Reasons to like the Hairston trade …
It was a pretty wild day at PETCO Park on Sunday: The Padres frantic, ninth-inning comeback, seeing a rookie catcher making his Major League debut at … second base? Adrian Gonzalez, Heath Bell being named to the All-Star team and, of course, an hour after the game, the trade that send Scott Hairston to the Oakland A’s.
Get all that?
At any rate, given some time to digest this Hairston trade, I’ve come to the conclusion that this trade makes perfect sense for the Padres. Not the 2009 Padres, but the 2010 Padres and even beyond.
As Padres general manager Kevin Towers said after the trade was done “we’re looking for some good arms.” To get those “good arms” you have to surrender something and for the Padres, it was Hairston, who more or less resurrected his career in San Diego.
We can talk about how Hairston at least provided Gonzalez some semblance of protection in the lineup and that without him, Gonzalez, who walks 32 times in June, might not see a pitch again until Spring Training.
I’m not dismissing that, but that’s not worth passing up what will be three quality pitchers for a player who is hitting 45 points above his career average in 2009. Again, maybe Hairston is a late-bloomer. We’ll see what happens in Oakland.
So why was this deal made? In short, because of the failings of several young pitchers in the system who have either failed to stick in San Diego or who haven’t developed in the way the team would have hopes. We saw this in Spring Training when Towers essentially dispatched his scouts to find arms for his bullpen, having determined the current guys in camp would not cut it.
So what about these pitchers?
Webb, who will join the team today in Arizona, is a fourth-round pick from 2004 who has a 5.04 ERA in the Minor Leagues but has impressed this season with Triple-A Sacramento, especially in the bullpen (3.82 ERA, seven walks in 37 2/3 innings). Webb is 23 years old.
Italiano, who turns 23 later this month, was a second-round pick in 2005, has 261 strikeouts in 230 1/3 Minor League innings. He throws 95-96 mph according to Towers and will report to Class A Lake Elsinore. I wouldn’t be surprised if the guy moves fast.
Last, but truly not least, the always-enticing player to be named later. In this case, the player might end up being the crucial piece to the trade. Towers has a list of two names he can pick from and will do so by the end of the month.
One of the names, Towers confirmed, is someone with Major League service time. That could be someone like — and I’m just guessing here — Jerry Blevins, who could help the bullpen now, Jay Marshall or maybe Sean Gallagher. Get one of these guys, or even Dana Eveland, which would be a longshot, and this trade looks even better than it does now.
Parting with a proven bat and a productive bat (Hairston) for three players who might not help the Padres much this season. But again, this trade isn’t about this season. The Padres sold high on Hairston to help them in the future. That’s what this trade is about.