The flirtation with .500 …

Hey, I hate to be a downer here, but, well, I think the Padres flirtation with .500 baseball might be coming to an end.

The strained tendon in pitcher Jake Peavy’s ankle, one that will sideline him until August at the earliest, coupled with the start of Interleague Play, is certainly enough to derail a team that for all of its warts, has been hanging around .500 for most of the season.

Sadly, I don’t see how this current group can play at or stay near the .500 mark without Peavy anchoring the starting rotation. Chris Young, for as dominant as he can be, hasn’t been able to piece together consistent starts in a while while  he rest of the rotation, Correia, Gaudin and Geer haven’t shown they can pitch consistently well.

That the Padres are entering a stretch of 14 consecutive games against teams that are from the American League, beginning Saturday, won’t help either. Remember, the Padres were 3-15 last season in Interleague Play and I don’t think it’s any secret that the AL is by far the superior of the two leagues. Better players, better hitters.

Care to guess what the Padres record will be by July 1? It might not be pretty, though I do think there are ways to help the team stay close to .500. Here’s a few thoughts.

* When Everth Cabrera comes off the disabled list Friday, stick the 22-year-old in the starting lineup at shortstop and leave him there. I think we can all agree that Cabrera has the most upside of any of the shortstops the Padres have used this season and he represents the future for the team at that position. You didn’t sacrifice a spot on the 25-man roster because you think he’s a nice guy. He’s hitting during his Minor League rehab stint and his defense is better than anything yo have going. Everth Cabrera, your starting shortstop.

* Also, promote Minor League pitcher Mat Latos, who is considered the prized arm of the farm system. Yes, he’s 21 and doesn’t have a vast Minor League resume. You know who else did not? Jake Peavy, who jumped from Double-A to the Major Leagues. Latos is someone who might grow bored with the Minor Leagues and I believe you have to keep pushing these guys to see what they can handle. He’s 6-0 with a 0.56 ERA in two Minor League stops with 49 strikeouts and 11 walks in 48 innings. He’ll be here and it will be before September.

* Promote outfielder Drew Macias from Portland and work him into your outfield rotation with Headley, Hairston (when he returns from the disabled list) and Giles (leaving TGwynn alone in center, I like what he brings). I would say even give him some of the at-bats Giles was getting. Give him some of the at-bats Headley is getting. Macias is an athlete, is a good defender and can hit. I don’t know if he’ll ever be an everyday player, but he deserves a longer look.

In case you’re wondering, I’m close on calling for Kyle Blanks to be promoted. He’s hitting .343 this month and has his average back up to .271. He’s hitting with power, taking walks and has played 13 games in left field. If you promote Blanks, he’s coming up here to play every day, not sit on the bench. That means a dramatic shift in personel. I don’t think the Padres are quite there yet.

Anyway, a few ideas on a day where I got to the ballpark here in Anaheim way too early. Let me know what you think.

Cheers, Corey

9 Comments

Hey Corey. Couple thoughts:

While Jake Peavy and Mat Latos were both drafted out of high school, Mat isn’t quite at the same point in his career as Jake was when he was called up.

Jake pitched more than 400 innings in the minors. Mat is at 160.

And even more importantly, I don’t see the point in risking Mat’s development and confidence by giving him a full time spot in the Padres’ rotation. What does that get you? They’re not going to compete for the pennant next year.

I say the team should be extra cautious with Mat, unless the team really does _need_ him. He’s too valuable to the future of the franchise to approach the situation any other way.

Also, one question about Blanks. You mention his offensive success this season, but what about defense? You say he’s coming up to play full time, the assumption there would be left field, but can he do it?

I don’t think his quetion is going to be his offense.

That also means trading one of Kouz or Headley, presumably Kouz since Headley is much more valuable long term.

Is now the right time to trade Kouz? If there is any hope of him bouncing back, a hope I have, I’d rather stick with him in hopes of gaining some semblance of trade value.

Melvin, your point is well taken about the workload Peavy and Latos had at the same point in their careers but the Padres won’t use innings as a gauge as to if Latos is ready to make the leap.
And you’re risking Latos development by NOT moving him along up the chain, especially if he continues to dominate each level. What’s the use of leaving him in Double-A if he’s killing it?
Look, Latos is coming and it will be sooner than September. I credit the Padres for pushing these guys. You have to find out what you have.
The only way we don’t see Latos is if the team suffers a real tailspin here. They won’t bring him up then, to a clubhouse where the environment isn’t good.
Latos spent time in Major League camp this spring and, while he struggled on the field, surely handled everything else well. From what I’ve heard, he’s matured quite a bit since the team drafted him.
As for Blanks, I’ve been told his defense in left field has been good. Not great, but good. I think the throws will be a challenge for him, much like they were for Headley. I’ve been told he goes back on balls well, gets pretty good reads/jumps.
As for Kouz, you can argue that after this run of good swings lately that his value has never been higher. I don’t know if the team is fielding calls about him or what his value would be. I don’t really see the team moving him, mostly because the compensation wouldn’t be what the Padres would like.

I’d rather see Latos than Gaudin, Geer, LeBlanc, Silva and the list keeps going like the energizer bunny of pitchers that cant make it through 6 innings. I would promote Latos to AAA and have him get a few starts. He could take the place of the AAA pitcher that comes up to replace Peavy. As far as Blanks, I’d like to see him too this summer sometime. Shoot, lets face it Headley just isnt getting it done and maybe needs some bench time. I mean I can almost guarantee Blanks can hit for the measly .234 that Headley brings to the table each night. Headley more so than Kouz should be traded. He could bring us more in return than Kouz might and at least we know that Kouz can hit .300 ball since he has done it in the past for a few months to end the season the other year.

