On Thursday, we examined what the Padres have and what they need. Now we turn to the question of which teams might make good trade partners and then consider some possible scenarios.
As of this writing, about half the teams in baseball appear to be in contention. Some will fall of the pace, although it’s impossible to know which ones. Others may not be interested in adding payroll despite their hot starts — Oakland, Florida, and Minnesota come to mind. The NL West teams are probably out as well — Kevin Towers has made a total of four trades (one with each team) within the division in 12 1/2 years. That’s out of 139 total trades, at last count.
Almost everyone needs pitching to some degree. Teams that could use help at second base, third base, or right field include Houston, Philadelphia, St. Louis, possibly the Angels (depending on Howie Kendrick’s balky left hamstring), the White Sox, Cleveland, Minnesota, Oakland, and Tampa Bay. Without running through all the particulars (I’ve scoured these teams’ rosters; you are free to do the same), here are a few ideas that I’d be looking to explore if it were my place to do so.
Talk to the Cardinals and White Sox about Iguchi
The Cardinals have Adam Kennedy at second base. He probably isn’t different enough from Tadahito Iguchi in terms of likely overall production to merit serious consideration. If St. Louis feels otherwise, though, I’d be asking about — and this should come as no surprise — right-hander Anthony Reyes.
Meanwhile, back in Chicago, the White Sox have Juan Uribe, who has been awful (.198/.262/.328) while making the switch from shortstop. They also have the untested Alexei Ramirez and might be inclined to bring in a more known quantity to fill the hole. Iguchi played for the Pale Hose as recently as last year and won a championship with them in 2005. As far as I know, he left Chicago on good terms.
Assuming the White Sox have interest, I’d be targeting center fielder Brian Anderson, who hasn’t done much in the big leagues but who has been a decent hitter (.293/.361/.474) in the minors. He is nothing special, but then, neither is Iguchi. We’re not looking for a savior here, just someone who can help plug a hole until Cedric Hunter is ready sometime in 2010.
I suspect the White Sox may be a better fit, although I’d rather find a way to get Reyes.
Talk to the Phillies, Astros, and Twins about Kouzmanoff
Kevin Kouzmanoff is a personal favorite of mine. I love the way he handled his poor start as a rookie and refused to get down on himself when things weren’t going well. That said, if the Padres can improve themselves in other areas, I have no problem moving him, especially with Chase Headley ready at Portland. The big question with Kouz is whether his perceived value might be too low because of his somewhat slow start (as Richard reminds us, his numbers are better now than they were at the same time last year).
The Phillies have Pedro Feliz at third base. He stinks. They also have Shane Victorino in center field. He and Kouzmanoff have similar contracts and should provide similar value. Philadelphia also has been giving Jayson Werth a lot of time in center, and aside from one memorable clank job against the Padres, he’s played well. I’m thinking the Phillies might be willing to fill a hole without creating another. Throw back a spare outfielder for a low-level prospect if needed. Or go bigger and try to include right-hander Carlos Carrasco in the deal.
(After initially coming up with this idea I bounced it off Eric Seidman, who is much more familiar with the Phillies than am I. He seemed to think they would be more interested in dealing Werth — no thanks — and that they aren’t prepared to give up on Feliz, who is signed through 2009. In other words, this may not be as good a fit as I originally thought.)
The Astros have Geoff Blum and Ty Wigginton. As a team, their third baseman are batting .215/.253/.323. There isn’t anyone on Houston’s big-league roster that could help the Padres, but down on the farm, right-handers Fernando Nieve and Bud Morris are somewhat intriguing. I don’t know much about either of these guys, but their numbers look good. According to Ben Badler at Baseball America, Morris throws in the low-90s but needs to refine his secondary pitches and may move to the bullpen. Houston gave up a boatload of prospects to get Miguel Tejada, and the system is a bit thin. I like the concept here, but I’m not sure there’s a good fit.
Up north, the Twins have Mike Lamb at third, but he’s more of a role player. Minnesota probably won’t want to take on salary, which should make Kouzmanoff an appealing option. The Twins have some talented but unproven youngsters at areas where the Padres need help, including right-hander Kevin Slowey (which is the worst name for a pitcher since Bob Walk), shortstop Trevor Plouffe, and center fielders Denard Span and Jason Pridie.
Slowey is a command specialist who probably fits into what the Padres like in a pitcher, though not necessarily what they need. He profiles as a back-end rotation option without much upside. Plouffe, who turns 22 next month, is a strong defensive shortstop whose bat has started to come around (.274/.326/.410 at Double-A in 2007, with slightly better numbers at the same level so far this year). This is a guy the Padres might want to target anyway, regardless of what they decide to do (or not do) with Khalil Greene — Pridie would give San Diego some insurance at the position and options further down the line should the club decide to move Greene or watch him walk away as a free agent after ’09.
