Susan Luzzaro 6:30 p.m., July 31
Padres could do something by doing nothing
What do the Padres do with the second half of the season?
The rollercoaster that is the 2013 season for the San Diego Padres will continue after the All-Star break on Friday, but what are realistic expectations for this club through September? There have been unexpected injuries, team slumps and streaks, and most recently, a key change within the organization’s front office.
General Manager Josh Byrnes has suggested the Padres aren’t likely to try and acquire help this season in light of their recent free-fall in the National League West standings. The club is 42-54 this season, and has lost 19 of the last 25 games.
Barring a most unlikely scenario where the Friars go on a tear in the second half of the season, they’re not going to be in any sort of a position to compete in the division this year.
So if the Padres aren’t buyers, does that make them sellers? Not necessarily. In order to sell something, or trade something in this case, you have to have a valuable commodity in order to get value in return.
It’s probably in looking at what the Padres have of value that will dictate the likelihood of selling or not selling. For example, Carlos Quentin is signed through 2015 and his contract contains a no-trade clause, so regardless of interest in him from other teams, the decision is ultimately his to make.
It seems logical that Quentin would draw some interest from clubs that could use a .270 outfielder good for another 15 home runs this season. But the next two seasons of his contract are worth $17.5 million, and whichever team he would waive his no trade clause for would still inherit that clause, so they would be stuck with Quentin beyond their need for his services.
Chase Headley still has a year of being arbitration eligible and would be great trade bait if the Padres got an offer they couldn’t refuse. But Chase is having a down year at the plate, which makes that scenario unlikely.
Edinson Volquez has little value as his inconsistency on the mound doesn’t guarantee a contender the piece in the rotation they would need to rely on. But if the Padres got an offer for Edinson, it seems reasonable that they would move him since he’s a clear free agent at the end of the year. However, it doesn’t seem reasonable that this would happen.
Huston Street will likely get some interest from contending teams. Street has been bumpy at times this season, but perhaps the most important statistic in his favor is that the closer has only blown one save while saving 15 games.
On the negative side, Street’s high earned run average (4.15) and propensity toward giving up the home runs (10) will drag his value down. Three times this season, Street has lost games he entered to preserve a tie. He is signed through 2014 at a relatively thrifty sum of $7 million per year, which slots nicely for the Padres to retain a veteran closer.
But the most important factor in considering whether the Padres can afford to trade Huston – presuming that another team offers good value in such a trade – is in how the club feels it can replace him in 2014. If the 2013 season is lost, then he could be replaced by committee, with young arms like Brad Brach, Brad Boxberger, and Miles Mikolas available to try and step in during the last months this year.
But Brach, Boxberger, and Mikolas have yet to prove they are ready to become true closers at the major league level, and if the Padres are to enter 2014 with designs on competing for a playoff spot, they’ll need a veteran closer or at least a promising one. Minor leaguer Kevin Quackenbush has quickly ascended up the ladder and is currently negotiating the Pacific Coast League in AAA, and while he seems poised to become the next home-grown Padres closer, he’s never pitched in a game at the big league level.
All of this will have to be sorted out according to however the Padres front office evaluates their existing talent against whatever they would receive in trade for Street. They aren’t going to tip their hand before they make a move, but the move or non-move will demonstrate where they slot their young talent in a closer’s role for 2014.
As for others, relief pitchers Luke Gregerson and Joe Thatcher will probably draw interest, but both are still arbitration eligible for 2014 and the Padres are thin on good veteran relief pitching. Any interest for other pitchers – save for the young arms that the Padres won’t part with – seems negligible.
Regardless of what the Padres might say publicly – about no players being untouchable – there is constant posturing (not to mention constant interest from other teams) when it comes to touting that the right deal could bring a big trade. And while that’s certainly possible, people like GM Josh Byrnes and Vice President of Professional Scouting A.J. Hinch are not reckless novices.
Yonder Alonso is going nowhere unless the duo are unknowingly slipped a Mickey Finn in their scotches during a face-to-face negotiating session. Same goes with Jedd Gyorko, Andrew Cashner, and a few others.
Something else that the Padres have avoided recently is trading away their young minor league talent, which was nurtured and coveted by former General Manager Jed Hoyer, the talented GM who took the same position with the Chicago Cubs. Byrnes and Hinch also seem to see the value in this philosophy and in 2014 with injuries mended, Casey Kelly, Cory Luebke, and Joe Wieland will join Andrew Cashner and your choice of Robbie Erlin or Tyson Ross (and perhaps veterans like Eric Stults if the Padres are interested in offering him arbitration) to fill out a nice starting rotation.
Relief pitching in 2014 will need to be addressed, along with shoring up an outfield depending on the health of Cameron Maybin and Kyle Blanks. There are plenty of pieces to be assembled in order to turn the Padres into contenders next season.
But for the 2nd half of 2013? The Padres don’t have to do anything, and probably shouldn’t do anything unless there is extreme value in it. Meanwhile, the boys will continue to try hard to win, because that’s what this club does. In the spirit of Comic-Con here in San Diego, as Yoda once pointed out, there is a distinct difference between trying and doing and any trade made to improve the club for next season should reflect that philosophy above all others.
Friday, the Padres continue with baseball in 2013 as they find themselves in St. Louis to face the Cardinals. The Friars will employ Jason Marquis (9-4, 3.77) to face Jake Westbrook (5-4, 2.88) of the Cardinals. Game time is 5:15 PM PDST and can be watched on Fox Sports San Diego, or caught on radio 1090 AM.