Do the Padres Trade Away Their Stars?

A debunking? Moi? Why, I’d love to give it a go… Reader Peter Thomas writes:

I keep reading on message boards and hearing on Hacksaw [San Diego radio personality Lee Hamilton] “react to me” that the Padres are constantly trading away All-Star players and that there’s no reason to root for a team that is just going to trade away all its best players as soon as they get good.

I don’t disagree with this point because I think it’s necessarily wrong, I disagree because it has no basis in Padres’ historical fact. I can’t think of a single player in the last 5 years who’s left the Padres and made an All-Star team the following season. Obviously, Adrian Gonzalez will make this coming All-Star Game, but he’s one of the best five players in the league, and we received fair compensation for trading him.

First off, thanks for writing. I love when folks give me story ideas, and this is a fun one… if a bit easy to debunk.

Second, you can’t think of a single player in the last 5 years who has left the Padres and made an All-Star team the following season because there haven’t been any. Since January 1, 2006, the Padres have traded away 52 players. Of those, exactly one has made an All-Star team since. That would be Evan Meek, who did it several years later, with a team other than the one that acquired him from San Diego. (The Padres traded Meek to Tampa Bay for Russell Branyan in August 2006; Meek made the NL All-Star team in 2009 as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates.)

Going back a little further — and it’s only a few weeks, really — we do find a player that made an All-Star team immediately after being traded. In December 2005, the Padres sent Mark Loretta to Boston for Doug “I Suck and Don’t Want to Be Here” Mirabelli (terrible trade, but not because Loretta was great at this late stage in his career; fortunately Josh Bard couldn’t catch Tim Wakefield’s knuckleball and the Red Sox bailed out Kevin Towers by taking Mirabelli back in exchange for Bard and Cla Meredith, but I digress).

Loretta didn’t play like an All-Star in 2006 (.285/.345/.361, 80 OPS+, 0.9 WAR), he played for the Red Sox. Some folks confuse the two, and thus he represented the AL at second base that year. I don’t want to go down the “No True Scotsman” path so we’ll give Loretta full credit for what actually transpired. He isn’t to be blamed for being named to the All-Star team.

During that same stretch, the Padres traded for two future All-Stars: Gonzalez (named to three teams, acquired with Terrmel Sledge and Chris Young in January 2006 from the Rangers for Adam Eaton, Billy Killian, and Akinori Otuska) and Heath Bell (named to two teams, acquired with Royce Ring in November 2006 from the Mets for Jon Adkins and Ben Johnson). This doesn’t include guys who played like All-Stars, e.g., Mike Adams (acquired for Brian Sikorski) and Luke Gregerson (acquired for a soon-to-be finished Khalil Greene).

What if we go back even further? In the Ducksnorts 2008 Baseball Annual, I chronicled every trade Towers made as GM of the Padres (brief overview), dating back to December 1995. In addition to Meek and Loretta, Towers sent seven other future All-Stars packing:

  1. Brad Ausmus — Traded with Andujar Cedeno and Russ Spear in June 1996 to Detroit for John Flaherty and Chris Gomez; Ausmus made his lone All-Star team in 1999
  2. Derrek Lee — Traded with Steve Hoff and Rafael Medina in December 1997 to Florida for Kevin Brown, who helped lead the Padres to the World Series in ’98; Lee was named to his first All-Star team in 2005 while playing for the Chicago Cubs
  3. Greg Vaughn — Traded with Mark Sweeney in February 1999 to Cincinnati for Josh Harris, Damian Jackson, and Reggie Sanders; Vaughn made the AL All-Star team in 2001 while hitting .233/.333/.433 (102 OPS+) at age 35 for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and was out of baseball less than 2 years later
  4. Matt Clement — Traded with Eric Owens and Omar Ortiz in March 2001 to Florida for Cesar Crespo and Mark Kotsay; two teams later, Clement made his lone All-Star team in the midst of an undistinguished season (13-6, 4.57 ERA, 99 ERA+) pitching for the Red Sox and threw his final big-league pitch the following season at age 31
  5. Woody Williams — Traded in August 2001 to St. Louis for Ray Lankford; this trade should have worked but didn’t, and Williams became an All-Star for the first and only time in 2003 at age 36
  6. Jason Bartlett — Traded in July 2002 to Minnesota for Brian Buchanan (terrible trade, although there were questions about Bartlett’s ability to remain at shortstop, and the Padres had just drafted Greene to anchor the position for years to come… doesn’t excuse it, but helps explain the thought process); Bartlett made his first and only All-Star team in 2009 while playing for Tampa Bay
  7. Jason Bay — Traded with Corey Stewart and Oliver Perez in August 2003 to Pittsburgh for Brian Giles (still a good trade, but I’m tired of defending it… nobody knew how good Bay — acquired for almost nothing — would become, the Padres were gearing for their move to Petco Park, and Giles posted better numbers in San Diego than many people realize); Bay represented the Pirates in 2005 and 2006, and the Red Sox in 2009

We’re back to 1996 and still, Loretta is the only player traded by the Padres who was named to an All-Star team the following season (we should mention Rondell White, whom the Padres traded in August 2003, a few weeks after he made his only All-Star team). How about the 1993 Fire Sale? Hey, we finally have a second name!

In July 1993, the Padres shipped Fred McGriff to Atlanta for Donnie Elliott, Vince Moore, and Melvin Nieves. That didn’t work out so well… such is often the nature of fire sales (although Randy Smith did a heckuva job given the circumstances). And in case you’re wondering, Gary Sheffield wasn’t an All-Star in ’94; besides, the player acquired in that trade is having his number retired by the Padres in August.

