Padres Acquire Giles

Holy superstars, Batman, Brian Giles is a Padre. I’m so excited I’m even using my crappy old Windows 98 laptop to write this. Where to begin? I’ll just start spewing random thoughts as they occur to me, so if this entry is more incoherent than most (how can you tell?), I trust you’ll understand.

The Padres just acquired BRIAN FREAKIN’ GILES! And they didn’t have to absorb any of Jason Kendall’s contract. Of course, they also don’t get Kendall’s services, but that’s another story.

So, Giles joins the club Wednesday night and replaces Rondell White (traded to the Royals for minor leaguers) in left field. Word is he’ll hit third, ahead of Phil Nevin and Ryan Klesko. Put Sean Burroughs and Mark Loretta or Mark Kotsay in front of that group and you’ve got the makings of a pretty nice lineup.

With Giles now in the fold, you have to figure that the (likely) more expensive Vlad Guerrero and Gary Sheffield will not be on the shopping list this winter. Which means the Pads probably will concentrate on improving behind the plate, at shortstop, and in the rotation.

A lot of names are being tossed around on each of those fronts: Brad Ausmus, Javy Lopez, Ivan Rodriguez, Benito Santiago, Kaz Matsui, Miguel Tejada, Bartolo Colon, Greg Maddux, Kevin Millwood, Andy Pettitte, Javy Vazquez to name a few. Hard to say what will end up happening, but the Padres definitely will be players. The hope here is that Kevin Towers and company won’t spend the big bucks on Tejada but will be able to sign Maddux to an incentive-based deal.

Ben Howard, up to replace the departed Ollie Perez. First three pitches miss badly. He’s got to be nervous. Walk to Matt Kata on five pitches. So far, he’s doing a pretty good impression of Perez. ;-)

Okay, how about the guys the Padres gave up to get Giles? Well, Perez obviously is a talented kid. But he’s very raw. He’s about where Matt Clement was in terms of development when the Pads dealt him for Kotsay. And Pirates fans are in for a lot of frustration while Perez learns to harness his stuff.

If someone can get him to repeat his delivery with consistency and be more efficient with his pitches, the Bucs could have a real good one on their hands. But it’s not going to happen right away. Advice to Pirates fans: Be patient with Perez, try not to get too down on him when he struggles. And hope he gets some good coaching.

Howard gets into Luis Gonzalez’ kitchen. Weak fly to center on a 94-MPH fastball.

Raul Mondesi drills a two-run homer just inside the left-field foul pole. Howard hung it. Breaking ball, right down the middle of the plate. Yep, he looks a lot like Perez so far.

Back to the departed. Jason Bay also goes to Pittsburgh. Bay is a fine young outfielder who probably wasn’t going to get a chance to play every day in San Diego. He came over from the Mets last year in a deal for reliever Steve Reed. He can play all three outfield positions, and does everything pretty well but nothing spectacular. Someone at Baseball Primer pointed out that his numbers this year at Triple-A look similar to those posted by Giles at that level in 1995 at the same age. Interesting, but I don’t think Bay has that kind of power. Then again, who expected Giles to consistently hit 35+ homers?

Here are their respective minor-league numbers through last year:

        AB   BA  OBP  SLG  BB  SO
Bay   1025 .300 .388 .466 139 212
Giles 2255 .306 .396 .429 333 287

Those don’t include the good numbers Bay is putting up this season. Interestingly, he’s actually shown better power in the minors than Giles ever did. Does this mean Bay will follow in Giles’ footsteps? Doubtful. More likely it means that Giles had a freakish growth curve. I’d venture to guess that not many guys with a career .123 ISO in the minors at age 25 go on to be big-time power hitters.

Long story, short: Bay is a good player who deserves a chance. And he’ll probably be a solid replacement for Reggie Sanders next year.

The third player hasn’t been named yet but is rumored to be lefty Cory Stewart. He’s an intriguing kid putting up some big strikeout numbers at Mobile this season. As I noted back in January, Stewart could be a middle- to back-end starter, he could be a situational reliever.

All things considered, this actually isn’t a terrible trade from the Pirates’ standpoint. They needed to get rid of Giles’ contract, and they got one potential impact player (Perez), along with two other kids who at least have a chance to become big-league regulars.

Rick Sutcliffe is talking about Howard’s mechanics and the fact that he keeps making the same mistakes. He’ll probably hammer on that point for as long as Howard is in there tonight. Where’s Mark Grant when you need him?

How about White. What does an All-Star outfielder fetch these days? Two very marginal prospects. Southpaw Chris Tierney, a seventh-round pick in 2001, gets a grade of C in this year’s edition of John Sickels’ book. He’s ranked 26th among Royals’ prospects in Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook. Doesn’t throw hard but gets the ball over the plate. Sounds a little like Justin Germano. Probably several years away, and who knows what kind of upside he has.

Brian Sanches, a right-hander out of Lamar University, was taken in the the second round of the 2001 draft. Sickels gives him a grade of C minus, which is as low as he goes. Sanches doesn’t merit a mention in BAPH. Probably just roster fill but you never know.

Mondesi hammers another one, this time off the left field wall. Gary Matthews Jr. plays it brilliantly and almost nails Mondesi at second. Sutcliffe blows a lot of smoke, but he’s dead on here: the Pads should bring back Matthews next year as a reserve outfielder. (Matthews later would hit a mammoth two-run shot to right-center.)

Howard allows a run-scoring wild pitch in the third, and he nearly launches another. Steve Finley pops up to Mark Loretta to end the inning.

Back to Giles. Have the Padres ever acquired a guy this good in his prime? Gary Sheffield turned out to be a stud, but he was an unknown quantity back in the day. Maybe Fred McGriff. Here’s how they compare in full seasons prior to acquisition by the Pads (stats courtesy of

          Yr1       Yr2       Yr3       Yr4
        Age OPS+  Age OPS+  Age OPS+  Age OPS+
Giles    28 157    29 158    30 153    31 173
McGriff  23 130    24 157    25 161    26 157

McGriff was younger, but Giles was better. It’s easy to forget what a terrific player McGriff was. Yikes, looking at his career numbers, he’s a little closer to the Hall of Fame than I’d have guessed.

Another inning, another run. Robby Hammock, two-out solo shot to left-center. Not a good pitch from Howard with Elmer Dessens (ironically, the man who broke Bay’s wrist back in May) on deck.

Great at-bat by Burroughs. Works the count full, then pokes a single between third and short.

Now we can start playing with potential lineups for 2004:

  1. Burroughs 3b
  2. Loretta 2b/Kotsay cf
  3. Giles lf
  4. Nevin 1b
  5. Klesko rf
  6. Kotsay cf/Loretta 2b
  7. catcher
  8. Greene ss

And the rotation:

  1. Eaton
  2. Peavy
  3. Lawrence
  4. Jarvis
  5. Howard/Tankersley


C: who knows
INF: Hansen, Merloni (?), Vazquez
OF: Buchanan, Matthews (?)


Hoffman, Beck (?), Witasick, Hackman, Walker (?), Linebrink (?)

If everyone can stay reasonably healthy, and depending on who Towers goes out and gets, this could be a pretty surprising team next year.

More coverage of the trades:

And an interesting baseball site having nothing to do with all this:

The Pads ended up winning the game last night. Good to see the club scrap and come back from a 4-0 deficit. Howard wasn’t great but he showed signs and he did keep his team in the game. Great work from the bullpen. Jay Witasick and Rod Beck is a nice way to finish. And Trevor Hoffman pitched a scoreless inning for the Storm. Six pitches, six strikes. This should be an interesting September in San Diego…

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