Believe it or not, I don’t have an actual Hall of Fame vote. But if I did, here’s what mine would look like.
On the Ballot
Barry Bonds—In 2004, Bonds’ worst month was May, where he hit .250/.532/.542. He had 29 walks and four strikeouts in 77 plate appearances . . . in his worst month of the season. At one point in 2002, Bonds—the game’s preeminent power hitter—went 20 straight games without striking out, racking up nine home runs, 24 walks, and a 1.622 OPS over the stretch. Warts and all, you can’t have a respectable Hall of Fame without Bonds.
Bonus points for:
- Posting a .480 on-base percentage in his final season, at age 42.
- Going 30-for-33 on steal attempts over the last six years of his career.
Roger Clemens—Clemens won at least one Cy Young award on four different teams (he won seven total), spanning three decades. And he should have won more. In 1990, he lost out to Bob Welch, despite racking up over seven bWAR more than Welch (Welch went 27-6 vs. Clemens’ 21-6); that’s like a full Max Scherzer of separation. He also could have/should have won in 1988 (finished 6th), 1992 (3rd), 1996 (no votes), and 2005 (3rd). Sure, there’s a big ol’ elephant in the room here, but like with Bonds, Clemens was too good to keep out.
Padres sign LHP Clayton Richard to a one-year, $1.75 million deal (plus incentives).
Richard was on the last good Padres team, way back in 2010, three or four regime changes ago. He was in that year—and in his other “good” seasons—very much a not-quite-league-average innings-eater. I don’t mean that in a disparaging way, really. Throw together enough Richards and Jon Garlands and Wade LeBlancs and, somehow, you end up with 90 wins.
Richard left San Diego in 2013, spent 2014 in the minors and/or hurt, and resurfaced in 2015 with the Cubs, this time as a (league-averageish) reliever. After a disastrous start to 2016, the Cubs cut ties with the lefty, and the Padres brought him back. In 13 games in San Diego, primarily as a starter, the 32-year-old defied the odds. He posted a 2.52 ERA while balancing on a tight rope and juggling three mint condition Chris Denorfia bobbleheads. In other words, he struck out 34 and walked 24 in 53 2/3s innings, which isn’t supposed to work out to anything close to a sub-3 ERA.
Padres sign Jhoulys Chacin to a one-year, $1.75 million deal.
Chacin, once upon a time, pitched to a 120 ERA+ for six years in Colorado, which qualifies as the third-greatest human feat of the decade. That stretch ended in 2014, though, and it ended poorly—Chacin’s final year with the Rockies saw him post a 5.40 ERA in 63 1/3 innings before succumbing to season-ending shoulder rehab. Since then he’s bounced around, to Cleveland, then to Arizona, then to Atlanta, then to Los Angeles. Last year, split between the Braves and Angels, he threw 144 innings with a 4.81 ERA, mostly as a starter. The surface-level numbers don’t look great, but Chacin’s 2.16 strikeout-to-walk ratio was the second-best of his career, and his 3.94 DRA ranked right between Sonny Gray and Vincent Velasquez (and ahead of Jake Arrieta).
Dig deeper, and there’s more good news. Chacin’s fastball averaged 92.95 mph last September, its highest mark since April 2010. In 2014 and 2015, when Chacin was battling the shoulder issues, his fastball velo dropped to 89 and change. So the improved heater works as a positive sign for two reasons: 1) that he’s healthier and 2) that he’s more effective at getting batters out.
It’s doesn’t make much sense to talk about the 2018-2019 free agent class for a lot of reasons, perhaps most obviously because it’s a long time away. But we’ll do it anyway.
When the Padres went for it a few years back, it was exciting. Even though there were some questionable deals, it was still exciting. Looking back, though, with the knowledge we have now, it was maybe a little less exciting. Matt Kemp was getting older and, in many ways, in severe decline. Justin Upton was only brought on for one year. Wil Myers didn’t have a clear position to play. Derek Norris was just, kind of, a guy. Will Middlebrooks. Never did understand why Will Middlebrooks was always mentioned as one of the big acquisitions of that offseason, but it feels right to mention him here. James Shields was surprisingly available for relatively cheap, and for good reasons. Craig Kimbrel was still good—great, even—but he wasn’t Craig Kimbrel.
The Padres were hoping to catch lightning in a bottle, essentially, and instead . . . well, maybe they did catch lighting in a bottle. That doesn’t sound too pleasant, really. Either way, things didn’t work out. Just looking back at that offseason retrospectively—and we kind of knew this in real-time, too—we can say that the Padres tried to half-ass their way into a contending team. Sure, they bumped the payroll up over $100 million and added some legitimate talent, but they also moved prematurely, without a winning cast of players surrounding the high-priced newcomers.
Luis Perdomo may have had the most lauded 5.71 ERA/71 ERA+ season of all-time in 2016.
While I think there’s a tad bit of hyperbole around Perdomo’s 2016 campaign, given the circumstances, it was, indeed, quite the story of an in-season turnaround. After getting shelled to the tune of a 10.04 ERA and 47 hits in his first 26 innings, primarily as a reliever, the Padres stuck Perdomo in the rotation and watched him . . . turn into a pretty good pitcher. There are still some concerns, sure, but by September, Perdomo was good for six or seven innings a start, double digit ground balls, and a 6-to-1 K:BB ratio. The improvements were obvious.
