Cardinals Get a Shortstop, Padres Save Money

The Padres have traded shortstop Khalil Greene to the St. Louis Cardinals for right-handed reliever Mark Worrell and a player to be named later. Worrell, no relation to ex-Padre Tim Worrell, has has put up some nice numbers in the minor leagues. Then again, so has Carlos Guevara, and nobody ever gave up the best shortstop in franchise history (damning with faint praise, I know) to get a piece of that action.

Paul DePodesta talks about Worrell’s repertoire (sounds a little like Cla Meredith) and acknowledges that clearing Greene’s $6.5 million salary for 2009 was a factor in the deal. Quoth DePo:

This move provides us some flexibility in our other dealings, which could be very helpful going forward through this winter and provides us some more definition as we approach next week’s Winter Meetings.

Tom Krasovic suggests that the Greene trade “could improve the club’s chances of retaining ace pitcher Jake Peavy or gaining leverage in trade talks involving Peavy.” If Krasovic is correct and this in fact helps the Padres keep Peavy, then that’s a sacrifice you make every time.

Still, if you’re going to dump salary, it would be nice to move players with actual value. Greene is coming off a career-worst season (.213/.260/.339) that ended prematurely thanks to a self-inflicted fracture of his left hand. In retrospect, getting rid of Greene last winter would have been the better play. However, we didn’t know — and had no way of knowing — three things at the time:

  1. Greene would stink in 2008 and injure himself in a fit of rage (really, you saw that coming?)
  2. The Padres would stink in 2008
  3. John and Becky Moores would file for divorce after 40+ years of marriage and throw the ownership situation into complete and utter chaos

In a perfect world none of these things happens and the Padres don’t need (or feel the need — makes no difference in the end) to give away Greene for a home version of the game and some car wax. I wish the Padres could find another way to recoup the $6.5 million owed Greene this year — getting the Cardinals to refund their money on the defective product they shipped to San Diego last December immediately leaps to mind.

On a personal note, I hate to see Greene leave. I’ve enjoyed watching him play over the years — the three diving stops in one inning while wearing the throwback uni, the dramatic homer off Chad Cordero, the crazy piroutte play to rob Ryan Theriot of a base hit — and I always appreciated his presence on the team. I’m not sure I’d want to see every ballplayer carry himself the way Greene does, but a few more wouldn’t hurt.

I also think that if healthy, Greene has a chance to do some serious damage in St. Louis. Before last year, when he played poorly everywhere, he’d been a beast (.280/.334/.511) away from Petco Park. Assuming he isn’t one of those freaks whose career is essentially over at age 28, I’m liking Greene’s chances to rebound in a big way.

Anyway, he’s gone now. In his place we’ve got Luis “I Will Lay Down a Sacrifice Bunt in the First Inning” Rodriguez at shortstop, with Sean “Less of a Hitter in the Minors Than Luis Rodriguez” Kazmar waiting in the wings. Pretty exciting, eh?

We’ve got a 25-year-old right-handed reliever with 5 2/3 innings of big-league experience under his belt who wasn’t happy in his previous organization. Because if there’s anything a 99-loss team needs to do, it’s shore up (or in this case, maybe shore up) the bullpen. (And to be clear, the Padres had a terrible bullpen last year, but seriously… without much of a rotation, it hardly makes a difference.)

Oh, and of course, a Peavy deal has been “imminent” for months now. So there’s that, too.

Did I miss anything? No? Very well, then; that’s enough of my boundless optimism for now. Happy Friday. Watch out for… stuff.

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24 Responses »

  1. I think Greene rebounds in a big way and makes the trade look horrible… and I am biased because I’ve liked watching the guy play.

    But this deal doesn’t upset me the way that the upcoming Peavy deal will and the treatment of Hoffy does. Yes, it’s very bad marketing. Greene is one of the more popular players on the club. But I also have been incredibly frustrated watching him at the plate. I swear, any catcher putting down less than two fingers with Greene in the box should be immediately sent down.

    What really upsets me is that they should have gotten more for him, not that he was traded.

  2. That HR off Cordero is one of my favorite memories of all-time. I still occassionally go back to the archives and watch that play. It’s the Nationals broadcast, and there’s nothing like seeing Khalil swing the bat followed directly by “Oh no!”

    It was nice to have a player that I personally loved and believed in very much. Khalil is probably directly responsible for my getting so interested in the team again and becoming an uber-fan. I wish him all the best of luck in the future and I fully expect him to be an All-Star in a few years.

  3. I don’t think this deal going through will keep Peavy in town especially if the rumors are true that the Pads are paying $1M of Greene’s salary next year. I think if anything this makes a Peavy deal even more imminent because the Padres will not get a SS via FA and they have no one in their system who looks to be ready for the next 3 to 4 years so they will have to trade Peavy to get a young cheap SS who can fill the spot for at least another 3 to 4 years…not to mention fill in the three missing spots of the rotation.

