Friday, January 24, 2014

Who Won The Padres-Rays Deal?

Just a few days ago, the San Diego Padres and the Tampa Bay Rays collaborated on a seven-player deal. The Padres received LHP Alex Torres and minor league pitcher Jesse Hahn. The Padres sent INF Logan Forysthe, RHP Brad Boxberger, along with minor league pitchers Matt Lollis and Matt Andriese to Tampa Bay. Tampa also received minor league Maxx Tissenbaum in the deal.

It has been no secret that the Padres have been looking for a left-handed reliever. They were rumored to be interested in signing Oliver Perez and had checked in on almost every available left-handed free agent. They also took LHP Patrick Schuster in the Rule V draft, hoping to capture a little magic. On the surface, it seems like the Padres gave up a ton of depth in the deal. Let's take a closer look, starting with the Padres end of the deal:

LHP Alex Torres: Torres turned 26 and December, and had a huge year out of the pen for Tampa in 2013. He pitched in 38 games last season, throwing 58 innings -- numbers that suggest that he is much more than a left-handed specialist. He strikes out more than a batter an inning and pitched extremely well in the playoffs last year, throwing four shutout innings. He is a fastball-changeup pitcher, and averaged 92 MPH on his fastball last year. He dominated American League hitters in 2013, posting just a 1.71 ERA. He has started in the minors, so the Padres gain some versatility. Plus, the Padres can control Torres through the 2020 season.

RHP: Jesse Hahn: Hahn is a 24-year old minor leaguer, who pitched last season in A ball. The Rays drafted him in the 6th round of the 2010 draft. He is tall, at 6'5, and slender at 180 lbs. He has been a starter in his career, but has battled injuries. Hahn has a powerful arm and can touch 98 MPH, although he usually sits in the 94-95 MPH range. In 19 starts last season, he posted a 2.15 ERA, although he only pitched 67 innings. He could start the year in AA, possibly in the bullpen. For what it is worth, MLB.com had Hawn ranked as the Rays' 18th best prospect going into 2014.



Here is what the Rays received in the deal:

INF Logan Forsythe: Forsythe has always been a personal favorite of mine; unfortunately, the Padres just haven't had anywhere to play him. He was rock-solid for the Padres in 2012, when he put up a triple-slash line of .273/.343/.390, with 6 homers. Injuries hampered Forsythe in 2013, and he regressed to a line of .214/.281/.332. Forsythe played five different positions last season, and if he is afforded consistent playing time, Forsythe will be a solid addition for the Rays.

RHP Brad Boxberger: Boxberger was part of the Padres five-player deal with the Reds, in which Mat Latos was moved to the Queen City. Boxberger has shown flashes of brilliance for the Padres, but has never been able to maintain any consistency. Boxberger has routinely struck out more than a batter per inning in his career, making Boxberger an intriguing piece for Tampa.

RHP Matt Andriese: Andriese came into 2014 as the Padres #19 prospect, according to MLB.com. He projects as a #3 starter, although he might be better suited to middle relief. Andriese was the Padres third round pick in the 2011 draft, out of UC Riverside. Between AA and AAA, Andriese put up a 3.27 ERA in 27 games(25 starts).

RHP Matt Lollis: Lollis is a big right-hander, at 6'9 and 250 lbs. Lollis transitioned to relief full-time in 2013, and the results were mixed. He pitched well in Class A Lake Elsinore, but struggled against stiffer competition in AA and AAA. He still throws hard and could be an interesting pickup.

INF Maxx Tissenbaum: Tissenbaum is an infielder the Padres drafted in the 11th round in 2012. In two professional seasons, he has an OBP of .365, albeit with little power. Still, a guy with his skills(70 walks to jut 50 strikeouts) make him a guy who could crack a big league roster at some point.

Verdict: It is hard not to like this deal from both sides. The Padres address a big need, in acquiring a left-handed reliever. Torres is better than any left-hander on the free agent market, and the Padres control him through the 2020 season. Hahn is also a guy who could rise quickly in the Padres system, armed with a high-90's fastball.

The Rays obtain a ton of depth. Andriese, Boxberger and Forsythe should all contribute in 2014 and Lollis was a guy who intrigued me in the Padres system. I give a slight edge to the Rays, as they made an already stellar club even deeper.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Good-bye, Jerry Coleman

January 5th, 2014, was one of the most bittersweet days in the history of San Diego sports. The Chargers, a seven-point underdog, went on the road and beat the Cincinnati Bengals in the Wild Card round of the NFL Playoffs. San Diego State's basketball team beat Kansas in Lawrence, capturing the school's biggest win in regular season history. Somewhere in between those events, the Padres lost legendary broadcaster Jerry Coleman at the age of 89.

Jerry has always held a special place in my heart. As a child of nine, I was captivated by the game of baseball and the Padres were my team from day one. I didn't have a constant influence teaching me about the game -- a lot of what I learned came from Jerry.

Back in 1994, the year I followed the Padres for the first time, money was tight. I didn't grow up in a house with cable, and the Padres broadcasts on television weren't very plentiful. If I was lucky, KUSI might broadcast a few games a month. In order to follow the team, you had to catch the team on radio. I did so nightly.

The Padres were God-awful in those days, but it didn't matter to me. Jerry made every game relevant, interesting and exciting to me. Every hit by Tony Gwynn,every homer by Ken Caminiti, every save from Trevor Hoffman. Coleman's voice and enthusiasm are honestly one of the best things I remember about my childhood.

Back in 1998, the Padres made the World Series. It was an amazing time for me -- a team I loved might be remembered forever and win a championship. The Padres played the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS that year and the series-deciding Game 6 was on in the middle of the day. As a 13-year old baseball junkie, I attempted to sneak a Walkman into class and listen to the game through ear buds.  My math teacher noticed after 15 minutes and told me to take them off. A few minutes later, I told the teacher I had to take a dump. I left the class and listened to the game in a bathroom stall. I faked illness during the next class. Jerry told me the story the entire way.

There has been a lot of things said about Jerry's life: Playing for the Yankees, winning championships, becoming the only Major Leaguer to see combat in two wars. However, I will always remember him as the man who made me love baseball. He truly was one of the most interesting people that ever lived in San Diego.

Due to life getting in the way, I was not able to attend the funeral yesterday at Petco Park. I just thought I would share my thoughts on Jerry here. I am fighting back tears as I write. It is the end of an era for Padres baseball, a lost icon in my personal life and the end of an amazing man. I only wish I got to shake your hand at some point, Jerry. Thank you for everything.