At the beginning of last week’s winter meetings, the Padres arguably had more depth at catcher than any other major league organization with a trio composed of Rene Rivera, a former (and, apparently, still) journeyman turned defensive wizard who had a breakout year with the bat in 2014; Yasmani Grandal, a talented 26-year-old switch-hitter with a surprising knack for framing pitches; and Austin Hedges, an offensively-challenged 22-year-old in need of further seasoning, but also gifted with the best defensive catching skills in the minor leagues.
A week later and, at least tentatively, the Padres have shipped both Grandal and Rivera elsewhere. (Don’t forget, as of this writing, both trades aren’t yet official.) Grandal went to the Dodgers as the main piece in the Matt Kemp trade and Rivera is headed to Tampa Bay in a three-team whopper that will, when finalized, bring Wil Myers to San Diego. The trade:
Padres receive: OF Wil Myers ( from TB), C Ryan Hanigan (TB), RHP Gerardo Reyes (TB), and LHP Jose Castillo (TB)
Rays receive: C Rene Rivera (SD), RHP Burch Smith (SD), 1B Trevor Bauers (SD), OF Steven Souza (WAS), and LHP Travis Ott (WAS)
Nationals receive: RHP Joe Ross (SD) and SS Trea Turner (SD) as a player-to-be-named-now*
*Turner, since he was drafted by the Padres in June, can’t be traded until next summer. Apparently, he’ll be put in the awkward position of remaining with the Padres until then.
The Padres haven’t completely depleted their previously discussed catching depth, as they got both Hanigan and Tim Federowicz back in the recent deals while hanging onto Hedges. However, before we can discuss the current catching situation with a straight face, let’s talk big picture.
On the late, great NBC television show 30 Rock, Alec Baldwin’s Jack Donaghy, Vice President of East Coast Television and Microwave Programming for General Electric, comes into the show best known for being instrumental in the creation of the Trivection oven, adding a third type of heat to the microwave oven, transforming the way microwave ovens work for eternity, or until people stop using microwave ovens and start using replicators, like the ones in Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Fresh off that career achievement, Donaghy seeks to save The Girlie Show by adding Tracy Jordan, a bombastic, politically incorrect and unbalanced comedian and former movie star played by Tracy Morgan. To Donaghy, for TGS, Tracy is that third heat, that transformative person who will save the show and change television forever, or something. Amazingly (not really, it’s a TV show), it works, The Girlie Show becomes TGS With Tracy Jordan, and even though it seems like a terrible TV show, it continues for several seasons, until 30 Rock, a very good TV show, finally, sadly, ends.
The Padres seem to be spending this off-season looking for that third heat, hoping to turn this non-storied franchise I love so much into one with a bit of a story. So far, they seem to think trading cheap talent for expensive talent is that. They’ve traded Yasmani Grandal for Matt Kemp, hoping Rene Rivera will off-set the lack of Grandal and Kemp will be a net addition, as well as bringing his #EightRowsDeep power and model good looks to the franchise. Maybe model good looks is the third heat. They don’t pay me to know these things. They don’t pay me.
(You are entering a hot take free zone.)
The last time we discussed Korean pitcher Kwang-hyun Kim, we were fumbling through a translation from a Korean sports website, Naver Sports, about how the Padres had won the posting fee for Kim with a $2 million bid.
It seemed likely that the Padres and Kim, with 30 days to strike a deal, would agree to a contract, making Kim an intriguing potential 2015 contributor either from the rotation or out of the bullpen. There was, at least, some concern that inking Kim to a deal might be tougher than anticipated, however, since Kim’s Korean team, the SK Wyverns, expected a much higher posting fee for the left hander’s services.