Before that, we have to go back to December 1991, when the Padres sent Bip Roberts (and Craig Pueschner) to Cincinnati for Randy Myers. So, in slightly more than 20 years, four guys traded by the Padres were named to an All-Star team the next year: Roberts, traded Dec 1991; McGriff, Jul 1993; Loretta, Dec 2005; and (assuming he backs off his threat to boycott this year’s exhibition on moral grounds) Gonzalez, Dec 2010.

We haven’t even touched on the talent acquired during that stretch — Ken Caminiti, Steve Finley, Ryan Klesko, Phil Nevin — often at minimal cost. Honestly, I wish this question presented more of a challenge, but it doesn’t. The notion that the Padres “trade away all [their] best players as soon as they get good” is demonstrably false. That it persists despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary defies reasonable explanation… maybe folks just like to feel sorry for themselves.

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60 Responses »

  1. I feel like it should be noted that since PETCO opened, the Padres have had a total of six All-Star representatives:

    -The aforementioned Loretta (1; 04)
    -Peavy (2; 05, 07)
    -Hoffman (2; 06, 07)
    -Young (1; 07)
    -Gonzalez (3; 08, 09, 10)
    -Bell (2; 09, 10)

    Three of those players have been traded, with Bell looking like he’ll become the fourth soon. If the premise of Hacksaw’s myopia is that the Padres trade their All-Stars, it would seem that he has a point. That they haven’t gone on to much success is a testament to our front office and their judgment, but it seems that the biggest problem with what Hacksaw said is the assumption that this team is churning out a ton of small market All-Star representatives like they’re the Rays. If you really have a problem with this, I’m curious to the source of your problem. Loretta was a journeyman, Hoffman was at the end of his career, and Young can’t stay healthy. That leaves just Peavy, who’s struggled to stay on the field in Chicago, and Gonzalez, who’s the new Dave Winfield.

    This team has enough actual problems that fans shouldn’t have to make any up, though I suppose the real problems help to blow everything out of proportion.

  2. I’m hoping Tim Stauffer is the Padres’ All-Star rep this year … based on what he did last year plus what he’s done so far in 2011 …

  3. I met a guy in Boston last week near Paul Revere’s house that alleged he’d been a Padre fan for many years. He proceeded to go on a diatribe about the Adrian trade and how this team doesn’t spend enough money. I walked away thinking there’s no way that guy was a real fan. After all, given the relative market size of San Diego and the overall economics of baseball, we’re a team that will likely never spend money or retain premium talent once they become too expensive.

    So here’s my question: Is it wrong that I think this way? Have I just been effectively propagandized by the organization or am I just a reasonable person with realistic expectations?

  4. @Phantom

    To paraphrase Forrest Gump, both can be happening at the same time.

    We absolutely could afford to pay a couple of star players and still have a good team around them, if the Moorad group wasn’t using revenue to buy the team. Since nobody else was clamoring to take over for Moores, I’m okay with that plan. But the small-market lament can become a crutch. It becomes almost reflexive, to the point that the seldom-seen Peter Friberg once told me Kansas City had a larger media market than San Diego. It can also excuse a lack of effort to expand the market or to make the best use of the market you have; Arte Moreno in Anaheim is a great example of the latter.

    I’d rather not get into what qualifies somebody as a real fan other than a deep emotional attachment that can survive failure. That’s the key, gradations of knowledge or acceptance of the status quo don’t matter. A lot of season ticket holders, vital to the team’s well-being, don’t know squat about the farm system, service time, or arbitration. Wouldn’t want to say they’re not real fans.

  5. @Phantom: I think the team can spend more than it has recently once ownership becomes settled. Assuming the FO does a better job of drafting and developing, I think we’ll be able to retain more talent than we have lately although there will most likely still be scenarios where we will have to trade or allow someone to walk due to financial constraints. I’m optimistic about the future, and it’s not a distant future, imo.

  6. @Tom,

    I do think the new media deal should mitigate the market size issue to a degree and I fully expect a stronger financial commitment once that’s in place.

    However, I do think some people over estimate San Diego’s market size. I only live 100 miles from San Diego, but I’m squarely in the LA media market. What makes matters worse is that MLB considers me to be in the San Diego market even though I have no possible way to acquire programming that originates from San Diego where I live.

    I think I’m probably more inclined to defend the org, but I do think some people wish we’d have an owner that would be willing to light money on fire. You don’t own a team to make money, but you also aren’t in the business of throwing it away either.

  7. @ TW: The Los Angeles Padres of Anaheim who play in San Diego has a great ring to it!

  8. @Tom,

    I keep reading that Moorad is using current revenue to complete the purchase, but I question the viability of that theory. Moorad did not purchase the team with a bank loan, which would of immediatly given him 100% of the team. Instead he his purchasing the team in installments from Moores. This imporant because as long as Moores owns a percentage of the team he will recieve that percentage of any cash distrubtion. Before Moorad’s group made its’ second payment Moores owned 66% of the club. In order to make the $50M payment that took them to 50% ownersip they would of needed a post tax cash distrbution of $150M, with the first $100M going to Moores and not counting towards the purschase of the team. If the Padres were generating anything close to that type of revnue the selling price would of been in the billions.

  9. @Phantom

    My experience has been the opposite, that fans repeat the “ocean to the west, Mexico to the south, desert to the east, Angels and Dodgers to the north” mantra and stop there. That may be because I completely shut out the people who either scream for wild spending or demand a salary cap, so that I focus on those who’ve shown at least a semblance of understanding reality.

