3 Questions the Padres Must Answer During Spring Training.

Good article by Corey Brock. Read about it here.

Reaction to the James Shields Signing

The Padres have now officially inked right-handed starter James Shields to a four-year, $75 million contract. There is much to like in this deal, but also some reason for concern.

What’s To Like

Since a subpar rookie season in 2006, Shields has been one of the most consistent starters in baseball. While he has only once finished in the top five for the Cy Young Award balloting, he has been a very dependable commodity for both Tampa Bay and Kansas City, pitching at least 200 innings every season since 2007. His numbers over the last four seasons are especially telling. According to Baseball-Reference.com, he has averaged 233 innings, a 14-10 record, 34 starts, 206 strikeouts, a 3.17 ERA, and a 1.16 WHIP.

Last season, he went 14-8 with a 3.21 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP, and 180 strikeouts, helping the Royals to within one game of a World Series Championship. While his poor start in game 7 was costly, there can be little doubt that had they not traded for him in January, 2013 (ironically for Wil Myers, his new Padre teammate) the Royals might not have even made the playoffs.

Bear in mind also that Shields’ numbers are from the American League, where he has to face the Designated Hitter. No more in San Diego, where he will also pitch half of his games at Petco Park, the most pitcher-friendly ballpark in major league baseball. Shields’ addition also makes the starting rotation even better.

Before adding him, the already-strong rotation featured Tyson Ross, Andrew Cashner, Ian Kennedy, and several candidates for the last two spots, including Brandon Morrow, Robbie Erlin, Odrisamer Desaigne, and rookie Matt Wisler. Assuming that Ross were numbers one, two, and three in the rotation prior to adding Shields, they are now numbers two, three, and four, assuming Shields becomes the ace. And now, there is only one slot available to the remaining competitors.

In plain English, this means that their rotation now stacks up far better against their competitors than it did in 2014, when the Padres already had one of the best set of starting pitchers in baseball.

Lastly, this is a good deal because general manager A.J. Preller did not have to guarantee a fifth season to Shields. With a four year guarantee (plus an opt-out clause after 2016), Preller has minimized the risk for the Padres.

But this takes us directly to the…

Reason for Concern

While it’s true the Padres are getting a solid arm in Shields, it’s also true that signing a pitcher Shields’ age to more than three guaranteed years is risky. Already in his career, Shields has logged 1,910 innings, or an average of 227 innings per season.

It has been noted elsewhere that during this period, only Max Scherzer (recently signed by the Washington Nationals) has logged more.

While this speaks to his durability, it also increases the likelihood that at some point, Shields’ arm is going to break down.

A Cautionary Tale

Many years ago, the Padres dodged a bullet in a very similar situation. Just prior to Spring Training in 1998, San Diego acquired Kevin Brown from the Marlins. As with Shields, 1998 was going to be his age-33 season. But what a brilliant season it was: in 35 starts, he went 18-7 with a 2.38 ERA, a 1.07 WHIP, and 257 strikeouts to go with 257 innings, leading them to the National League Pennant.

That was Brown’s only season with San Diego.

In the offseason, Brown signed a hefty seven-year, $105 million contract with the Dodgers (and bear in mind, nine-figure contracts were far more rare than they are today, so this contract was a huge deal).

Here are Brown’s numbers for his first two seasons in Dodger Blue:

    W-L  IP    K    ERA  WHIP

1999: 18-9 252 221 3.00 1.06

2000: 13-6 230 216 2.58 0.99

Very good numbers from a very good pitcher.

But then, it happened: in the third season, Brown pitched in only 20 games (19 starts), even while maintaining a solid 2.65 ERA. The next season, 2002, Brown pitched in only 63.2 innings (10 starts, 17 games). After another solid season in 2003 (32 starts), Brown was shipped to the Yankees, where he made 35 starts and 205 innings over two seasons, to go with a 4.95 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP.

