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
Robert Fick to Washington as Free Agent
According to MLB.com, 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?
|Mark Sweeney (RF, LF)
Robert Fick (C, RF, LF)
Damian Jackson (SS, OF)
Geoff Blum (2B, SS)
Bobby Hill (2B)
|Xavier Nady (1B)