Wednesday, January 28, 2009

An Open Letter to Steven Henson of Yahoo and the rest of the media

January 28, 2009

An Open Letter to Steven Henson of Yahoo and the rest of the media.

Not a Question, a Statement.

Do your homework.

It gets tiring constantly reading poorly researched posts you are trying to pass off as journalism.

The Padres payroll for 2009 including Jake Peavy stands at $41 million as of today and Sandy Alderson has been consistent in local interviews in saying it does not need to be AT $40 million. If you want more information on it try reading my blog. It has a complete breakdown.

Here is a quote from an article in the Union Tribune today.

"On Tuesday, Alderson affirmed what Towers recently said about there no longer being any pressure from ownership to reduce the payroll further before Opening Day."

So to say that the Padres HAVE to move Peavy to meet payroll conditions is more something you guys in the media have tried to foist off on us and not the reality of the situation. There is NO fixed budget number.

Like most of you, I too believe that Peavy will be moved. But the Padres have proven it is not just a salary dump, because they have not jumped at some of the low ball offers in terms of talent they have received.

As for Giles, the Red Sox were certainly willing to pay all of his salary at the end of 2008 and other teams were widely reported in the media to be interested in him this off season with not one single mention that the Padres would have to eat any of his salary. Where you got that little tidbit is hard to say, but it is not an opinion shared by many, if any, others. Certainly not publicly. In fact, I can't find anyone other than you who has said it.

The players the Padres set on the field in 2008 certainly showed the talent to win a very weak NL West.

- Jody Gerut (.304/.362/.509/.871 with 14 hr in 283 abs) and Scott Hairston (.305/.341/.609/.950 with 12 hr in 174 abs) had an outstanding showing in CF. In fact their CF platoon was the 3rd best in offensive production in all of baseball and that is playing in Petco Park. Simply AMAZING!
- Brian Giles was outstanding. (.306/.398/.456/.854). In my opinion, there were not many, if any, better RF in baseball in 2008.
- Adrian Gonzalez was far and away the best 1B in the NL West offensively and defensively.
- Kevin Kouzmanoff showed the power he was traded for and improved his defense immensely, putting him up there with the best 3B in the NL West. He is going into his 3rd full professional season and is 27 years old. BOTH are statistically the most likely season to see a career type year. Look for a breakout season from him in 2009.
- Tad Iguchi was quietly providing the leadoff hitter the Padres sorely needed before his injury in 2008. Gerut also proved quite capable there as well, hitting .296/.352/.492/.844 in 240 abs batting lead off.
- Edgar Gonzalez proved to be an able bat off the bench and hit .273/.328/.390/.717 in nearly 300 PA while playing 2B.
- Chase Headley came up mid year and was respectable (.275/.346/.417/.763 with 7 hr in 302 abs while playing in LF) and if he continues to follow the pattern of improvement he has demonstrated to us his entire professional career, 2009 will have him put up much better numbers.
- The pitching staff was never healthy all at once, using 32 pitchers to fill 12 slots during the season, and injuries devastated the catching corp.

The problem was not that there wasn't enough talent. After all, the Padres were picked by many to win the West prior to the 2008 season. The problem was that not enough of them were actually on the team at any one time.

The Padres set a new MLB record for player days on the DL and tied their own MLB record from 2003 for most players used at 57. The number of players on the DL at any given point averaged over 7 players per game. That is nearly 3 times the MLB average.

As for the specious statement by you that "The Padres will have a punchless offense playing in a power-sapping ballpark".

I think you missed two facts.

1 - The Padres ROAD offense was quite good, in the top half of the NL. In fact their power numbers were right there with the Cubs in 2008.
The bats that provided the power in 2008 are still on the team and are likely to improve given their ages and ML experience.

2 - At Petco NO ONE hit for power. Padres and the visitors. So its not a detriment to the Padres alone. Petco is an equalizer.

The guys over at The Sacrifice Bunt have done a great job of covering that fact, so I will simply give you this link to their site:

Click on it. You will gain valuable knowledge about the game.

