Hot Stove Season. Who’s Fired Up?

Hot Stove! Let’s get fired up because it’s wheelin’ and dealin’ time. We’ve got a roster to build and probably not a lot of money to spend. At least not yet. Let’s run through the positions, look at depth, and completely ignore the starting pitching staff. If AJ Preller can, I can too.

Okay, around the horn:

1B – Starter is Wil Myers. Wil played well enough to garner Gold Glove consideration. I just wanted him there for his boyish charm. Oh, and he was an All Star and HR Derby participant. Wil is the real deal. There are rumors of an extension, but the Padres probably need to actually have a conversation with Jeff Berry, Myers’ representative from CAA. This was supposed to happen in Arizona a few weeks ago, haven’t heard if anything happened. Myers is about to be paid. He’ll go from half a million per to about $5M/. It’s deserved.

Depth at 1B was to be provided by old man Brett Wallace but he was DFA’d. He actually is no longer useful at baseball, and he’s not easy on the eyes, so goodbye good riddance?  Why not Alex Dickerson covering the back-up role for first? Dickerson is a little cheaper, and he can actually produce on offense. Dickerson may need the reps, as the outfield could (should) be crowded.

Prospects for first base are slim. Josh Naylor, the number four prospect, played a little more than half the year in Greensboro for the Marlins, who drafted him in the 1st round in ’15. Naylor had a decent start, and the Padres sent him to Lake Elsinore to finish the season. He was very young for the California League, so it is easy to see him starting back there. Naylor is a smallish (6’0”) pudgyish (225 and SLOW) lefty with good field to field power in games, and very good raw power. This season should be interesting as he should blossom under the Storm.

After Naylor, the Padres have nothing. Don’t look. I did, it’s not pretty. Stay healthy forever, Wil.

2B – Cory Spangenberg was hurt in the beginning of last season, so he gets his spot back, right? If Cory is healthy he probably should be the second baseman, but I’m sure there is some argument for Ryan Schimpf. Schimpf hit prodigious homers to a tune and rate unseen by Padres’  keystone men ever. In just 89 games played, Schimpf is tied for 6th all time for Padres HR by a 2Ber. Schimpf’s power is real, as he slugged pretty well throughout his MiLB career. He strikes out a ton, and walks at a decent rate so he may have supplanted Jabari Blash as the Three True Outcomes! darling of the blogosphere. I could see him moving to 3B as the Padres have to find a shortstop and trading away Yangervis Solarte might be the only decent bullet Preller has when pulling the trigger on his next trade.

The minors is a bit more promising at second as Luis Urias looks to be on the rise after a very successful 2016 in the California League, and Carlos Asuaje looking MLB ready after the year he had in El Paso. Depth leads to flexibility. AJ Preller may need to leverage this flexibility into adding depth elsewhere. It’s nice to see some opportunities presenting themselves to the Padres GM and it will be interesting to see how he addresses this good problem he has.

SS – Luis Sardinas will be a gold glovin’ silver sluggin’ fun time lovin’ superstar. I absolutely have to believe my own BS because the reality is so much worse it can be depressing. I hang my hat of a resurgence for Sardinas on this write up from just a couple of pre-seasons ago (2014) by Marc Hulet of FanGraphs: “The Scouting Report: The slick-fielding Sardinas is often overlooked in an organization brimming with young infielders. The young athlete isn’t as gifted offensively as the likes of Jurickson Profar and Rougned Odor but he is a skilled defender at shortstop with an above-average arm, plus range and good actions. At the plate, Sardinas understands his strengths and doesn’t try to muscle the ball, instead focusing on an all-fields approach and hitting the ball where it’s pitched. He also has above-average speed that should allow him to steal 20+ bases in a full big league season.”  Sardinas is only 23 and a former top 100 prospect could still perform at a high level, right? Last year’s production notwithstanding, right? Minus 5 defensive runs saved. What the hell, man?

AJ Preller has his work cut out for him because behind Sardinas in the minors is Jose Rondon, Javier Guerra, and Ruddy Giron. Guerra fell so far last year most publications no longer consider him a prospect. Rondon and Giron are reportedly great kids, and that’s about it. I think they are both playing in winter leagues and not doing much.  Is it me, or did it seem like every playoff team had a dynamite shortstop? Someone you could build a franchise around. It’s probably just me.

