If Loving Rey Fuentes is Wrong, I Don’t Want to be Right

At the start of the off-season, Padres GM Josh Byrnes had a left-handed hitting outfielder as one of his top priorities. Whether that player would platoon or play everyday was to be determined. They ended up trading their most effective reliever to the Oakland A’s for outfielder Seth Smith, a left-handed corner outfielder who’s pretty damn good against right-handed pitching (career .279/.357/.487).

The addition of Smith was met with a lot of criticism, specifically on Twitter. Padres fans fucking love relievers. I don’t know why. Maybe because some of the best Padres teams have featured dominant relievers? Probably. Whatever the reason, the attachment to obscure players is puzzling. Not that I think Luke Gregerson is at all obscure.

Dammit, I’m getting distracted. Back to my point.

Smith’s acquisition has led to a crowded outfield. Cam Maybin and Carlos Quentin are the starters if they can stay healthy (lol), in left and center field, respectively. That leaves right field to some combination of Will Venable, Chris Denorfia and Seth Smith until Rymer Liriano is ready. Now, we know Quentin’s gonna play 120 games (if we’re lucky), and Cam may be benched for a week in favor of a lesser player because Buddy don’t give a fuck.

The crowded outfield leaves an uncertain future for Kyle Blanks and Rey Fuentes. Despite his awesome power, Kyle Blanks can’t be trusted to stay healthy. It’s not all his fault. Even after having major elbow and foot injures, the Padres still insisted on playing him in the outfield. Rey Fuentes was given some run towards the end of the season, but there’s no way to know if he’s any good based on the small sample size (36 plate appearances).

Still, Fuentes is one player I’m more high on than others due to skill-set. In 2011, Baseball Prospectus’ head prospect writer, Kevin Goldstein (RIP KG), said this of Fuentes:

“Outstanding defender in center with speed; big questions about bat and power.”

Obviously, a lot can change in two years, but Fuentes still seems to have the same tools – great glove, speed and base-running; little to no power. I find it odd that the Padres don’t place a higher premium on players who are excellent at run-prevention, especially when you consider that Fuentes has similar tools to Cam Maybin, whom the Padres gave a five year, $25 million extension to. Base-running and defense are boring for some, but they help you win games when you play at spacious Petco Park.

I’d love to see both of these guys given regular playing time at their natural positions. If they’re going to have long, successful careers it probably won’t be in San Diego. We’ll likely only see them if there are multiple injuries, which is totally possible because Padres.

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I contribute when I contribute. Other thoughts on things that I think about can be found here. That’s a terrible “outro”. I’ll try to work on it.

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  • Steven Tarlow

    I’d say that after last season, Venable needs to be a starter. Maybin has had many chances, but his bat prevents him from being an everyday starter anywhere, really. Which is not to say he doesn’t have value as a defensive sub/fill-in/pinch runner, but he’s an expensive one for those roles.

    So a starting outfield of Quentin, Venable and Deno/Smith is what I see, barring changes. Quentin will surely go down with injury as usual, so that opens up more time for both the platoon guys I mention, and for Maybin. I’d love to see Blanks stay healthy and take the 1B job (get him out of the OF, it’s killing his feet), but it probably won’t happen. If Alonso hit better, I wouldn’t even suggest that.

    • I’m cool with Venable getting a chance. If he continues to hit LHP like he did last year then start him in RF.

      Maybin’s upside is too great to not give him a shot at the starting job in CF when he’s healthy. He is healthy right?

      Quentin gets LF with Smith spelling him when necessary.

      Norf spells various guys when matchups/rest dictate.

      When Quentin’s season ends on the DL, Smith and Norf platoon in LF. This will coincide with Kyle Blanks coming off the DL at which time he can give guys in the OF time off when necessary, serve as a Bench bat, and then plays first when Alonso is needed at SS.

      Damn, this shit is easy.

      Crap … I forgot about Rey

      • Steven Tarlow

        OK, I thought Maybin was a little older… he’s 26. I figured 28-29. So yeah, there’s still development there… perhaps.

        You don’t HAVE to have power hitters if your singles and doubles are timely. However, having a guy like Blanks is damned attractive, provided he makes reasonable contact for a power bat and stays healthy.

        As for Fuentes, I like his age, speed and defense. If his offense continues to develop, he’d be a nice option in CF.

      • Don’t forget Blanks taking over at 1B when Alonso goes down with some sort of freak injury. And then Blanks goes down with plantar fasciitis when Alonso comes off the DL. When Blanks comes back from the DL, that’s when Quentin goes down for the rest of the season.

  • SDPads1

    It is strange the amount of love Padres fans give to relief pitchers, pinch hitters and 4th/5th outfielders.

    • VM David

      Even though it only showed up once, I upvoted this a billion times.

    • That’s because all we have are 4th/5th outfielders.