Granted, Kevin Brown and James Shields are two different pitchers, and in two different eras. Even still, the potential parallels exist: assuming that Shields does as well as Brown did, the Padres can expect some turbulence along the way. If that happens (This year? 2018? Some time in between?), the contract could look more like a boondoggle than a solid move.

Worth the Risk?

But in baseball, you have to take risks like this. Again, there are good reasons why San Diego (and other potential suitors) were not willing to go above four guaranteed seasons. And with Bud Black’s stellar bullpen, Shields will be more likely to be pulled after regularly after 6 or 7 innings, rather than 8 or 9. This will lessen the wear-and-tear on his arm.

And for the reasons given above and “What’s to Like,” this remains a worthwhile deal. Yes, there are other questions as well that need to be addressed (team offense, outfield defense, a right-handed-heavy lineup, etc.). But that will have to wait for another blog post.

Padres Sign Shields

Read about it here. Analysis to come soon…

Did A.J. Preller Gamble Away the Farm?

2014-2015 was the offseason Padre fans had been waiting for, but had often wondered would ever happen again. In unloading a number of prospects, they revamped their once-sorry outfield, put a 2014 All-Star behind home plate, and added a 26-year-old third baseman with tremendous (albeit untapped) upside.

But while a number of solid prospects were traded, general manager A.J. Preller accomplished all of these moves without having to move the following: their top three starting pitchers Tyson Ross, Andrew Cashner, and Ian Kennedy, and their top three prospects Matt Wisler, Austin Hedges, and Hunter Renfroe.

However, there is a potentially huge down-side: they traded away many of their top-name prospects. And while it’s great that they have a surging new offense, some might wonder just how necessary some of these deals were.

Let’s take a look at each of these deals, and where that leaves the Padres now:

Matt Kemp

If memory serves, this is the first trade the Padres have made with the Dodgers since 2006, when they traded a declining Greg Maddux to LA mid-season.

Only this time, they were on the receiving end of talent. In receiving former All-Star outfielder Matt Kemp, the Padres surrendered catcher Yasmani Grandal, pitcher Joe Wieland, and a prospect.

Only Grandal figures to start for the Dodgers next year, and while he has tremendous upside, he has yet to prove himself as a consistent performer at the big league level.

Wieland, 24, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery. In August 2014, he pitched in the majors for the first time in over two years.

San Diego also received backup catcher Tim Federowicz in the deal.

Kemp, 30, slashed .287/.346/.506 with 25 home runs, 38 doubles and 89 RBI. He figures to play in right field, and hit either third or fourth in the batting order.

The only concerns here stem from Kemp’s health: in 2012-13, he missed significant playing time, and his defensive prowess isn’t what it once was. He will probably have to be spelled at least once every 8-10 games, and be removed late in games for defensive purposes.

Also, there were concerns about his being difficult in the clubhouse. Even still, this move boosts the Padres offense considerably, which is why the deal was made.

And as an added bonus, Kemp is going to be pumped whenever he trades his former team, which happens to be in the same division. Los Angeles could live to regret this team for a very long time.

Grade: A-

Wil Myers

This was likely the most surprising move, as not too many people even realized that Myers might be available from Tampa Bay.

But to the Padres’ benefit, he was.

It says a lot that as he was climbing his way through the Kansas City Royals farm system, he was touted as possibly the next George Brett–that’s quite a compliment. In 2012, his final full season in the minors, he smashed 37 home runs with 109 RBI, with a .987 OPS at the age of 21.

Before the 2013 season, he was the centerpiece of a trade for starter James Shields, a move that surprised many in the industry, given Myers’ immense talent. That year, he vindicated Tampa Bay’s confidence in him when, after being called up in June, he went on to win the AL Rookie of the Year award.

Myers had a difficult sophomore season, that was shortened by injuries. Even still, there is little question that the talent remains.

Still just 24, the Padres had to surrender some of their more talented prospects in starter Joe Ross and 2014 first round pick Trey Turner, as well as catcher Rene Rivera. This talented young hitter is now Padre property, controllable through the 2019 season.

