Reshaping the Padres: What Have We Got?

With hopes for 2008 all but gone, I’ve turned my focus to reshaping the Padres so that they can return to the competitive levels we’ve grown accustomed to since the club moved to Petco Park in 2004. I attacked the problem as follows:

  1. Take inventory of organizational strengths and weaknesses
  2. Identify potential trade partners based on their needs
  3. Seek scenarios based on the above two parameters that might benefit both parties

We’ll take inventory today, and then turn to potential partners and trades on Friday.


The Padres are deep at catcher, particularly in the high minors. Nick Hundley is a potential future regular, while Colt Morton and Jose Lobaton could be big-league reserves. Further down, Mitch Canham shows promise. At the top, Josh Bard and Michael Barrett are established big leaguers. Bard was having an off year even before he sprained his left ankle in Wednesday night’s contest, while Barrett has missed much of the season with a sprained right elbow; because of this, neither is likely to fetch much in a trade.

First base is one of the organization’s brightest spots. With Adrian Gonzalez firmly entrenched in San Diego and Kyle Blanks waiting in the wings, Tony Clark and Brian Myrow are expendable. Both could have marginal value to a contender looking for an extra bat off the bench, but don’t expect much in the way of return.

Second base is in pretty good shape, Matt Antonelli’s early struggles at Triple-A notwithstanding. At the big-league level, Tadahito Iguchi provides reliable defense and hits enough to be useful. There should be a market for him. Antonelli may not be ready for prime time if Iguchi is moved, in which case someone like Craig Stansberry or Edgar Gonzalez could probably keep the position warm until needed. Iguchi is a free agent after the season, and I’ve heard (but been unable to verify) that he won’t net his former team any compensatory draft picks should he sign elsewhere in 2009. If true, this increases the incentive to trade him but also may reduce his value to potential trade partners.

At third base, the Padres have two legitimate big-league caliber players. Incumbent Kevin Kouzmanoff is coming off a fine rookie campaign, while prospect Chase Headley has little left to prove in the minors. Kouzmanoff’s value may be down right now because of his slow start in ’08; however, this may also be offset by the fact that his contract (1 year, $410,000) is very desirable. Headley has spent most of the early season in left field, though he has seen some action at the hot corner and there shouldn’t be much, if any, difficulty switching back full time if needed.


Shortstop is extremely thin. If the Padres move Khalil Greene, they need to acquire someone to replace him. The best available internal options are Sean Kazmar and Luis Rodriguez, which is to say, there are none. As has been discussed ad nauseum in these parts, Greene has holes in his game (and he’s stumbled out of the gate in ’08), but he could be a nice chip to play assuming the Padres can find a replacement, which seems doubtful given the paucity of quality players at the position.

The outfield is a mess. The only big leaguer likely to have much trade value is Brian Giles. He has a limited no-trade clause that allows him to block deals to eight teams. He also has an escalator that kicks his price tag to a minimum of $14 million ($11 million this year plus a $3 million buyout for ’09) if he is traded. The Padres almost certainly will have to eat some of that. Jody Gerut, Scott Hairston, Paul McAnulty, and Justin Huber all have shown potential at various points during their career, but none is performing well enough to be anything more than a throw-in. The Padres probably are better off hanging on to these guys for now and hoping they develop, because nobody else is likely to pay anything of consequence to acquire them.

On the farm, Chad Huffman and Will Venable are closest to being ready, but neither projects as an impact player. Further down, Cedric Hunter, Brad Chalk, and Yefri Carvajal are intriguing but far away.

The pitching staff, lauded by some as a strength during spring training, has been exposed for what it is: a few elite talents surrounded by low-ceiling command specialists. Jake Peavy is one of the best pitchers on the planet when healthy, Chris Young (who had his nose broken by an Albert Pujols line drive on Wednesday) is a solid #2 or #3 type pitcher with a good contract, and Heath Bell is one of the better setup men in baseball. Peavy isn’t going anywhere, but Young or Bell could be moved in the right deal. More likely, veterans like Randy Wolf and Greg Maddux will be shopped — maybe Shawn Estes if some GM just woke up from an 11-year coma, maybe Cla Meredith.

Of these guys, Wolf may not fetch much because of his injury history; ditto Maddux because of his age (last time he got traded, it was for Cesar Izturis). Bell and Meredith both have palatable contracts and could be part of the next contending Padres squad (depending on what you believe the time frame for that will be); at the same time, with precious few exceptions, I don’t consider relievers to be a core component of any team — bullpens, maybe; individual relievers, not so much.

