Forty-Two Bucks and Free Towing

Good to see the boys take the first two in San Francisco. The wins haven’t come easy (big thanks to Andres Torres for getting thrown out trying to score on a pitch in the dirt with Pablo Sandoval up representing the tying run to end the seventh in Tuesday’s 5-3 victory), but at least they’ve come.

Heath Bell (2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K this series) is scaring the heck out of me. Oh, you’re in the market for an All-Star closer? Never mind; in that case, he’s awesome and worth whatever you can afford.

I’m not much for rumors, but Bell has to go, right? For as much fun as it is to think that the Padres are only 8 games back in a lousy division, last I checked, that’s good enough for a 0.3 percent chance at the playoffs.

Bell is eligible for free agency. The Padres aren’t going anywhere and have a deep bullpen. Writing… Wall…

If what Washington received for Matt Capps at last year’s deadline is any indication (it’s a big if; every market is different), the Padres should be able to land a B-level prospect for 2-3 months of Bell’s services.

Who? What? Where? Strength up the middle is always nice (especially with the playing portion of former first-round pick Drew Cumberland’s career apparently drawing to a close), although presumably you have to take the best available talent and worry about the rest later.

I haven’t studied the current market or historical trends in closer valuation. Anecdotally, it seems that more often than not, someone is willing to pay a decent amount for a pitcher of Bell’s caliber and pedigree.

Other trade candidates? Ryan Ludwick and Chad Qualls, maybe Mike Adams (although Adams should have considerable value to his current employer and is best kept unless someone gets stupid with an offer). The Padres gave up a couple C-level prospects to get Ludwick and can expect to get roughly the same in return: warm bodies in exchange for a little salary relief.

I sold the first car I ever owned — a mid-’70s Datsun 710 — to a mechanic for $42. He only wanted the tires but offered to tow the car off the lot at no charge. I got to eat a burger and play some video games, he got tires. It worked out well for everyone.

Like Ludwick, Qualls doesn’t figure to fetch much either. I don’t know what the going rate for generic middle relievers is these days… $42 and free towing?

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Third basemen are advancing. James Darnell has been promoted from Double-A San Antonio (where he was hitting .333/.434/.604 in 346 PA) to Triple-A Tucson, with Jedd Gyorko moving up from High-A Lake Elsinore (where he was hitting .365/.429/.638 in 382 PA) into Darnell’s old spot.

Batting cleanup for the T-Padres, Darnell went 3-for-5 with a double in his July 4 debut. Gyorko is 3-for-9 with a double in his first two games with the Missions.

One of Darnell’s new teammates, Kyle Blanks, continues to obliterate PCL pitching. Blanks is hitting .411/.477/.884 in 107 PA since being promoted, which makes him the hottest thing to come through Tucson since… Anthony Rizzo.

Speaking of Rizzo, his struggles (.178/.318/.342 in 88 PA, 29.5 K%) have led to speculation that a return trip to Triple-A might be in order.

No. This was the deal. We expected Rizzo to face an adjustment period and we were willing to live with it. Well, now we’re living with it. Granted, that’s not as much fun when it actually happens as when you say “we’ll live with it,” but there you go.

Meanwhile, Blanks would seem to be a logical candidate to see action in left field if Ludwick is moved. Aaron Cunningham makes sense, too, although the organization appears to view him as more of a spare part.

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The Dodgers are in full free fall. They’re 11 games out of first place and three games back of the Padres. I want to beat them (and everyone else, for that matter) every time, but to watch that franchise self-destruct… it’s painful and embarrassing to baseball, in a Jeffrey Loria kind of way.

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Quick programming note: I’ll be at SABR 41 up in Long Beach the rest of this week. Dave Cameron (FanGraphs), Sean Forman (Baseball-Reference), John Dewan (BIS), and Rob Neyer (SB Nation) are among those scheduled to speak. Padres GM Jed Hoyer will be there, as will Al Ferrara, who played on the original 1969 Padres squad.

If you’re around, say hey… I’ll be the guy who looks like me but with longer hair. I plan to do the Twitter thing while I’m there. If you do the Twitter thing, we’ll do it together. Such fun…