Be Still, My Beating Heart

The other day, reader Steve C posed the following question:

Do you think the team is set with the roster as is or would you like for them to add another few pieces?

I responded that I’d like to see a big-league center fielder and/or a veteran backup for Nick Hundley behind the plate. I’ve since perused the list of available free agents at MLBTradeRumors, and it ain’t pretty. There are a few intriguing names, but they all fall into the “Padres can’t/won’t pay for their services” category (insert small market/competitive balance rant here if that’s your thing).

Names I’ve heard the Padres might be interested in include catchers Brad Ausmus, Bengie Molina, and Yorvit Torrealba; outfielders Reed Johnson, Randy Winn, and Jerry Hairston Jr.; and left-hander Noah Lowry.

Pretty overwhelming, huh?

I’d be okay with whichever of the catchers comes cheapest. That probably won’t be Molina, who despite his inability to tell a strike from a hole in the ground has managed to pound between 15 and 20 homers each of the past five years. Some team will think that’s sexy and overpay for him, which is where having no budget comes in handy (“sorry, we can’t afford that shiny thing”). Molina isn’t a bad ballplayer, but my suspicion is that he still considers himself a starting catcher, and I’m against anything that reduces Hundley’s chances of reaching 400 plate appearances this year.

Ausmus lives in San Diego and has played here before, so he’s a perennial threat to return. Torrealba has the killer name; plus he’ll destroy the Phillies when the Padres meet them in the NLDS. I don’t know; I’ve already thought about this too much. Sign someone (Mike Redmond? Ramon Castro?) who doesn’t cost a lot and who keeps Hundley out on the field most of the time.

As for the outfielders, Winn was good in 2005, Johnson in 2006, Hairston in 2008. They’re all on the wrong side of 30, and if the objective is to have someone spell Tony Gwynn Jr. against southpaws, I don’t see how Winn (.158/.184/.200 in 125 PA vs LHP in ’09; he was better in ’08, but at age 36, skills may be eroding) is an option. I doubt I’ll say this in any other context, but I would rather have Gwynn out there.

Lowry? Sure, why not. Actually, I can think of a few reasons (hasn’t thrown a pitch since August 2007, precipitous decline in SO/BB before injuries), but let’s not bog ourselves down with details. It’d be like signing Mark Prior, only without the upside.

Well, those are some options. I’d better stop with the names now; all this excitement is not good for my heart.

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8 Responses »

  1. Given the current state of the team, I share GY’s lack of enthusiasm. The offense is too average, with too little hope of real improvement, and the starting pitching is too weak, for the bench to matter all that much. Reed Johnson, on his own = very solid platoon player. Reed Johnson on the 2010 Padres = tits on a bull.

    I’d rather put all the money in a big wad and offer it to Bedard or Sheets, even though their price tags may be more than we can do. If you can’t get a SP who offers you a glimmer of hope, use the money to sign amateur players. Depending on how hard you squint and what you think of his medical records, Noah Lowry might be a reclamation project who would still be under team control after this season if he’s reclaimable. But sprinkling a couple million each at a few inconsequential roster spots doesn’t help us much.

    On the catchers — what GY said. Somebody in the 1 million range who doesn’t have enough of a reputation to steal time from Hundley. Bud Black seems less likely to misuse a veteran than Bochy was.

  2. Is anyone else jonesing for some kind of transaction? Someone needs to inform Hoyer that KT got us padres fans addicted to the cheap pointless baseball transaction and he can’t just cut us off cold turkey like this. Come on Jed, trade for an over-aged AA ball relief pitcher, pick a journeymen OF who has no chance of making the team out of ST off the waiver wire, do something to satisfy the addiction KT left us with!

  3. Does anyone think that Hoyer is trying to build a team that will make the 2010 playoffs?

    It seems clear to me that Hoyer is treating this season as a way to get an idea for what he has and what he needs. Not that I have a problem with that, because I don’t.

  4. Ramon Castro was re-signed by the White Sox today to a 1 year $800k deal with a team option for $1 million with a $200k buyout. Basically a 1 year $1 million deal.

  5. Ray

    No, I don’t think Hoyer’s trying to build a 2010 contender, nor should he be. I do think the slim possibility of competing would be increased by going after a high-upside pitcher (Bedard/Sheets) instead of spreading the remaining cash around among backups. If the pitcher breaks again or isn’t any good, you blow 6-8 million, and that’s not good. There’s some chance that he could pitch very well, which either helps you compete or makes an attractive trade piece.

    With the difficulty of competing this year even with a good year from Bedard/Sheets, I’d prefer to put the money back in the wallet. Saving just 2 million on the major leaguers could have a huge impact come draft day or on the international front.

  6. Other than the fact that he has a terrible OPS, why haven’t we heard Jose Molina’s name brought up? No one seems to want him, he seems to work well with pitchers, and he can throw runners out.


  7. Iceman, I like the idea of Jose Molina. He is basically Gary Bennett with a better arm, which is a good skill set for a backup catcher.