At the minor-league level, Josh Geer, Cesar Ramos, and Wade LeBlanc are closest to being ready. Geer and Ramos are puff-ballers, and LeBlanc has been terrible at Triple-A Portland. Further down, Will Inman looks good at Double-A, as do Drew Miller at High-A and Mat Latos at Low-A. Inman, Miller, and Latos shouldn’t move unless something ridiculous falls into the front office’s lap (like the Matt LaPorta fantasy that some folks are indulging).

Bottom Line

Based on this inventory, the Padres’ best trade chips are, in descending order, Young, Greene, Bell, Kouzmanoff, Meredith, Iguchi, Giles, Maddux, and Wolf. I wouldn’t be eager to unload any of those first five, although Headley’s presence is a mitigating factor in the case of Kouzmanoff.

As for what the club needs, most pressing is help at shortstop, center field, and pitcher. Shortstop in particular is a gaping black hole once you get past Greene. The best of the lot, Andrew Cumberland, is at least 3 years away and is no lock to remain at the position (he’s already seeing some time at second base in the Midwest League).

Tomorrow we’ll look at trade targets…

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104 Responses »

  1. re 50: Inman is 3 years younger then those guys-so we’re exactly comparing apples/apples there.

  2. #48@UC Michael: Carlos Gomez posted something about Schmidt being a big injury risk right after the draft:
    “…Schmidt does something that would scare the hell out of me in terms of his durability long-term”

    A lot of people scoff at those guys but the DBacks hired Gomez so at least they think it’s valuable information. When a guy is drafted mainly because he’s supposed to be durable but a third party raises a red flag, then he immediately blows his arm out I think it may have been avoidable.

  3. re 48: That’s the problem though-in baseball, when you can’t afford FA’s it takes a few years to get a couple more good players.

    By the time they find a couple more good players, Holliday is going to be gone, Helton is going to be 37+ and Atkins is going to coming up on FA.

    Their roster is generally 2-3 years older then most people think.

  4. 44: Thanks, John. That’s why I was thinking Maybin. He’s having a tough time right now and his K rate is very high.

    45: yeah, I was wondering about that too. My guess is that unless the rest of the division plays better, the division is theirs to lose with the Dodgers being the only one to compete. Kinda early isn’t it to say that?

    48: I agree the chance of the Rockies improving is better than the Padres right now. However, the chance of their repeating 2007 is low. They have only one more win than the Padres.

    Newsflash, the Aztecs end their season with a lost 1-0 to Utah earlier.

  5. I’m thinking that the Pads should deal away from areas of strength to shore up areas of weakness. You mention SS as an area of weakness, but then offer the only viable SS in the organization (Greene) as #2 on the trade-bait list. If Catcher and 1B are organizational strengths, then deal from there first. At least one of Gonzalez, Myrow, Clark should be on top of the to-go list.

  6. Minnesota’s Adam Everett is headed to the DL with shoulder problems for the second time this year. Would Greene to the Twins be a possibility? In fact, looking at Lamb’s numbers, would Greene and Kouz both be possibilities? The Twins don’t seem like the type of team to go for it like that, but….something to think about.

    In optimistic looking to the future news, if there’s one free agent pitcher who might give the Padres a break (that’s might, not even going to suggest what the chances are), it’s Ollie Perez. Put 12M per into Ollie and our rotation is scary.

  7. Wow, Geoff surprised you all are talking about revamping the team already. This team is snake bit and cursed right now, they need our support.

    To loose Peavy and possibly Young in a week, that is a curse of some kind. And who is to say Chris can come back after that last night.

    We don’t need plans for next year, we need a plan for tonight.

    The FO has got to be in panic mode now. Someone asked if Blacks job is on the line.

  8. #55@Geoff B: It’s not Agon, so it’s Clark and Myrow, who together will get us a case of barely-used baseballs.

  9. If 2008 is lost, we don’t need to trade for talent now. We need talent for the future. I’m betting that some of the current players are going to be as good next year as anyone we could trade for. Greene, Bard, and Kouz (for example) have as good of a chance of rebounding later this year and next year as a new acquisition has of success next year.

    Players that have never proven themselves at the major-league level (PMac, Hairston, Gerut, Huber) are not in this category.

    I’m just cautioning against trading away guys just for the sake of trading.

  10. #59@Geoff B: If we need talent for the future, we’re not going to get it trading spare parts. Scott Hairston was traded for Leo Rosales last year. What’s he worth now that he’s hitting .228?

    I agree that they shouldn’t just trade people to be doing something. Greene and Kouz have lost value. It might make more sense to wait until the winter, hoping they perform better the rest of the year. But Kouz is still going to be a question mark, and Headley in LF is still not ideal.

