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It’s a special week in the offseason of Major League Baseball, as owners and personnel men convene in Orlando for the “Winter Meeting.” Often, this is the part of the offseason when blockbuster trades are made and large free-agent contracts are signed. It’s no coincidence that Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson signed with new teams this week, nor is it surprising that Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher David Price has been shopped around to every contending team in the league.

This should be an exciting time of the year for baseball fans. Unfortunately, nearly a decade’s worth of quiet winter meetings for the Padres have left fans of the franchise sleepy, bored and disconnected in December.

It didn’t help matters that, after trading away long-time setup pitcher Luke Gregerson, Josh Byrnes referred to Seth Smith as “the final piece.” Yes, the same Seth Smith that hit .253 with the Oakland Athletics last season. Smith is expected to be a fourth, or possibly fifth, outfielder who often fills in for Carlos Quentin in left field against right-handed pitching.

So far, this week, the Padres have followed suit with the intentions general manager Josh Byrnes laid out publicly. They’re searching around for a left-handed relief pitcher to replace Joe Thatcher, who was traded to the Diamondbacks last season. That’s about it. Barring any major movement, this is the starting roster for the 2014 San Diego Padres:

C Nick Hundley
1B Yonder Alonso
2B Jedd Gyorko
SS Everth Cabrera
3B Chase Headley
LF Carlos Quentin
CF Cameron Maybin
RF Will Venable

SP Andrew Cashner
SP Josh Johnson
SP Tyson Ross
SP Ian Kennedy
SP Eric Stults

CL Huston Street

There’s plenty of depth on this team. The bench includes useful backups in Smith, Chris Denorfia, Kyle Blanks, Alexi Amarista and Logan Forsythe. Yasmani Grandal could possibly be back by the beginning of the season to challenge Hundley for the starting catcher’s job. The team will have a plethora of young, talented starting pitchers coming off the disabled list during spring training and any of them could crack the roster early in the season. On paper, the only real issue is with the bullpen, which is why Byrnes is focusing on improving it in Orlando.

It’s easy to see why Byrnes labeled Smith “the final piece,” but it’s also hard not to wonder if the Padres are stuck in no-man’s land. There’s enough talent at each position that it seems foolish to replace any of the starters, but this same team has won 76 games or fewer in each of the last three seasons. If this collection of talent doesn’t look to be a playoff contender come the end of July, you’ll likely see Byrnes trading away big-name players like Quentin and Headley in an attempt to save his own job for a few more years.

John Gennaro

I'm John Gennaro, contributor to Active Voice and managing editor of Bolts from the Blue. You can tweet me @john_gennaro...

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