  4. Prediction: at some point Khalil will face the Padres in a crucial situation. The count will be 1-2 and a Padre pitcher will throw him a fastball, which Khalil will hit onto the roof of the Western Metal Supply building. Take that to the bank.

  5. These are sad days for Padres fans. Khalil was the most exciting defensive player since perhaps another certain SS who was traded to St. Louis, where he went on to have a HoF career.

  6. I agree with you Geoff. I am absolutely heart broken, sick to my stomach, and for the first time truly very angry with the powers that be in the Padres organization about this trade (though I knew it was coming). There is no doubt in my mind, Greene will bounce back and make SD look so so stupid for dealing him (yes, I know it’s about money). Not only was Greene an amazing defensive SS, he was a class act human being in a business that severly lacks class-act individuals. I’m always a Padres fan, but I’ll also remain a huge Greene fan no matter where he is in MLB.

  7. And of course, the last time the Padres shipped a shortstop to the Cards, that worked out well for them. (It did work out well for the Cards, I’ll admit)

  8. I especially grieve Khalil’s departure because he was our anti-celebrity, a guy who maintained balance, maximized his talents, and displayed no easily observed ego.

    My sons idolized him. Thank God he is going where fans will appreciate his refinement, where he will have protection in the batting order, and where he can get a fresh start.

    The economics of MLB dictate that management not trot out the same failures with hope for improvement. It is immensely better to trot out new failures and new hope.

    We fans demand it, we fans get it.

  9. Crap, is 2009 ever gonna be a rough season. I wonder what sort of attendance the club can expect, given that the team’s two most popular players (Hoffman and Greene) are now as good as gone, with the third most popular (and best) player, Peavy, probably on the way out.

    I’ve nonetheless renewed my season tix, and will look forward to the short concession lines. I’m sure I can get Geoff and Didi to come to some of the games with me. They’re suckers for punishment, just like me.

  10. Um, Khalil bouncing back in a big way = a .250 BA and an OBP of .300, getting hurt and missing 20 to 30 games, and still being utterly unable to draw a walk or lay off a slider; of course those rate stats will be inflated by playing half his games in Busch II rather than Petco, but he’ll still only be an average player, at best, offensively when park conditions are accounted for. True, it’s sad to see him go because he’s a joy to watch in the field and he carries himself well, but I see absolutely nothing in his career trajectory to indicate he’ll ever be an effective offensive player.

  11. It is a sad situation when your team is trading players so they can make it through the season, but that is where we are. Moores has turned off the money tap and the FO is going to slice and dice, until the numbers add up. Ugly, yes, but unless Sandy is willing to drive to DC in a Hybrid and pretend to be a failing auto maker, there is no other choice.
    Hopefully the ownership situation will be resolved shortly, but there are lawyers involved and they will stretch it out as long as they can.

  12. I once proudly wore a Greene #3 Jersey… but I’ve gotta say I’m okay with the trade. I just didn’t get a good feeling about him coming on strong in ’09. It seemed like he just snapped mentally. And it can just be so hard to recover from that when you’re playing in the same ballpark with the same uniform. Change helps so much when you’re trying to move on. So I say even if he does end up kicking butt in ’09, I’m not gonna say we should have kept him… because I doubt he’d be able to put up good numbers with us if he stayed.

  13. Khalil has hit .225/.289/.369 at home in his career and .270/.318/.484 on the road. Here’s to the road ahead …

  14. I think we’re in for a huge attendance drop, which will only make matters worse. Seems like everything is going to hell in a hand basket all at the same time. Losing popular players — divorce — cutting payroll –declining economy = ATTENDANCE PROBLEM!!! If the team in 2009 sucks, and all we have is a $40 million payroll we’re gonna start hearing that tired line of “We were lied to to get Petco built!!!! John Moores is cheap!!!” It will be another deja vu moment in the ongoing public relations disaster. Personally, I think a $40 million payroll is major league BS. I’m no accountant though, just seems a little low.

  15. Good luck to KG…the source of so many great discussions around here…

    Phantom, what will we ever do without him? You and I might actually agree on stuff!

  16. #14@Oside Jon: The drop has already started. Coming off an 89-win season, the Padres saw attendance fall by more than 360,000 last year. As for salaries, the Rays played in the World Series last year; their Opening Day payroll was $43.7M. The Mariners spent $118M and lost 101 games. Money is nice, but good decision making and luck are better.

  17. #16@Geoff Young: It’s easy to point to the rays payroll and say look it can be done on a $40 mil budget but look at how many dreadful season they had to sit through to get all of the top draft picks they used to build their current team (and they pay above slot in the draft).

    Yes, the team needs to make smart decisions, but when you don’t have the payroll to do it, then you end up making bad decisions like trading away the only legitimate shortstop in your entire system for a AAA relief pitcher, treating your hall-of-fame closer like dirt, being forced to trade away one of the best pitchers in baseball, having Baek be your #2 starter…the list goes on….

