"I realize a lot of teams will be out there looking for starting pitching. It will certainly be a focus for us," general manager Josh Byrnes said on Wednesday, just before the Padres played their final game of the regular season.
"In the longer view, the inning and quality, what you want from your starting rotation ... we didn't quite measure up to what we need to be a playoff-caliber team. Over 162 games, we need to upgrade."
Only Clayton Richard made all 33 starts this season, with Edinson Volquez (32 starts) missing one start because of a blister issue.
After that, though, the next closest pitchers in terms of starts were Anthony Bass and Jason Marquis (15 starts each). Marquis wasn't even part of the organization when the season started.
The Padres used 15 starters this season after early injuries shelved Dustin Moseley and then Tim Stauffer. Cory Luebke -- who was being counted on heavily -- and promising rookie Joe Wieland each had Tommy John surgery, and won't return until mid-2013 at the earliest.
"It was, hopefully, as bad as it ever gets," Byrnes said of the injuries.
Left-hander Eric Stults, who started the season with the White Sox, impressed over a 14-start stint, as he finished the season with a 2.92 ERA. Marquis won six games, though he'll be a free agent. Andrew Cashner and Casey Kelly also pitched well at times, and could be in the mix for spots next spring.
"Some of the guys who had to come in here did well, and put themselves in our plans for next season," Byrnes said. "We need to have depth and some flexibility."
Because of spacious Petco Park and with manager Bud Black, a former pitcher, and a highly regarded pitching coach in Darren Balsley, selling the Padres' experience to free agent pitchers is considerably easier than it is to sell to a free-agent position player.
If the Angels opt to non-tenders pitcher Ervin Santana and Dan Haren, those two could fit well with the Padres. Santana won 28 games over two seasons when Black was his pitching coach in 2005-06. Haren posted seasons of 16 and 14 victories in '08-09 in Arizona, where Byrnes was the general manager.
A player such as Anibal Sanchez, who will be a free agent, could also be a good fit for the Padres and certainly wouldn't break the bank. Sanchez has topped 190 innings in each of the last four seasons.