30 Teams in 30 Days: San Diego Padres Roundtable

Padres

Our guest bloggers is Matt Seybold from The Sporting Hippeaux, Michael Metzger from Padres Trail, and Websoulsurfer from Websoulsurfer.

Question 1 – How long until Adrian Gonzalez is traded and what type of package should they receive?
Aaron: Living in here in San Diego, I really believed the Padres’ new ownership would not deal away Gonzalez. Much like Tony Gwynn during the infamous “fire sale” era from 1993-95, Gonzalez is the heart and soul (and face) of a franchise that’s still a ways away from contending. But, when Gonzalez came to camp this year and publicly addressed his next contract – something Gwynn never did so boldly – it was clear that the Pads had to move him. Gonzalez won’t take a hometown discount – not that there was a chance he would – and the Pads won’t pay open market prices. If I’m the Pads deal him, they need at least two big league-ready hitters (preferably who can play somewhere up the middle) and perhaps another pair of “upside” guys who are a bit farther away from The Show. Regardless, a good deal of the Pads fan base will riot (on sports talk-radio phone lines) when Gonzalez is gone.

Matt: Much as with Jake Peavy last spring, we are now at the point of asking when, not if. Unlike with Peavy, who’s questionable healthy perhaps forced the Padres to offer a moderate discount, Gonzalez has proven himself durable, consistent, and is in the prime of his career. His OBP and SLG have both risen consistently over the last two years, as he posted career highs in OPS, HR, and BB in 2009. People have to ask, if he can hit 40 HR playing half his games at Petco Park with zero lineup protection, how many could he hit in Boston or New York or Chicago? He is an asset on both offense and defense. Plus, he’s signed to an extraordinarily reasonable contract for both this year and next. So, whoever wants to go Gonzo at the trading deadline is going to have to offer up a premium package, with probably at least two of their top five prospects and probably three of their top ten.

Boston has been the main source of rumors (although I don’t see how he fits into their current lineup) and they would probably start their offer with Casey Kelly and Lars Anderson. The Mets would have to kick off negotiations by offering Fernando Martinez and Wilmer Flores. Atlanta would be a logical destination, but they’d probably have to part with Tommy Hanson or Jason Heyward in order to get the deal done (which I don’t think will happen). The White Sox also make some sense, but they may not have enough left in the farm system to get the deal done. The Giants may be the most logical trading partner, as they have both high-end talent and a desperate need for offense. Would San Diego move Gonzalez within their own division?

Michael: It’s a given the Padres will not re-sign Gonzalez should he remain with the team through 2011. They couldn’t afford Jake Peavy’s contract, and I don’t see their financial situation improving 3 years later to the point where they can pay Gonzo similar money.

As for how long until he’s traded, look at Gonzo like teams looked at Cliff Lee last year. Part of the reason Philadelphia traded for Lee was because he had parts of 2 seasons left on his contract. They got Lee for the stretch run in 2009, and controlled him for another run at the pennant in 2010 (the fact he was traded this off-season doesn’t invalidate the logic in obtaining him).

Gonzo is another great player performing at a level far above his compensation level, making him an incredible value. A lot of teams would love to have a guy like that for this season’s stretch run and all of next season. Because of that, his value may never be higher than it will be at the trade deadline this season. Personally, if the Padres aren’t in contention for a playoff spot, I believe Gonzo will be gone by 1 August.

As far as who specifically they should get back in return, I can’t say. However, the Padres organization is weakest at second base and catcher, so I would think they’d try and get a ML-ready second baseman, one that can step in right away and replace Eckstein, and AAA-caliber (minimum) catcher. After that, whatever high value prospects they can pry from the other team.

Eugene: I think Gonzalez will be dealt at the deadline. If he wouldn’t have said that he’s not giving a discount, then the trade may have been pushed back to the off-season. I think Boston will be in on him – they could start an offer with Casey Kelly and Jed Lowrie. I also think the Mets could make an offer, but it won’t be as strong as what Boston could offer.

Websoulsurfer: The Padres will likely trade Adrian Gonzalez as we approach the trading deadline on July 31.

This gives their trade partner two extremely valuable playoff runs with Adrian Gonzalez at 1B and will be when his value is highest in terms of potential return.

According to mlbtraderumors.com, the Padres were asking for Clay Buchholz, Lars Anderson, Jed Lowrie, Ryan Westmoreland, and Justin Masterson on July 31st last season.

According to Buster Olney and mlbtraderumors.com, the Padres turned down a trade that involved Buchholz, Tazawa, Anderson and two more prospects.

They are certainly not going to be looking for any less in return for Gonzalez in 2010.

Question 2 – Who will anchor the starting pitching? How will the rotation shape up?
Matt: The Padres would like their Ace to be Chris Young and, as he’s looking pretty strong so far this spring, that’s probably how the season will begin. Young hasn’t made 30 starts since ’07 and he’s never pitched as many as 180 innings, so he’ll need to prove himself a little more durable before we can call him an “anchor.”