Right now, he might be the de facto ace for 2017, which says more about the rotation than Perdomo. Still, Perdomo’s last few months give hope that one day he might be able to develop into a real ace or, more likely, a reliable mid-to-back-end starter on a good team. Under control through 2021, at least, it’s possible that Perdomo actually becomes a steady starter on a good Padres team. The Padres goal, in a strict forward-looking “yup, we’re rebuilding” sense, is to do everything they can to make sure Perdomo fulfills those expectations, and that when 2019 or 2020 rolls around, they can comfortably pencil him into a big-league rotation, hopefully around names like Anderson Espinoza, Adrian Morejon, and Cal Quantrill. Here’s my plan, then:
As we speculated last night, the Padres were active in today’s Rule 5 draft, although they didn’t grab any of the players we suggested (outside of a brief encounter with Justin Haley). A series of trades netted San Diego the top three players selected in the draft, an unprecedented Rule 5 romp. Here are those players:
Miguel Diaz, RHP, Brewers
Diaz is a 22-year-old righty who spent spent four years in rookie ball before jumping to Single-A last season. The results were largely impressive: in 94 2/3 innings, Diaz posted a 3.14 strikeout-to-walk ratio while surrendering just seven home runs. Ultimately, with young players and limited pro experience, scouting reports often provide a better glimpse than the stats. Grant Jones scouted Diaz back in June at Baseball Prospectus, clocking him at 95-96 with the fastball (he touched 98) while handing out positives marks on both the slider and change.
It’s not a surprising pick. As we discussed last night, Preller and the Padres love power arms, and Diaz definitely qualifies. While it makes some sense to slot Diaz right into the starting rotation, if he sticks, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Padres started him off in the bullpen, where they can more easily limit high-stress innings and keep the pressure low.
Rumor has it the Padres are expected to be busy in baseball’s Rule 5 draft, set to go down tomorrow morning at the Winter Meetings. Last year the Padres took four players in the Rule 5, and two of them ultimately stuck in outfielder Jabari Blash (later acquired via trade) and righty starter Luis Perdomo. So, in the spirit of wild-ass-guessing, who might the Padres grab this year?
Jairo Beras, OF, Texas Rangers
Berras is here for one reason. He was the dude involved in an age-related kerfuffle back when he signed with Texas in 2012, and A.J Preller was heavily involved in both scouting and signing him. He doesn’t necessarily make a ton of sense beyond that, but sometimes familiarity trumps all. Beras has been slow to develop after putting the suspension behind him, having just cracked High-A in 2016 as a 21-year-old. Beras did have his best offensive season last year, hitting .262/.306/.511 with 54 extra-base hits, but that performance came in the offense-friendly context of the California League. Beras has other flaws, too. He’s walked in just 6.3 percent of his professional appearances, there’s plenty of swing-and-miss in his game, and he projects as a so-so corner outfielder at best. Think of a younger version of Jabari Blash, which ultimately means he’s probably superfluous on a team with a lot of young outfielders.
But, still, Preller has history with him.
Mike Dee was fired today, which was equal parts surprising and inevitable. But this isn’t about Mike Dee, business man—this isn’t even really about Mike Dee at all.
The question now becomes (at least for people, like me, who geek out on baseball stuff more than the business side): how does this effect baseball operations for the Padres? There’s a decent argument that the Padres need some figurehead in baseball ops, someone like Theo Epstein or Chris Antonetti. Dee was sort of playing that role for the Padres, although not in the overarching way Epstein and Antonetti are in Chicago and Cleveland, respectively. A.J. Preller’s (and staff) been driving decision-making on a micro level, but ultimately he reported to Dee, and it’s possible that Dee played a significant role in the team’s long-term approach to the baseball side. Preller’s made a number of good moves over the last year, but he’s young, inexperienced (as a general manager), and still serving the final days of a month long league-mandated suspension for keeping shady medical records.
Someone like Alex Anthopolous (Craig Elsten mentioned him) might make sense, or Ben Cherington, or Jed Hoyer (also via Craig, and a long shot), or Tony La Russa (wait, no). Surely, there are numerous other names that would work, names that would provide a stabilizing presence in baseball ops while adding knowledge and experience to the organization. Names that would work as a sort of guiding force to Preller, keeping him out of trouble in Latin America while assisting in trade negotiations with skeptical rival GMs.
That’s the question Padres ownership will have to answer for a solution to the problem they’re facing: what to do about AJ Preller. The Padres were investigated by Major League Baseball for a complaint filed by the Boston Red Sox for withholding information in the Drew Pomeranz trade.
Preller was suspended for 30 days, which isn’t a huge deal in and of itself since major moves don’t usually happen between now and the end of the World Series. What is a big deal has less to do with MLB’s investigation and more to do with how other teams view Preller. Will anyone trust him after this?
As reported by Buster Olney, the accusations boil down to the reporting of player injury information to a central database. According to Olney, teams are required to record all information regarding any kind of treatment players receive. The Padres apparently didn’t include everything that was required. Ken Rosenthal reports that Drew Pomeranz “and others” were taking oral medications that weren’t disclosed, which led to the suspension. The Padres admit to the behavior, but say it wasn’t “malicious” which I guess means they claim they didn’t know it was against the rules.
Hudson Potts was known as Hudson Sanchez when drafted 24th overall by the Padres in 2016 out of a Texas High school. With apologies to Mr. Potts, who isn’t listed on MLB.com’s updated top 30 Padres prospects list, what’s most interesting is less his prospect pedigree as much as the circumstances surrounding his draft position.
Most public prospect evaluators had Potts ranked in the 60s at best among draft eligible players, with MLB.com ranking him at 91. He shows a strong arm and has some power potential, but everyone I could find agreed he doesn’t stand much of a chance of staying at shortstop. Well, everyone except the Padres.