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Why I’m okay with extending Hundley and trading Grandal

March 18th, 2012 by

(Earlier today, Jim Bowden semi-coherently tweeted that the Padres are talking to Hundley about an extension and “fielding interest on impressive catching depth but said they are not motivated to trade from it.”)

Before I start, I just want to say that I understand that I’m jumping to conclusions here in assuming that it’s one or the other. The Padres could very well be looking at Hundley and Grandal as a two-headed catching monster moving forward. However, since I don’t believe that creating this monster is the best use of the team’s resources, I want to start by saying I told you so.

After the 2010 season, when the team announced that Hundley would become the starting catcher, I argued that Nick Hundley is not our enemy and this season, he rewarded my faith by busting out with +3.5 WAR, tying him for seventh in the league among catchers. Hundley was able to reach this mark by being an absolute beast at Petco. At Petco! He had a 160 home wRC+ (!) this season and his 123 career home wRC+ is tied for second (with Mark Loretta) for players with at least 300 PA in Petco. Considering that Byrnes and co. seem to be letting the park dictate how they build their lineup, hanging onto a guy who’s Petco-proof is a good way to start.

Now putting on my old man hat, I like Nick Hundley because he clearly likes being a Padre. Over the past two winters, it feels like Nick Hundley has been everywhere. Every time the Padres unveil a new uniform, he’s there. Every time they’re out there kissing babies or whatever, he’s there. The man is omnipresent. Maybin’s new contract may signal that he’s the new Mr. Padre but as far as I’m concerned, he has to wrestle that title away from Hundley first.

Having said all that, I feel confident that Grandal will end up being the better catcher. He’s the third best catching prospect in baseball (depending on whether or not you still consider Jesus Montero a catcher) because he can flat out hit. He has the kind of bat that could play elsewhere (which sounds like a whole nother article) but it’s for this reason that I want to see what Grandal can bring back in a trade.

Over the winter, the Rockies traded Chris Iannetta to the Angels for Tyler Chatwood and I bring this up because it is the kind of trade that we can look forward to if we put Hundley out on the market. And in case you’re wondering, Tyler Chatwood is something of an Andrew Cashner-type, and while we just traded a top prospect for the epitomic Andrew  Cashner-type, I think that we could do better with Grandal. Maybe the Rays don’t make a deal with Hak-Ju Lee (and with Jose Molina behind the dish, can you blame them?) but he’s the type of player that the Padres could target if they put Grandal out there.

And then there’s Austin Hedges. Maybe it’s a little premature to take him into consideration when making future plans but if there’s anyone worth getting illogical about, it’s Hedges. If you listen to the scouting reports, Hedges’ defense could play in the majors right now at age nineteen and if you listen to Keith Law, he has a “chance to hit for average with 15-20 homer power (at least).” Assuming that he doesn’t get hurt (which is admittedly a big assumption), it’s a matter of when and not if Hedges will reach the bigs. He could very well make it up by 2015, which would be the last year of a three-year extension for Hundley and it would give Hedges a year to apprentice before making the first of many All-Star appearances.

None of this is to say that the Padres have to follow this path. That two-headed catching monster does sound like some kinda nice. But if the Padres do choose to move forward with Sloth, I won’t be too upset and neither should you. He’s still not your enemy.

Posted in misc, players | 2 Comments »

The Padres top 10 prospects (according to the fans)

March 9th, 2012 by

Yesterday, I posted a list of the consensus top 10 prospects in our system according to the experts but what do they know? Well, actually, a lot. Nevermind that point. But just because they know a lot doesn’t mean there’s nothing else to know. For instance, for all their knowledge, I’m not sure how personally invested the experts are in the Padres so with that in mind, I looked at the people who are and found out what they thought.

The following list is compiled from the opinons of Geoff Young, Mickey Koke, Peter Friberg, the teams at Padres Prospects and Mad Friars, and the miscreants at the UTSD forums.

