Trevor Hoffman got 74 percent of the vote for the Hall of Fame on Wednesday, which put him one percentage point—or five measly votes—away from getting the Cooperstown call.
Even though I wrote that I wouldn’t have voted for Hoffman if I had a ballot of my own, I can certainly understand the argument that he’s a Hall-of-Fame level player, and I can further understand the disappointment for a city of sports fans looking for something to cling to.
Hoffman didn’t get in because he came up five votes short, obviously, and also because he’s something of a borderline candidate (also potentially because of a Boston bias). Nobody really knows how to handle relievers, and Hoffman—much as it pains me to admit—isn’t close to the Mariano Rivera level of relief pitcher dominance. Nobody is, really. So he hovers on the Hall periphery, gaining more support from the old-school voters than from the younger ones, more support from the west coast than from the east coast.
According to multiple reports the Chargers will announce today they are bolting (sorry) for Los Angeles. Dean Spanos will meet with his staff shortly, ostensibly to inform them of this decision.
It’s probably too late to start a petition to keep the team name and colors here (al la what Cleveland did when the first Browns left). I’d absolutely support that initiative, by the way.
Dean Spanos leaving town will have a profound impact on the Padres. I wonder how they will react today. I hope they have thought it through and have an actionable plan in place. They’ve had two years to prepare. Their world is different starting at 8am this morning.
The Padres have been the second banana in San Diego for as long as Major League Baseball has been played here. Even during their brief forays into baseball respectability, and the occasional playoff appearance, the Chargers dominated the narrative. Now, I know using local sports talk-radio as a barometer isn’t the best idea, but for the last two years those who listen have been treated to incessant conversations about the stadium issue, new developments, theories, recriminations, speculation, and so on. It didn’t matter how well or poorly the Padres were playing, or what stupid thing the Padres did, San Diego Charger stadium discussions dominated. Only when a story became national news (like the medical file flapex) did some lip service get paid to the Padres and what they were doing; it was then rapidly swamped by more stadium discussion.
The Padres had the perfect cover. Now that cover is gone.
Although the Chargers are moving barely 150 miles up the road I can’t imagine news about that football team will continue to be the top story for the local media. All eyes should shift to the one Major-League franchise left. The Gulls will get some additional coverage, sure, but hockey is a niche sport (which is too bad, because it’s awesome). The Padres have sucked for the past six years and only the diehard fans really complained and discussed it. Now the casual sports fan will be paying more attention because there’s really nothing else to talk about.
Get ready, Padres. You’re front and center on the San Diego Sports Stage. If we ever needed our baseball team to both play well and have a realistic chance for a playoff appearance, it’s right now.
The Padres don’t need to sign any more free agents. The goal, clearly, isn’t to win in 2017, and the team, as currently constructed, will probably be lucky to sniff 70 wins. Still, undervalued free agents can come in handy for a couple of reasons: 1) the Padres have to finish a 162-game season, and they may need more cavalry just to get there (especially on the pitching side), and 2) free agent rehabilitation projects can turn into valuable trade chips by late July.
It’s hard to oversell just how important the Drew Pomeranz acquisition was. Though not actually a free agent pick-up, Pomeranz was nabbed for close to nothing (Yonder Alonso) and, just a few months later, exchanged for one of the Padres most intriguing prospects, right-handed pitcher Anderson Espinoza. Fernando Rodney, an actual free agent signing, was turned into Chris Paddack last June, another interesting (if now injured) pitcher. Are there any free agents left who could be Pomeranz-ed or Rodney-ed into something useful by mid-summer?
First, let’s run down MLB Trade Rumors top remaining FAs, published on Christmas day:
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.
Thanksgiving, still my favorite holiday of the year.
Also, the time of year where everyone’s “[XX] Reasons For [insert team name] Fans To Be Thankful” pieces come out. And I do mean EVERYONE’S.
Two years ago I wrote about the things I was thankful for as it relates to the Padres. I thought it would be fun to go back and look at how those things worked out then give a new reason to be thankful.