    SD is not a big market, but we’re just behind St. Louis (which has historical tentacles well beyond its geographic market, but those have been curtailed somewhat since their heyday by teams in KC, Denver, Texas, and the rise of the Braves) and well ahead of Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Cincinnati, and Milwaukee. The market may not grow much, but especially during the Petco / Alderson years, it seemed as if there was no effort — perhaps no “successful” effort would be more accurate — to get more action within that market. One of their major “innovations” was highlighting the front office in ads. Not a winner.

    I’m fine with a payroll in the lower 1/3 of MLB even after the purchase is complete. A 60-70M payroll can cover 2-3 10M+ players and a good supporting cast, which isn’t the only way to skin that cat, but it does let you keep some quality guys at the tail end of arbitration or in free agency.

  10. @Field39

    I’m not an accountant, but I don’t think Moores has to be paid with after tax money. It seems quite possible, and not remotely illegal, for the purchase agreement to have stipulated that X% of particular franchise income would be used to meet the Moorad group’s payment obligations.

    Let’s say the Padres received 30M in revenue sharing the first year of the sale. That’s not like a dividend to be divided among ownership, that’s money designated to be spent on the team to “improve performance on the field,” which is nebulous enough to include “paying off the old owner so the new guy keeps the team going.” It’s not profit.

    To turn you revenue question on its head: If the team is generating 159M in revenue, with player expenses around 50M, and they’re NOT using some of that revenue to buy the team, what are they doing with the extra money? We can be pretty sure they’re not using it to pay off Petco, because Alderson pointed out many times that it’s a loan that can’t be paid off early without defaulting, and because they’d be trumpeting it in the press as an explanation.

  11. @Tom,

    I totally agree. The thing I love most about Moorad is that they’re trying to improve their standing in the community. They’re finding promotions and creating ballpark experiences to draw fans to the games, even if it’s not always winning baseball. The market is what it is, but the organization could help itself a lot by capturing more people within the market itself.

    I think your payroll range and expectations are perfect. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to re-sign or lock-up our core players like Headley and Maybin at fair rates. If the team cheaps out on them, then I’ll be pissed.

  12. Remember when the 1992 All-Star Game was in San Diego and 12 out of 38 non-pitchers had been in the Padres system at some point (*starter)?
    Sandy Alomar*
    Robbie Alomar*
    Joe Carter*
    Ozzie Smith
    Carlos Baerga
    John Kruk
    Bip Roberts

    That seems like a lot of talent, but the Padres themselves fielded:
    Benito Santiago*
    Fred McGriff*
    Tony Gwynn*
    (three All-Star starters from the Padres?!)
    Gary Sheffield
    Tony Fernandez

  13. @All, RE: Payroll and Fan expectations. I don’t listen to Hacksaw, he generally doesn’t know what he is talking about. The only 1090 personality that seems to know anything is Darren. But too my real point…. it drives me nuts when I hear people speaking as if they would rather have the Padres spend 90 million a year and win 80 games than spend $40 million and win 90…. all so they can “feel good” about the team “wanting” to win and being “commited” to a good product. Frankly, I don’t give a damn about “feeling” like the ownership wants to win. What are the “actual” results? This is what should matter. Many were clamoring for the Padres to sign guys like Andru Jones, Carlos Lee, and Barry Zito just to name a few…. then they were given contracts that would have sunk the Padres based on their performance trying to live up to the contracts. That is all.

  14. Is it too late to re-aquire Brett Tomko? He might have a break-out year.

  15. Looks like Darnell was the star of the Texas League All star game… belted a 2 run HR.

    Padres pitchers had the following total line: 4.1 IP, 4 H, 1BB, 4k’s, 1 ER

  16. People who think Moorad is using revenue to “pay for” the Padres are missing two points. One, that he’s buying debt as well as assets. The purchase price was listed as $525 million, cash and assumed debt. His group owns just under 50% for $145 million in cash, so the total cash is just over $290 million. That means they initially assumed about $235 million in debt, with Petco amounting to at least $153 million. Moorad keeps saying all the revenue is going back into the club, and he’s telling the truth: he’s paying off the debt (and reducing the purchase price).

    Two, it’s part of the deal that Moorad runs the club over a period of time, and his initial statements about the indeterminate purchase price also indicate that reducing the debt is part of the purchase agreement. Technically, you can say that by using revenue to pay down the debt, reducing the purchase price, he’s “buying” the club with its own revenue, but that’s part of the deal, and the purchase price was probably inflated to get a specific cash payment as part of Moore’s divorce agreement.

    Moorad is working within the terms agreed to with Moores, and it’s to the franchise’s advantage to reduce debt payments. I don’t know how the ballpark overruns Moores agreed to cover were financed, or how much Petco really cost the Padres beyond the official $153 million, but the original $115 million was financed at 8.65% for 30 years, with no early payment allowed, as the U-T reported. That’s over $10 million a year off the top of revenue for years to come. Moorad is smart to pay off all the other debt he can, to free up future revenue for payroll, instead of debt payments.

  17. Every time the discussion of Payroll size comes up, I think of this Buck O’Neil quote (slightly edited):

    “[Other teams] might be able to get nine more expensive guys, but that doesn’t mean they get nine BETTER guys. Baseball is the fairest game in the world. It doesn’t matter if the other guy is bigger than you or taller than you or stronger than you or faster than you. The only thing that matters is who plays the game better.”