3B – Yangervis Solarte had a nice year.  I’m sure the Padres will be discussing trade possibilities with several teams for his services this winter.  If the Padres keep him you could see Andy Green slot him in the 3 hole and let him continue producing. He is not expensive and continues to out produce his salary. Hopefully if the Padres do trade him they pick up a shortstop prospect. I see lots of people calling for pitching, but I’d rather see a solid guy at short. The problem there is real and needs a longer term fix.

Behind Solarte is Schimpf, and not much else. There are a few journeymen in triple A, Gabriel Quintana in AA, and then not much else. It would be nice to see Josh Vanmeter or Ty France turn into bigger prospects, so there is something to maybe keep checking.

C – This is where I post this pick and everyone stares, does what they gotta do, and then takes a smoke break:

austin

Did you imagine you were that pillow? Come on, @mensrea can’t be the only one to tell the truth.

I can’t wait to watch Austin Hedges throw out a runner at second for the third out of the inning and Hedges is sitting in the dugout before blue calls the runner out. So cocky. Why do guys try to steal? Please don’t stop, MLB. Hedges will have his naysayers, as he has yet to hit in the bigs, but his approach in El Paso showed vast improvement and if he gets anywhere near those production numbers he will be a catching god. Most likely he will be a decent hitting, great defending MLBer, and we should all be happy with that for years. Derek Norris is gone. Preller traded him for a little pitcher. Christian Bethancourt can pitch.

The minors have an interesting prospect in Austin Allen. He had a solid year in Fort Wayne and is a lefty bat. He’s only two years younger than Hedges, but it’s good to see a bit of depth.

LF – It looks like Alex Dickerson has the leg up on starting the season as the left fielder. Most likely Manny Margot will begin in El Paso due to service time control optimization for the club. With Margot down until June, Travis Jankowski should man center and Dickerson will be in left. Once Margot comes up I imagine whoever is underperforming is the odd man out. I can’t see Margot coming up as a 4th outfielder so if everyone is performing well Andy Green will have a nice problem to have with finding ABs for everyone. As said earlier, Dickerson could probably spell Myers at first a bit too.

CF – Travis Jankowski should be given the chance to lead off and play centerfield. Not bad for the Stony Brook alumnus. Hopefully he cuts down on the K rate and we will see if he can out produce a fairly robust 2.1fWAR in only 383 PAs from last season. He stole 30 bases last season, but it would be nice to see him beat his MiLB best of 71. Let’s see that 70 speed play!

RF – Hunter Renfroe will try to hit the ball over the Western Metals building. A man has got to set goals for himself. Hitting one on the roof was just a warm up. I’d love to see him hit the new scoreboard. Either way, he should be fun to watch at the plate. Tune in early on his at bats, because he is not one to be selective. The man has not seen a fastball he didn’t like. Hopefully somebody talks to him about selectivity or being patiently aggressive or whatever buzz words they use at the cage now. We can also look forward to Renfroe showing off the cannon attached to his shoulder and he hopefully leads the team in assists. Manny Margot has a great arm too, but with his playing time lacking due to being in El Paso, I think Renfroe will win the hose title.

Backing up the starting trio most likely will be Jabari Blash and maybe Jose Pirela (or maybe not, as he was released). I could see the bench having some upgrades and maybe see a utility guy that can spell a few innings in the outfield. I know Christian Bethancourt is supposedly going to do this as well, but I really see him having limited opportunities to get in the field. Now that I’ve said that, I’m sure Andy Green will prove me wrong.

Down on the farm the Padres have a plethora of outfield prospects. Franchy Cordero is now on the 40 man roster, so the Padres could call him up if an injury occurs. Cordero should be in El Paso playing right with Nick Torres manning the other corner spot. Both are solid prospects but not upper tier like Margot. Once Margot is called up Cordero should slide to center. Michael Gettys is a toolsy centerfielder and will either start in high A and move to AA, or possible start in AA San Antonio.

SP – Boo. Luis Perdomo might be the opening day starter. He will battle Christian Friedrich. Tyson Ross was non-tendered. The staff is without leadership. Young kids may have to step up. Walker Lockett and Dinelson Lamet could both push for starts as each has performed well throughout their minor league career. I like Lockett’s sinker and Lamet is said to be the toolsier guy.

The kids on the farm are led by Anderson Espinoza. He, Cal QuantrillEric Lauer and possibly newcomer Pedro Avila should all start in Lake Elsinore. If you want to go to a good Padres game, I suggest driving up the I-15 and take in a Storm game. Adrian Morejon is the prize from this summer’s international class. It will be fun to see if he has top of the rotation stuff as he should pitch professionally next season.

