At the trade deadline in 2010, the Padres found themselves in an unexpected position: first place in the National League West, 60-42, 1.5 games up on the Giants and at least seven games up on the rest of the division. Take away the powerhouse AL East and the Padres had the best record in baseball, and it wasn’t all smoke and mirrors. San Diego’s plus-90 run differential was best in the NL, fourth-best in the majors.
That Padres team was coming off two straight losing seasons and featured a generally uninspiring roster. Sure, there was Adrian Gonzalez, a promising 22-year-old pitcher named Mat Latos, and the usual solid bullpen, but the outfield’s greatest asset might have been Chris Denorfia and a soft-tossing quartet of Clayton Richard, Jon Garland, Kevin Correia, and Wade LeBlanc flanked Latos in an all-around lackluster rotation. That the Padres were probably a year or two ahead of then-general manager Jed Hoyer’s five-year plan didn’t negate the reality of an upcoming late-season playoff charge.
On July 31st, Hoyer decided to pull off a Completely Obvious Trade, dealing minor league pitching depth in the form of Corey Kluber and Nick Greenwood to Cleveland and St. Louis, respectively, in exchange for Cardinals outfielder Ryan Ludwick as part of a three-team deadline swap. Ludwick, in theory, would boost a Padres outfield group that had a propensity to hit like a glove-first shortstop. Kluber and Greenwood, in theory, would continue to toil in the minor leagues on their way to forgettable professional careers. Reality had different plans.
Josh Byrnes was hired by Jeff Moorad to be the General Manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks on October 29, 2005. He was fired by the Diamondbacks on July 2, 2010. On December 3, 2010, Byrnes was hired by Jeff Moorad’s San Diego Padres as Vice President of Baseball Operations. On October 26, 2011 he was promoted to General Manager after Moorad allowed Jed Hoyer to leave for Chicago. Yesterday, on June 22, 2014, Josh Byrnes was fired by the Padres.
The Jeff Moorad era is officially over in San Diego.
I’ve not been a fan of Josh Byrnes’ tenure with the club. Some of that has been guilt by association, as he was Jeff Moorad’s boy from the beginning, and Jeff Moorad fought Tom Werner for worst owner in franchise history, and Moorad was never even officially the team’s controlling partner.
One of the long held Christmas traditions in my family while growing up involved the annual viewing of Frank Capra’s masterpiece It’s a Wonderful Life. One of the many messages in Capra’s classic: The importance of a person to his family and friends even if it may not appear obvious at a particular moment in time.
Savings and Loan owner George Bailey, played masterfully by Jimmy Stewart, falls on hard times when his uncle accidentally misplaces a large deposit which eventually falls into the hands of Mr. Potter, the richest (and meanest) man in town. It’s Christmas eve in Bedford Falls when George Bailey contemplates suicide and “Wishes he had never been born.” Guided by his guardian angel Clarence, an alternate version of reality presents itself for George Bailey – a reality in which Bailey never existed.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Not specifically as it relates to me nor because it’s the silly season (yes – I actually started writing this about 6 weeks ago). I’ve been thinking about the 2011 MLB June Amateur Draft and what life would look like for Padres fans had the Padres never signed catcher Austin Hedges.
With a strong commitment to UCLA and advisement coming from Scott Boras, it was never a slam dunk that Hedges, the 82nd pick in the 2011 June Amateur Draft would sign with the Padres. As you may recall the Padres had drafted another catcher, with the 54th pick during the same draft.
There may be no more magical time for a baseball fan than the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline. It’s like Christmas morning without the religion or messy package cleanup – it’s a holiday for everyone! Whether your team is at the top, the bottom, or languishing somewhere in the middle there’s a reasonable chance you’ll get to take part in the excitement come July 31st (or slightly before).
While fans look forward and prepare for the dealings of the Byrnes Era, I prefer instead, to look back. This purist always defers to history to explain our convoluted present. My mentor at Grand Lakes University, Professor Turgesson, once remarked, “I hold history sacred. Sacred. The way a farmer looks at the earth and he holds it sacred”, a mantra which, I too subscribe. Therefore it is the history of trade deadlines past which we will examine, in an effort to help us understand today.
Amongst the many interesting things to come up during Jonah Keri’s interview with Darren Smith this past week (which you can listen to here), there was one item that created a bit of buzz amongst Padres fans; locking up Jedd Gyorko long-term. Now.
This is where we gather from time to time to talk about something big in the Padres world or just the Padres or just baseball. It’s a roundtable discussion. Except, you know, no round tables. This is a Public House…so we’re at the bar.
Over the course of human history, there have been many epic battles.
- 480 B.C. – Thermopylae
- 1066 A.D. – Hastings
- 1588 – Defeat of the Spanish Armada
- 1815 – Waterloo
- 1863 – Gettysburg
- 1985 – The Cola Wars
But these ALL pale in comparison to what we will witness tonight, in Chicago at Wrigley Field, when Anthony Rizzo steps into the batter’s box to face down Andrew Cashner.
So, without further ado, we bring you…