    A smaller payroll ceiling means you have less margin for error than teams like the Yankees and Red Sox do. I think the current front office understands that, which is why they’ve expanded their scouting and player development efforts. It does not mean you’re doomed to losing 90 games every season.

    Just look at last year’s team.

  18. I really appreciate all the comments with details about the status of the ownership / financing … it seems beyond me to research it and comprehend it … so any/all attempts to boil it down really help … and I do know that that sometimes distorts the full/big picture, so I just keep an open mind about it all … it seems like we have an ownership group that is saying and doing “good things” for the long-term health of the Padres … so I’m a happy fan.

    OT – heard Steve Garvey on the radio recently, getting asked questions about Dodger ownership … apparently he and Orel are putting together a group that’s hoping to buy the Dodgers! My take on that is this … can we possibly leverage this into an excuse to GET THAT #6 DOWN OFF THE WALL???? :-) :-) :-)

  19. @Larry

    That’s exactly what I believe he’s doing — operating per an agreement with Moores and MLB that a certain part of the revenue would be devoted to non-operating expenses. No complaints here about that. If you’re drowning, there’s not much point in complaining that you were rescued by a rented dinghy instead of a yacht.

    It seems to me that if Field39′s contention were true (and it’s possible I’m misinterpreting that contention), and the Moorad group was capable of generating that much non-baseball money, they’d have simply gotten themselves a big loan to buy the team outright.

  20. @Mike – well said, I could not agree more.

  21. Geoff may groan, because this is one of my pet peeve’s. In baseball, salary is very strongly correlated to market size. “Market” as DMA, not the city limits. The last time I ran it, and it was salary index (Team Salary / Avg. MLB Salary) vs. DMA “Value” (pop of DMA x household income of DMA), it was > .90.

    And spending correlates with playoff participation. Not perfectly, but generally you are going to get 4-7 of 8 playoff teams from the top 10 markets.

    So, unless you are a big market fan, you are going to, typically, watch your team in the playoffs, much less win, a lot less than the major markets.

    To me, that sucks. I like watching my team in the playoffs. Football has the right revenue sharing/salary cap method, where owners and players share is tied to the aggregate revenue of the sport. Football does have a concentration of playoff contenders, but that is due to the skill of the team management not the market size.

  22. @Jay – when you remove the top 2 market sizes and bottom 2 market sizes and examine all 26 in between you will find the playoff appearance rate is very close between the following groups of market size rankings: 3-11, 12-20, and 21-28. The Yankees essentially skew the distribution. Also to be considered is that several of the smaller market teams have been around less time than most teams…. AZ, FLA, TB, and CO. These teams have had less time to develop as a franchise and less time to pay off debt… this should also skew some of the numbers. I think skill of the management and franchise existence time are just as important and maybe more so than money when it comes to baseball playoff appearance rate. Exclude an outlier like the Yankees and consider franchise existence time then re run the numbers and my guess is you will find that money and market size is not as important a contributor to making the playoffs as you might think. I do suspect that it would still carry some weight, but not enough that fans from a team like the Padres should feel hopeless.

    One need only get to the playoffs to have a chance to win a world series, evidence: since 1994(17 years) 4 wild card teams have won the world series.5 other wild card teams have have made the world series and lost. That’s 9 teams put of 34 that came from the wild card. Out of those 9 the market make up is pretty well distributed amongst small market, mid market, and large market.

  23. I think the trading of players has become a recent issue due to the fact it has been awhile since the Padres invested in a player to have at the core of their team. There are arguments for and against keeping Heath Bell, but from my stand point he’d be a great guy to keep around another 2-3 years as he should still be effective during that time and he brings a lot to the clubhouse and organization.

    Ryan Ludwick is finally doing what the Padres thought he might, but is already on his way out.. I can live with trading him, but at the same time, he finally adjusted to Petco, what if the front office made a statement and tried to sign him 2-3 years? Even if Ludwick didn’t agree to the deal, I think it’d show the fans the Padres organization tried.

    But back to reality, If/When they deal Ludwick and Bell I think who they get in return will be key. If they can get a major league ready prospect with good potential people

  24. 18 out of the last 19 World Series winners had payrolls in the top half of MLB (exception was the 2003 Marlins). 15 out of the last 19 World Series were won by the team with the higher payroll. Last year’s Padres demonstrated that a team can be “competitive” with a small payroll. However if you actually want to see your team win a World Series then it would behoove you to be a fan of a large market team. If the above World Series trends persist, statistically the Padres will not win a World Series in the lifetime of anybody posting here. Sure, if you remove the Yankees and Red Sox the numbers even out a little bit more but last I checked nobody was considering their exclusion from baseball.

    Furthermore, the disparity in revenue between large and small market teams has only grown over the last 20 years (12% annually, far out-pacing inflation) and shows no signs of abating. The vast majority of teams already have a new stadium during that span so can’t really hope for that “bump” either. Ultimately the top players will migrate to the large market teams because A) they can earn the most money, and B) they will have the greatest odds of winning a championship. The Yankees and Red Sox are now figuring out that they can, to a certain extent, wait for the top players to come to them.

    And regarding the Padres brilliant strategy of “building from within”, why can’t the Yankees and Red Sox invest similarly in their own farm systems? The only differentiating factor the Padres can offer is more extended MLB playing time for young players who are still effectively prospects (e.g. Rizzo).