With such a low winning posting fee bid, it was clear that major league teams didn’t see Kim as a potential impact arm, making his subsequent contract offer likely lower than anticipated. Either way, the deadline to sign Kim quietly approached against the backdrop of the frantic San Diego-based Winter Meetings and, in the end, on a day where the Padres made the much-ballyhooed Yasmani Grandal-for-Matt Kemp swap, they didn’t come to an agreement with Kim. AJ Preller described the negotiation breakdown matter-of-factly:
Just couldn’t agree on contract dollar amount.
The Padres have made an uncharacteristically loud splash this holiday season. As fans complained about inactivity at the Winter Meetings here in San Diego, the team tuned out the noise and dealt Yasmani Grandal, Joe Wieland, and Zach Eflin to the Dodgers for Matt Kemp, Tim Federowicz, and $31 million.
With a laughably incompetent offense and a disillusioned fan base, the Padres have decided to commit large amounts of money to name players. There’s a new GM, a new hitting coach, and a relatively new ownership group. They want to make a positive mark on the franchise and the city.
Before the trade, the Padres had been linked to many marquee hitters this offseason. They missed on Pablo Sandoval and Yasmany Tomás. Other names included Jay Bruce, Adam Jones, and Justin Upton. Some still think Upton might yet happen.
Ron Fowler, Mike Dee, and A.J. Preller had a budget and were going to use it. When Sandoval and Tomás landed elsewhere, they turned to Kemp. But was it worth the cost?
The Ducksnorts 2008 Baseball Annual included a section called “Overlooked ex-Padres.” I’d wanted to call attention to four players–Ollie Brown, Mike Ivie, Ruppert Jones, and Bip Roberts–that maybe didn’t get their due in San Diego. The idea was noble, but the execution could have been better.
Since I’ve spent much of the offseason writing player comments for Baseball Prospectus 2015 (#ShamelessPlug), I’m in the mind-set of condensing a man’s contributions to his team into a short paragraph with snappy phrases. In that vein, I thought it might be fun to revisit those players from DS2008 and write capsules for each of their seasons with the Padres.
We’ve already covered Ollie Brown and Mike Ivie. Next up: Ruppert Jones.
Bill James summed it up best when he said that Jones “led the league in doubles while having an otherwise undistinguished year.” Longer version: Jones, acquired at the end of spring training with three others from the Yankees for Jerry Mumphrey and John Pacella, started slowly in his National League debut. The former All-Star didn’t knock his first home run until May 8 and was hitting .182/.271/.282 through his first 30 games. Then he raised his OPS by 120 points over the next month before the bright minds that run the sport decided to stop working for a while. After everyone made nice and started playing baseball again, Jones hit .286/.345/.468 for the next month before fading over the season’s final three weeks. He showed no power against southpaws (.298 SLG) and lost 70 points of batting average away from Jack Murphy Stadium. Jones is in his prime, so with a year of facing NL pitching under his belt, expect improvement.
Back when I was a younger, more annoying version of myself, I seemed to think that every trade had a winner and a loser. That every deal had one team that was smart, forward-thinking, and deftly building a contender and another that was equally dumb, obtuse, and clumsily building the roster equivalent of a steaming pile of trash.
Somewhere along the way, I realized that 1) even if that was the case, I probably wasn’t smart enough to figure out which team was which and 2) that most trades were actually beneficial to all parties involved. You can see that changing mindset sort of sweep through the analytically-based segment of the baseball internet en masse in recent years, as writers began to realize that teams — most all of them — were really smart and acted in their own best interest most of the time.
Baseball Prospectus, for instance, used to publish plenty of scathing transaction analyses, ripping this organization or that organization for a trade of free agent signing that appeared to make little sense. These days, they’ll still publish some of those, but most of the time the writer seems to approach the transaction from a more neutral standpoint, attempting to rationalize the deal from every perspective.
For the most part, it’s a welcome change. As we’ve realized that teams have more manpower, more resources, more behind-the-scenes information, and, perhaps most importantly, far more on the line than Average Joe Writer, we’ve taken two or three — or 10 — steps back, approaching transactions with the careful (still critical) thought they deserve while being more cognizant to the idea that major league baseball teams usually have a decent grasp on what they’re trying to accomplish.
