Since 2009, Daniel Shoptaw of Cardinals Conclave has done a season preview of each Major League team by asking questions of fellow bloggers. This year is the ninth edition of Playing Pepper and Left Coast Bias and I were asked to talk about the upcoming Padres season, along with Richard Dorsha of East Village Times.
As you’ll see, we tried to answer honestly.
Playing Pepper 2017: San Diego Padres
Over at FanGraphs last week, Craig Edwards wrote about teams with the most “dead money”—that is, money paid to players who aren’t playing for the team that’s paying them. The Padres, somewhat surprisingly, are second on the list, with $35 million—over half their entire 2017 payroll—in contracts being paid out to old friends playing elsewhere, in 2017 alone.
It’s surprising because the dead money leaderboards are usually populated by large market clubs, almost exclusively. In fact, all of the teams surrounding the Padres—the Dodgers, Yankees, Angels, and Red Sox—qualify as such. Those teams are able to pay players to go away, in a sense, whereas small market clubs are less likely to part with millions of dollars without the chance of a tangible, on-the-field return. In other words, small market teams are, in general, less likely to get too cozy with the concept of sunk costs.
On the surface, it looks bad. It’s another area where the baseball commentariat can point out lowly San Diego and get a chuckle or two. In an ideal situation, you don’t want to be on this list, and a number of the players the Padres are still paying—Matt Kemp and James Shields to name two—conger up bad memories of bad decisions.
Think of it another way, though: the Padres are actually paying money, lots of money, to make their future outlook brighter. Let’s go through some of the players individually.
Faster than a roadrunner? (yes)
Faster than a coyote? (no)
Faster than a Billy Hamilton? (not yet)
Manuel Margot hit a triple in a spring training game last week, an event that was digitally recorded, uploaded onto the internet, and then embedded here:
The triple was encouraging because it came off big-league pitcher Tyler Chatwood, and also because it showed off some of Margot’s occasionally absent power. It also displayed his speed. By my hand-timed estimate*, Margot got from home to third in about 10.90 seconds, which is . . . fast. How fast, though?
With many of the Padres top prospects and minor leaguers looking to graduate to the majors in the near future, this is the first of a series of posts looking at the “other” prospects in the system, position by position. Day 1: The “Other” Catchers
Man, aren’t you guys psyched about Austin Hedges? Regardless of how poorly the Pads play this year, it’ll still be worth tuning in to watch him work his magic behind the dish. Plus, his bat caught fire in Triple-A last year, and he’s off to a hot start in spring training right now (batting .500 through his first 20 at bats), and the idea of pairing his elite defense with even an average bat should make Padres fans happy for a long time.
BUT, things happen. While his 56 game stint with the Padres in 2015 technically means he hasn’t been a prospect for a while, the same rules apply: things don’t always pan out. If you’re ready to disregard the rest of the Padres backstops in the minors for the next decade, you might want to take a look at that dusty Sean Burroughs jersey in your closet and knock on some wood. At the very least, prospects are good currency for acquiring big league talent.
Padres and Pints: the Podcast! goes on location to Iron Fist Brewing in Barrio Logan to chat with the wonderful Tabitha Lipkin!
Rick and Chris discuss her unique work history, her time with Fox Sports San Diego, sliding into her DM’s, breakfast tacos and so much more!
Cesar Torres from Iron Fist also joins us for a little bit!
If you have any questions or comments, leave them down below or e-mail us.
I was once again a guest on The Kept Faith podcast this week along with Chris Garcia. We discussed FS Investors vs SDSU, the signing of Jered Weaver, and finished off with some baseball movie talk.
Last year they had me on to talk about The Fan, which is arguably one of the worst movies involving baseball ever made. This time, to make it up to me, we talked about Eight Men Out, which is one of my favorite baseball movies.
You can find out where you can listen to it in The Kept Faith’s post. Do it.
Farm systems are big.
