Saturday, December 19, 2009

San Diego Padres---Hot Stove Preview

  • Winter Preview----San Diego Padres:

The John Moores divorce is blamed for the Padres train wreck, but the real culprit in the whole mess was Sandy Alderson and his heavyhanded, self-righteous and credit-seeking management style as club president.

Much like the aftermath of the ousting of a deranged dictator after he wrecked a country, the Alderson legacy will haunt this organization for years to come and cleaning up the mess isn't so simple as to spruce up the carnage and make it presentable.

What they need: Clear out the final remaining higher priced players; bring in the best talent they can from other organizations and start a full-scale rebuild. I don't mean a "make the team as cheap as possible" and leave an empty lot where a baseball team once was, I mean a rebuild.

Free agents: OF Brian Giles; RHP Mark Worrell

Did Giles retire?

The sidearming Worrell underwent Tommy John surgery very early in 2009 and was non-tendered, but the Padres are intending on bringing him back.

Players available via trade: 1B Adrian Gonzalez; RHP Heath Bell; 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff; RHP Chris Young

Unless owner Jeff Moorad has quietly ordered a trade without such a disclosure being made public, the Padres are in a very strong position with Gonzalez in that new GM Jed Hoyer is under no obligation to trade him. The pros and cons of trading Gonzalez follow.

Pros: he's one of the best players in baseball; he's cheap; he'd bring back enough pieces to accelerate the rebuilding of the club; and in their current state, what do they need him for?

Cons: he's one of the best players in baseball; he's cheap; he's a hometown hero; and what better player to build around than a true superstar?

The idea that the fans would revolt if the Padres traded Gonzalez makes no sense because the fans have already been revolted by the Padres over the past forty years. How can any fan become emotionally invested in a team that has such self-destructive peaks and valleys on a regular basis? Repeated sell-offs are acceptable when there's a reason for them.

The Marlins continually deal their stars when they start making larger salaries, but when they do so they import the best prospects from any and all organizations with whom they deal; and the Marlins have two championship trophies. All the Padres have is a disinterested fan base that has been so beaten down by the abuse inflicted on them by the various club owners that they simply don't care. If the Padres are good, they'll go to the games and pay attention (as long as it's not football season); if the Padres are bad, well, it's an understandable "call me when and if they're good again".

It's not as if it's an isolated incident with one owner either. This has happened with the last three ownership groups and has shown no sign of ending anytime soon.

I'm ambivalent about trading Gonzalez.

They've got him locked in through 2011 at slightly over $10 million total. Nothing for a hitter who's not yet 28 and would be on a level with Albert Pujols if he had any lineup protection and a ballpark with reasonable power dimensions. In the classic conundrum, that is what also makes him the most marketable asset and the best bet to rebuild as quickly as possible.

Then there are the questions about new GM Jed Hoyer.

He has an impressive pedigree----Wesleyan University; working under Theo Epstein with the Red Sox; etc.----but recent history has proven that an impressive working history has little to do with actual results when given the top job in an organization (see DePodesta, Paul). Hoyer has done absolutely nothing so far as Padres GM aside from negotiating with his former boss in Boston (fruitlessly so far) to trade Gonzalez for a chunk of the Red Sox farm system.

The decision they make with Gonzalez, one way or the other, will be the immediate flashpoint in Hoyer's tenure as GM.

Bell has blossomed into an All Star closer after replacing Trevor Hoffman. It wouldn't be a surprise to see Bell folded into a massive Gonzalez trade with the Red Sox, who I'm convinced have had enough of Jonathan Papelbon.

Bell's arbitration-eligible and will get a giant raise. If he's not traded over the winter, he'll be on the block at mid-season.

Kouzmanoff has never fulfilled the potential he showed for the Indians when he demolished both Double and Triple A pitching in 2006 to the tune of a .379 average, .437 on base percentage and 22 homers in 94 games. He has pop, is a good fielder and is arbitration-eligible. He won't be a star, but he's a cog for a contender and will be traded.

Young is an unpolished gem who could win 18 games if he's: A) able to stay healthy; and B) gains some stamina for late in the season so he doesn't run out of gas after hitting 150 innings.

Young's due to make $6.5 million next year with an $8.5 million option for 2011. He's going to get traded and would a perfect mid-rotation addition (with top-of-the-rotation stuff) for the Cardinals, Yankees, Mets or any number of clubs.

Players to pursue:

Via free agency: OF Coco Crisp (Royals); C Brad Ausmus (Dodgers); RHP Braden Looper (Brewers); OF/1B Xavier Nady (Yankees); RHP Brett Myers (Phillies); LHP Erik Bedard (Mariners); C Rod Barajas (Blue Jays); OF Gabe Gross (Rays); RHP Chien-Ming Wang (Yankees); INF/OF Kelly Johnson (Braves); OF Ryan Church (Braves)

It goes without saying that the Padres aren't going to be players in the "name" free agent market, but there are useful bargains to be had to fill holes, keep the club as respectable as possible and provide trade chips for mid-season 2010.

