Since 2009, Daniel Shoptaw of Cardinals Conclave has done a season preview of each Major League team by asking questions of fellow bloggers. This year is the ninth edition of Playing Pepper and Left Coast Bias and I were asked to talk about the upcoming Padres season, along with Richard Dorsha of East Village Times.
As you’ll see, we tried to answer honestly.
Playing Pepper 2017: San Diego Padres
Over at FanGraphs last week, Craig Edwards wrote about teams with the most “dead money”—that is, money paid to players who aren’t playing for the team that’s paying them. The Padres, somewhat surprisingly, are second on the list, with $35 million—over half their entire 2017 payroll—in contracts being paid out to old friends playing elsewhere, in 2017 alone.
It’s surprising because the dead money leaderboards are usually populated by large market clubs, almost exclusively. In fact, all of the teams surrounding the Padres—the Dodgers, Yankees, Angels, and Red Sox—qualify as such. Those teams are able to pay players to go away, in a sense, whereas small market clubs are less likely to part with millions of dollars without the chance of a tangible, on-the-field return. In other words, small market teams are, in general, less likely to get too cozy with the concept of sunk costs.
On the surface, it looks bad. It’s another area where the baseball commentariat can point out lowly San Diego and get a chuckle or two. In an ideal situation, you don’t want to be on this list, and a number of the players the Padres are still paying—Matt Kemp and James Shields to name two—conger up bad memories of bad decisions.
Think of it another way, though: the Padres are actually paying money, lots of money, to make their future outlook brighter. Let’s go through some of the players individually.
Faster than a roadrunner? (yes)
Faster than a coyote? (no)
Faster than a Billy Hamilton? (not yet)
Manuel Margot hit a triple in a spring training game last week, an event that was digitally recorded, uploaded onto the internet, and then embedded here:
The triple was encouraging because it came off big-league pitcher Tyler Chatwood, and also because it showed off some of Margot’s occasionally absent power. It also displayed his speed. By my hand-timed estimate*, Margot got from home to third in about 10.90 seconds, which is . . . fast. How fast, though?
I was once again a guest on The Kept Faith podcast this week along with Chris Garcia. We discussed FS Investors vs SDSU, the signing of Jered Weaver, and finished off with some baseball movie talk.
Last year they had me on to talk about The Fan, which is arguably one of the worst movies involving baseball ever made. This time, to make it up to me, we talked about Eight Men Out, which is one of my favorite baseball movies.
You can find out where you can listen to it in The Kept Faith’s post. Do it.
People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare at my computer and watch my prospect status rise. —Fernando Tatis Jr. (probably)
Fernando Tatis Jr. entered the Padres organization mostly as an unknown. Acquired with Erik Johnson from the White Sox for James Shields, Tatis hadn’t played a single professional game when the Padres got him last June. Despite the household name, Tatis was mostly viewed as a wild card—an international amateur who hadn’t done enough to earn a huge bonus or lots of prospect cred.
In fact, the last time I wrote about him—in August in a WBOTF post—I noted the lack of coverage:
Tatis Jr. is so young and so inexperienced that you have to dig to find anything written about him on the internet . . . I mean, dig, dark web and all.
Fast-forward eight months and the internet is overflowing with words on Tatis, most of them glowing. For one, Tatis played, and played well. Split between rookie ball and low-A Tri City, the 17-year-old right-handed hitting shortstop posted a .273/.311/.432 line with 15 stolen bases and 24 extra-base hits in 55 games. Beyond the numbers, people really liked what they saw.
Fox Sports San Diego announced the San Diego Padres 2017 Spring Training broadcast schedule today, and it may surprise you how many games that FSSD is going to broadcast this spring.
This season, FSSD is going to carry 14 Spring Training games, all from Arizona. All but one game will be live, with the March 11 game against the Milwaukee Brewers being shown on tape delay. The Padres will also play the World Baseball Classic team from Mexico on March 7.
Through a winter of despair comes a beacon of hope . . . it’s prospect week here at Padres Public!
Today we’ll have a cumulative top 10 list and some Big Picture discussion. Throughout the rest of the week, we’ll discuss specific players more in-depth, re-heating the cooling winter hot stove with some overdue prospect fodder.
First, the prospect list. As most all reputable prospect outlets have released top prospects lists (we’re still waiting for Keith Law and a few others), we decided to combine them together with a top-secret algorithm and spit out an overall top 10. Without further ado, using the lists from Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, Chris Crawford, FanGraphs, Mad Friars, and—yes—Padres Public, voila:
1. Anderson Espinoza, RHP
2. Manuel Margot, OF
3. Hunter Renfroe, OF
4. Cal Quantrill, RHP
5. Adrian Morejon, LHP
6. Luis Urias, 2B
7. Jacob Nix, RHP
8. Chris Paddack, RHP
9. Fernando Tatis Jr., SS
10. Michael Gettys, OF
Listen to A.J. Preller talk enough, and you start to realize that he’s not necessarily all there in the moment. I don’t mean that negatively—I just mean that he’s probably thinking about something baseball-related as he finishes each sentence. His mouth is saying one thing, but deep inside his baseball-obsessed mind, synapses are firing at will about Dominican prospects and such.
The Padres had a press conference for Wil Myers earlier this week. Here, I’ve tried to figure out what Preller might have actually been thinking when he said various things.
What he said: Obviously, uh, here today to announce the—you know—to announce the signing of Wil Myers to a six-year contract extension.
What he was thinking: I wonder if there are any flights to Venezuela available tonight.
It’s old news now, but both Wil Myers and Yangervis Solarte were signed to contract extensions recently. By Section 2, Clause 4b of the internet’s manual on baseball writing, we’re still allowed to write about it.
Myers inked the bigger deal: six years and $83 million with an option for a seventh year, a contract which buys out three—and potentially four—of his would-be free agent years.
It’s a good deal in a basic, big picture sense. Myers is fun and young and the Padres have money to spend. The payroll over the next couple of years is going to sink to near-embarrassing levels, and even though this deal won’t technically do much to raise it (for now), it’s still a good way for Padres brass to show that they’ll continue to shell out money when necessary.