More Roster Moves

Won’t they stop already? Just catching up on the latest flurry. New and improved chart at the end.

Chris Oxspring to Japan for Cash

The Padres have sold the contract of RHP Chris Oxspring to the Hanshin Tigers of the Japanese Central League for a reported $550k. On the one hand, I’m real sorry to see Oxspring leave without getting a chance to show the Padres what he can do. On the other, he’ll be 29 years old in May and probably will make a much better living over in Japan than he would have on this side of the Pacific. Oxspring was one of my favorites during his time at Elsinore, and I’m happy for his opportunity.

Pete LaForest from Tampa Bay off Waivers

LaForest has played parts of two seasons with the “big-league” Devil Rays, hitting .170/.223/.241 in 112 at-bats. He was Tampa Bay’s #11 prospect according to the Baseball America Prospect Handbook 2004 after having been listed at #16 in the previous year’s edition.

From the 2003 book:

Signed as a third baseman, LaForest has made significant strides during his conversion to catching but remains far from a polished product behind the plate… LaForest’s greatest improvement has come with the bat. He makes solid contact and is able to drive the ball.

And from 2004:

He has good power from the left side and draws a good amount of walks… LaForest has a big swing and strikes out a lot, the main reason he never has hit better than .275 at any of his stops in the minors… He might be better suited to be a DH/first baseman/backup catcher than a regular backstop.

Executive summary: Upside is maybe a poor man’s Matt LeCroy? Don’t expect much.

Dave Roberts Re-signs

According to the U-T, it’s a 1-year deal for $2.25M. With the acquisition of Mike Cameron, Roberts moves to left field, where he is a pretty good defender. His lack of arm strength won’t be as much of a liability in left as it was in center, and with less ground to cover, maybe he can stay away from those nagging leg injuries and become a good base stealer again.

The Padres needed someone to bat leadoff, and Roberts did a capable job in that role last year. If he can duplicate that effort ― admittedly a big “if” given his age and how completely out of line his 2005 numbers were with anything he’d done since 2000 at Triple-A Buffalo ― Roberts will continue to be a valuable contributor.

The potential for decline, possibly precipitous, is undeniable. But I’ve doubted Roberts before and he proved me wrong in a big way this past season. I am hopeful that the move to a less demanding position will help him assuage my doubts once more.

The big downside is that we may not get to see what Ben Johnson can do this season. Then again, with Xavier Nady gone, we have to clamor for the Padres to free someone, right? ;-)

Ricky Steik to Detroit for Kenny Baugh

The Padres drafted Steik in the 7th round of the 2004 draft out of Golden West College. Beyond that, I don’t know a lot about Steik, but he didn’t show up on any of the Padres prospects lists I’ve seen. That happens with 21-year-old middle relievers in Low-A ball.

Baugh was selected 11th overall by the Detroit Tigers in the 2001 draft. Unfortunately he was ridden extremely hard at Rice and missed the entire 2002 season due to labrum surgery.

Prior to the injury, Baugh had been the Tigers’ #4 prospect in the Baseball America Prospect Handbook 2002. In the accompanying writeup, Baseball America said of Baugh, “He’s the frontrunner to be the first player from the 2001 draft to reach the majors.” Of course, he had the setback and still is waiting for the call.

In 2003, Baseball America ranked Baugh the Tiger’s #17 prospect, and the following year, he climbed to #10. In the 2005 book, he dropped all the way to #24. From that edition:

Baugh’s velocity got back to 88-91 mph last year, enough to get by because he commands an average curveball and changeup. The key for him is to stay on top of his pitches, because his fastball and curve flatten out when he drops down.

I dunno, can he be any worse than Ismael Valdez was a couple years ago? Baugh essentially takes over Oxspring’s role as a guy who the Padres can bring up from Portland to make the occasional spot start if needed. And of course, he didn’t cost much. So the net is that the Friars gave up a Low-A reliever to free up half a million bucks. From a baseball standpoint, this series of moves is the equivalent of treading water. From the business side, though, it’s pretty slick.

For grins, here’s how Baugh and Oxspring fared at Triple-A last year:

          Age    IP  ERA  H/9 BB/9 SO/9 HR/9
Baugh      26 165.1 3.38 8.66 3.27 5.82 0.71
Oxspring   28 160.2 4.03 8.29 2.35 7.00 0.84

Reaction from the Tigers blogosphere is lukewarm: Detroit Tigers Weblog, Tiger Tales, TigerBlog.

Robert Fick to Washington as Free Agent

According to, the deal is worth $850k for 1 year. I hate to see Fick leave because he’s such a gritty player. On the downside, his ISO had dropped every year since 2001. Last season’s .100 wasn’t nearly enough for a corner infielder/outfielder (Neifi Perez even managed an ISO of .108). So I’m sorry I won’t get to watch Fick play next year, but I understand that he can be replaced.

Ramon Hernandez to Baltimore as Free Agent

The deal is reported to be 4 years for $27.5M. That’s not quite the 4 years for $34M I predicted in March but it’s still wacko money for a 30-year-old catcher who has missed 114 games the past two seasons.