As for Span, he’s a toolsy guy who is hitting well (.327/.431/.471) at Triple-A but who hasn’t shown much of a bat in the past. Like Slowey, he is 24 years old. Pridie, who came over from Tampa Bay along with Delmon Young this past winter, is the same age as Span and was more highly regarded coming into the season — Baseball America ranked Pridie #6 among Twins prospects and compared him to ex-Padre Steve Finley — but he’s been brutal (.220/.271/.305 at Triple-A) so far in ’08.
Of these possibilities, I like the way the Padres match up with Minnesota the best. I’m not sure how highly the Twins regard the prospects mentioned (especially Plouffe, who would seem to be the key to any deal), but this might be an area to explore. I’d at least want to be talking with these guys.
Talk to the Indians and Mets about Giles and/or Wolf
Because of Brian Giles‘ contract, any deal involving him is almost certain to include cash passing from the Padres to his new team. That said, there are potential suitors.
The Indians have Franklin Gutierrez in right field. Giles, who got his start in Cleveland, would represent a substantial upgrade. The Indians have several promising young pitchers, including Adam Miller, Ryan Miller, and David Huff. I don’t know how good (or available) they might be, but these are some names that stand out to me based on their numbers. Adam Miller once was considered a top prospect but has been slow to develop.
The Mets have Moises Alou in left field — Giles’ primary position before coming to San Diego. They also have a young left-hander who seems to have fallen out of favor (Oliver Perez), as well as some intriguing minor-league arms (Nicholas Carr, Angel Calero, among others). Perez won arbitration this past winter and is making $6.5 million in 2008. Wolf is cheaper and presumably less of a headache to the likes of Billy Wagner.
I’m guessing that the Padres wouldn’t have to pay as much of Giles’ salary in a deal involving Perez (because the Mets would be unloading a hefty contract of their own). It can be tough to get an accurate read on what’s really going on in New York because there’s always so much drama, but I’ve also heard that the Mets might be looking to move Aaron Heilman. I might suggest expanding a potential deal to include Heilman and Heath Bell, but judging from the latter’s first go-round with the Mets, that would be cruel.
Here, I like the Mets’ potential package a little better.
What I Would Do
Well, it’s really what I would attempt to do. Obviously the other teams involved have a say in all this…
- Trade Iguchi to the White Sox for Anderson (assuming the Cards balk at moving Reyes)
- Trade Kouzmanoff to the Twins for Plouffe, Slowey, and either Span or Pridie — possibly expanding the deal to include more players on both sides (I’m very uncertain of this move; there’s a lot of risk involved)
- Trade Giles, Wolf, and some amount of cash to the Mets for Oliver Perez and a minor-league arm
- Recall Headley and Antonelli (if he’s not ready, then go with Craig Stansberry or Edgar Gonzalez)
- Release Shawn Estes and Justin Germano (in fact, Germano was DFAd during the course of writing this post over several days), recall Josh Geer and Cesar Ramos
- Keep Greene — at least until Plouffe is ready
- Keep Greg Maddux — he won’t bring enough in return to offset the loss of his presence
So we now have a lineup that looks like this:
C: Josh Bard/Michael Barrett
1B: Adrian Gonzalez
SS: Greene (with Plouffe in minors)
LF: Paul McAnulty/Scott Hairston
CF: Anderson (with Span or Pridie in minors)
RF: Jody Gerut
Maybe one of McAnulty or Hairston emerges, maybe not. Whatever the case, Chad Huffman should be knocking on the door in spring 2009 anyway. Heck, if you’re feeling real crazy, you might even bring him up after the All-Star break.
Here’s the rotation:
Geer and Ramos look like marginal big-league pitchers to me, at best, but you might as well run ‘em out there and see what they can do. Once LeBlanc stops tipping his change-up, or whatever the heck his problem is, then you give him a more serious look. Same with Inman when he’s ready, probably mid-2009.
My suggestions may not be as radical as some people might like, but I don’t see a need to blow up the team based on the quaint notion that “48 games are more important than four seasons worth of games” (thanks to MB at Friar Forecast for expressing this sentiment more eloquently than I can). The important thing is to make incremental improvements and maintain a disciplined approach to whatever moves you end up making.
The problems with this team feel monumental because we’re experiencing them right now, but really this is just part of the cycle — well, unless you’re the Pirates — and things will get better. Not because of some magic pill or because anyone believes it will (ugh, please!), but because the management team in place has a proven track record of success. Does this mean they’ve never stumbled in the process? Well, you really don’t need to look further than the first third of this season to find your answer. But it also doesn’t mean they stumble all the time, or even most of the time.
It will be interesting to see what kinds of changes are in store for this team over the coming weeks and months. That’s the great thing about baseball: Even when the on-field product is scarcely worth mentioning (Thursday night’s power surge being a notable exception), there’s always something happening. Guess that’s why we keep coming back for more…