He will probably play in center field for them, with the possibility of being the leadoff hitter.

Still, there are concerns:

  • His defense will be a downgrade from the light-hitting Cameron Maybin and Will Venable.
  • His skill-set is not typically what you would consider in a leadoff hitter. This might put unneeded pressure on him.
  • Consider that for all of his talent, you have to wonder why, at the age of 24, he has already been traded twice. This is mere speculation at this point, but could it be that he has attitude problems which make him a difficult teammate?
  • Turner and Ross are very talented, and losing them to Washington (the third partner in this 3-team swap) could end up haunting them down the road.

Time will tell if the Padres made the right move. A lot will depend upon whether Myers can tap his amazing potential, and not make fans rue the day they traded Turner and Ross.

Grade: B+

Justin Upton

On the one hand, this may be the best trade the Padres made. On the other hand, it could be the worst.

It could be the best because of all the three outfield acquisitions, he is both the healthiest and most established. At age 27, he has already hit 164 career home runs, hitting 20 four different times, with a solid career slash of .274/.354/.476, and two Silver Slugger awards.

So then, why might it be the worst trade? Because he could just be a one-year rental: after 2015, Upton becomes a free agent. If he plays true to form, Upton will get a lot of money next offseason from a big-market club. Sure, the Padres can make a run at him, but given that most big hitters would prefer not to play half their games at Petco Park, I wouldn’t bet on it.

In exchange for Upton, the Atlanta Braves received left-handed pitching prospect Max Fried, who missed all of 2014 due to Tommy John surgery, AAA infielder Jace Peterson, and lower level prospects Mallex Smith and Dustin Peterson. This is a pretty talented bunch to surrender for one year of Justin Upton.

If it had been me (and yes, I know it wasn’t), I don’t know that I would have made this trade. I would have preferred that they kept Seth Smith, a left-handed bat who is cheaper, who was signed to a two-year extension, and handles his bat very well.

Of course, the prospects sent to Atlanta could fizzle (returning from rotator cuff surgery is hard so Fried could be out for a while, and Jace Peterson was not impressive in a mid-season call-up), and Upton could have a career year and lead San Diego to their first World Series championship. There are so many intangibles on this trade, but given what they gave up, my grade for Preller is…

Grade: B- (A in the short term, C- in the long term).

Derek Norris

Like the Myers trade, this was something of a surprise. Since Norris is not known for his defensive skills, Preller obviously only had one thing in mind when he acquired him: offense.

Norris made the All-Star team for the first time last year, hitting 10 home runs to go with a .270/.361/.403 slash. But when you look a little deeper, there is reason for concern:

  • Most of the damage he did was against lefties (.863 OPS, vs. .699 against righties).
  • He slumped badly in the second half (8 home runs, .879 OPS in the first half, vs. 2 and .638 in the second half).

Also, the Padres surrendered some very solid pitching prospects for him: Jesse Hahn, 25, who went 7-4 with a 3.07 ERA in 14 games (12 starts) for the Padres, and reliever R.J. Alvarez, who flashed a 1.13 ERA in ten late-season appearances.

But since the Padres are stocked pitching-wise (again, they still have their top three starters, closer Joaquin Benoit, up-and-comer Kevin Quackenbush and others), Preller obviously figured the trade was worth it.

And don’t forget, as the former longtime assistant G.M. of the Texas Rangers, Preller got to see plenty of Norris when they played against the A’s, and so has an inkling of what he is capable of doing as he matures. He’s still just 26, and figures to only get better offensively.

Grade: B+

Will Middlebrooks

This trade will either be remembered as either a huge steal or largely insignificant. Hence, it was worth the risk of trading away career backup catcher Ryan Hanigan.

A star in the minor leagues, Middlebrooks had a promising rookie season in 2012. He hit 15 home runs with 54 RBI, a .288 batting average, and .835 OPS in 75 games.

