Friday, August 5, 2011

Friday Links

Ducksnorts and Gaslamp Ball do a great job of posting links to articles.  Normally I don't do the same, but I've got two you might enjoy reading.

First Chris Jaffe has a new article on the career of Matt Stairs.  He gives highlights from Stairs' each stop along the way.  Worth the skim, especially to remember fondly last season.

Then there's this article Howard Bryant posted on ESPN discussing the recent trade deadline activity.  It's a good one as far as opinion pieces to.  He attacks the Padres, but not solely for either the Adams or Ludwick trades; he goes after the Gonzalez trade last fall.

A couple of money quotes:
"Prospects" has become baseball's euphemism for the white flag.
And
So as the Red Sox win, the Padres sold their fans a future that is at best cloudy and at worst illusory. Each day the Red Sox benefit from [Adrian] Gonzalez while the Padres wait for [Casey] Kelly and [Reymond] Fuentes to reach the big leagues underscores the need for San Diego's front office to have acquired big league talent that, at least, would have sent the message to fans that every year is next year.
Pretty harsh.

Jed Hoyer has been the GM here for less than two seasons, and in my opinion continues to deserve the benefit of the doubt.  He trained under Theo Epstein, one of the more successful GMs in the last decade, and assuredly has a plan to improve the franchise.  That said, it has been very difficult to watch this Padres team, a fact exacerbated by their near miss for a playoff berth last year.  Most of the veteran leadership (Jerry Hairston Jr, David Eckstein, Yorvit Torrealba, etc) was allowed to leave via free agency.  Gonzalez was traded.  A team once 9 innings away from a playoff berth was gutted.

In its place was built a team that's been shut-out 16 times, nine at home.  The pitching has been solid (starters ERA third best in the league, Relievers ERA the best) but they absolutely cannot hit.  With the season obviously lost, they traded their cleanup hitter to Pittsburgh for a PTBNL OR cash considerations, and arguably their best bullpen arm for more pitching.  The offense has gotten worse.  Since Ryan Ludwick left the team they've scored 13 runs in 4 games, with 6 of those coming in a bizarre eighth inning Sunday.

Bryant makes the argument the Padres could have kept Gonzalez for this season and at least attempted to contend.  One wonders how many of those veterans would have departed for other teams had it not been so obvious the club was going to trade their All-Star first baseman away during the off-season.  One also wonders if the 3 prospects they got back in the trade will turn out better than the two draft picks they could have gotten in next year's amateur draft if Gonzo was allowed to leave as a free agent (Gonzalez would definitely been Type A).  Time will tell I guess.

I doubt the Padres will end up in the two decade wasteland of suck the Pittsburgh Pirates are only now crawling out of.  The inescapable fact is, however, this franchise has traded away its stars far more frequently than it's acquired major-league talent to fill out its roster.  That fact transcends ownership and front office personnel.  I didn't intend this post to be all pessimistic, but if San Diego wonders why it's stadium is constantly overrun with fans from opposing teams, it's because the club has no identity, no players that fans can latch onto.

Well the club did, but those guys ended up playing in Boston, Chicago, Milwaukee, Toronto, Atlanta, St Louis ... or have long since retired.

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