Twitter Mailbag: Brad MisHandled

Another Friday, another twitter mailbag.

Here’s how I’d rank the priorities of Andy Green this season, particularly for the last couple of months.

  1. Develop young players
  2. Develop older players/maximize their future trade value
  3. Keep good clubhouse moral and all that jazz
  4. Read at least one good book a week
  5. Go all-out to win games

On a contending team, those five things might be reversed (toss the books), but the Padres are 50-64, and they’re in no position to make any kind of run toward even the periphery of the playoff race. They’re not a winning team, and we essentially knew they weren’t going to be a winning team all season. They shouldn’t treat games the same way a winning team treats games.

Yesterday, in the seventh inning of a one-run game in Cincinnati, Green violated the hierarchy of priorities, putting no. 5 over no. 2 while brushing up against the warm fuzzies of no. 3 in the process, likely ticking off Kirby Yates. With runners on first and second, one out, and Joey Votto at the plate (in a 2-2 count!), Green yanked Yates for All-Star Brad Hand.

So, just to be clear here, Green brought Hand, an important future trade candidate, into a game in the middle of an at-bat against one of the best hitters in baseball to try to protect a one-run lead against direct tank competition.

What’s wrong with that move?

If he was going to bring in Hand, he should have brought him in to start the at-bat

Even if you give Green a pass for busting it to try to win the game, Hand should have faced Votto from the start. Apparently Hand wasn’t ready, and Green didn’t want to have him get loose multiple times. C’mon. If the situation isn’t important enough to have Hand ready to begin with, then maybe it isn’t important enough to have Hand rushed to get warm to enter midway through an at-bat.

He shouldn’t have brought in Hand at all (Hand’s long-term value)

The priority hierarchy says Green should care more about Hand’s long-term value than going all-out to win one game against the Reds. Can he bring him in in the seventh inning sometimes? Sure, whatever. Can he bring him in to save games? Sure. But bringing Hand in in the middle of an AB, where he’s probably never entered before, against Joey Freakin’ Votto? No thanks. I’m not going to completely blame Hand’s subsequent poor performance on entering in an awkward and unfamiliar situation, but what are the chances he gives up two home runs and a walk if he starts off a clean eighth (or ninth) inning?

Further, what about an injury? With Hand not having proper time to get loose, maybe, just maybe, there’s a small chance he’s more likely to damage his arm. Even the potential of that small chance should have scared Green off this plan, even if none of my other complaints would have.

He shouldn’t have brought in Hand at all (embrace the tank, just a little)

Look, I get it: you can’t have Green out there trying to lose games, but you can—and should—ease off the gas pedal a little bit. Do the Padres, .439 winning percentage and all, need to try to revolutionize bullpen usage down the stretch? Do they need to treat Hand like Playoff Andrew Miller? In short, no. And in twice as long, heck no. Let the game play out, make mostly sound decisions, but, shoot, don’t go crazy with it. Again, the no. 1 priority shouldn’t be winning today’s game. The whole idea behind rebuilding/building/tanking is that you don’t have to play that way, which frees you up to focus on other things. (Plus Yates is striking out 13 per nine; nobody would have batted an eye if he was left in to finish—or be finished by—Votto.)

If the front office is going to put a below average team on the field, on purpose, the manager has to play along. He doesn’t have to actively try to lose games, but he also doesn’t have to actively try to optimize his bullpen usage. The Padres are not in a race to 75 wins here, particularly when doing so might put an important player in a sticky situation. It’s one decision, sure, but it’s one decision that had about four different levels of poor judgement leeched onto it.

(Make The Padres Great Again made some similar points, but I swear I wrote this first. Check out that episode anyway.)

I’m really not that concerned about it. First off, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Luis Urias are a nice pair of position player prospects to build around. Plus there’s Manuel Margot, Austin Hedges, Hunter Renfroe (let’s give it another year), Franchy Cordero, etc. all on or around the big-league club right now.

Either way, here’s the thing. If the Padres have a ton of pitching come, say, 2019, they’ll have two pretty simple options: 1) they can start dealing some of it away for offense or 2) they can invest in some solid free agent bats. A combination of both would make sense, as well, of course. I’ll grant that the make-up of the farm system (top heavy on pitchers) is a tad risky, given what we know about pitchers, but that risk could be alleviated by some well-timed trades or free agent moves. If the Padres are able to develop as many pitchers as we hope, they’ll have plenty of resources leftover to fill position player gaps when the time comes. And the talent base of bats that’s already in the organization (add Josh Naylor, your favorite, all the international kids, etc. to the names mentioned above) ain’t so bad.