    I’m a life long Padres fan and continue to follow them from afar but I also have no illusions about the massive structural disadvantage they face economically. It was actually great to see the city of SF experience the joy of the Giants’ remarkable run to the title last year but at the same time it saddened me that San Diego fans are so unlikely to ever experience something similar. On the bright side now the Giants are the Red Sox of the west coast and I have a new team to automatically hate…

  25. I decided to do a little research and found the following:

    The 14 newest MLB franchises have a 2.92 appearance rate in the playoffs since the Wild Card era began in 1994. Removing the D’backs and Rays still left a 2.92 appearance rate. By contrast, the 16 oldest MLB teams have an average appearance rate of 5.63 times in the playoffs since 1994. Almost a 2 to 1 difference.

    By comparison, the 14 largest Market sizes in MLB had a 5.0 average appearance rate versus a 3.8 for the 16 smallest markets.

    The appearance variance for the group that comprises the newest franchises was small, 0 to 6. The appearance variance for the group that comprises the oldest franchises is much greater 0 to 15 and all over the board in between. The data leads me to believe that new franchises have it more difficult than old ones in general. Amongst the old franchises leaders in appearances are the Yankees, Braves, Indians, and Cardinals… these represent a wide spectrum of money spent and market size. Amongst the old franchises losers in appearances are Cubs, Whitesox, Reds, Tigers, and Pirates… again a wide range of $$ spent and market share.

    I conclude the following… money is correlated to playoff appearances. However, franchise existence time has a stronger correlation. Much harder to quantify is how well run a franchise is; but, looking at the results I have to ask why is there such a large difference in playoff appearance success rates for the Yankees, Braves, Indians, and Cardinals… versus the Cubs, Whitesox, Reds, Tigers, and Pirates? I think we all know the answer is how well the organization is run.

  26. @Jasonb: Trying is not what’s important, doing is what’s important (apologies for sounding like Yoda). Doing the right thing. Signing, or even offering, an aging OF with poor defense 2-3 years is the WRONG thing to do when Petco is your home park. For that matter, trying to keep Bell around when he could bring a better return in prospects than he ever will, for the price, on the field is the wrong thing to do, too. Relief pitchers are almost certainly the most easily replaced assets on a team. Closers, by and large, have very short shelf lives; to invest long term and/or high dollars in one is simply a poor way to do business. The Padres have an abundance of arms in their bullpen who can handle high leverage situations, and the majority of 3 out, 9th inning save situations are not particularly high leverage. Almost any major league pitcher can get 3 outs in the 9th with no one on base and a 3 run lead the vast majority of the time.

    Also, the Padres actually invested rather significantly in the core of their team just this off season. They signed two middle infielders for the next two seasons and acquired Cameron Maybin to play CF for, quite possibly, a long time to come. There’s not much more “core” to a team than defense up the middle, especially in a park like Petco which places such a premium on defense.

    Of course this is to a large extent a matter of perspective. You may view the team and the game quite differently than I do. However, I think the FO is moving in the right direction and has done a tremendous job in a short time of overhauling the organization.

  27. @Pat – I agree and a big reason why I am ok with trading Bell and Ludwick regardless of whether or not the Padres are in contention.

    4 runs is the magic # at home, IMO. Looks like the team is finally healthy enough to be putting up 4 runs regularly at home…. plus they dumped Cantu and Patterson to go along with Hawpe being on the disabled list. Is anyone surprised that there seems to be a correlation with hitters getting healthy/cantu and patterson gone/Hawpe on the DL and the recent improved performance on offense?

  28. Pat,

    I agree completely with your post.

    Some fans are screaming that the Padres need to keep Ludwick and Bell because they need to send some kind of signal that the organization is committed to winning.

    I think trading those two guys for very good prospects would send a much stronger signal that the organization is committed to winning. The San Diego market is what it is, and Hoyer has to operate realistically and intelligently within the market’s constraints. You build for the future with prospects, not with a 33-year-old outfielder and a 34-year-old closer.

    People who think we can make a playoff run this year are operating on emotion, not reason. Build for 2012 and beyond. I am very much looking forward to seeing who Jed trades for in the next few weeks. If they are Rizzo-type prospects, we’ll have a lot to be excited about.

    Go Padres!

  29. For those of you who are saying it is good or makes sense to trade these guys are not that intelligent. Hacksaw is correct in saying that Padres have a history of trading their expensive talent away (regardless of the outcome of that player). I don’t have a problem with Ludwick being traded (I think he is a nice above average player and still would like to see him here), but Bell needs to stay. He means way more to this team than just what he does on the field. He has helped straighten the young guys out and more. I’m so sick of the “building for the 2012 and beyond” comments. There has only been a handfull of years that the Padres were not “building for the future”. Until we get an owner like Mark Cuban in here, this team is screwed. A owner needs to invest some money before they should be making money. The guys that are in there now don’t even have enough money to buy the whole team. I have witnessed so many years/decades of garbage, you minions need to wake up and pull out the BS flag! There needs to be a salary cap and owners need to spend the money they make.

  30. Minions vs Simpletons….. Battle Royal!

    But seriously, the Padres have made the playoffs 4 times in the last 15 years. There are 5 teams in the division. If the salary cap levels the playing field then we can expect the Padres to make the Playoffs 3 or 4 times in 15 years, they did that. One of those was a world series appearance, a 1 in 15 year occurence if everything equals out under a salary cap. What they do in the playoffs once they get there is up to them.

    But hey, were all just Minions here and if the Simpletons have their way with a salary cap we will have exactly 1 WS appearance in the next 15 years, and 4 Playoff appearances.

    Now that’s change we can believe in!