As with Fick, I’m sorry to see Hernandez leave. But I’d hate to be the Orioles right now or, say, in 2008. You think Phil Nevin was tough to move. Heh.

Doug Brocail Signs as Free Agent

Okay, technically this one hasn’t happened yet, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to dedicate an entire entry to Doug Brocail when it does. Reports are that the deal will be 1 year for $1M.

Brocail, you may recall (or not), was the Padres first-round pick in the January regular phase of the 1986 draft. Yep, he was around when there was a January phase of the draft. He played for the Padres before Trevor Hoffman ever came to San Diego. He was part of the December 1994 deal that brought Ken Caminiti and Steve Finley to the Friars. Two of the players in that trade have passed on. Dude has been around a while.

Brocail also isn’t a bad pitcher. At least he wasn’t before last season. Brocail did a decent job for the Rangers in 2004, but his best years came in Detroit, from 1997 to 1999.

Brocail will be 39 this season and he’s coming off a down year. At his age, it’s hard to know whether that was a blip or the beginning of the end. For $1M, the Padres are about to find out. Have I mentioned lately that this was a good winter to be a free agent reliever?

Padres Roster Changes, Winter 2005-2006
Pos Out In
SP Brian Lawrence
Chris Oxspring
Ricky Steik
Dewon Brazelton
Seth Etherton
Steve Andrade
Kenny Baugh
Doug Brocail
C Ramon Hernandez Doug Mirabelli

Pete LaForest

1B Mark Sweeney (RF, LF)
Robert Fick (C, RF, LF)
2B Mark Loretta
Damian Jackson (SS, OF)
3B Sean Burroughs

Joe Randa

Vinny Castilla
Geoff Blum (2B, SS)
Bobby Hill (2B)
Justin Leone
OF Xavier Nady (1B) Mike Cameron
Jack Cust

68 Responses »

  1. I’m willing to give Towers some credit for working under constraints, too. What constraints were involved in the Loretta trade?

    In a market where a declining Castillo fetches two bullpen arms, 29 year old Aaron Miles (686 career OPS with 436 Coors Field at-bats) is drawing interest, and Tony Womack is moved without gunfire or kidnapping, Mark Loretta has more trade value than Doug Mirabelli.

    The explanations would seem to be laziness, stupidity, or that 29 other GMs decided that Mark Loretta (148 career win shares) wasn’t worth a B prospect or two. The same GMs who DID have interest in the 2b listed above and who have handed out 15M contracts to middle relievers like Halloween candy decided that Loretta is done.

    I know which explanation makes the most sense. Towers saw three problems and solved them with one move. Too bad for us that separating the solutions would have been better.

  2. “What constraints were involved in the Loretta trade?” We don’t know. Maybe none, maybe something that we haven’t heard about.

  3. Geoff said:

    With Alderson and Fuson on board, I’m pretty confident this team will continue to be competitive over the next several years (esp. after 2006, when the last of the bad contracts expire)…



    PLUS, in NO WAY do I give Towers a free pass. Those of you who remember, I was excited to see Towers’ heading to AZ. I AM willing to give ALDERSON a free pass (a year+) to see how things are going.

    I’m also a HUGE Fuson fan (did I just say, “I’m fat”?). And I’m real excited to see how this next draft shakes out.

    Furthermore, we KNOW that the Padres had talks with Texas about Loretta. So maybe Mirabelli was all we could get for Mark (I’ll admittely find that hard to believe, but there it is never-the-less).

  4. Of all our new players, I’m most excited about Ozzie Guillen favorite Willie Mays Hayes and slugger Pedro Serrano, who can absolutely crush a fastball. Also, watch out for young hurler Rick Vaughn. Great arm speed.

    Minuses: Jake Taylor, Roger Dorn, and Eddie Harris make for a nice team… TEN YEARS AGO.

  5. Speaking of Ten Years Ago, use this link to check out the greatest idea for a magazine EVER!

    Oh, and allow hilarity to ensue…Steve Finley fans need only apply.

    And Geoff, as one who appreciates Tom Waits chatting up Stephen Malkmus on the fruits of the Friar offseason, this magazine is for you. Enjoy.

    Last note: I swear I saw Ben Davis near the Mission Valley mall holding a “Will Squat for Food” sign. I say, “Why not?”

  6. Sweet, thanks for the link. I like the Trevor interview where he ‘fesses up to going to a Stryper show. (Lest anyone think I’m picking on him, be assured that I’ve seen *much* worse bands.)

  7. If we’re going to play the “We don’t know what really happened” game, then there’s really no point.

    Maybe Scott Boras held a gun on Tom Hicks in December 2001. I mean, we don’t KNOW that the Park signing was a bad idea, so why should we criticize it? We don’t KNOW that Towers only deals with a limited number of teams (wait, we do know that, he said so). We don’t KNOW that Towers will overpay to fill a perceived roster hole (wait, we know that too, he said so when he traded for Roberts).