First off, Craig Goldstein is the man, and here’s the East Village Times podcast Jagoff’s referencing.

I’m going to go with “yes” here, partly because I don’t want to be the guy who’s always overly confident on prospects. ‘Cuz I’m not, really, and I know all about the bad things that can happen to good prospects. Those are probably fair assessments on those three guys, although opinions will obviously vary. We don’t really know much about Michel Baez yet, even though he’s pitched great whenever he’s been out there. Will the mechanics be repeatable enough for him to start long-term? Are the secondaries good enough? They might be, but we’ve still got a lot to learn about this guy (I’m not calling him a kid, no way).

Cal Quantrill and Adrian Morejon both seem like mid-rotation starters to me, so that’s fair too. I do think that Baseball Prospectus, in general, and probably rightfully so, is conservative with their starting pitcher grades. They gave Alex Reyes, their no. 1 overall prospect headed into 2017, a likely 60 role (no. 3 starter or high-end closer). By the time they got to Josh Hader, their fifth-rated pitching prospect, they had his OFP (Overall Future Potential) as a no. 3 starter.

But, yeah, a little concerned just because sometimes we might overhype these guys slightly in our own little bubble of Padres prospects. Still love the pitching the Padres have overall on the farm, but they might have to wait on MacKenzie Gore for a true ace.

My money’s on them keeping him in the Arizona Rookie League for the rest of the season, and then maybe starting him at Fort Wayne next year. The Padres are simultaneously aggressive and conservative with pitching prospects, so who knows. If they wanted to pitch him in the Northwest League next year, at Tri-City, they’d have to wait until June, when their season starts. That makes the first two and a half months of the season an awkward limbo period, where they’d have to keep Gore in Arizona. I’ll say he goes straight to Fort Wayne in 2018 and stays on relatively strict inning and pitch counts.

I think he’ll stay with the Padres until they feel they’re dealing him for fair-ish value. There’s probably a good chance that happens this offseason, once all but one team—the World Series winner—realizes they could have used someone like Hand in October.

If the league continues to value Hand as something less than a premium lefty reliever, however, my guess is that the Padres hold him into next season and try over at the deadline, hoping a team comes to its senses. The cycle could, in theory, repeat itself until the 2019 trade deadline, but that’s getting ahead of ourselves. In that sense, not sure I’d buy into the extension talk, but if it’s a good deal and Hand’s still Hand (and still a Padre) in the 2018 offseason, what the heck.

I’m going to say at least one of those dudes is dealt before Opening Day.

Franchy Cordero seems like a good bet to get a lot of playing time, probably in left field. Jose Pirela has been great this year, which could make him an offseason trade candidate. If he keeps this pace up through September, there’s gotta be some appeal out there on the trade market. Travis Jankowski is still interesting, yet kind of a forgotten man. The bat’s a question mark (italicized, bold-faced, size 16 font), but I love the defense, and he’d make a good fourth or fifth outfielder.

I’ll guess that either Pirela is dealt or plays a utility man role with some run on the infield, Cordero gets to play until he fails, and Jankowski settles in to a backup role. I’ll leave Alex Dickerson (and Jabari Blash) out of it, for now.

That’s an interesting one on whether Wil Myers would clear waivers. I’d lean toward no, but I don’t have a great read on how teams would treat someone like Myers. Let’s just assume a potential trade would be more likely to happen in the offseason, anyway. How much could the Padres get for Myers?

You got me, again. It’s a tricky one. I don’t think the Padres could get back anything close to what they gave up for him, since Myers is three years older now, he has three expensive-ish years tacked onto the end of his contract, and he’s moved to first base with a bat that’d play better elsewhere.

On the plus side, Myers still has some prospect panache attached to his name, he’s been a good (if not great, or even very good) hitter, he’s 26, and he might have the athleticism to switch positions again. In short, somebody would pay for a firsthand look at a long-awaited Myers breakout, but given the contract, I’m not sure how much. I’d guess a couple of solid prospects outside the top 100 (or a similar big-league enigma-type like a Kevin Gausman).

If you can’t figure this out, not sure I’m going to be much help.

I’ll give it a shot, though. I went back a couple of weeks to try to pick up any patterns, and this is the best I’ve got.