  31. First off, I should not have said you have no intelligence, that was not right. Just a little pissed off thinking about them trading Bell and people trying to justify it. It is good to know that you have only been a fan for 15 years and you are satisfied with what you have been given. For those of us who have been fans for a much longer period of time, I apologize for not being so excited about our pathetic playoff appearances and our second embarassing WS beating at the hands of the AL. That last WS trip was powered by a handfull of steriod juiced dudes who were out of the league shortly there after. How many of the five teams have WS wins? The Rockies have an excuse, they have been around about 1/3 the time the Padres have. I prefer wins over “appearances”. As long as the Padres have guys like you to defend their “appearances” (albeit mostly useless, ask the Cardinals) they are set. We are a minor league team for the Redsox, we all just need to accept that or find something else to do.

  32. @MJK – who doesn’t prefer wins over appearances? Unfortunatley, you choose to attack people or “guys” instead of making well thought out counter points. Exactly how many Padre players are proven to have been juiced that year? Exactly how many other MLB players on other teams were juiced that year? Under that logic the Padres were screwed over by other teams in subsequent years that had “juiced” players, therefore we can not blame them for not winning the world series. It is perfectly OK to feel frustrated by a lack of world series wins coming from the team you pour your heart and soul into rooting for; but arguing on emotion doesn’t win the argument. I was trying to lend some perspective. One of the main arguments in favor of a salary cap is that it evens the playing field. There are 30 teams in MLB. With an even playing field exactly how often do you expect to win a world series? 1 in 30 by my calculation. Imagine tossing a 30 sided dice…. it could take 90 tosses for the number 20 to come up, conversely the number 3 could come up twice in 10 years. All 30 MLB teams want to win a WS. The smart teams try to set themselves up for a period of sustained high performance so that a string of playoff “appearances” results in an eventual WS win. Very frustrating when you have been waiting 15 years for a WS and your odds are 30 years.

  33. If the front office thinks the Padres can contend in the next 3 years, the best trade they can make is signing Bell to 3 for $25 (if in fact that’s what he’s willing to do). And then trade Adams next year who’s more injury prone and probably isn’t willing to take less $ to stay like Bell has indicated.

    This team is finally looking like we hoped it would (and others have pointed out the personnel changes), but no reason to ship people off who can help in the next couple years. If they trade Bell that may be a tipoff that they don’t think the Padres can contend in the next 2. I understand that it may not make sense to have a bunch of your payroll locked into your closer, but when you have someone that good (allegedly) willling to play for that much below value, that’s hard for me (and my pea brain) to understand why we wouldn’t take advantage. I’m not a math nerd, but seems to me if you can essentially shorten a nine inning game to eight, that’s good (not to mention the psychology of knowing if you just get to the ‘pen its a win).

    Having said that, I worry what the middle infield will look like in 2013, everywhere else looks like they have some pieces, though the corner OF spots are still shaky for the future (give me more Cunningham :) ).

  34. @LynchMob: Yeah, Stauff has been terrific the past two seasons: 188.2 IP, 2.48 ERA, 144 ERA+… and I echo your sentiments about the ownership/financing details. Good stuff in here; thanks to all for contributing.

    @Phantom: This team doesn’t spend enough money… relative to some people’s tastes. But as teams like the Mets and Orioles have shown us over the years, all the money in the world won’t fix stupid.

    @Mike@PT: Well said, and thanks for sharing the O’Neil quote.

    @Jay: I won’t groan (well, not much)… Here’s the thing: For as much as the odds may be stacked against small-market teams (and I hate to see this used as an excuse for not winning; it smacks of shirking one’s responsibility to make an honest effort), the odds are even slimmer that owners who benefit from the current setup will change it anytime soon. For this reason, I prefer to focus my energy on trying to win within the system that exists (unlikely but possible) rather than trying to topple a system that serves its keepers quite well. Revolution sounds nice, but I don’t see it happening; ergo, I put it out of my mind.

    @Bay Area Pads fan: You didn’t hate the Giants before they won the World Series? Hmmm… ;-)

    @M J K: There is a big difference between trading away expensive talent and trading away good talent. Sometimes the two overlap, but not always. Also, good luck getting a salary cap implemented and forcing the owners to reinvest.

    @Quin: The middle infield is a concern. If Cumberland ever finds health, he might be ready by 2013, but I’m not holding my breath. Forsythe and Weems could be ready by then, but I’m not convinced that either is a big-league regular. Spangenberg? Not yet. I think corner outfield will be okay, with Decker and now Darnell getting some looks out there. Corner outfielders are easier to find than middle infielders.

    Good convo, folks. Thanks for the thoughts…

  35. @ Quin

    If you’re worried about the middle infield and corner OF spots, the best trade the Padres can make is to trade our assets now like Bell, Ludwick, Adams, etc. for help in those areas.

  36. @Ford

    This is a good point that most people aren’t really mentioning. I’m in the camp that would rather see the Padres keep Bell for purely entertainment purposes (he is good and I enjoy watching him play). However it’s hard to evaluate if the Padres SHOULD trade Bell without having a good idea of what they could realistically get in return. According to Bill Center (UT) there is a chance that Cumberland may never play baseball again. If that happens the Padres are a long way from having a respectable SS come out of their system. Couldn’t the Padres conceivably trade Bell and Ludwick for a decent young middle infielder that might actually be an upgrade TODAY? And with their bullpen depth and a hot hitting Blanks at AAA isn’t there a scenario where they actually improve their team THIS season after trading away those guys?

