I’ve been seeing, or maybe just feeling, a lot of people wondering when the Padres are going to start the offseason. While the team has resigned Kevin Correia and brought in Dusty Ryan for catching depth, it’s a fair question. Many of the big names are off the table (this article is written on the heels of former Padre Jason Bay signing with the Mets), but the Padres were never going to be players in that game. Smaller names have also gone, including Mike Cameron, and that is more of an area of concern. Just not a big one.
Picking up Brian Giles’ extension last offseason was a mistake. Which isn’t to say that it was a bad call, because it wasn’t. Giles had a great 2008, and he looked like a steal at $6 million (his option was for $9 million, but he had a $3 million buyout), but we now know that Giles was a detriment to the team. For just as much money, the team could’ve signed Bobby Abreu*. The Angels gave $5 million to Abreu to play right field, and he rewarded them with 2.5 wins. And while the Padres locked their right fielder up in early November, the Angels waited until February to get theirs.
(*There are a lot of factors that go into a player signing in a certain city, and just because a veteran All-Star signed at a price to play for a team with a serious shot at the World Series doesn’t mean he would with a team that just cut ties with it’s franchise player over money.)
Jed Hoyer, it would seem, is in no hurry. Which isn’t to say that nothing’s happened, because players the Padres have shown interest in have signed somewhere (Coco Crisp, Henry Blanco). It’s just that none have signed with us. And that’s not a bad thing.
It’s not just about free agents with question marks that saw their prices go down, though Orlando Hudson would be a nice little upgrade. In the past couple of weeks, the Oakland A’s have added two more outfielders (Crisp, Michael Taylor) to go with the ones they already have (Rajai Davis, Ryan Sweeney, and Scott Hairston). While it’s not a given, I wonder if the A’s are looking/willing to move one of them. Maybe the right-handed center fielder who’s shown that he can handle Petco Park. The Padres have shown an interest in a right-handed hitting center fielder and, with Tony Gwynn, Jr. already on the team, he doesn’t even have to hit right-handed pitching. A platoon partner for AJ could be a very economical acquisition for the team and one option that didn’t present itself until recently.
I don’t know what Hoyer’s thinking. Maybe he’s still busy assembling his front office team. Maybe he’s not done familiarizing himself with the Padres and what he has to work with. Or maybe he’s found himself caught up in the hardcore world of carne asada and is in need of an intervention. These are all reasonable explanations for why this team has been so inactive this postseason, and to be fair, it could all be a matter of Hoyer having no idea what he’s doing. Just remember that the season hasn’t started.
I invite you to think back on the offseason prior to the 2006 season. In an attempt to make room for Josh Barfield, and following the acquisition of Cameron and Vinny Castilla to fill two other holes, Kevin Towers sent Mark Loretta to Boston for Doug Mirabelli. The team would later sign Todd Greene to serve as his backup, giving the team a veteran backstop duo. And then, on February 3rd, the team released Greene to make way for Mike Piazza, who was coming off an injury-plagued and down (by his standards) year. For a million and a quarter, Towers brought in a legitimate cleanup hitter who slugged over .500. And he waited till February to do it.
This article names Reed Johnson as AJ’s potential platoon partner. His is an intriguing name, as he has a career OPS against left-handed pitching of .841, in over a thousand plate appearances. And he’s a free agent.