Heading into the 2013 season, one of the rays of hope for the San Diego Padres, a franchise which has made the playoffs five times in 45 years, was a young pitching staff that had shown some positive signs in 2012.

Over the last five seasons, the Padres consistently have stripped away the excess salary on the team, dealing veterans for prospects and building what is ranked as one of the best farm systems in baseball. They went from a payroll of $73 million in 2008 to $43 million in 2009 and actually won 12 more games in the process. In 2010, they knocked the payroll down to $38 million and defied the odds again by winning 90 games.

Over the last three seasons, they have added salary each year that hasn't translated into wins but last year, in the second half, they fostered some hope. After falling 20 games under .500 (34-54) in July, the Padres went 42-32 the rest of the way, spurred by an improved offence that scored, on average, over a run more per game after July 13.

Given that the pitching staff was consistent all year long, it led a lot of people to believe the team was getting ready to work its way back into contention.

So far, those signs haven't translated into any meaningful progress for the Padres in the National League West. Since they play in what might very well be the most pitcher-friendly ball park in the big leagues, the fact that they currently stand 13th out of 15 NL teams in runs allowed is not a good sign.

When you play in a cavernous ball park like Petco Park, in the heavy air at sea level, you simply can't afford to be one of the worst pitching teams in the league. A case in point: The Seattle Mariners walloped five homers at Petco Thursday in beating the Padres 7-1.

Despite its disadvantaged park situation, the San Diego offence has averaged over four runs per game, but the pitching staff has been allowing well over four runs per game.