    Also, how about the scenario in which the Padres sign Bell to a new contract in the off season after trading him now? Just sayin’…

  37. @ Bay Area

    If we trade for a corner OF they need to be ready to contribute in 2012. If we trade for middle infield help they can be 2 years away and we can survive with Hudson and Bartlett until then. Trade Ludwick and put Blanks in left. Platoon Dorf and Veneable the rest of the way.

    I would love to see a major firesale in which we receive two OF’s and two middle infielders. By major firesale I mean trading Adams, Bell, Ludwick, Harang, Moseley, Gregerson and Bartlett (if anybody will take him).

  38. Question for the masses:

    I never see much talk about trading for a catcher, and we’re paper-thin at that position in this organization. Does anyone else see bringing in a catcher as a priority? Or do people generally feel like Hundley is our man for the foreseeable future?


  39. @USMC – Yes, the Padres need at the very least a legit back up catcher. Phillips might be adequate but we could use a veteran backup. My preference would be for the Padres to trade one of their assets for a stud catching prospect like Mesoraco or Grandal. Aside from that, we have Hagerty who could be ready in 1-2 years.

  40. @PadresFuture
    “. it drives me nuts when I hear people speaking as if they would rather have the Padres spend 90 million a year and win 80 games than spend $40 million and win 90 ”

    I have never heard anyone make their argument in those terms.

    @Bay Area Pads Fan
    “And regarding the Padres brilliant strategy of “building from within”, why can’t the Yankees and Red Sox invest similarly in their own farm systems? ”

    The Yankee and Red Sox farm systems have been far more productive than the Padres.

    “He proceeded to go on a diatribe about the Adrian trade and how this team doesn’t spend enough money.”

    In recent years, an argument has been made in the New York/New England region that some teams (Padres, Royals) have abused the revenue sharing and luxury tax dollars, by not putting the money back into payroll. While small market teams such as the Twins are highly respected, there is zero respect for organizations such as the Padres who have lowered payroll while receiving this money.
    I suspect the ‘long time Padre fan’ you met, has been hearing or reading this argument regularly.

    “We absolutely could afford to pay a couple of star players and still have a good team around them……….. ….. the small-market lament can become a crutch”


  41. Geoff, it’s interesting that this would come up. I posted about a similar topic back when Rizzo was called up. Read about it here:

    I don’t think the argument here should be about whether the trades were good or bad. Kevin Towers was a great GM, and he pulled off some magnificent trades. The real point is the Padres are a small-market club. Trading away talent that becomes too expensive is a fact of life and a necessary evil.

    The Padres, quite frankly, have handled this concept better than the vast majority of their small-market counterparts. We’re talking about 5 play-off appearances and two World Series appearances. This may not light the baseball world on fire, but coupled with the nine other above .500 seasons, the Padres are holding their own.

    Development of farm talent, and their eventual departure is what’s so frustrating as a fan. Your post discusses only players that made an All-Star team the following year. How about the contributions these players made to their new teams throughout their careers? How about the voids they left in the Padres lineup upon departure?

    While I understand the Padres have to operate this way, and will never fault them for it, I think you are minimizing the losses this team has had over the years. To not watch or root for a team out of fear that star players will leave is ridiculous. But there has to be some acknowledgment that it’s frustrating.

  42. @Justin – some very good points. This is why good management is, IMO, more important than the market size or amount of money spent.

  43. @Parlo: “While small market teams such as the Twins are highly respected, there is zero respect for organizations such as the Padres who have lowered payroll while receiving this money.”

    Thanks for the perspective. I find it fascinating that the Padres get no credit for reaching the playoffs four times in 15 years (and missing two more appearances by a single game).

    @Justin: “How about the contributions these players made to their new teams throughout their careers? How about the voids they left in the Padres lineup upon departure?”

    Which players? Over the past 15 years, I count Derrek Lee, Jason Bartlett, Jason Bay, and Adrian Gonzalez. The Bartlett deal left a void (although nobody knew he’d be this good), Lee and Bay didn’t. Obviously you don’t replace a Gonzalez; at the same time, at least the Padres got more for him than Adam Eaton and Akinori Otsuka.

    “Development of farm talent, and their eventual departure is what’s so frustrating as a fan.”

    The development of farm talent has been a problem. That seems to be improving, but we’ve seen false fronts in the past so I’m not counting on it just yet. Eventual departure doesn’t bother me, because if the front office has done its job properly, it should be able to get something of value in return. Ideally, you’d have a self-sustaining process of development and renewal.

    “But there has to be some acknowledgment that it’s frustrating.”

    Sure. For myself, I acknowledged it shortly after I became a Padres fan. Once the reality of the situation became apparent, I had two choices: 1) accept it or 2) find a different team. Door #2 is unacceptable to me, so I accept the situation as is. This doesn’t work for everyone, and I wish I had sage words of advice for folks who continue to be frustrated.

    Thanks for commenting. Good food for thought…

  44. This may sound flat-out insane, but it’s something I’ve been pondering for about the past month or so:

    Should the Padres consider trading Mat Latos?

    Now before anyone accuses me of being reactionary, I’d like to point out that reactionary would have been floating this idea at the beginning of the season. But after the way Mat fell apart the last few months of 2010 and his disappointing start to 2011, I’m increasingly convinced that he represents more potential than actual talent. Sure, when Latos is on, he’s brilliant. But the guy can’t get out of his own way and is more often a head case then he is a savant.