  11. #55@Geoff B: Geoff also noted that he wouldn’t want to trade any of those first five. So while CY and KG are probably two of the largest trading chips we have, there are certainly organizational problems related to trading them.

  12. #50@John: I think Kouz is underrated by many – a team trading for him will probably recognize that he put up great numbers in AA and AAA, and he had a good year last year. He looks like he is hitting the ball with authority the last two weeks – right about the time he came around last year. In a few weeks, he may look like a different player then he did last month.

    Inman may play in a park that is like Petco, but he is striking out better than 9 batters per 9 innings. . .don’t really need a Petco-sized park if you strike everyone out.

    Blanks is only 21, and he hits in that same park that Inman pitches in – yeah, he’s only ever going to be a 1b / DH guy, but if he puts up a .900 OPS this year, he’ll be valuable.

    I’m not as concerned with where Hunter ends the year as I am with his #’s. I don’t expect him anytime before 2010 so the big club obviously shouldn’t be making decisions for next year with him in mind.

  13. Another possible trade target should be Juan Rivera from the Angels. He’s completely blocked by others (and most importantly blocked for non-performance reasons). He’s only signed through this season however but I can’t imagine that he’d get a multi-year deal from anyone.

    The Angels needs are SS and relievers. A deal of Khalil and Heath Bell might get Rivera plus a few good prospects.

  14. #62@BigWorm: I don’t think it would be wise to let Kouz go at this time. I think we have him for cheap and he is performing well.

  15. The reason we are talking about trading Greene and Kouzmanoff is because their value is higher to other teams then to the Padres. Greene isn’t really a good fit with the Padres as he’s nearly useless for half the team’s games (although oddly he’s hitting slightly better at home this season 631 OPS vs. 543). Kouz can be traded since the Padres might have a better player at his position in Headley and it’s probably not a good idea to play a 3B in the outfield.

  16. #62@BigWorm: The last 2 weeks his OPS is 649, 31 points lower than his season total. No walks and 12 strikeouts. We shouldn’t run Kouzmanoff out of town, and other people see him live more than me, but this is now seven weeks of below-average production. He’s hitting about as well as Hairston, Iguchi, and Gerut.

    #64@Turbine Dude: He’s cheap, and has the ability to perform well, but the homer two nights ago is still just one hit. He’s still well below average at the plate this year, taking Petco and every other thing into account. It’s not the ideal time to trade him because his numbers are down, but it still might make sense. Puts Headley where he should be, makes room for a better defender in Huffman. Or it might make sense to keep Kouz and use him as a bench bat if the trade market isn’t there.

  17. It looks like the Padres are calling up Jared Wells from AAA to help out in the bullpen, according to Mad Friars. I would imagine that only Bell, Henn, and Hoffman would be available today so it makes sense.

    I wonder if they just send Thatcher back down to make room or do something more surprising, like outrighting one of the guys out of options (Germano, Henn, Ledezma, or maybe even P-MAC; he’s probably gone once Headley gets here anyways).

  18. #67@JMAR: I would imagine CY is going on the DL…

  19. #56@Tom Waits: We’ll be looking at a Kouz to Minnesota scenario tomorrow as well as an Ollie Perez scenario.

    #57@PM: Why? The current plan is netting poor results, and we’re in a very deep hole. What better time than now to figure out how to improve for the future?

    As for tonight’s plan, it’s simple: don’t get hurt.

  20. #68@Steve C: I’m pretty sure I heard a clip of Bud Black saying CY would be fine in a few days. That would suck if he does go on the DL. It usually takes that guy a few starts to find his groove.

  21. #70@JMAR: Thats good to hear.

  22. #69@Geoff Young: Yeah, how is this kind of discussion not supporting the team. People are still going to the games, even if they have to treat it as high camp. Supporting the team isn’t incompatible with wanting them to execute a plan that prevents any more 17-31 starts.

    #70@JMAR: Rotoworld has a blurb from Towers saying a DL stint is likely. I’d rather see him there anyway until he’s 100%, his mechanics are too easily thrown out of whack.

  23. #71@Steve C: Now the U-T is reporting that Josh Banks and Colt Morton are going to be brought up and Young will likely be placed on the DL. I guess Barrett still needed some time. Banks doesn’t make sense right now because he just started a game three days ago and would be no help today or tomorrow. I would guess that Wells could get the call first to help in the bullpen and Banks would get the call when Young’s spot in the rotation needed to be filled.

  24. #64@Turbine: No one is advocating letting him go. As Geoff is always saying, a trade requires two parties – are you telling me you wouldn’t trade Kouz if someone offered us a major-league ready pitching prospect and a major-league ready CF? Like I said, for me a trade for Kouz would have to be overwhelming.