Crisp's value is non-existent after a rotten year with the Royals, but he can go get the ball in center field and has hit in his career. He's low-risk/high-reward.

The Padres need a backup catcher and Ausmus played in San Diego before and wouldn't complain about tutoring Nick Hundley. Barajas is looking for work and would be a decent part-timer.

Wang will have more appealing and lucrative opportunities than the Padres, but it doesn't hurt to check in with him and let him know of the club's interest. Bedard will get better offers as well, but he's got great stuff and would be something to trade if he's healthy.

Via trade: OF Melky Cabrera (Yankees); RHP David Robertson (Yankees); RHP Clay Buchholz (Red Sox); RHP Daniel Bard (Red Sox); RHP Michael Bowden (Red Sox); OF Jacoby Ellsbury (Red Sox); RHP Andy Sonnanstine (Rays); Brandon Wood (Angels); LHP Matt Harrison (Rangers); RHP Neftali Felix (Rangers); RHP Brandon Morrow (Mariners); LHP J.A. Happ (Phillies); OF Cameron Maybin (Marlins); RHP Bobby Parnell (Mets); OF Fernando Martinez (Mets); OF Colby Rasmus (Cardinals); RHP Jason Motte (Cardinals); LHP Manny Parra (Brewers) 3B Mat Gamel (Brewers); RHP James McDonald (Dodgers); SS Ivan DeJesus Jr (Dodgers); 1B James Loney (Dodgers); OF Andre Ethier (Dodgers); CF Matt Kemp (Dodgers); LHP Madison Bumgarner (Giants)

Until Hoyer does something----anything----in terms of trades, we won't know what he's capable of in procuring the top prospects from another club in dealing his remaining stars. The negotiations with the Red Sox over Gonzalez (and I bet Bell) have gone nowhere. One would assume that Hoyer knows the Red Sox organization up and down and is asking for the best prospects including Buchholz, et al.

If Gonzalez does get traded this winter, it'll be to the Red Sox; it makes the most sense for all involved. Even with their acquisitions so far----Mike Cameron, John Lackey, Marco Scutaro----the Red Sox need a basher. The way their club is currently constituted, not only are the Red Sox still far behind the Yankees, they're a good bet to miss the playoff entirely in 2010. There's something just off----imperceptible and elusive----about them that's hard to pinpoint and has to be addressed.

Both Epstein and Hoyer know this.

That doesn't mean a deal will get done, but they know that there's a match in need and prospects on both ends. The Red Sox may not have a choice but to give Hoyer what he wants for Gonzalez; it's not as if they're dealing for an unknown either.

I think they not only want Gonzalez, but they need Gonzalez.

The other names mentioned are prospects and/or young players that the Padres could and should be able to extract in dealing the likes of Bell and Young. Morrow's available and I love his stuff. I've said numerous times he needs to get out of Seattle and away from the shadow of Tim Lincecum. San Diego is a perfect place to stick Morrow in the starting rotation and simply let him pitch. (And he should be a starter, not a closer.)

The Dodgers have done as little as the Padres this winter and need pitching. Could they jump into the Gonzalez sweepstakes? They have the prospects to get him.

How about the Giants? Their organization is packed with young talent too and Gonzalez would automatically make them serious pennant contenders.

Until Hoyer does something, there won't be a gauge on what the future holds for the Padres and Gonzalez is the key to that future whether they trade or keep him. We'll know once that decision is made where the Padres are headed. I'm not going to speculate one way or the other where that road will lead until he makes some kind of move, any kind of move.

We'll wait and see...

  • Does this fall under the category of having a bad week?

Not only was former Angels reliever Jose Arredondo non-tendered by the club last week amid reports that he's set to undergo elbow surgery and would miss the entire 2010 season, but he was reportedly stabbed in the arm in the Dominican Republic----story.

If I were Arredondo, I'd hide in the house until the dark clouds hovering overhead departed, but that's just me.

  • Notes on tomorrow:

I'll address all free agent signings, trades/rumors and more bizarre decision-making from the Phillies----exercising Jimmy Rollins's 2011 contract option now? Why?----in tomorrow's posting. Get your mail/comments in now.

And I'd strongly suggest you don't do so anonymously because I'm warming up my arm to slam down the hammer on whoever has the temerity to comment snidely and worse without leaving their name.

I took it easy yesterday. Next time I won't.


She-Fan said...

I can't formulate a coherent comment because I honestly don't care about the Padres. Sorry!

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