Saturday, December 21, 2013

Padres to Sign Joaquin Benoit

On December 3rd, the San Diego Padres dealt set-up man Luke Gregerson to the Oakland A's for outfielder Seth Smith. This trade caused an uproar among Padres fans who wanted a Josh Reddick-type hitter to plug into the middle of the line-up. To put it lightly, Smith is not that type of player. I was among those who were upset by the deal, expecting more and holding concerns about the back-end of the Padres bullpen, with Gregerson out of the picture. The move didn't make much sense, considering they did not have a lot of depth in the bullpen and most fans thought Gregerson was worth more. To appease the fanbase, the Padres made a big move to sign right-handed closer Joaquin Benoit to a 2-year contract worth 14 million dollars with a club option for a third season. 

Benoit will make 6 million dollars in 2014, and 8 million in 2015 with anoption for 2016 that includes a 1.5 million dollar buyout. Benoit will take Luke Gregerson's old role as the bridge to closer Huston Street. The 36-year old Joaquin Benoit has been one of the best relievers in the game over the last four seasons, posting a 2.53 ERA in almost 260 innings since the beginning of the 2010 season. He has a 2.82 ERA in 22.1 playoff innings, meaning he is a postseason performer and has experience in the playoffs, one thing that is lacking on the Padres roster. Benoit can close out games for the Padres if Street gets hurt as well, which has been a major problem over the last two seasons. The bottom line is that Benoit is an upgrade over Gregerson.

The real significance of the signing is that now the Padres have an 85 million dollar payroll, or the biggest payroll in San Diego Padres history (not including 8 million dollars still going to alterations to the ballpark this season). I think these owners are significantly better than the previous regime in spending money as well as interacting with the fanbase. The previous ownership group would have been projected to have a payroll of about 70-73 million dollars in 2014. This move certainly shows that San Diego is willing to open their wallet. I like this move quite a bit and it makes me excited to watch them play this season. With health, I could see this being a playoff team.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Exclusive Interview: Patrick Schuster

The Padres' newest addition was gracious enough to give If I Were GM an exclusive interview last night! We are very excited to have Patrick Schuster in a Padres uniform!

Q: How did you react when you got the call that you had been selected first overall in the Rule 5 draft? Did you think you were headed to the Astros instead of the Padres at the time?
A: I was really excited for the opportunity that the padres were giving me. I knew that the Astros had traded their pick last night but I wasn't expecting the Padres to make that move to be able to pick me.

Q: 2) I see you were "converted" to a reliever from a starter in 2011. How was the adjustment for you? What do you like more and/or less?
A: It was tough because I had been a starter my whole life so it was definitely something different for me but I just kept at it and learning to right and wrong ways of doing and adjusting to how my body felt and everything worked out well with the success that I had last year it makes me a more confident relief pitcher . I'm inclined to say I'll like whichever gets me to the big leagues.

Q: The jump from A+ ball to the majors is a big one. What are you most excited/nervous about in making the jump?
A: I'm just really excited to have a chance to prove to people that guys can be ready to make that jump out of the lower levels. It's a tough mindset grinding in the summer wondering when you'll get an opportunity and I want to show people it can be done and I'm going to work my butt off to show that the Padres didn't make a mistake by taking me first overall.

Q: At the trade deadline last year, the Diamondbacks traded pitcher Ian Kennedy to the Padres for Joe Thatcher. The trade left a gaping hole in the Padres bullpen and is a big reason the Padres acquired you. Did you think much of the trade when it happened?
A: No not at all. It was sad to see Ian go because he was such a big part of the Diamondbacks organization but I had no clue it would affect my career.

Q: The Padres have have Huston Street who has been a top reliever in the the A's and Rockies organization before coming to San Diego and are rumored to be looking into relievers Scott Downs and Joaquin Benoit. How excited are you to be able to work with the Padres bullpen?
A: Very excited. I got to watch Huston throw a rehab game against us in Lake Elsinore and seemed like a great guy. I just want to be able to help the ballclub in any way I can.

Q: Before we finish up, do you have anything you would like to say to all of the Padres' fans out there?
A: I'm so grateful for their warm welcome and glad to see how excited they are about the move. I'm going to do all I can to make the Padres a better ball team and I can't wait to see them this spring training!!

Thank you so much Patrick for giving me the chance to interview you! You are a class act!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Padres Acquire Patrick Schuster from Astros

This morning, the San Diego Padres made one of the most interesting trades of the entire offseason, sending right handed reliever Anthony Bass with cash and a player to be named later to the Astros in exchange for a player to be named later. The Astros selected southpaw reliever Patrick Schuster from the Diamondbacks organization and traded him to the Padres as their player to be named later, the Astros did not see any talent that they liked with the Padres pick (12th overall) and elected to acquire the $50,000 dollar fee (to replace the money spent for drafting Schuster). The deal was announced in a confusing manner, but was cleared up after the rule 5 draft and by quotes from Josh Byrnes.

The deal fills a gaping hole that was opened by the deal that sent Joe Thatcher to Arizona in exchange for Ian Kennedy. At this point, I am very impressed with the Padres brass for finding ways to be creative. The Padres essentially moved up in the rule 5 draft without doing anything, as Anthony Bass would have been the player designated for assignment anyway. The scouting department deserves "kudos" for finding Schuster and Jake Lemmerman (who was picked up in the AAA phase of the rule 5 draft) and not losing any players in the draft.

Here is the rundown on Schuster. The 23-year old is a 6'1 lefty who will compete for the left-handed specialist job in San Diego. According to Josh Byrnes himself, the Padres brass has been eyeing Schuster for several weeks and had received excellent reports from A-ball. The reliever posted an ERA of 1.83 in 55 games in A+ ball, turning some heads last season.

They Padres have had success in recent years in the rule 5 draft, selecting Ivan Nova (who was returned that spring training, but has become a successful starter with the Yankees) and Everth Cabrera, the team's sole all-star representative in 2013. The Padres also have a history of finding diamonds in the rough when it comes to bullpen arms. I love this move!