Wolf, Peavy, and Winter Leagues

I normally don’t like to report on stuff that hasn’t quite happened yet, but there isn’t much else going on right now, and these two items are potentially important pieces to the puzzle for 2008 and beyond.

Randy Wolf Signing

First up, the Padres are about to sign left-hander Randy Wolf, who pitched for the Dodgers in 2007 when he wasn’t on the disabled list. Wolf has missed huge chunks of time over each of the past four seasons and is coming off August shoulder surgery, so it’s hard to get a good feel for what he’s capable of these days. That said, he strikes me as a reasonable gamble.

Wolf is only 31 years old and provided decent (97 ERA+) production for the Dodgers over 18 starts in ’07. Yeah, that last part is kind of a problem, and the Padres will need to have a solid #6 starter at the ready (to say nothing of a #5 starter, but that’s a different issue), but with guys like Carlos Silva and Kyle Lohse at the top of this winter’s free-agent market, I can live with a base salary of $4 million for 1 year. Incentives could kick it up to $9 million, but presumably if Wolf reaches those incentives, then he’ll have earned his keep (MB at Friar Forecast agrees and provides excellent analysis of the deal).

I was critical of the Dodgers for signing Wolf last year, but my objection was to their giving a guy with his track record $8 million guaranteed. An incentive-based contract makes a lot more sense to me.

It’s the Moneyball philosophy at work. Find soft spots in the market and exploit the bejeezus out of them. From Corey Brock’s article at Padres.com:

San Diego general manager Kevin Towers has said that he prefers some of the pitchers who are coming off surgery — such as Wolf, Matt Clement and Bartolo Colon — to the healthy ones on the free-agent market.

I’m inclined to agree with this assessment. There are so few healthy starting pitchers on the current market that many are likely to command more than they are worth. Let teams that can afford to waste money do so.

My expectations of Wolf are modest. If he can make 20-25 slightly below-league-average starts, I’ll be happy. This is the #4 guy in the rotation, not the staff ace. When available, Wolf has been reasonably effective. Health is the unknown part of the equation, which is why he’s available at such a discount.

Don’t get me wrong, I want to see the Padres bring in the best players possible, but when the market values J.C. Romero at $12 million for 3 years, you’ve got to be a little careful with how you spend. Find bargains to fill little holes, and save your big money for impact players. Say, that reminds me…

Jake Peavy Extension

The second item that hasn’t happened yet but that appears to be near completion is a contract extension for Jake Peavy. According to the U-T’s Tom Krasovic, it’s expected to be a 3-year deal worth $50-54 million guaranteed, plus TBD incentives and no-trade provisions.

I really, really hope this deal gets done. Despite some pipe dreams about Peavy being traded for a bunch of young studs and putting the Padres in position for 2009 (uh, hello, how ’bout 2008?), paying near-top dollar — he’s worth more in the current market — for a homegrown ace who is in his prime seems like a no-brainer to me, especially since it’s only three years.

Yeah, there’s risk, but dude will be 30 years old at the end of the contract. Look, I’m as averse to spending big money as anyone, but if there’s a player worth the risk, I think it’d have to Peavy. How many dominant pitchers in their mid-20s are there, anyway? Not a lot.

On a more general note, when is the last time the Padres had three very good, relatively young players locked up to long-term deals? With Adrian Gonzalez and Chris Young already signed, and assuming the Peavy deal is finalized, that’s a nice little nucleus. Sure, maybe you’d like to see some of that spread to positions a little further to the right on the defensive spectrum, but still, it’s a start.