But first a disclaimer, though not the one you were probably expecting. While all lists were either made or updated after the Rizzo and Latos trades, one list left Casey Kelly off of their top 30. Assuming that this list simply forgot him and doesn’t think he’s only the second best Kelly in our system, I had to use more frog DNA to figure things out.

01. Yonder Alonso, 1B

DOB: April 8, 1987
Projects to start 2012 at San Diego (MLB)

02. Yasmani Grandal, C
DOB: November 8, 1988
Projects to start 2012 at Tucson (Triple-A)

03. Robbie Erlin, SP
DOB: October 8, 1990
Projects to start 2012 at Tucson (Triple-A)

04. Rymer Liriano, OF
DOB: June 20, 1991
Projects to start 2012 at Lake Elsinore (High-A)

05. Jedd Gyorko, 3B
DOB: September 23, 1988
Projects to start 2012 at San Antonio (Double-A)

06. Keyvius Sampson, SP
DOB: January 6, 1991
Projects to start 2012 at Lake Elsinore (High-A)

07. Joe Wieland, SP

DOB: January 21, 1990
Projects to start 2012 at Tucson (Triple-A)

08. Jaff Decker, OF
DOB: February 23, 1990
Projects to start 2012 at San Antonio (Double-A)

09. Casey Kelly, SP
DOB: October 4, 1989
Projects to start 2012 at Tucson (Triple-A)

10. Cory Spangenberg, 2B
DOB: March 16, 1991
Projects to start 2012 at Fort Wayne (Single-A)

A couple of things jump out. The fans expect more out of Robbie Erlin, as he ranked third on this list compared to tenth on the experts’. It make sense when you consider that Erlin has amazing numbers (career 1.15 BB/9) but lacks the tools of higher-end prospects and I’m not sure how often we fans got out to San Antonio.

The second thing that jumps out to me is that that the fans are not ready to believe in Hedges and Ross yet, which again makes sense when you consider access to in-person evaluation. Ross only has one professional inning under his belt while Hedges only has 34 plate appearances. I know I’m very excited for Hedges but I agree with the listmakers who’d like to see him do something before really getting on-board.

In place of Hedges and Ross, the fans put Decker and Sampson on the list, which I absolutely agree with. A bad rap seems to have stuck itself to Decker and he’s had a hard time proving that he’s no longer the stocky high schooler the Padres drafted in 2008. He won’t sell many jeans but as we all should know now, that’s not the point.

Finally, I just want to note that the top three on this list were one vote apart each, with Liriano not that far behind at four. If you’re looking for sweeping generalizations, it’s this: Alonso, Grandal, and Liriano are the stars of this system. For anyone looking for a bandwagon to get on, you’ve got three right there.

Posted in the seminary | 1 Comment »

The Padres top 10 prospects (according to the experts)

March 8th, 2012 by

As you (also) already knew, Keith Law over at ESPN named our farm system the best in baseball this winter. But who’s the best prospect in the best system? As I’ve never attended a minor league game before in my life, I have no idea but the internet is full of people who do. Specifically, Matt Eddy, Kevin Goldstein, Law, Jonathan Mayo, and John Sickels and these five give us the consensus you’re about to read.

But first, a disclaimer. Not all of these lists were published after the Latos trade that brought over Alonso and Grandal, or the trade that sent Rizzo to Chicago, so a little bit of frog DNA had to be used. It may not be the most accurate list (of different people’s opinions) but I think it’s close enough.

