Books evoke a time and place, although sometimes this can be misleading. For example, when I traveled to Seattle in June for the Vedder Cup, I bought a copy of Adam Gopnik’s Paris to the Moon. It’s a fascinating read that reminds me not of France or Earth’s satellite (neither of which I’ve visited), but of Bainbridge Island, where I bought the book.

Eagle Harbor Book Co. is a good old-fashioned bookstore, the likes of which once adorned San Diego–Burgett, Safari, Wahrenbrock’s, etc.–before yielding to an immense Seattle-based international online warehouse. On this day, a dog guarded the store (or at least the “used” section, which is accessed separately from the street-level “new” section) by sleeping in the hallway that leads downstairs.

Around the corner is a place to read rich words over rich clam chowder and local beer (3-T Rye Tripel, Troll Porter), with a serene view of the coast should you need a break from words, food, or drink. Harbour Public House even has a men’s restroom with signs on the wall like “We don’t serve women here, you have to bring your own.”

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In case you weren’t paying attention…

Always enjoy responsibly. Don’t read and drive.

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Fresh off a trip to Peoria, Arizona to watch the Padres maneuver their way through spring, our very own Geoff Young hooked up with Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller of Baseball Prospectus to preview the 2014 season.

The format of the Effectively Wild podcast previews is to talk about the team with one person who had a hand in the writing of the Baseball Prospectus 2014 annual (Geoff Young) as well as another person covering the team, such as a beat-writer or broadcaster. As such, the latter half of the podcast includes mlb.com’s Corey Brock who has spent the last two weeks in Peoria with the team.

Unfortunately the preview comes on the heels of the Cameron Maybin shoulder strain Sunday afternoon, so the discussion includes the customary injury talk that has become all too familiar with the Padres.

But it’s not just doom and gloom during this fifty minute preview!

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rymerlirianoLast January Baseball Prospectus rated Rymer Liriano as the number 2 prospect in the Padres system behind Austin Hedges. He was described as a player with all 5 tools and the potential to become a first division player.

Shortly after the BP ranking, Liriano tore his elbow while throwing, had Tommy John surgery, and consequently missed the 2013 season. It was a disappointing piece of news for fans who follow the farm system closely and even more so for fans who may have witnessed Rymer Liriano play in Peoria, Fort Wayne, Lake Elsinore, or San Antonio. Rymer Liriano is physical and the young Dominican stands out to even the most casual observer.

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In early December Baseball America’s Matt Eddy revealed his 2014 Padres Prospect list. Earlier this week Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus published his version of the top 10 in the Padres system. The lists were nearly identical with the exception of Keyvius Sampson (Baseball America) and the recently acquired Alex Dickerson (Baseball Prospectus) both listed as the org’s 9th rated prospect.

To no one’s surprise, super-dynamo-defensive-demigod Austin Hedges topped each of the prospect lists for the industry leaders. The Padres system has taken a step backwards as players graduated to the big club (Jedd Gyorko, Robbie Erlin), suffered injury (Casey Kelly, Rymer Liriano), or quite simply lost their prospect luster (Adys Portillo, Corey Spangenberg). But through it all, Austin Hedges has survived atop the heap, expected to contribute to the Padres’ efforts sooner than later.

In mid-December I asked both Matt Eddy and Jason Parks the following hypothetical question:

What would the Padres system look like if Austin Hedges did not exist? How many slots would it drop the Padres system relative to other systems?

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In 2008, the San Diego Padres signed 16-year-old right-handed pitcher Adys Portillo out of Venezuela. The $2 million bonus baby was one of the top international prospects available on July 2, sporting an elite fastball and body you could dream on (6-3, 195). There were questions about his secondary stuff but, holy shit, a 16-year-old who can shove it at 95? Yes, please. It was a big investment (at the time, it was the biggest bonus ever given to a Venezuelan amateur), but ultimately one then-GM Kevin Towers felt worthy.

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Yesterday the Padres traded Anthony Bass to the Houston Astros for the rights to the first pick in today’s Rule 5 Draft. The Vocal Minority’s Nate speculated that the Padres could use that pick to add a left-handed arm to their bullpen in 2014 either by taking Brian Moran (Mariners) or Omar Luis (Yankees). The Rule 5 draft is a cheap way to add an arm to the bullpen with one all important stipulation: is the player ready to contribute.

Back in 2006 the Padres used the Rule 5 Draft to add Kevin Cameron, a right-handed reliever from the Minnesota Twins’ organization. The 2006 Rule 5 Draft is a notable one as it is the year that the Padres lost closer Joakim Soria to the Kansas City Royals and Josh Hamilton reemerged from years of absence to take MLB by storm.

In December of 2006, Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein wrote the following about Kevin Cameron:

Cameron has been a solid reliever in the Twins system for the last three years, and scouts like his ability to generate tons of groundballs with a low-90s sinker that produced a groundball/flyball ratio of better than 2-to-1 at Triple-A Rochester.

How did it work out for the Padres and Kevin Cameron?

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What is the most realistic method for the Padres to add talent this winter? While there exists a good number of attractive free agents on the market, is it even feasible for a team like the Padres to add talent in such a way? The Padres may be adding approximately 20% to their payroll this off-season but that still doesn’t leave much to make a big splash. I apologize for having more questions than answers.

Last week, the Angels’ Mark Trumbo was named as a possible player suited for the Padres in 2014. The prospect of adding a first baseman who finished 2013 with 34 HRs, excited a lot of power starved fans here in San Diego. Others however, were nonplussed. The fans in the latter category cited Trumbo’s OBP (.294) and high strikeout rates (184 in 2013) as a reason not to consider giving up any young pitching for his corner infield bat. Maybe there’s something to that argument – despite the HR totals (34), Trumbo’s WAR (2.2) was only 1 better than that of current Padre, Yonder Alonso (1.2).

Truth be told . . . aside from scrolling through Baseball-Reference.com to scan numbers, I don’t know too much about Mark Trumbo. So I decided to ask someone who knows: Sam Miller of Baseball Prospectus.

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With the World Series upon us, Padres fans can’t help but dream: What does our team need to do to make it to the top? This is an exciting question, one that will undoubtedly fuel our conversations through the fall and winter months.

My internet-friend, Mickey Koke, suggested the following just the other day:

Giancarlo Stanton patrolling right field at Petco Park is something any Padres fan can dream on through the winter months. Stanton is young (not yet 24), talented (14.8 career WAR), cheap ($537K), controllable (through 2017) and ridiculously good looking (ridiculously) – he’s the total package.

However, because Giancarlo Stanton is the total package, our dream would quickly devolve into a nightmare.

To obtain the rights to Giancarlo Stanton the first thing the Padres would need to surrender is #1 prospect Austin Hedges.

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