    #66@Tom: You are correct – I have no idea what I was looking at before. Now that I’m looking at the correct numbers, I’m afraid we may have seen the best we can get out of Kouz. I just don’t know that a .700 OPS at 3B is going to get it done. But the truth is we have so many holes, if Headley can handle LF for right now I’m fine with keeping both in the lineup until a better LF option comes along.

    Question: Why is everyone so down on Venable? Is it his age? His defense? if he is a poor defender, why does the FO seem to think he could possibly start in CF next year?

  25. #17@Tom Waits: It’s difficult to look solely at the current run differential and assume that two quality players added could not fix the problem.

    The ripple effect could be huge. Two quality outfielders (as far as offense) added to the mix would result in a host of advantages that could change the outcome of a season.

  26. #73@JMAR: Here is the article…

    The Padres plan to bring up Triple-A pitcher Josh Banks and Double-A catcher Colt Morton before today’s game against the Cincinnati Reds, in response to injuries suffered Wednesday by pitcher Chris Young and catcher Josh Bard. The club could be on the verge of adding 1-2 relievers as well.
    Banks, 25, was already on the 40-man roster and pitched well for Portland on Monday, allowing one run in six innings. The 6-foot-3 right-hander began the season with Toronto’s Triple-A club and is 1-3 with a 6.80 ERA in 41.0 Triple-A innings this season.
    Morton was with the Padres earlier this season as a seldom-used backup to Bard. He went 1-for-15 for the Padres. The Padres considered activating Michael Barrett off the DL but decided he needs more time to prepare.
    Bard is headed to the disabled list becuase of a high left ankle sprain. Young probably will be placed on the DL as well. The pitcher, who suffered a nasal fracture when he was hit by Albert Pujols’ line drive Wednesday, was released from a hospital today. He experienced headaches, but the Padres are encouraged by further examination.

  27. OUCH … MadFriars is reporting Latos is doing on the DL … no reason given … no info at Ft Wayne newspaper …

  28. Morton batted .200 (OPS .500) in 35 at bats at AA. While Banks has an ERA hovering around 6 now and around 5 last year.

  29. Adam Dunn from 2005 to 2007: .260/.391/.569 at home, .236/.368/.487 on the road.

  30. Rob Neyer’s latest blog post is about the Young/Bard injuries, mostly Bard. Here is the theme:

    I hate watching catchers get hurt on plays at the plate. Yes, in a sense it’s usually their choice. But they’re also victims of baseball’s fealty to machismo. If the runner’s obviously going to be safe, why not just give him the plate? Because all the he-men in the dugouts and the broadcast booths would consider it unmanly. And if there’s anything a professional baseball player can’t bear, it’s having his manhood questioned.

  31. Just got the update on 1090.

    Bard and Young to the DL. Thatcher optioned to AAA. Germano designated for assignment.

    Colt Morton, Josh Banks, Jared Wells, and Mike Adams will be joining the team.

  32. Also on Neyer’s blog, four posts into it, he blogged about a recent feature from Gaslamp Ball:

    I was in New York yesterday and Sunday for the National Sports Forum Executive Retreat. I got to be a panelist, speaking about sponsorship and technology. Much of the discussion ended up being about social media.

  33. 60: Scott Hairston’s still worth more than Leo Rosales :)
    Hairston’s a 4th OF who, we learned this year, can handle CF a bit. That’s not a bad piece to have–especially when we gave up nothing for him.

    However, Tom’s point is valid, we’ve got to give up something of value to get the kind of high end pieces that the team needs. A great point that’s been brought up by many is that the best way to acquire those high end pieces is the place the Padres have been most reluctant to spend money–the June draft.

  34. #75@JP: No, it’s not hard. Being outscored by 74 runs is a huge amount, and more importantly, the gap is partly caused by the pitching staff. A better defender in CF (Bradley is not improving our LF) defense would have helped. A bit. But there’s no “ripple.” Having two quality hitters in the lineup doesn’t fix Greene, Bard, Kouz, or Iguchi. It doesn’t prevent the bullpen from struggling. The team has legitimately earned its current record.

    Would people be that much happier if we were 22-27?

  35. #83@Paul R: Yeah, he is. But some folks are acting like if we bundle up all the chaff in our system, then tie it up in fancy paper and ribbons, other teams will give us what we’re asking for. Or that our players are worth far more than anyone will give up. A good young CF and a pitcher for Kouzmanoff? Only if hallucinogenic drugs are involved.