Since then, he has struggled mightily. In his sophomore campaign, he regressed to .227 with just a .271 OBP. Last year, he batted only .191 in 63 games.

At 26, what will Middlebrooks do? Will he continue his downward trend? Or, will he find his untapped potential in the lower pressure environment of San Diego?

Either way, this deal was worthwhile, given (a) the small price, and (b) the fact that Yongervis Solarte is waiting in the wings, should Middlebrooks fail.

Grade: B+

Overall

On the whole, this is a vastly improved Padres baseball team. For the first time in nearly a decade, this team is relevant in terms of high expectations.

Yes, they are heavily right-handed, but first baseman Yonder Alonso’s health is improving. With the added hefty bats, the pressure on him to perform is diminished, and if he can remain injury-free, he can provide the left-handed extra base power the team was always hoping for.

Also, Alexi Amarista figures to see the bulk of the starts at shortstop (barring another trade), and Will Venable will get in some spot starts as the fourth outfielder.

It is true, however, that another dependable left-handed bat would bring some needed balance.

Yes, the outfield defense will take a hit. But if you want to contend, you need offense, an area where the Padres were sorely lacking.

No longer will manager Bud Black be depending upon Venable and Maybin to provide production that they simply are not capable of providing; now, their most likely role will be in providing late inning defense, spot starts, and/or pinch running, which they’re best suited for anyway.

All told, the 2015 San Diego Padres will be a contender. Yes, some of these moves are risky. But all trades are. Yes, they have depleted their farm system.

But don’t forget that a prospect merely means that a player has potential. They don’t always work out.

Remember the names of the two prospects the Padres sent to Chicago to obtain Carlos Quentin (keeping in mind how good he was then)? Neither do I.

Remember the four prospects the Padres acquired for Jake Peavy? There’s Clayton Richard who was mediocre at best, and…who?

Remember the three prospects the Padres got for Adrian Gonzalez just four years ago? Only one of them, Casey Kelly, is still on their roster, and he’s coming back from Tommy John surgery.

Remember the package the Padres procured from the Reds for pitcher Mat Latos? Three years later, only one of them, Alonso, is still on the team, and unless there is substantial improvement, he may be hanging by a thread.

Lesson: Unless his name is Ken Griffey Jr. or Chipper Jones (i.e., can’t miss), prospects are for trading. With a good scouting system, the farm clubs will replentish themselves in almost no time at all. Preller knows this. He cashed them in, and now, the San Diego Padres are a team to be reckoned with.

Padres Trade Seth Smith to Seattle

This was a foregone conclusion, given how the Padres have overhauled their outfield this offseason. I’m sorry to see him go; I was hoping that perhaps the team could train him to play first base, or else move Matt Kemp there, and so keep Smith’s left-handed bat in the lineup.

You can read the story here.

Update (Wed. Dec. 31, 11:50 AM/CST): Jeff Sanders of the Union-Tribune on why trading Smith makes financial sense for the Padres.

Does A.J. Preller Sleep?

Let’s see. In the past 24 hours, the Padres…

  • finalized their trade for Matt Kemp;
  • finalized their deal for Wil Myers;
  • acquired All-Star catcher Derek Norris from Oakland;
  • sent catcher Ryan Hanigan to Boston for third baseman Will Middlebrooks;
  • are close to signing backup catcher David Ross.

The question is no longer, does A.J. Preller sleep. We all know the answer to that. The real question is, will he give the bloggers covering the Padres a chance to sleep?

That’s not a complaint, mind you.

At this point, I am not going to give a full evaluation of what’s going on in San Diego, since Preller is clearly not done yet. Hopefully, that will come in the next few days.

But for now, take cheer, Padre fans. Your team is relevant again.

 

What’s Happening with the Matt Kemp Trade?

Buster Olney of ESPN reports in a video blog. See it here.

Update: http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/2014/12/18/matt-kemp-trade-holdup-padres/20587645/.