A few more things you flat out got wrong or just don't care enough to actually research.
- Khalil Greene's 2008 offense won't be hard to replace. In fact everyone else that the Padres put in the position in 2008 did better. Luis Rodriguez hit .313/.351/.386/.737 in 176 abs while playing SS in 2008. Khalil's career stats (.248/.304/.427/.731) show more power, but are certainly nothing to crow about or worry about replacing for too long.
- Gerut has been named the starting CF. End of story.
- Even if the Padres have Eckstein leading off, why would you have a power bat that struck out 31.4 % of the time in 2008 batting 2nd? That makes no sense at all. It is a slot in the batting order that's primary job is to move up the runner. You need a contact hitter who can occasionally take a walk at #2.
- Kouzmanoff is expected to be ready by the start of spring training. The Padres are so sure of this that Towers has already said that Headley will not see any starts at 3B in spring training, but will continue to take ground balls at the position to keep him fresh.
- David Eckstein was signed to play 2b and took less money to have the opportunity to start at that position. With Rodriguez showing the ability to play the position defensively and hitting well and the signing of Chris Burke and the Rule V pickup of Everth Cabrera there is no reason to believe that Eckstein will be asked to play SS for the Padres.
- WTF is a soft .287? That he didn't hit for power? How many middle infielders do? How many players do in Petco? If the Padres need a little pop in the bat at the position they can run Burke out there if there is a favorable pitching matchup.
- The Padres bullpen from 2004 - 2007 was filled with players off the waiver wire, that were washed up or unwanted or unproven elsewhere, or that were picked up in the Rule V draft. No big FA signings for the Padres bullpen. In fact, Towers has been praised for his ability to find nobodies that do well in a Padre uniform for a few years and crusty old veterans that revive their careers. The one constant has always been Hoffman.

Another specious statement by you was, "Behind Peavy and Young,the rotation is unproven (Josh Geer, Chad Reineke) or proven mediocre" (Cha Seung Baek, Wade LeBlanc).

How is LeBlanc "PROVEN MEDIOCRE"? He has exactly 4 ML starts, same as Geer. If one is unproven, so is the other. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

All LeBlanc has done is win at every level prior to joining the Padres late last season, with more hits than innings pitched at every level and a K/9 of about 9. Certainly nothing to say he is "proven mediocre". Actually quite the contrary. He entered 2008 as the 4th highest rated prospect in the Padres system. . And given the fact that he is only 24, he certainly has a chance to continue improving.

The same cannot be said for your writing.

The one positive comment you had for the Padres in your post is that "Bell was groomed for the closer role and should be fine." Do you realize that first year closers have a save percentage of about 70% and that Hoffman, in what most consider a down year" had an 88.2% save percentage? I didn't think so.

Bell may have been groomed for the job, but his stats (career and 2008) and the stats for first year closers should not give anyone enough confidence to say he "should be fine". We all HOPE he will be fine, but to proclaim it as if it is fact in the face of somewhat shaky stats and history is entirely another animal.

Maybe it is time for some of the bloggers who actually have a knowledge of and a passion for the game of baseball to start writing for media outlets like Yahoo.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Why the Cubs Need Jake Peavy

Why the Cubs Need Jake Peavy.

January 26, 2009

The Padres and the Cubs have been kicking around the idea of a Peavy to the Cubs trade since the Winter Meetings.

There have been discussions set forth that argue pros and cons of Peavy being traded and from both sides of the issue Cubs and Padres).

I am going to set down here why I think the Cubs NEED Peavy broken down into 3 issues or areas.
1) The Cubs team shortcomings in 2008.
2) The Cubs team shortcomings in 2009.
3) How those weaknesses were exposed in the 2008 playoffs.

Then I am going to tell you the one critical skill Jake Peavy brings to the table that will help the Cubs finally win a World Series regardless of their other weaknesses as a team.

1) Cubs shortcoming in 2008

While the Cubs had a nice regular season in 2008, they proved that they did not have the dominating pitching necessary to shut down a good offensive team and their mediocre defense was exposed under pressure.

The 1st problem was pitchers unable to go late into games.

Throughout 2008, Dempster consistently collapsed when forced to pitch with a high pitch count. For the season, after 90 pitches his era increased to 4.50 and over 100 pitches it increased to over 6.00. Career its even worse with an ERA of 4.90 after pitch 90.

Lilly was even worse in 2008, with an ERA of 10.18 after the 90th pitch.

In game One of the playoffs, Dempster completely collapsed when he got close to 100 pitches and gave up 4 earned runs and got only 2 outs in the 5th inning.

In game Three, Harden could only go 4.1 innings and the bullpen had to pick up the slack.

With Harden injured and likely to only make half his starts in 2009, this problem figures to be worse.

The 2nd problem was head to head.

Dempster and the other Cubs pitchers not named Zambrano were not able to step up their game and be better than the other teams best, the other teams Ace. Overall Cubs pitchers other than Zambrano had a .372 winning percentage against the other teams #1. Not good.

In the playoffs you are facing the other teams best.

In games One and Three of the 2008 playoffs a good pitcher was unable to step up and be a stopper. That was the whole problem. Good pitchers, not great pitchers, were not able to step it up a notch against the superior competition you find in the playoffs.

The defense gave up a 3rd game.

That brings us to the 3rd weakness of the Cubs in 2008,

A mediocre defense up the middle. Under playoff pressure mediocre can easily fall apart and become real bad.

Exhibit #1. In game Two of the playoffs DeRosa and Lee committed errors at critical times in the 2nd inning and Theriot threw one away in the 9th and gave away 5 unearned runs. The defense was not able to step up, and the Zambrano was not able to recover from 4 unearned runs in the 2nd inning.

