You know how all those people in the Godzilla movies are running around like crazy all the time on account of the giant lizard thing that keeps chasing them? Twitter at baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline is like that, only without the lizard.
Jed Hoyer isn’t doing anything. Why isn’t he doing anything? Oh crap, he finally did something and it sucks, we’re all gonna die — hey, is that Godzilla?
If you pay close attention, you’ll learn a lot. Mainly you’ll learn not to pay close attention.
Anyway, Hoyer traded a reliever and an outfielder on Sunday. The reliever was Mike Adams, not Heath Bell. The Padres sent Adams to Texas for a couple of minor-league starting pitchers, 20-year-old left-hander Robbie Erlin and 21-year-old right-hander Joe Wieland, both of whom were at Double-A Frisco.
Our pals at Baseball Time in Arlington offer their thoughts on the two young pitchers the Rangers gave up to acquire Adams. On Erlin:
The book on Erlin is fairly simple — nice, solid-average stuff, with a low-90s fastball and two good secondary offerings that play up thanks to his advanced command within the strike zone.
Wieland wields an upper-80s to lower-90s heater and two good secondary pitches, all of which come tumbling out of his 6′ 3″ frame with good command and sequencing. Like Erlin, Wieland has thrived at the professional level because of his advanced feel for pitching and intelligence, but the projection is somewhat muted, as he profiles as more of a mid-rotation starter due to the lack of upper-end velocity and a strong secondary offering, and his fly ball tendencies also wouldn’t have served him especially well in Arlington.
John Sickels called Erlin a B prospect and Wieland a C-plus prospect before the season. Sickels now considers Wieland to be more in the B to B-plus range.
My colleague Jason Parks at Baseball Prospectus says of the deal that “the Padres just added two major league quality pitchers to the mix.” Neither pitcher placed on Kevin Goldstein’s preseason rankings, although Erlin checks in at no. 32 on Goldstein’s midseason update.
Both prospects have seen their stock rise in the eyes of some evaluators. This may or may not mean anything, but it’s worth noting that people who are paid to pay attention to such things like what they see.
As for Adams, it’s tough to watch him go. The Padres got him for almost nothing and helped turn him into one of baseball’s elite relievers. (Be sure to thank Kevin Towers for signing Brian Sikorski from Japan and flipping him for Adams back in 2006.)
For as dominant as Adams has been over the past few years, when you’re 14 1/2 games back headed into August, how critical is to protect an eighth-inning lead? Other priorities, such as assembling pieces of the next contender, become more pressing when the season unravels.
In the day’s other trade, San Diego sent outfielder Ryan Ludwick to the Pirates for a player to be named later or cash considerations. Who? What? I have no clue, but Hoyer’s words were music to my ears: “Trading Ludwick clears a spot for our young players to get at-bats.”
It also clears salary. Between Adams and Ludwick, the Padres save a little more than $3 million, which could prove useful over the next couple of weeks as they try to sign all of their draft picks by the August 15 deadline.
The Padres didn’t give up much to get Ludwick from St. Louis at this time last year, he didn’t do much while he was here (659 PA, .228/.301/.358, 87 OPS+ — slightly better than Deivi Cruz’s San Diego numbers of 547 PA, .263/.294/.366, 81 OPS+), and he didn’t fetch much on his way out of town. Like following rumors on Twitter or running from Godzilla, the Ludwick experience represented activity for its own sake, without any real purpose.
The good news for Ludwick is that he no longer has to watch fly balls die on the warning tracks of cavernous NL West ballparks every night. Or as Tom Krasovic so eloquently put it:
Padres need to think extra hard next time they target NL Central hitter for Petco National Park, NL West. Ludwick, Randa, Edmonds stunk.
Ludwick’s departure, whatever or whomever else it might bring, paves the way for any number of kids to get a shot at left field. Kyle Blanks, Aaron Cunningham, James Darnell, and Blake Tekotte all appear to be worthy candidates. Cunningham is expected to replace Ludwick on the roster, with 24-year-old right-hander Robert Hamren being recalled from Double-A San Antonio to take Adams’ spot.
Aaron Harang didn’t get moved, nor did Chad Qualls. Neither did Bell, whom Ken Rosenthal declared “a goner” on Saturday night.
With Bell staying in San Diego for now (and receiving a rousing round of applause on entering to close out Sunday’s 8-3 victory over Colorado), a few options exist for the popular closer:
- The Padres can try to work out a contract extension with Bell, who is willing to take a discount to remain here. (I’m guessing 3 years, $24 million.)
- They can try to trade him in August as part of a waiver deal.
- They can let him walk as a free agent and — assuming the new CBA includes provisions for compensatory draft picks — offer him arbitration, hope he declines, and then collect two picks. If the CBA doesn’t include such provisions, or if Bell accepts arbitration, this doesn’t work.
Finally, for those who would abandon all hope, it’s worth noting that the Padres are in better shape now than they were two years ago through 109 games:
Year W-L GB 2009 44-65 22.5 2011 47-62 14.5
The team in between those two seasons won 90 games. Just a little something to remember the next time you think the sky is falling… or Godzilla is chasing you…