It looks like the Padres are trying to get their young arms out to start like once a week, preferably on the same day if possible. We’ve seen how they’ve tabbed Gore as a Monday starter in the AZL, and Adrian Morejon (Saturday), Ronald Bolanos (Sunday), and Baez (Monday) have been getting similar treatment in the Midwest League.

Avila and Lawson wouldn’t be a bad look, especially with the way Avila’s been rolling, but missing Morejon and Baez would sting a little. There’s about a 90 percent chance my guess will be wrong, anyway. Chances are we won’t know who’s starting on Tuesday night until . . . Tuesday afternoon.

By the way, brief aside on this Jim McDade fella, whom I admittedly know very little about. He gets bucketed into non-prospect status, given his age and level, but he’s racked up 60 strikeouts and—get this—no walks (!) in 62 2/3 innings since June 8, split between Fort Wayne and Tri-City. He’ll be 25 in December and he went undrafted out of a college called Millersville University, but he is 6-foot-5 and he deserves a mention here for that walkless streak alone.

Could he? Sure. But I’m going with a pretty strong “no” here.

He looked like a good bet after his July 2 Double-A debut, where he struck out nine and walked none in 7 2/3 innings after dominating the Cal League, but he’s taken a step back since then. Prior to his most recent start on Tuesday (a good one), Lauer had a three-start stretch with at least as many walks as strikeouts, including a five-walk, two-strikeout clunker from last week. He hasn’t recorded a double-digit swinging strikes game over his last five starts either, after doing so nine times through early July.

The sudden loss of ability to miss bats and get strikeouts against better, more experienced hitters is concerning, obviously. It could just be a speed bump, however, as it took someone like Dallas Keuchel (and I’m using that comparison loosely) a long time to figure out what he was doing. Ultimately Lauer is probably more of a back-end starter, which is really what we anticipated all along. The most recent 5K, no BB rebound gives hope for a quick turnaround, and either way there’s a good chance he gets a call by sometime next summer. No need to rush it, though.

Late question, so an abbreviated answer. This is for like 2020, it includes a couple of moves, and it’s an absolute dream scenario (it’s really late, so this whole thing might actually be a dream):

2B Luis Urias
LF Michael Conforto
SS Fernando Tatis Jr.
3B Manny Machado
1B Josh Naylor
CF Manuel Margot
RF Hunter Renfroe/Franchy Cordero
C Austin Hedges
P MacKenzie Gore

I dare ya to find a better (or crazier) future lineup projection than that one.

(Just realized I may have misinterpreted this question, but we’re rolling with it.)

It would have to come down to the Fort Wayne TinCaps and the Tri-City Dust Devils for me, and I’ll lean toward Fort Wayne. I’m not passionate about that answer, though, and I could probably be persuaded into picking any of the five teams with a 30-second PowerPoint or a well-organized pamphlet.

A long-running Sci-Fi movie franchise?

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  • EarthWindnFriar

    2 LFs? No catcher? Must have been REALLY late.

    • lol it was, I’m tellin’ ya. Meant to have Hedges in that second left field slot. Thanks for the catch, even if it was an easy one.

      • EarthWindnFriar

        🙂

  • ballybunion

    I don’t do twitter, so luckily (for you) I didn’t participate with some of the crackpot questions I’m capable of. It’s a little late to comment now, but I just read a note published by Jon Heyman claiming the Astros were the best chance to acquire Brad Hand.

    He noted the Astros declared their #1, #2, #3, #4, #6, and former #9 (Francis Martes) off-limits, offering the kind of mid-level prospects the Padres (think they) already have, and Heyman thought the Padres were right not to pull the trigger. That ties in with Preller’s statement that the prospects offered for Padres players did not have the kind of high upside that would upgrade the farm.

    That leads me to question the dominant idea that the Padres should groom veterans to trade for prospects. Preller has put together an impressive team of scouts and evaluators, and while it’s early, I’m convinced they really know the diamonds in the rough, and the emeralds and rubies, when they find them. The ‘trade veterans for prospects’ mantra may not work with the Padres, given how they’ve stacked the farm.

    With all due respect for Craig Goldstein, I’m sticking with the Preller team’s assessments of Baez, Morejon, and Quantrill. Preller wouldn’t have invested cash, cash, and a top draft pick respectively for these guys unless people in his brain trust saw something special. Scouts and evaluators can differ, but projecting pitchers is especially perilous. The average fan has to trust that his team’s baseball people know what they’re doing, especially Padres fans, since the owners are backing Preller & Co. to the hilt.

    • You need to get on the twitter so you can ask me some of these crackpot questions.