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.
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.