Monday, September 22, 2014

The Awful Padres Trade No One Talks About

Do you remember the last time the Padres were buyers at the trade deadline? If not, it is a completely forgivable offense, since it was in 2010. Back then, the Padres had Adrian Gonzalez in their lineup and Mat Latos in the rotation. David Eckstein was the scrappy veteran second baseman and Tony Gwynn Jr. was patrolling center field.

Those scrappy Padres had a paltry payroll of $37 million, but were the best team in the National League for most of the season. Those 2010 Padres, much like today's current squad, were desperate for offense. They pulled off a couple of deals to boost an anemic offense.

First, they traded highly regarded pitching prospect Wynn Pelzer to the Baltimore Orioles, in exchange for shortstop Miguel Tejada. Pelzer was the Padres #7 prospect at the time of the trade (according to Baseball America) and was projected to be the Padres closer of the future.

The next day the Padres shipped out minor league pitchers Nick Greenwood and Corey Kluber in a three-team deal. The Padres received power-hitting outfielder Ryan Ludwick in return. Jake Westbrook ended up in St. Louis. Oh, and yes, that Corey Kluber ended up in Cleveland.

Ludwick did next to nothing in San Diego, as the team missed the playoffs in 2010, in part because of a 10-game losing streak towards the end of the year. Naturally, the Padres were awful in 2011, and Ludwick was moved to Pittsburgh at the trade deadline.

At the time of the trade, Kluber was not considered a top prospect. He was the Padres fourth round pick in 2007, taken in the same draft as Cory Luebke and the aforementioned Pelzer. Kluber was merely a guy in the Padres system.

In Kluber's first full season of pro ball, he threw 141.1 innings, pitching to a 4.90 ERA in Single-A, doing work for both the Storm and Tincaps. He did show the ability to miss bats, but not the ability to impress the scouting brass of the Padres system.

In 2010, when Kluber was traded, he was throwing very well for Double-A San Antonio. He had a 6-6 record, with a 3.45 ERA. After the trade, Kluber advanced to Triple-A with Cleveland, but didn't show the type of abilities to believe the Padres made a terrible move.

Then, as an article in Sports Illustrated chronicled, Kluber stopped throwing his four-seam fastball. Kluber had difficulty locating the pitch, and his results suffered because of his lack of command. Kluber had the ability to command his two-seamer, and it danced all over the strike zone. His ability to command his nasty sinker led to his rise to stardom.

This year, Kluber might be the best pitcher in baseball, not named Clayton Kershaw. Kluber leads the American League in strikeouts, is 2nd in innings and wins. Kluber might be the leading candidate for Cy Young Award in the American League. Perhaps it was a tweak to have Kluber throw his two-seamer more often. Maybe the Indians coaching staff was able to make adjustments to Kluber's delivery that allowed him to maximize his abilities.

From the Padres perspective, the team traded a decent pitching prospect for a bat they thought would protect star slugger Adrian Gonzalez in a pennant race. It didn't work out.

The trade has left Friar fans to dream of a rotation of Cashner, Kluber, Ross and Kennedy. One could argue that that pitching staff might be one of the finest in baseball. Even with the anemic offense the Padres feature, the team would likely be more competitive and fun to watch.

For what it is worth, Pelzer never pitched in the bug leagues, and played the 2014 season in the independent Atlantic League with the Camden Riversharks. Nick Greenwood, the other pitcher the Padres traded, has reached the big leagues with the St. Louis Cardinals. Jake Westbrook has retired, Ludwick is in Cincinnati. The Indians won this deal quite handily.

That is the beauty of baseball. Sometimes you never know those prospects you give up in trades. Sometimes you trade a Wynn Pelzer. Other times its a Corey Kluber. The Indians scouting department and minor league coaching staff deserves a ton of credit for developing Kluber into the beast he is today.

Many Padres fans always remember the awful trades the team has made over the years. Moving Adrian Gonzalez, Roberto Alomar, Jake Peavy and Fred McGriff among many others. I loathe the day that a young, nasty, controllable ace like Corey Kluber was dealt away for an unproductive outfielder. It is indeed, the awful trade no one talks about.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sunday Runday: Padres Offense Breaks Out To Sweep San Francisco

The San Diego Padres are not going to the playoffs for the eighth consecutive season, but that doesn't mean that they can't interfere with the postseason plans of the San Francisco Giants. The Padres offense produced timely hits and Ian Kennedy pitched brilliantly, as the San Diego Padres defeated the San Francisco Giants, 8-2 on Sunday afternoon. The win gave San Diego a three-game sweep in the weekend series.

The game started as a pitcher's deal as Padres starter Ian Kennedy set down the first nine Giant batters in order, before Buster Posey had an infield single in the fourth inning. Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong was equally as brilliant, as he didn't allow a hit until the fifth inning, a Seth Smith double. The double was Smith's 30th of the season.

After the Smith double, Rene Rivera followed with a single to left, to give San Diego runners on the corners with no one out. The Padres scored the game's first run on a sacrifice fly by Alexi Amarista. Vogelsong was able to get out of the fifth without further damage.

The sixth inning was much different for Vogelsong, as he was done in by small ball. Yangervis Solarte led off the inning with a single, and Will Venable singled as well. Jedd Gyorko reached on a Pablo Sandoval error, to give the Padres a prime scoring opportunity. Yasmani delivered with a sacrifice fly, and the Padres took a 2-0 lead.

San Diego broke the game open when Cameron Maybin delivered a clutch two-out single to center that scored Jedd Gyorko and Seth Smith to give the Friars a 5-0 lead.

The offensive outburst was more than enough for Ian Kennedy, as he held the Giants at bay for most of the afternoon. Ian Kennedy pitched six shutout innings, before allowing a two-run home run to Chris Dominguez, the first of his Major League career. Kennedy got his 12th win on the season, as he allowed just two runs in 6.2 innings.

The San Diego Padres will open up their final home series of the year against the Colorado Rockies on Monday night.

Is Yasmani Tomas A Possibility For San Diego?-

The free agent market this season will be very light in the power hitter department. Hanley Ramirez is the most accomplished power threat, however, Cuban-born Yasmani Tomas is the biggest X-factor in the free agent market.

Tomas is prolific power hitter in his native Cuba, and has played five seasons in the Serie Nacional professional league, despite being just 23. His youth and power potential will make him the one of the most sought after free agents, despite the fact he has never played a game in the United States.

Rusney Castillo, the most recent Cuban defector signed a seven-year, $72.5 million contract with the Boston Red Sox last month. While Castillo is 27, and viewed as more of a finished product than the raw, but powerful Tomas. Some experts have predicted that Tomas' contract could surpass the massive commitment that Castillo obtained.

When a player with Tomas' ability and potential hits the market, one would expect the usual suspects to be involved in negotiations. According to Peter Gammons, that prediction is correct. The New York Yankees, Texas Rangers, San Francisco Giants and Detroit Tigers are all considered to be early front-runners for the powerful Cuban. However, according to the same article, Gammons mentioned that the San Diego Padres are interested as well. Those San Diego Padres?

The Padres are typically not a team that is involved in any big-name free agent contracts. The Padres signed reclamation project Josh Johnson and reliever Joaquin Benoit to free agent deals totaling $23.5 million last season.