    If Doug Mirabelli is all you can get for Loretta, you know what? You don’t trade him. You bite the 1.5M bullet. Towers sits Bochy down and tells him that Loretta can either start at 3b or be the main utility infielder, but that he’s not the starting 2b. Unlike Royce Clayton, Loretta actually would have value in the utility role. But geez, Towers wouldn’t want to make Bochy mad, so let’s just shove Loretta out of town for whatever anyone will offer.

  8. TW: I’m not suggesting that because we don’t have all the facts about a situation, we shouldn’t attempt to evaluate it. I’m suggesting that we should, but that we shouldn’t necessarily jump to any firm conclusions.

    I believe the Loretta for Mirabelli trade was terrible from the Padres standpoint based on information I have. I also believe it’s possible that I don’t have all the information. That’s been my point all along.

    Furthermore, I’m also not comfortable ascribing motives to Towers in terms of laziness, wanting to placate Bochy, etc. I don’t know these people, and I don’t know what drives them. All I can really do is look at what’s on the table, which is a trade that involves a talent loss and a money savings.

    I’m not defending the move. I’m just trying to figure out an explanation for it. And I’m willing to give Towers et al. the benefit of the doubt based on past performance.

  9. whoa…gettin’ spicy in here

  10. That “past performance” includes such gems as signing Bobby Jones, trading Williams for Lankford, the Trammell/Jarvis extensions (some mitigating circumstances there), giving up three players and cash for Dave Roberts, not trading Phil Nevin after a 298/368/492 2004 season with 26 HR and 105 RBI, signing Fellow Lefties Who Suck Eddie Oropesa and Denys Reyes, and more. I won’t get into his draft record except to say, once more, Matt Bush.

    He’s made good trades, too. I don’t deny that. He seems like a genuinely nice man. I don’t see the kind of stellar history that earns him the benefit of the doubt in regard to the Loretta-Mirabelli trade.

  11. Just off the top of my head:

    Sheets for Nevin
    Scott Sanders for Hitchcock
    Ashby for Eaton
    Hamilton for Woody
    Joyner, Reggie Sanders, and Veras for Klesko and Boone
    Carlos Hernandez for Ben Johnson
    Linebrink off waivers from Hou
    Aki from Japan for almost nothing
    Seanez for almost nothing

    It’s funny about the Roberts trade. For as much as I hated it at the time, look at what happened. Roberts made a positive contribution to the Padres, and only Pauley remains with the Red Sox.

    Come to think of it I really didn’t like the Sanders-for-Hitchcock or Hamilton-for-Woody deals when they were made. Both worked out very well.

    As for Matt Bush, it happens. I’ll counter with Jake Peavy in the 15th round.

    If we’re going to knock Towers for the bad moves he’s made, we also should give him credit for the good ones.

  12. And in not one of those good trades did he give up the player with the most perceived value for a backup. In his good moves, he landed players with upside. Sometimes substantial upside. What’s Mirabelli’s upside?

    How does Payton and Vazquez not being with the Red Sox indicate anything? I could counter that Payton went on to play outstanding defense and hit with the A’s, and that Towers valued Dave Roberts so much that he replaced him in CF after one season. Or that Dave Roberts played only 115 games for us and was replaced against LHP by Giles in CF. Or that we’re going to pay him more than $2M to, in all likelihood, give us a 700 OPS from a corner OF position.

    Jake Peavy is the opposite of Matt Bush. Nobody doubted his talent. There was no “Well, he throws hard, but he’s wild” or “He’s got control but fringy stuff.” With Matt Bush, it was “He’ll have gap power if he adds strength” and “He might be a 270 hitter” but “Wow, look at his arm.”

    I’m giving Towers credit for his good moves. You and Peter seem to be giving him extra-credit.

    Next season Mirabelli could hit 280/340/420 with 10HR, Loretta could blow out his knee in April. It’s still a bad trade if Towers could have gotten more for Loretta.

  13. “It’s still a bad trade if Towers could have gotten more for Loretta.” Absolutely. But the “if” part of the equation remains unknown.

  14. Also, I’m not giving extra credit to Towers for his good moves. My main issue is that I don’t find “laziness” a very plausible or satisfying explanation for what he is doing. Seems we disagree on that point, which is cool.

  15. The problem I have with the deal is that it seems obviously lopsided to pretty much everyone, not just Padres bloggers. I listened to Billy Beane on the radio, and he was shocked. Rob Neyer was shocked. And if Billy Beane was shocked, you better believe that there are a number of general managers out there who had no idea that Loretta (“was hard to work with”, “is on a decline”, “killed a drifter”, whatever)

    For me, this all sounds like a lot of post-trade spin. You’re telling me that the Twins wouldn’t have given us one or both of the prospects they shipped for Castillo? You’re telling me the Rangers wouldn’t have traded Laird and someone else to replace Soriano? I don’t believe it. We couldn’t have picked up Yorvit Torrealba and NOT given up a 2004 all-star second baseman in the process?

  16. Loretta indeed killed a drifter. We here at ESPN didn’t cover it because it didn’t involve a New York or Boston team.

    Gotta go. Bronson Arroyo is about to take the stage…

  17. Anybody know where I can find a guitar player?