Kevin Correia is next in line. He pitched quite well in his first season in San Diego (12-11, 3.98 ERA, 198 IP), but the converted reliever is much more likable as a #3 than as a #1.

I think Mat Latos and Sean Gallagher will also join rotation on Opening Day, with Clayton Richard and Aaron Poreda not terribly far behind, making it highly unlikely that the Padres will exercise their 2011 options on Young and Jon Garland.

Michael: Chris Young was a stud two years ago, but as Matt correctly pointed out, he’s only thrown 178 innings the last two years combined. Mentally he may be the same pitcher, but physically he still isn’t. I think expecting Chris Young to be the #1 starter on this team is unfair and unrealistic.

Kevin Correia should be the Ace of this staff, based on how he pitched last season. Since spring training stats don’t matter, we’ll move past his 7 ER in 8 2/3 IP so far in 2010.

After that, I expect to see Jon Garland, Chris Young, Clayton Richard, and Mat Latos round out slots 2-5 in the rotation.

Websoulsurfer: This is an excerpt from a series of upcoming articles on www.websoulsurfer.com on the Padres pitching situation.

Most people consider Chris Young the Padres #1 and for the most part they are correct. If he is healthy, Young has the stuff to be a top of the rotation starter. His 1st half in 2007 was among the best we have seen from a Padres pitcher since 1998. After returning from being hit in the face by a comebacker off the bat of Albert Pujols in 2008 Young was dominant in his last 5 starts. In 2009 Young had a shoulder injury that ended his season in June and resulted in surgery. While his control is still a work in progress this spring, his velocity and the movement on his stuff has returned to 2007 levels.

Kevin Correia will likely fill the #2 slot in the rotation. In his first season for the Padres, Correia turned in a solid performance. Correia did struggle early, but then in June he stretched out his delivery to keep his follow through in a straight line towards home plate and started throwing his curve more. The result was a 2 mph bump in the average velocity of his fastball and a 3.91 ERA in 198 IP.

The Padres newest addition, Jon Garland will anchor the pitching staff. Garland will not be the team “Ace”, the Padres don’t currently have true ace on the staff, but Garland is a durable inning eating type whose performance should improve in Petco. Garland has averaged 196 IP and a 4.34 ERA while pitching 7 seasons for the White Sox, 1 season for the Angels and splitting 2009 between the Dodgers and Diamondbacks.

Eugene: I don’t think Young is an option until he proves he’s healthy. They really don’t have a true ace, so Correia will be the winner by default. I think Latos will have a big year. Garland will be his same old self, maybe a touch better because of the ball park. I like Richards closing out the rotation. They do have options, with Carillo, Poreda, Gallagher, and Stauffer as insurance if/when Young goes down.

Question 3 – Which player will have a breakout season?
Eugene: Everth Cabrera could be the best pick here. He’s got speed and I expect him to run. I wouldn’t rule out 50 stolen bases. Moving Chase Headley back to third could help him produce at the plate; he’ll be more comfortable at third.

Matt: Everth Cabrera is definitely the trendy pick in fantasy baseball circles, as many took notice of his fairly strong performance after being handed the everyday job. He may be a less-hyped version of Elvis Andrus. The more potent bat definitely belongs to Kyle Blanks, who hit 10 HR in 148 AB last year, before an injury preemptively ended his season. He’s Adrian Gonzalez’s heir apparent at first base, but will have to play left field until the trade deadline. Blanks will probably strike out in bunches this season, but he raked throughout the minor leagues (and last year), so I don’t think there will be horrible growing pains. I think 25 HR and a 850+ OPS are very reasonable expectations.

Michael: I’m going with Chase Headley or Kyle Blanks. If I had to choose one, it’d be Blanks.

Blanks is the one position player not named Adrian Gonzalez I’m really excited about watching in 2010. He hit for a .898 OPS in 5 minor league seasons, and last year at AAA Portland he had a .878 OPS in 280 plate appearances. The cool thing about him is his Padre OPS (.868) almost matched his AAA OPS in 2009.

With a chance to play everyday, and given his 2009 performance at the Major League level, Blanks is poised to have a huge year. Perhaps a .230/.350/.450 slash line, 37 HR and 92 RBI isn’t out of reach. Not bad for his first full season in the majors.

Question 4 – Which place with the Padres finish in?
Matt: Very little about the NL West is easy to predict. Four teams have a real shot at contending. Unfortunately for the Padres, they are quite obviously the fifth. San Diego played above their heads in the final two months of ’09 (33-25) and were able to beat out the star-crossed D-Backs for fourth place. I don’t see it happening again, especially if Adrian Gonzalez and Heath Bell (among others) move on at the trade deadline. The Padres are clearly in rebuilding mode and thus far I think they’re doing a pretty good job of it. They know what they’re looking for out of the 2010 season and it doesn’t have anything to do with wins.

Websoulsurfer: 81 wins and 3rd place.

Michael: Tied for Third with 81 wins.

I sent mine before I read his….no seriously, I did.

Eugene: Last – I don’t see them passing anyone in the division with the team they have.

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