Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Well, What WOULD You Do?

During one of my recent drives home, the Coach John Kentera started asking the audience, "What would you do if you were the Padres GM?", hoping to engender discussion.

State laws and my lack of a head set on that particular afternoon prevented a call-in, but as Dispicable Me lead 'villian' Gru might say, LIGHT .... BULB!

This Padres club will lose 90 games and is headed for the long off-season.  Why not talk about how to improve next year's team?  Over the next several posts, I'll explore that.

To set the battlespace for debate, let's look at Padre contractural obligations for 2012.  It's a pretty short list.  Currently the Padres have only two players under contract for next year:  Orlando Hudson and Jason Bartlett.  They will each make $5.5M in 2012.  Now naturally the rest of the roster is not nearly that simple.

San Diego holds a club option for Chad Qualls ($6M), and a mutual option for 2012 with Brad Hawpe ($6M) and Aaron Harang ($5M).  There's no way Hawpe returns for 2012.  GM Jed Hoyer will decline the option, pay the $1M buyout, and cut his losses.  Not only has Hawpe been hurt most of the year, but San Diego has a lot of guys who can play first.  Qualls might return - he's pitched fairly well out of the Padres bullpen - but I wonder if the club will pick up his $6M.  Can you imagine a world where a middle reliever is the highest paid player on the roster?  That could happen if Qualls returns.  Aaron Harang might return as well, and would be a bargain for $5M.  Harang has pitched very well this year.

The big Free Agent question San Diego has is Heath Bell.  Only Heath Bell has an inkling on how that will play out.  The Padres would be crazy not to offer him arbitration, unless they know he'll accept arbitration, in which case they'd be crazy to offer him arbitration.  What to do, what to do....

Jeremy Hermida will also be a free agent at the end of the year (5 years service time) but his contract demands won't be very high given the amount of time he's spent in the minor leagues lately.  San Diego can manage that if they decide to retain him.  The rest of the roster is either arbitration eligible or not quite ready for arbitration.

The Arbitration Eligibles:
  • Pat Neshek (Year 3)
  • Chase Headley, Tim Stauffer, Dustin Moseley, Chris Denorfia, Alberto Gonzalez (Year 2)
  • Clayton Richard, Luke Gregerson, Will Venable, Nick Hundley, Joe Thatcher, Rob Johnson, Ernesto Frieri, Jeff Fulchino (Year 1)
The not-yet eligibles:
  • Mat Latos, Cameron Maybin, Kyle Blanks, Cory Luebke, Wade LeBlanc, Anthony Bass, Josh Spence, Andrew Carpenter, Brad Brach, Aaron Cunningham, James Darnell, Logan Forsythe, Andy Parrino, Evan Scribner, Blake Tekotte.
There has been a lot of ink spilled about the size of the Padres payroll, whether or not it will start with a 3, 4, or 5. With the players they have under contract, San Diego could certainly field a team whose payroll still sits in the mid-to-upper 40s.  Which would pretty much guarantee another season groping for runs.

It is a cost-effective roster at the moment.  But what this team really, REALLY needs is a big bat in the lineup.  We'll explore that and other questions over the next several days.

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