RP – I mean, who cares? None of these guys are going to be around when the Padres are good again. Brandon Maurer will close, Brad Hand will throw a bunch of solid innings, but both of them are 27 and should be traded for prospects if they have good seasons. Carter Capps should have a balk called on him every pitch. He’ll be fun to watch. The minors are filled with relief pitchers that change in name and number every year. Buy a program. You can’t tell the players without a program.

It would seem AJ Preller and company has some work to do for filling out the 40 man roster. They’ll need pitching and most likely a shortstop. The team is not bad; it just can’t pitch to compete in the NL West. Enjoy watching the younger guys develop. Hopefully Andy “Mulligan” Green gives them a long leash. I expect Preller to sign a few innings eaters and maybe make one trade and call it a winter. Who knows? He could surprise us all and completely sell the farm for starting pitching and make another go at a title.

Most likely he is building toward 2020. That should be a fun team.

 

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  • ballybunion

    What do you mean, Maurer and Hand won’t be around when the Padres are good? They’re both playing their age 26 year in 2017 and the Padres have them through 2019, when the Padres will be good, maybe borderline contenders. Then there’s Buchter who is 29, but under control through 2021. That could be a good bullpen for quite awhile.

    The starters are a problem, but you mentioned only two, leaving out Cosart, Vargas, and Clemens. Cosart and Clemens have excellent stuff and surely Darren Balsley will work his magic on at least one of them. I’m not too sure about Lamet, but lefty Lockett has a real chance to make the club, and then anything can happen.

    This year is a chance to see real prospects that actually pan out, and if the rotation is a bit shaky, it’ll improve in ’18 when Robbie Erlin and Colin Rea return, and maybe Quantrill and Lauer make the jump. That could be the first of many consecutive .500 plus ballclubs. Meanwhile, it’ll be fun to watch the kids, and don’t forget, they don’t know they’re not supposed to win in ’17, and they could surprise us.

    It might just be Jingle Bell Rock playing on the radio, but there’s always room for cockeyed optimism in December.

    • Billy Lybarger

      I stick by my prediction that ’20 is when they start getting good. I just don’t think .500 is a good team. A good team makes the playoffs or is just outside. I think of a good team as a 90 win team. Pinning hopes on a good team on the backs of Robbie Erlin and Colin Rea actually made me chuckle. So thanks for that.

      There isn’t a pitcher on this staff that should start in a playoff game. And it takes time for young pitchers to figure out how to pitch in the bigs. Once Quantrill and Lauer are up, I don’t expect them to dominate. They do not need the pressure of being anointed as staff saviors when they are more likely a 2 and a 4. If Espinoza progresses like we hope, he can lead the resurgence. But he is eighteen. If he dominates at 22 it would be a rare feat. In ’20 he will be 23. I think that is a reasonable projection for this staff, and team. As to relievers, who knows where who will be by then.

      And as always, thanks for reading and sharing your opinion, bally. It truly is appreciated.

      • ballybunion

        Golly, I had no idea your standards are cloud-top high. To me, a 90-win team is more than merely ‘good’, it’s a solid contender. I live in a blissful world of lower standards, where Robbie and Colin leading the team to an 82-80 record is pretty satisfying. After all, the Padres won the division with that record, not way back when, but in this very century.

        I’ve been a Padres fan since Preston Gomez was replaced by Don Zimmer, and I can assure you, most Padres fans would be happy to see a team consistent enough to play .500 ball, especially after the last six years of turmoil on and off the field. You gotta learn to crawl before you can win the Marathon.

        Try not to get too far ahead of the fan base. We’re not expecting the ’27 Yankees in 3-4 years, just a plan, and progress in that direction.

      • Billy Lybarger

        I didn’t think being swept by the Cardinals in ’05 was much fun. I too have been a long time Padre fan and I do want to see a championship come to San Diego. A .500 team is for STH that wear blue and tell fans to be quiet. You know what? Yea! .500! But shouldn’t we want more? I believe AJ Preller needs to build a championship contending team or he has failed. That is the standard. Fans need to demand it too.

        Fortunately, Preller is amassing as much talent as he can, and now he needs to develop it. It’s extremely difficult and there is no guarantee for success. But at least he has the blueprint in place. I trust him to add more talent in the ’17 draft, find a few good players internationally, and probably add more to the mix in ’18. This is the process that quality organizations have followed for years, so the Padres are basically playing catch up. Preller looks to always be adding assets, so he knows the plan. As long as ownership stays out of the way, we will see the long term benefits soon enough. I say ’20, but hey, I’d take ’19.