01. Rymer Liriano, OF
DOB: June 20, 1991
Projects to start 2012 at Lake Elsinore (High-A)

02. Yonder Alonso, 1B
DOB: April 8, 1987
Projects to start 2012 at San Diego (MLB)

03. Yasmani Grandal, C
DOB: November 8, 1988
Projects to start 2012 at Tucson (Triple-A)

04. Casey Kelly, SP
DOB: October 4, 1989
Projects to start 2012 at Tucson (Triple-A)

05. Jedd Gyorko, 3B
DOB: September 23, 1988
Projects to start 2012 at San Antonio (Double-A)

06. Cory Spangenberg, 2B
DOB: March 16, 1991
Projects to start 2012 at Fort Wayne (Single-A)

07. Joe Wieland, SP
DOB: January 21, 1990
Projects to start 2012 at Tucson (Triple-A)

08. Joe Ross, SP
DOB: May 21, 1993
Projects to start 2012 at Eugene (Low-A)

09. Austin Hedges, C
DOB: August 18, 1992
Projects to start 2012 at Fort Wayne (Single-A)

10. Robbie Erlin, SP
DOB: October 8, 1990
Projects to start 2012 at Tucson (Triple-A)

Notes:

  • Surprised to see Liriano at the top spot? He only came in first on Goldstein’s list, which was written before the Latos trade, so it looks like he benefited the most from the frog DNA.
  • Sickels and Mayo both ranked Alonso first but Law ranked him fifth.
  • Kelly was a divisive pick. He finished in three top threes but Goldstein and Sickels put him at seven and eight (respectively).
  • Keyvius Sampson actually received four top ten picks but none above seven and Law left him completely off his list.
  • James Darnell (Sickels) and Jaff Decker (Law) each received one tenth place vote.

Posted in the seminary | 3 Comments »

The Twenty-Five Million Dollar Man

March 4th, 2012 by

In case you haven’t heard, and you are doing it wrong if you’re using us for breaking news, the Padres and Cameron Maybin agreed on a five-year extension worth $25 million and an option for a sixth year. For the first time since 2007, the Padres have locked up a young player and made jersey-purchasing decisions easy for the rest of us.

This is a great moment for Padre fans but there is a question that I can’t quite shake: Who exactly did the Padres just lock up? Literally, they locked up Cameron Keith Maybin from Asheville, North Carolina but that’s not what I meant and you know it.

Comparisons are a big part of extensions and word is that extension talk got off to a slow start with Hoyer because he wasn’t happy with the comps Maybin’s agent was making. With a new GM, and a new agent for Maybin, those problems seem to have been cleared up but it still cuts to the heart of the mystique of Maybin.

Two months ago, MLB Trade Rumors looked into Maybin themselves and threw out the names Franklin Gutierrez, Jose Tabata, and Denard Span as comparisons. All three are defensive-minded outfielders with varying degrees of power even if none of the three will ever take part in a Home Run Derby. The three of them averaged five years and $17.25 million, so why did the Padres give Maybin eight million more?

At 6’3″ and 220 pounds, Maybin wears a mean pair of jeans. It’s easy to look at him and see Mike Cameron, a premiere defensive center fielder and perennial 25/25 guy. And it’s easy to think that Maybin sees himself the same way. When he’s at the plate, he takes hacks, which is a big reason why he struck 125 times last year. His career 25.5% K/9 is just a bit above Cameron’s 24.1%. However, whenever Cameron did make contact, he hit the ball in the air. When Maybin does, he keeps it on the ground. Over the course of his career, Maybin’s hit the ball on the ground 406 times, or 54.5%. Since 2009, the only player to hit the ball on the ground half the time (and this is out of 31 players) to average more than 20 home runs is Hunter Pence. Among the other 30 names, we see a lot of players like Elvis Andrus and the aforementioned Span. And Maybin actually comes in at eight, right behind Juan Pierre.

Fortunately, Maybin is incredibly fast so hitting on the ball isn’t that bad of an idea. Last year, he was second only to Ichiro in infield hits with 30. Maybe Bud Black should take a fictional page out of Lou Brown’s book and assign Maybin twenty pushups for every ball he hits in the air. You know, if that’s what he wants.

This could all be a moot point. Maybin could come in this year and smash shot after shot off of the Western Metal building. Or he could continue to do what he do and chase fifty steals in the process. Either way sounds good to me, I just hope nobody minds if it’s the latter, particularly the ones signing the checks.

Posted in hot stove, players | 1 Comment »

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