Padres Acquire Wil Myers in Three-Way Deal

A.J. Preller has laid his cards on the table.

Fresh off a trade of Dodgers slugger Matt Kemp (pending physical), the new Padres’ general manager has just acquired 24-year-old Wil Myers from the Tampa Bay Rays in a three-way trade that also includes the Washington Nationals. The deal was first reported by Jim Bowden of ESPN.

In acquiring the 2013 AL Rookie of the Year, Preller has demonstrated that his objective is to win now. This is a swift turnaround for the Padres and their fans, who in recent years had gotten used to their team trading away established talent for prospects.

But now, the tables have turned: to acquire young Myers, the Padres parted with young arms Joe Ross and Burch Smith, catcher Rene Rivera, 19-year-old first base prospect Joe Bauers, and 2014 first-round draft pick Trea Turner–perhaps the biggest surprise of all in this trade.

Turner and Ross were sent to the Nationals, who sent outfielder Steven Souza and pitcher Travis Ott. The Padres also received veteran catcher Ryan Hanigan, and young pitchers Gerardo Reyes and Jose Castillo.

Reaction

It’s hard to see how Tampa Bay benefits from this deal: they trade Myers to San Diego, and yet Washington ends up with the Padres two best prospects in Turner and Ross!

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo helped his club a lot in this deal, trading minimal talent and replentishing his farm system with the high-ceiling Ross and shortstop-of-the-future Turner.

But for the Padres, the message is simple: win now.

Preller’s Method

Whenever a team hires a new general manager, it’s always interesting to see what direction he wants to go. It is now clear that since being hired in August, Preller observed his new team and came to certain conclusions:

1. This team has the pitching (both starters and the bullpen) to be competitive right now.

2. The missing ingredient is offense, so move some of your minor league talent to go and get some–notice that in the Kemp and Myers trade, only two established big leaguers, Yasmani Grandal and Rivera, were surrendered.

3. Manager Bud Black is a keeper. Since he has a year left on his contract anyway, keep him around and see how well you can work with him.

In acquiring Myers, the Padres now have a potentially solid middle of the order, to go with Kemp. Noteworthy is that their top three starting pitchers, Tyson Ross (brother of the departed Joe Ross) Andrew Cashner, and Ian Kennedy, originally thought to be the Preller’s best trade chips this offseason, are still with the team.

More About Myers

This is not the first time Wil Myers was moved. He was originally drafted by the Kansas City Royals, and groomed in their minor league system.

But then, in the 2012-13 offseason, he was dealt to Tampa in a package of prospects for James Shields, as KC had World Series aspirations. Pundits were aghast, as Myers was very highly regarded, even as the next George Brett.

Myers began the 2013 season in the minors, but was called up to the Rays in June. In 88 games, he slashed .294/.354/.478, with 13 home runs, 23 doubles, and 53 RBI in 373 plate appearances. His play merited him the 2013 AL Rookie of the Year Award.

In 2014, Myers regressed badly: in 87 games, he slashed .222/.294/.320, with six homers in 361 plate appearances. While part of this can be blamed on a broken bone in his hand, Myers was slumping before then as well.

Even still, Myers will only be 24 years old on opening day, and he has tremendous upside. Along with Kemp, he will be controlled by San Diego until 2019.

Did They Give Up Too Much?

In getting their second big bat in a week, the Padres mortgaged a lot of their future. While Ross and Smith both have lots of potential, their inclusion in the deal is not a huge surprise: in order to get a bat like Myers’, you have to give up something.

The shocker was their inclusion of Turner, who was a first-round pick just this last June. Until today, he was considered the Padres shortstop of the future. However, San Diego also has Jose Rondon, acquired in the July trade of Huston Street, in the minors. Like Turner, he is also at least two years away from being major league-ready.