Winter Leagues

I’m way behind in winter-league coverage. We’ll get back to the usual game-by-game stuff on Tuesday, but for now, here are the to-date stats for Padres playing off hither and thither:

Padres Hitters in Winter Leagues
Statistics are courtesy of MiLB.com and are through games of December 2, 2007.
Matt Antonelli PeS AFL 56 .214 .333 .268 10 9
Luke Carlin Est DWL 21 .238 .333 .238 3 4
Luis Cruz Nav Mex 163 .245 .296 .399 12 20
Nick Hundley PeS AFL 41 .244 .327 .366 6 10
Jose Lobaton Car VWL 1 1.000 1.000 1.000 0 0
Drew Macias Car VWL 13 .385 .500 .769 3 3
Marshall McDougall Her Mex 166 .307 .389 .530 23 40
Brian Myrow Maz Mex 109 .312 .490 .440 35 25
Oscar Robles Nav Mex 152 .322 .418 .434 22 13
Vince Sinisi Esc DWL 120 .300 .390 .517 19 18
Will Venable PeS AFL 92 .228 .268 .391 3 21

Padres Pitchers in Winter Leagues
Statistics are courtesy of MiLB.com and are through games of December 2, 2007.
Paul Abraham Car VWL 17.1 2.60 1.33 6 13
Brian Bass Ara VWL 42.2 3.38 1.01 5 29
Jonathan Ellis PeS AFL 11.1 5.56 1.50 8 11
John Hudgins PeS AFL 12.1 8.76 2.03 8 8
Neil Jamison PeS AFL 5.1 10.13 2.06 2 5
Wil Ledezma Mar VWL 8.2 1.04 1.62 4 6
Will Startup PeS AFL 12.2 0.71 0.87 2 9
Steve Watkins Mxc Mex 8.0 7.88 1.88 7 9
Jared Wells Mxc Mex 15.0 6.00 1.80 7 11

McDougall signed with the Padres just before Thanksgiving. The soon-to-be 29-year-old infielder is probably best known for once hitting six home runs in a college game.

Bass, a right-hander who turns 26 in January, signed around the same time as McDougall. He also has a nifty 3.17 GB/FB ratio working in Venezuela. [Update, Dec 4, 2007: I don't know my head from my Bass. This guy is in the Minnesota system. The pitcher the Padres signed is Adam Bass. Thanks to Masticore317 for pointing out the error, and sorry for any confusion.]

Abraham may have signed with Seattle, but I can’t find confirmation anywhere.

That’s all for now. Happy Monday…

Tagged as: , , ,

49 Responses »

  1. I’m a bit surprised that the Peavy deal doesn’t include a pay raise for the next two seasons. Jake’s salary for 2008-2009 combined with the extension effectively makes it a 5 year/$68 million deal. Even with a full no-trade clause and some performance bonuses that’s an incredible deal for a 26 year old Cy Young winner.

  2. geoff, we Re-Signed Paul Abraham a while back to a minor league contract, not sure about an invitation to spring or not. but im guessing he’ll get one

    anyways heres how i found out


  3. It seems like a real good deal for Jake, and, at least from a PR standpoint, for the Padres.

    Following up on what Tom Waits and others have said in the past thread about the Padres’ spending habits vis-a-vis other teams, comparisons to the Saint Louis Cardinals are inappropriate. The Cardinals have a regional sports network – FSN Midwest- with much greater TV viewership (66% more), a huge radio network, a greater history with their fans, and much better corporate sponsors – Anheuser Busch naming rights for the win. They also now have about $20-25 million more revenue than the Padres on a yearly basis.

    The interesting thing for the Cardinals is that their player expenditures have plateaued. Using the inappropriate 2005 Forbes figures only, which actually show 2004 figures when the Cardinals did NOT have a new stadium, the Cardinals spent $100+ million on player expenses; the Padres, in their first year at Petco when they weren’t sure how much they would bring in, spent $74 million, a 26 million gap. Since then and through the 2006 season, the Padres had adjusted to Petco revenues by spending more, their “operating income” has dropped, and player payroll expenditures INCREASED $16 million from 2004 to 2006. For the Cardinals, despite moving into a new stadium and boosting their overall revenue gap with the Padres from $5-15 to $25 million; their payroll has remained stagnant.

    How about 2007? It looks like the Padres retrenched some; unsure about the Cardinals. We can wait for the Forbes figures to come out next year to have a better one-year and overall perspective.

