Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Next Season

With the way the Padres are playing, it is highly unlikely that they will win the division. Third place is slowly slipping away, and the Padres didn't help their case by being mashed last night by the current team in 3rd place (Rockies). It seems like we need to (again) look to next year and the future.

AP Photo/Chris Schneider
Currently, there are incentives to tank. We are currently projected to have the 7th overall selection in the draft, while we are 2.0 games back of the 4th overall pick and 8.5 back of the 2nd overall pick. We are even 15.5 games back of the first overall pick. There is no incentive for being in the middle ground, since you get a higher draft pick, more international money, and more draft pick money for losing, teams should lose if they aren't going to make the playoffs. There are a lot of bright spots to this team and they have a good amount of money to spend in the offseason, so maybe they should go the route the Indians took last year. They lost so much that they scored a protected pick, and then scooped up two big name free agents without giving up draft picks (Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn). Looking at this year's free agent class, it is probably the strongest in recent memory. Looking at next year's team, the Padres could use a veteran catcher to pair with Nick Hundley until Yasmani Grandal is healthy (or Austin Hedges is ready). Carlos Ruiz or Jarrod Saltalamacchia could be good fits. The outfield seems set with a combination of Cameron Maybin, Jaff Decker, Carlos Quentin, Kyle Blanks, Chris Denorfia, Rymer Liriano, Reymond Fuentes, and Will Venable, but an established major league outfielder could be a good addition. If the Padres don't think Liriano is ready for the majors after a stint in the Arizona Fall League, a veteran outfielder would be a good pick-up. Nelson Cruz could be an interesting pick-up, since he would come cheap and on a one or two year deal after involvement in the biogenesis scandal. Since 2009, the 33-year old outfielder has averaged 27 home runs a season with a .270 average.

Looking at the pitching, this is where it gets complicated. After trading away Joe Thatcher, the Padres will need to add another lefty to the bullpen, because Colt Hynes isn't cutting it. 38-year old Scott Downs is looking sharp for the Braves and will be a free agent. Another lefty, Eric O'Flaherty is coming off elbow surgery, but would be a good minor league signing. Two other buy low candidates are Red Sox reliever Joel Hanrahan and free agent reliever Ryan Madson, who hasn't pitched since 2011. Madson will have a hard time getting a major league deal, but from 2007 to 2011, Madson was one of the best relievers in the game, before his injury. Hanrahan had 76 saves over the last two seasons, but this year he was injured early. Now moving on to starting pitching. Ian Kennedy, Tyson Ross, and Andrew Cashner have looked like front of the rotation starters. Eric Stults has proven to be reliable. Youngsters Burch Smith, Robbie Erlin, Matthew Andriese, and Keyvius Sampson are knocking on the door. Injured pitchers Joe Wieland, Cory Luebke, and Casey Kelly are all trying to squeeze their way into the rotation. Depending on the next couple months, whoever steps up could win a job.

It seems that the biggest hole on this club is at catcher, and Austin Hedges is still a year and a half away. A couple bullpen arms would also be helpful. There is a large surplus of pitching depth, but a good starter wouldn't hurt if the price is right. A veteran outfielder could be worth the investment too, depending on Liriano's performance. Here is what the team would look like with some moves in the offseason:

1) SS Everth Cabrera
2) 1B Yonder Alonso
3) LF Carlos Quentin
4) RF Nelson Cruz FREE AGENT
5) 3B Chase Headley
6) 2B Jedd Gyorko
7) CF Cameron Maybin
8) C Carlos Ruiz FREE AGENT

SP1 Tyson Ross
SP2 Ian Kennedy
SP3 Andrew Cashner
SP4 Eric Stults
SP5 Keyvius Sampson

CL Huston Street
SU Luke Gregerson
SU Joel Hanrahan FREE AGENT
MR Nick Vincent
MR Brad Brach
LS Scott Downs FREE AGENT
LR Sean O'Sullivan

BN Chris Denorfia
BN Kyle Blanks
BN Logan Forsythe
BN Nick Hundley
BN Alexi Amarista

Notice I left out a couple big names, including Dale Thayer, Jesus Guzman, and Will "Potential" Venable. I really don't like Dale Thayer and don't trust him in important innings. He could slide into a middle relief role I guess. Guzman is a good bench bat, but Blanks is better and gets priority. Venable is one of my least favorite players in Padres history. He has been given chance after chance and will be 31. He hasn't ever done anything to prove he is a quality major league outfielder. Venable has consistently had a .250 average with 20 SB and 15 home runs, as well as good defense. He also strikes out one time every four at bats. I don't like Venable and I think we should trade him if another team makes an offer.

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