    I don’t get the whole thing about Moores not dumping money into the team this year…has he really been putting $30 mil of his own money every year since the team has left Petco? Does the team only generate $40 mil in revenue each year (including the money they get from MLB from the Luxury tax and profit sharing)?

    Yes, I know payroll is not everything but when you are getting rid of very good players that you developed because you are slashing the payroll almost in half and bringing it back to the Qualcomm days (when the team generated far less revenue due to the stadium issues) and you don’t have the farm system in place yet to do what the Rays did then it is a major factor…

  18. #17@Steve C: The larger point is that teams with small payrolls reach the playoffs almost every year, whether it be the A’s, Indians, Rays, Twins… Lack of money is not an acceptable excuse.

    Yes, the team needs to make smart decisions, but when you don’t have the payroll to do it, then you end up making bad decisions…

    Not correct. Size of payroll has nothing whatsoever to do with the ability to make good decisions.

  19. #17@Steve C: Well said. I brought that up with Tim Sullivan in a recent chat — the idea that Petco only generates 40M in revenue or that Moores was personally floating nearly half their payroll is laughable. Most of their projected 2009 payroll will be covered by MLB shared revenues before a single fan buys a ticket. Any checks that Moores was writing were matters of choice, going all the way back to how the team structured its Petco loan.

    And yes, the Rays were in a much stronger position to compete on 40M. At least we’re in the NL West, where no one has to stay down for long. But our internal pitching options run from mediocre to bad, and that’s not going to be easy to fix.

  20. #18@Geoff Young: Trading the only shortstop in your organization at the lowest point in his value when you have no money to sign a legitimate FA SS and trading for one will open another hole in your organization was not a bad decision forced by the payroll?

    When the Padres were making their run from 04 to 07 their payrolls were in the same ballpark as the Twins, Indians and A’s (the rays were horrible all four years).

    A’s – 59,425,667
    Padres – 55,384,833
    Twins – 53,585,000 (made playoffs)
    Indians – 34,319,300

    Padres – 63,290,833 (made playoffs)
    Twins – 56,186,000
    A’s – 55,425,762
    Indians – 41,502,500

    Padres – 69,896,141 (made playoffs)
    Twins – 63,396,006 (made playoffs)
    A’s – 62,243,079 (made playoffs)
    Indians – 56,031,500

    A’s – 79,366,940
    Twins – 71,439,500
    Indians – 61,673,267 (made playoffs)
    Padres – 58,110,567

    I guess my point is that yes the Twins and A’s have had success with limited payrolls but they were are always kind in the middle of the pack as far as total MLB payroll goes.

  21. #20@Steve C: What kind of odds would you have given the Padres to win the World Series in 2009 with Khalil at shortstop and an overall payroll similar to last year’s $74M? What kind of odds do you now give them with Luis Rodriguez (or some other stopgap) at shortstop and a payroll presumed to be at or near $40M?

  22. #21@Geoff Young: Much better in both cases…and even better odds to win the NL west again.

    They would have a very good shot to win the NL west this year if they kept Peavy at the top of the rotation and Greene at SS, trade either Headley or Kouz for a # 4 starter and with the additional money they have left ($24-$26 mil from Maddux, Wolf and Hoffy’s contracts) they could sign another mid level starter (possibly Lowe or Perez at $8 to 10 mil a year), a mid level bullpen arm or two, a veteran backup catcher and a solid LF (Pat Burrell (might be too pricey), Raul Ibanez or at the very least Juan Rivera)

    The Padres could have a competitive team in the NL west with a line-up of:

    C: Hundley
    1B: A-gon
    2B: Denker/Antonelli/E-Gon
    3B: Kouz or Headley
    SS: Greene
    LF: Solid FA
    CF: Gerut
    RF: Giles

    Veteran C

    Lowe or Perez
    Pitcher from Kouz/Headley deal
    Beak/LeBlanc/Geer (if he does not need TJ)

    FA #1
    FA #2
    Adams (when he is back)

    I think that team would have a much better shot at winning the NL west than a team without Peavy and Greene and that is mostly built out of AAAA guys and/or minor leagues who are not ready to play yet (depending on who they get if and when they move Peavy).

  23. #22@Steve C: Ah, now I understand why you are upset. I see 75-80 wins out of the Padres in ’09 with or without Khalil. In my estimation, his presence wasn’t going to make or break the team’s chances.

  24. #23@Geoff Young: Yeah, I should have been more clear in my first post. It’s not that I think Greene makes or breaks the team, it’s more that they are trading the only SS we have with no backup plan (that we know of) for the sole purpose of cutting payroll and they are doing the same thing with a once in a decade maybe once in a lifetime type pitcher. It’s just frustrating because I think if they were not cutting the payroll by $30 mil then they could build a team that would have a very good shot at winning the NL west again.