    We’ve got potential arms in the system, but it’s clear that none represent the possible upside Latos does. However, at what point do we recognize that Latos may be our best trading chip to really improve our team going forward? I’m not convinced that he’ll put things together in San Diego (and I don’t know if the league has adjusted to him or if he’s developed some mechanical flaws) and I really think trading Latos could give us the legitimate middle IF we need.

    I don’t suggest this lightly and I fully expect to be flamed for this. But how long do the Padres continue to watch him flounder? At just over 300 IP, he’s obviously still young and may still put it together. But ever since about last September, he just doesn’t seem to be the same guy. And I’m willing that there are enough teams out there that would pay, and pay dearly, for someone of his potential.

    So, what do you say? Is this an absolute terrible idea or is there some merit here? Is anyone else as disillusioned about Latos as I am?

  45. @Phantom

    It all depends on the return. You might be disappointed at what other team would offer for him — everybody else can read his numbers, they’d be looking to buy low.

    My feeling right now is that another team won’t give up close to the value he offers as a potential #1 arm. There may not be another one of those in the Padre system right now, and we’re sure not going to get one in free agency. I’m not against the idea in principle, but it seems like we might do better waiting a couple of years. See if he bounces back, evaluate the market before arbitration kicks in.

    Not a flame, but it does seem a little soon to be throwing the “head case” label on him, especially from somebody who was so pro-Khalil (if I’ve got that right). The team knew they were taking a huge risk extending his innings last year. There was a LOT of Verducci bashing in Padre land before this season, but damn if it doesn’t look exactly like a Verducci effect.

  46. @Tom

    I too wondered about the selling low component, but I’m not sure if the Padres dig themselves a bigger hole by waiting another year or not. I guess it all depends on how Mat responds.

    And yep, totally was the biggest fanboy on the planet. But I think they’re different cases. Khalil couldn’t handle failure and it led to a total collapse. Mat seems to not get a call or an out on a ball in play and then he loses it. I guess I’d argue it’s more frustrating to watch Latos implode than watch Khalil flail simply because Latos has significantly more talent that Khalil ever did. What’s worse is that we’ve seen what Mat can do when he’s focused, and I just don’t feel like that’s there this year.

    I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I also think the FO is starting to lose some patience with him. Hoyer all but said that if Latos didn’t get his crap together in May that he would be sent down. It didn’t exactly sound like they were trying to motivate him—I think they were beginning to legitimately get frustrated. I know he’s young, but when you have a track record of maturity issues and those same issues appear to be plaguing you (even after brilliant success), I start to worry a bit.

    It’s strange because I’m normally a very optimistic person but something just tells me that Mat is never going to give the Padres anything close to the performance he did through the first half of last year. I hope I’m wrong because it really would be great to have a stud power arm pan out, but I also think the return could be great. Teams always seem to be willing promising arms a shot despite track record, so I’m not sure his dismal past 10 months would have lowered his value so severely.

    Either way, I certainly appreciate your insight. Most of the people here are pretty smart guys so I just wanted to see what everyone thought.

  47. @Geoff
    It’s more a critique of the philosophy of the “Organization” in “Recent Years”. It certainly doesn’t apply to the 1996 and ’98 teams.
    IIRC, when I arrived back here in 2009 was when I first started hearing about it

  48. @Phantom

    It may very well be a mental issue, it’s not something I feel comfortable diagnosing through a TV screen or would be qualified to diagnose after meeting him in person. But his velocity is down this year, and that points to something physical.

    The front office kept him in the rotation last year and didn’t trade for a starter to shoulder more of the load. They didn’t move Stauffer into the rotation until too late. They bear a good share of the responsibility, even though it was a totally defensible decision to keep him going. It would be more than a little disingenuous for them to suggest that the problem is completely Mat’s maturity and not the 50% increase in workload, which itself came after a big jump in 2009.


    There was some talk this winter that the player’s union might be looking at the Padres as an abuser, a team that used revenue-sharing money for things other than payroll. I never got the sense that other front offices were aggravated — they approved Moorad, they knew what he was going to have to do to buy the team from Moores. That sentiment has more often been directed at Kansas City, Pittsburgh, and Florida, teams that put revenue-sharing money into their owners’ pockets.

  49. @Tom Waits
    ” I never got the sense that other front offices were aggravated ”

    I’m not explaining myself properly! I’ll try again:

    There have been opinion columns, talk radio chatter, and general one-on-one conversation, very critical of the Padres FO, were this has come up. I wasn’t implying that other Front Offices are dissing the Padres Front Office.
    There was the incident a year or two ago where Randy Levine (?) of the Yankees mentioned this issue, but it was mostly a rebuttal to comments made by the Brewers FO.

  50. @Geoff

    Thanks for the response. Don’t misinterpret my discussion as a disdain or frustration to the point of writing the team off. I have been a Padres fan since I discovered baseball, and I learned early that making the play-offs with the teams the Padres field is so much more satisfying that buying a championship.

    In the last 15 years I think you’re absolutely right. But we don’t know what Jake Peavy would have done had he not gone to Chicago. Would he have been injured? Maybe, but all we know is he was our ace and we couldn’t keep him. Adrian Gonzalez is great. Not good, but great, and we couldn’t keep him. There haven’t been many players in the last 15 years worthy of the “great” designation, but remember we grew up with Tony Gwynn. As Padres fans, we are always waiting for the next talented player to come through San Diego and stay.

    But our next Tony Gwynn will never come. I am getting used to the revolving door roster that supports this team. It would just be nice to see someone like Anthony Rizzo develop into a power and not leave.