There has been a (nearly) total lack of
any interesting Padres news coming out of the Winter Meetings this year. Unless you count Dick Enberg receiving the Ford C. Frick Award or A.J. Preller’s broken computer. Which I don’t, obviously. Quite frankly, everyone else on Padres Public has done a much better job of analyzing nothing this week than I ever could.
So let’s have a bit of mindless fun, shall we?
This past year saw Alesmith Brewing releasing a collaboration with the late Tony Gwynn on a new beer, .394 San Diego Pale Ale. If you haven’t had a chance to try it yet, I recommend you get to Alesmith’s Miramar tasting room and do so at your earliest convenience. It is a mighty tasty beer.
This brought up an interesting topic to examine:
What could local breweries do to honor other Padres players with their own beer?
Well, maybe not interesting, per se. But what else are we supposed to talk about?
*My only rule: You won’t see anything about Eric Show or Alan Wiggins or anyone else that ever publicly had a problem with substance abuse. That’s a line that I won’t cross.
It’s Tuesday evening in Cleveland, Ohio. I’ve got the day off work. I went grocery shopping, cleaned the kitchen, and I should be doing laundry, but I’ll save it for a bit later. I’m fully moved into my new apartment, for the first time in my life, I have a washer/dryer right outside my bedroom, and yet I’m still just letting the dirty clothes pile up. Instead, I’m having a back and forth with a Dodgers fan on Twitter who really didn’t like the trade proposal I tweeted about how the Padres could sensibly land Matt Kemp.
He thinks I’m high and know nothing about baseball. I’m not really engaged, just throwing barbs back. There’s no point actually dealing in facts with this kind of Dodgers fan. Scrolling through his tweets and re-tweets, he really doesn’t want to trade Kemp. I get that, but not understanding what might actually make sense for both teams in order to get a deal done is just being an arrogant Dodgers fan.
The problem is that the Padres will absolutely have to over-pay to get a deal for Kemp done. I’ve come to terms with that. The Dodgers have the upper hand. They don’t need to trade Kemp and they don’t care about money because they’re literally billionaires. They’re asking for the moon, and like a celebrity who actually wants to go to the moon, they’re willing to pay tens of millions of dollars to get it. If they don’t get what they want, there’s no deal. Negotiating with that is not easy.
Before we start, allow me to direct you to two important pieces that Sac Bunt Dustin has posted on this site in the last week or so. One, discusses the value of Yasmani Grandal somewhat in a vacuum (that is to say, before his name was so strongly tied to a team/player). The other, posted today, is directly related (and ultimately, not in favor of) trading Grandal to Los Angeles for Matt Kemp.
I’d recommend both of those before we continue. I’ll give you a few minutes.
Ok, welcome back. Well reasoned, well researched, logic arguments, right? Couldn’t agree more.
Except, I’m going to disagree. Despite my better judgment.
This morning, I tweeted the following (while citing too myself is not really an ideal strategy, it’s useful in this case as a jumping off point):
That’s the short version. Here’s the long version.
Baseball’s Winter Meetings have arrived in San Diego, as you might’ve heard, and the Padres are expected to make some type of splash during the five day gala. Last week, Ken Rosenthal indicated what a potential cannonball-in-trade-form might look like:
Based on my Twitter feed and various blogs I read, it seems like there’s generally been a good deal of excitement over the prospect of landing an established bat like Kemp, and that’s certainly fair. I understand the desire for the Padres to finally make a noteworthy move, especially in an offseason where they’ve flirted — and struck out, at least so far — with seemingly every major position player free agent and trade candidate. They took what appeared to be (somewhat) legitimate runs at both Pablo Sandoval and Yasmany Tomas, only to fall short. On the trade market, the Padres have been linked to numerous bats, including Jay Bruce, Justin Upton, and Kemp, but nothing has materialized.