If dealing Turner was a shocker, then swapping Rivera for Hanigan was a head-scratcher. Here, the Padres and Rays basically swapped solid backup catchers. It appears the plan for backstop is to have Hanigan and Tim Federowicz (acquired with Kemp from L.A.) to hold down catcher until highly touted prospect Austin Hedges is ready, probably for a late season call-up in 2016.

More To Come?

Preller is not done yet.

San Diego’s already-stacked outfield is now overwhelmed: even before Kemp and Myers, they already had Carlos Quentin, Seth Smith, Will Venable, and Cameron Maybin.

What to do with the overflow? The most likely conclusion is that Smith and Quentin are gone; both are corner outfielders, as are Kemp and Myers. The Padres will miss Smith, who signed a two-year contract immediately prior to Preller’s arrival. He slashed .266/.367/.440 with an .807 OPS with 31 doubles, 12 homers, and 67 walks in 136 games. For this reason, Smith’s value is high, and so he will be a solid piece to trade to another team to help shore up needs elsewhere.

Quentin will be more difficult. Owed $8 million in ’15, there are two options: release him now, and just eat his contract, or see if he performs well in spring training, and hope he does well enough to pique an AL team’s interest.

Venable and Maybin, who were perhaps two of the previous GM’s worst signings, will probably platoon in center field–there are no other options in the foreseeable future.

Preller clearly knows that there are many holes, especially at first base (Yonder Alonso is too injury-prone), third base (in-house options Yongervis Solarte and Cory Spangenburg don’t inspire much enthusiasm), and shortstop (assuming they don’t go with Alexi Amarista).

So even though bats have been added, there is still work to do. But it is apparent that Preller is a work-horse, and he wants to see this team go for it all in 2015. Otherwise, there is no way he would have pursued Kemp and Myers–let alone with so much diligence.

With Preller, Padre fans don’t need to put on a poker face; they can grin with satisfaction that finally, they have an aggressive general manager who’s backed up by a front office that’s willing to spend the money to win.

 

 

Padres Sign Pitcher Brandon Morrow

This was reported by MLBTradeRumors.com. You can read the story here.

As the article explains, this is likely a precursor to the Padres trading one of their top three starters, Tyson Ross, Andrew Cashner, or Ian Kennedy, perhaps for more offense. Lately, they have been linked to the Atlanta Braves’ Justin Upton and Evan Gattis.

 

Padres Trade for Matt Kemp – Analysis

December 11, 2014 is going to go down as one of the most memorable days in Padre history.

Bucking a trend that has gone on for a number of years, they acquired a big-name, high-priced impact player in Matt Kemp.

Any Padre fan knows that this is huge. Just four-to-five years ago, they traded away two of the best ball players in their history in Adrian Gonzalez and Jake Peavy. This was very disheartening to fans, and it communicated the message that then-owner John Moores was not at all interested in winning.

And last offseason, when fans were pining for a big bat to add some much-needed offense, the best that then-GM Josh Byrnes could come up with was Seth Smith–not a bad player to be sure, but certainly not the impact bat that many were hoping for.

All of that has now changed. With the addition of Kemp, the Padres have added a marquee player via a rare trade with their intra-division rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Why It’s a Good Deal

On the whole, this is a very good trade for the Padres. They have received a solid hitter who as recently as 2011 finished second in the NL MVP vote (and for those who don’t remember, it was a close, controversial vote–many believed he should have won it). After missing large chunks of playing time in 2012-13, Kemp rebounded nicely in 2014, slashing .287/.346/.506 with 25 home runs and 89 RBI (and an eye-popping .971 OPS in the second half).

Kemp is also 30 years old, and is locked into a contract for the next five years at $107 million. But on that, the news is still good for the Padres: as part of the deal, the Dodgers agreed to contribute $32 million to help pay for Kemp’s large contract.

Lastly, it’s a good deal because of what Padres GM A.J. Preller didn’t have to give up: he didn’t have to trade away his best bargaining chips in one of his three solid starting pitchers Tyson Ross, Andrew Cashner, or Ian Kennedy.