Sometimes we—for good reason—get caught up with established prospects like Manuel Margot and Anderson Espinoza; or intriguing ones like Fernando Tatis Jr.; or enigmatic ones likes Javier Guerra. A good system goes far beyond the headliners, however. There are under-the-radar players all over professional baseball who are going to earn scant notoriety as prospects but turn into productive big-league players (most of them are Cardinals and Giants, probably). The hope is that the Padres will find a few of them.
Under A.J. Preller, the Padres have made great strides in looking everywhere for talented baseball players. They’ve signed gobs of young players from Latin America; they’ve made noise in Asia; they’ve kicked the tires on the shires of Europe; they’ve signed a number of players from indy ball. They’ve also started to corner the market on Division III college players. Last year the Padres signed a league-leading three D-III players, and each of them got off to solid pro debuts in 2016.
Spring training is less than two weeks away. Man it feels good just to say that. Pitchers and catchers will report in a few days and it is exciting times for Padres fans as the first wave of young talent is hitting the shores of San Diego in the form of Hunter Renfore, Manny Margot, Carlos Asuaje and Austin Hedges. The next wave to follow most likely is the young pitchers that will start the season in Lake Elsinore. Anderson Espinoza, Cal Quantrill, Jacob Nix and Eric Lauer all should pass through the Storm’s rotation at some point next year. And one promising pitcher that has an outside chance of joining them is a seventeen year old left hander from Cuba, Adrian Morejon. Morejon, a 6’1” 195 pound youngster that would be in his senior year of high school if he pitched in the States, signed last summer for a Padres International bonus record of $11,000,000.
* Gentle reminder to all baseball dads to force your son to pitch southpaw.
Now, I am not advocating the Padres rush Morejon to high A ball. I am merely postulating that if things fall the way some scouts believe they could, you may see an 18 year old backfill one of the college draftees of the ’16 crop as at least one maybe two move up to AA ball during the season.
When the Padres first signed Morejon he was relatively unknown to most of the publications that closely follow prospects. He was the Fernando Tatis Junior of left handed pitchers, if you will. Ben Badler of Baseball America had this to say about him after the Padres sent him to their Dominican facility:
Since arriving in the Dominican Republic, Morejon has seen his fastball increase to sit in the low-90s and touch 95 mph, showing good feel for both his curveball and changeup, with a chance for both offspeed pitches to develop into above-average offerings. He technically throws two different types of changeups, one of which is a knuckle-change with late diving action, while the other is a more traditional changeup with sink and run. It’s a repertoire to profile as a starter with a smooth delivery and clean arm action.
People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare at my computer and watch my prospect status rise. —Fernando Tatis Jr. (probably)
Fernando Tatis Jr. entered the Padres organization mostly as an unknown. Acquired with Erik Johnson from the White Sox for James Shields, Tatis hadn’t played a single professional game when the Padres got him last June. Despite the household name, Tatis was mostly viewed as a wild card—an international amateur who hadn’t done enough to earn a huge bonus or lots of prospect cred.
In fact, the last time I wrote about him—in August in a WBOTF post—I noted the lack of coverage:
Tatis Jr. is so young and so inexperienced that you have to dig to find anything written about him on the internet . . . I mean, dig, dark web and all.
Fast-forward eight months and the internet is overflowing with words on Tatis, most of them glowing. For one, Tatis played, and played well. Split between rookie ball and low-A Tri City, the 17-year-old right-handed hitting shortstop posted a .273/.311/.432 line with 15 stolen bases and 24 extra-base hits in 55 games. Beyond the numbers, people really liked what they saw.
Fox Sports San Diego announced the San Diego Padres 2017 Spring Training broadcast schedule today, and it may surprise you how many games that FSSD is going to broadcast this spring.
This season, FSSD is going to carry 14 Spring Training games, all from Arizona. All but one game will be live, with the March 11 game against the Milwaukee Brewers being shown on tape delay. The Padres will also play the World Baseball Classic team from Mexico on March 7.