welcome in the extremely crowded Dodger outfield. If he was going to make it back to who he once was, it would be for someone else ... like the Padres. Now the Padres are counting on the end of 2014 being a sign of things to come instead of a flash of what could have been if it weren't for another injury.
Most Important Pitcher
After being the Padres' Opening Day starter in 2014, Andrew Cashner never lived up to the billing of ace. Suffering through an injury plagued season, he only tallied 5 wins last year. Now with Big Game James taking the pressure off, Cashner can live up to his potential and be the type of guy that can seemlessly slot in behind the new ace of the staff.
Player to Watch
The Padres' number two prospect, catcher Austin Hedges, is not slated to be ready until next season. However, if they get a chance at a postseason run, look for him to be a potential impact bat off the bench a la Andrew Susac last year for the Giants. Also, watch for Hedges to get an early look if there is an injury to Derek Norris. However, with most of last year's starters now serving as this year's bench, don't look for many, if any, rookies to pop up with any significant time this year.
2nd in AL West, WILD CARD, lose in Wild Card Game
This complete overhaul of the roster has the Padres poised for a postseason already in 2015. They brought in enough proven bats that Petco Park will not even prevent them from scoring runs. Add to their young pitching staff a solid ace and another year of experience, and the Padres are destined to make the biggest leap in the standings and be a contender for the foreseeable future.