He also gave away just one established major leaguer in Yasmani Grandal, whose Padre tenure was colored by a 50-game PED suspension and a serious knee injury in July 2013. Grandal batted just .225 last year, though that seems to be in part due to his earlier-than-expected return from his injury.

San Diego also gave up 25-year-old Joe Wieland, who had missed nearly two years of baseball due to Tommy John surgery. Wieland figured to compete with three or four others for one of two starting spots in 2015, so his loss is not immediately felt.

They also gave up prospect Zach Eflin, whom the Dodgers apparently want to send to Philadelphia to complete their trade for Jimmy Rollins.

An additional plus: adding Kemp to their outfield takes some of the pressure off of minor league youngsters Rymer Liriano (who struggled mightily in a late season call-up) and Hunter Renfroe. There is not as much of a rush now for them to hurry up and get to the big leagues; both can take their time to hone their skills a little more at AAA.

So to sum up: the Padres got All-Star slugger Matt Kemp for a talented but injury-prone hitter and two minor league pitchers who have yet to establish themselves at the big league level.

A final note: if the tweets are to be believed, the Dodgers wanted top prospect Matt Wisler to be included in the deal, but Preller said no. Kudos to him for that.

Some Legitimate Concerns

You’ll notice I said in the opening sentence that today will be remembered as “one of the most memorable days in Padre history.” Not the greatest…at least not yet. For now, just the most memorable. That’s because it takes a few years to determine whether or not a trade was worth it. This one will be no exception.

There are at least three reasons for concern.

First is Kemp’s health. Sure, he played in 150 games last year. But in 2012-13, he missed over 170 games, when he was aged 27-28 (he turned 30 in September). Suffice to say, if Kemp’s ’14 season had likewise been injury-plagued, there would have been no way the Padres would have been interested in him. So Kemp’s health is a cause for concern. This is why manager Bud Black will routinely have to give him a day off.

Second is Kemp’s defense. Just three years ago, he was a Gold Glove center fielder. But in the last few years, his range has slipped somewhat, which means he is now best suited as a corner outfielder. He’ll never be the Gold Glover he once was, but surely his bat will more than make up for that.

Third is Grandal. Despite his problems, I like him. He’s young (26), a catcher, has a great batting eye, and is controllable for four more years. Yes, he’s only one player, but given these dynamics, that’s a lot to for a small market team like the Padres to give up.

He also has great hitting ability, despite his lackluster .225 average in ’14. Scouts believe that his ’13 injury affected his play last year, and Dennis Lin recently wrote in the Union-Tribune that of all the players in baseball, Grandal is among the most poised to have a breakout season in 2015. So losing him is a bitter pill to swallow, especially if he continues to develop as a hitter.

All In All…

In spite of all this, trading for Matt Kemp was the right thing to do. It sends the right signal to fans at the right time:

It screams, “We want to win!”

Yes, he’s a lot of money, but again, the big-buck Dodgers will be paying nearly 30% of his salary.

Yes, they surrendered the talented Grandal, and yes, I would have preferred that they have given up Rene Rivera or top prospect Austin Hedges. But someone of Kemp’s stature is always going to come at a price. And to repeat, he was the only established major leaguer the Padres had to give up.

Yes, injuries are a concern. But that’s why Kemp will get rested more, and he’ll see some games at DH when they’re in an AL ballpark.

Yes, his defense is a concern. But the Padres knew that; they’re not getting him for his glove, but for his bat.

And yes, Matt Kemp by himself cannot save the Padres. But no one has ever said that he could! Indeed, Preller was always clear about his plans to add at least one more big bat–hopefully a proven first or third baseman.

So yes, December 11, 2014 will be a day that’s remembered for a long time in Padre-land. But five years from now, will it be remembered fondly, or with disgust? Only time will tell; that’s how trades are.

But I believe it’s going to be remembered as one of the best days in Padre history, for the reasons mentioned above.

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