    If anyone had made an interesting offer for PMac or Myrow before the season, they’re in another uniform on opening day.

  36. DePo with a blog entry with a few initial thoughts/comments on yesterday’s events …

  37. #84@Tom Waits: I would be happier with that record. Then the team would be a 10-game winning streak from contending for the wild card.

    The Padres would not be great by Pythagorean standards either way. They would lose the same blowouts, but there are too many games where they have needed an extra hit with two runners on base.

    Milton Bradley this season: .322/.433/.570
    Fukodome: .305/.409/.431

    The lineup could be:
    then some underachieving players

    They would go from way below average in CF and LF to above average. Hairston could be a fourth outfielder.

  38. DePo with a blog entry with a few initial thoughts/comments on yesterday’s events …

    (GY … filter ate an initial post with direct link to DePo’s blog … fyi)

  39. #51@Mark Ase: Sort off, but the main comparison is the park in San Antonio is much better place to pitch than most of the venues in the PCL.

    Inman may have more pure stuff than Geer, LeBlanc and Ramos – but I still want to see him in the PCL before I get to excited.

  40. #62@BigWorm: Those are all good points, but right now Headley is considered the better 3b long term. Supposedly the Padres were trying to trade Kouz to the Pirates for Bay – but SD balked when Pitt wanted Headley instead of Kouz. I think we would have to talk about actual players to have an idea of what he could or could not get.

    I like Kouz – but I think one of the three guys have to go.

    The 1b/DH argument I always think is kind of false, there just aren’t that many jobs for rookies. Blanks could be worth a lot more if he can show that he can play the OF, something SD has been reluctant to do.

    As I wrote above I like Inman a lot too – but I just want to see a little more.

  41. Trying to find something positive … a reminder of how well OG is playing this year … BP’s STAT OF THE DAY

    Top 5 2008 NL Right Fielders, by VORP

    Player, Team, EqA, VORP

    Ryan Ludwick, SLN, .377, 25.4
    Ryan Church, NYN, .314, 15.5
    Xavier Nady, PIT, .300, 13.4
    Brian Giles, SDN, .312, 12.9
    Justin Upton, ARI, .302, 12.3

    … which is a bit of an odd list, donchathink?

  42. #76@Coronado Mike: This is the first I’ve heard Bard’s injury referred to as a high ankle sprain. That is usually pretty serious and can require a lengthy recovery, especially for a catcher. I’m surprised that no one seems too concerned.

  43. #74@BigWorm: “Question: Why is everyone so down on Venable? Is it his age? His defense?”

    Yes and yes.

    “if he is a poor defender, why does the FO seem to think he could possibly start in CF next year?”

    Because it doesn’t pay to run down your own prospects in public. That’s my guess anyway.

  44. #85@Tom: Let’s be clear – in no way was i suggesting that the Padres could get a CF and pitching prospect for Kouz. I was merely using that situation to explain that we shouldn’t eliminate ANY trade from consideration. Saying “I don’t want to trade Kouz” makes sense. . .saying “the club should not trade Kouz” doesn’t. They absolutely should trade Kouz if the returns are great enough to justify it.

    #93@Pat: Does anyone take into consideration that Venable has not played much baseball? He might be 25, but he has the experience of a 22 year old. Doesn’t that mean that his performance could take off at the same career path. A “late bloomer”, if you will? I’m just asking, I figured that was part of the reason that management was still hot on him.

  45. #84@Tom Waits: Your almost total reliance on stats may not consider intangibles that are easily overlooked. Any chance that the guys you mentioned as struggling perform better with two more quality guys in the lineup as opposed to say a PMAC, Huber or Gerut Or does a pitcher, knowing that he doesn’t have to be almost perfect to win, perhaps settle in and perform better with more runs on the board. Or how many games this year were 3-1 deficits in the 6th or 7th (which require different pitching staffing decisions) that become 9-2 losses?

  46. #84@Tom Waits: I’ll second that. 22-27 means 72-90 while now we are on pace for the worse record in franchise history at 57-105.

  47. Honestly, Padres management had all kinds of opportunities this off season to upgrade their outfield and they choose to stand pat. I consider the Edmonds acquistion as an example of this do nothing mode. Of course, this may all turn out o.k if Headley & Venable perform as now all the pressure in the world will be on them and there will be no ‘easing’ them in.

  48. Then again, strike that, what pressure could their be when your a virtual lock to lose a hundy.

  49. And we lost 110 in the inaugural year so probably no record loss year.

  50. Last post por ahora – Waits was absolutely correct about Germano. Now I am leery of low strikeout guys forever. Scarred for life.

    I would say that Germano does not get beyond 10 more major league starts.