Hmmm. It’s the middle of June, and you’re right, Corey: It’s time to write off the season and take a peak at the future. Well, perhaps, more than a peak.

That’s what it means to write prescriptions to keep the team near .500. I guess this is to be expected, what with the Padres having the majors’ second-lowest payroll.

You know, I almost feel sorry for Padres’ management. They took a few tiny risks last winter that have all backfired — and in really big ways.

They wanted to shed Peavy’s contract liabilities, but decided to wait until the summer when his trade value would be higher. Oops. Now he’s injured and has no trade value.

They couldn’t decide whether to buy out Brian Giles’ remaining year at $4 million, or pay him $9 million to play. He batted near .300 last year with an OB% near .400. Those kind of numbers surely would help the Padres win; so would his clubhouse leadership. And if the rest of the team could not perform up to Giles’ level, if the club had a losing record in June or July, they could just trade him. So they gave him the nine mil. Oops. The guy turned out to be a 38-year-old singles hitter who is struggling to raise his average over .200. He’s worthless on the trade market.

They signed Cliff Floyd, a 37-year-old designated hitter, for $750,000 to be their power bat off the bench. Oops. He showed up fat and out of shape and has turned out to be an even bigger slug than Giles. He has even referred to himself as a liability.

On the flip side, the one huge risk that management took — pulling their offer to Trevor Hoffman, the Jesus Christ of relief pitchers — actually paid off. Heath Bell has stepped up in both the closer role and in a clubhouse leadership role.

Go figure.

So now what does management do to make the best of a broken season? It really has no choice. It has to make big roster moves, and not only so it can get a glimpse of the future, but to clear the poison out of the air while they are taking that glimpse.

Kevin Towers has to acknowledge his mistakes in signing Giles and Floyd, and the only way to do that is by waiving them. That means eating Giles’ $9 million salary. But it has to be done. If you’re one of the younger Padres making the league minimum or close to it — and that is most of the roster — it’s gotta really suck knowing that your team just doesn’t care about winning. It’s gotta really hurt knowing that winning is taking a backseat to giving a stage to a couple of atrophied old men who will not even be in the majors next year.

And that is not the kind of clubhouse atmosphere you want Everth Cabrera, Matt Latos, Drew Macias, Kyle Blanks, Luis Durango or any other promising youth stepping into. Putting these guys on a major league diamond is going to be pressure enough. But putting them on a diamond and at the same time forcing them to breathe the air of a poisoned clubhouse … who could succeed in that kind of atmosphere?

Thanks for the blog post Corey and I agree 100%

Plus what more does Geer and Moreno have to do to prove they cannot pitch at the major league level. Especially Geer. He has no business being a major league starter. He and Gaudin need to be removed from the rotation.

Drew Macias deserves to be the starter. Venable has not been very impressive.

Tx

Give up on this season and look to the future. That starts with trading pieces that aren’t part of the long term vision or are more valuable now then when we can use them (in a few years). Kooz is heating up as usual going on his mid-late season tear. Trade him and see what pitching or middle infield depth you can get. Move Headley out of left and back to 3rd, he is dying out there and it’s affecting him at the plate. Heath Bell has been a bright spot but he’s 32 and at the peak of his trade value. Sell high and build up the farm system. Giles needs to move out of the way and give that outfield spot to hairston/veneble/macias, test them all out. Dump him, no one will take on that salary, admit your gamble didn’t pay off and move on. Bring up Latos and Blanks now, take the pressure off them as we don’t need a savior, we need to look forward to next year. Start figuring out other options for next year’s rotation, Geer, Gaudin, Correia, … are bandaids on an openwound. Make this team more exciting even if it still ends in defeat.

they certainly need to start trying more things. i like geer, but they can’t depend on young to get wins and then hope for the best with the rest of the rotation. they need to start bringing people up or making trades. i see kouz going- probably for a starter, headley at 3rd and blanks at left before the end of the year. if giles becomes respectable, they’ll dump him in a trade for whatever they can get, and bring macias into the outfield mix. i want to see silva back and banks deserves a shot at the rotation too, he’s pitching well at portland.

Corey, I agree on all but your Macias position. Macias has the potential to be fun to watch, but I’d want to exhaust all possibilities of trading Giles. That probably means keeping him in the lineup through August (who would claim his $9mm salary off waivers?) and hoping he gets hot enough to interest a contender and get a lower level sleeper prospect in return. Keeping Macias in the lineup at Triple-A gets him AB’s against near major-league quality pitching.

It may be early to say this, but I see either Kouz or Headley at third as stopgaps for Forsythe and/or Darnell. Both need to work out their defensive issues, but represent much higher OPS potential. Headley still has a chance to work things out, but I see the same thing in his face that I see in Meredith’s… some combination of anxiety with naked fear. \

Aside: Where did Cla’s look from spring training go? He was dominant and knew it, but now he has the appearance of someone who knows he’s not good enough and is trying not to get found out. Which is baffling given that his ERA is 2.81! He’s let a lot of inherited runners score, so the ERA isn’t totally indicative of effectiveness.

Sadly, I agree that these next few weeks will probably kill our season. We did not do well when Jake went on the DL last year, and the same thing is going to happen this year. We’re already 0-3 in interleague this season, and we were pounded. We have four more interleague series, and if we don’t play any better then we did this weekend, we’re going to be as good as done. With every loss, the distance from the Dodgers widens. I think we’re going to be alone in the cellar very soon. What would be amazing is if the Padres could somehow pull off a great run right now, but I don’t really see that happening. We’re falling apart. I definitley think we need some new faces up here. Let’s see what Latos can do. I mean, he can pitch in the minors really really well. I would love to see him up here soon. It’s sad, but I think this season is headed down the drain. But you never know. This is baseball. Keep the faith, and GO PADRES!!
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