    The Cardinals and Padres also appear to have different organizational philosophies at this time. The Padres are putting more of their money now into minor league and international player development than in the past; overall, they also have put more high profile and thus more expensive people into their front office. Over the last few years, the Cardinals appear to be putting more emphasis on free agency. This may change, if their player payroll remains stagnant.

    Why aren’t the Cardinals spending more money on major league players despite bringing in more money? Because they are cheap? No, because they have to two the MLB line and service their stadium debt, just like the Padres do.

  4. They also have Puljos making $16M/Yr, Scottt Rolen making $12M/Yr, Chris Carpenter making $10.5M in 08, then geting a raise to $14-15M/yr in 09-12, Isringhausen making $8M/Yr, Edmonds making $8M/Yr, and Mulder making $6.5M/yr. The cards have alot of money tied up in thier current players why whould they spend more? thier not the Yankees, Red Sox, or Cubs they have to have some kind of cap.

  5. According to MLBTR, the D-backs have traded Carlos Quentin to the White Sox for Chris Carter.


    I know it would never happen but I was hoping the Pads may try and get in the mix for Quentin.

  6. Re 4: Ever since moving into their new stadium, the Cardinals are bringing in more. Why wouldn’t they be spending more? Unless there are debt service constraints, which those who accuse the Padres of being cheap generally refuse to recognize is the case with the Padres as well.

  7. 3: There was never an argument that the Padres and Cardinals are identical. The Cards are a mid-market team that has not been crippled by several large free agent contracts. The very fact that they’re not rolling in the dough and lighting their cigars with $100 bills, but have been very competitive since 2000 (6 playoff appearances, 2 WS appearances, 1 WS championship) shows that mid-market teams are not inevitably crippled by big deals, which was the heart of the recent discussion.

  8. Re: 6 or they were loosing money in their old stadium, also they did not have the same issues in thier old stadium as the Padres did with Qualcomm.

    I don’t know if the Pads can spend more or not, we have gone through this debate countless times. Unless the Padres make their books public we will never know how much profit they truly make. Moores probably does not want the team to show a profit for tax purposes so even if they do make money on the team I’m sure there is some creative accounting going on to make it look like a loss (as do a lot of businesses).

    Like I have said several times I dont care what the Payroll is as long as the team wins.

  9. Re: 7 not to mention going 9 – 1 against the Pads in the playoffs sinse 96.

  10. #2: Thanks, Ian; I’m glad to see that. Abraham seems like a guy who could be marginally useful for very little cost.

  11. Given the injury history that Wolf has, I hope the Padres are trying to get another pitcher i.e. Erik Bedard from the Orioles given the recent news of his declining an extension offer from Baltimores. He’s still young, good and has also just come off an injury that shut him down toward the end of last season and will not be a free agent until the end of 09. I’m sure there will be a lot of competition to try and get him when Santana’s deal is done.

    When Jake’s deal is done, that’s a great thing for the organization and the community. It’s not everyday a pitcher of his caliber is available to the Padres or the league and it’s nice to see him stay in SD.

    I hope either one of the three among Myrow, Robles, Sinisi will be with the club next season. What happened to Jonathan Ellis? Loving Bass’ stats. Another potential bullpen arm for the Padres.

  12. Re 7: My misunderstanding then. I agree that some teams do not cripple themselves with big contracts. Do you think that the 2007 Cardinals and their outlook going forward may be a counterpoint to an argument that they did not harm themselves by investing so much in free agent players, particularly relatively big risks like Rolen, Edmonds and Mulder? I won’t for a second question the Pujols contract; by today’s standards dude is underpaid.

    I am also reticent to point to the 2006 Cardinals as a show piece for the argument that an upper mid market team can make a good amount of big money free agent acquisitions and roll to victory. They were a mediocre at best team for most of that season, and then got incredibly hot in the playoffs. Screams fluke to me.

    I still like the develop/trade/extend model for low mid market teams like the Padres, but the “develop” part still needs a ton of work. ;)