2) Cubs Shortcomings in 2009


You are probably saying, how can he say that? Easy.

After the 2008 season Rich Harden had a choice to make. Have surgery or rehab his shoulder. He chose rehab. He will

be lucky to get half a season in with 15-18 starts being an educated guess (from Peter Gammons and CHONE projections) as to how many starts he might get in 2009. So who picks up the other 15-18 starts?

Marquis and his 30+ starts are gone.

Sean Gallagher is gone.

That is 55 starts gone.

Who picks up those starts? Marshall? Hill? Olson? They may throw the starts, but more than likely not as effectively as Harden and Marquis.

Dempster in his 11th major league season had a career year. His ERA was nearly 2 points lower than his career average of about 4.7 going into the season and he pitched 140 more innings. Chances are he doesn't repeat 2008, but falls back closer to his career average for ERA in 130-140 innings and struggles to win 10 games.

I can count on one hand the number of guys who came back out of the pen and had two consecutive sub 3.00 era seasons. Do you really think that Dempster is going to be one of them? Not likely.

Normally what happens when a pitcher has that huge of an increase in innings is that he gets hurt the following year and sees an increase in his ERA of at least a full point. That is far more likely an outcome for Dempster in 2009 than to throw 200+ innings with a 2.96 ERA again.

Weak Defense all around.

Uber Utility Man Mark DeRosa, and his -4.2 UZR at 2b and +0.1 UZR at SS and +4.5 in the OF, is gone. In his 7 seasons, DeRosa had a career UZR at 2B of -4.9, -1.4 at SS and +13.9 in the OF.

Now Aaron Miles will be patrolling the middle infield and subbing in the outfield. Last season Miles had a 1.1 UZR at 2B, 1.0 at ss, -0.9 at 3B and 0.0 in the OF. Over the 6 years of his career he has a -9.7 UZR at 2B and a -10.9 UZR at SS, the 2 positions he will be asked to play most in 2009.

For UZR, league average is 0.0 Numbers above zero are better and below zero are worse.

Overall I can't say that they have gotten better defensively at the Uber Utility Man position, only held steady in age.

Aramis Ramirez reverted to his normal defensive form in 2008 with a -3.3 UZR and a .945 Fp and 18 errors. This is more typical of how he plays the field than 2007. Expect him to stay close to those numbers in 2009.

Theriot was the Cubs main SS in 2008 and defensively he recorded a below average -0.4 at the position.

Bradley the oft injured now mans RF. He has played more than 100 games in the field only once in a 7 year career. Last season he recorded one of the lowest fielding percentage in the game for any position in the 20 games he played in RF. Granted he was returning from anterior cruciate ligament surgery in the off season, but it didn't get better late in the season, it got worse.

The best fielding starting outfielder on the Cubs team, Kusuke Fukodome, will be patrolling the bench as often as not in 2009 while playing in a CF platoon with Reed Johnson. And Pie is gone. No young guy to come in and be a defensive replacement late in games.

The OF as a whole will be below league average defensively.

The biggest reason the Cubs must have Peavy.

Peavy is not only a true Ace, Peavy is a stopper. The guy you can hand the ball to and expect that he will step up and be better than the other guys best. In his career Peavy has consistently stepped it up when its the other teams ace on the mound recording a .702 winning percentage for his career in those situations, better than his overall win percentage of .581.

THAT is the ultimate thing you look for in a playoff pitcher, the ability to step it up and consistently be better than the other teams best pitcher.

Late in games Peavy has been good too. Career he he has a 3.86 ERA after pitch 90 & 4.58 after pitch 105. In 2008 he was even better with a 3.24 era after the 90th pitch.

Peavy has averaged 30.33 starts since 2003 when first he started the season in the ML. In 2008 the Padres held him out only because the team was already so far back in in the standings in late May. According to news reports in the San Diego Union Tribune at the time, Peavy didn't feel he needed to go on the DL, but the team erred on the side of caution because the team was playing so poorly.

You can count on him taking the ball. He has a warrior mentality and he does better when the competition is better.

Those are the reasons the Cubs NEED Jake Peavy if they are going to make a run at winning a World Series in 2009.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Few Marketing Ideas for the Padres

January 21, 2009

Geoff over at Ducksnorts and Jbox (or dex I forget) over at Gaslamp Ball started talking about what the Padres could do to draw more fans.

Both said they were not marketers, and that got me thinking.

Hey! I AM in marketing. What can I do to help out?

So here is my little stream of consciousness rant on baseball marketing.

1st – Make a Sunday Summer Season Ticket package for Dads and their kids.

The Six Sundays of Summer. June 21st to Aug 23rd.

Kids are the future. Getting kids to the games creates the fanatics, like me, of the future.
You have a Family night on Fridays right now, but many Dads can only really have time on Sundays.

2nd – Give EVERY Season Ticket holder a chance to get up close with the players.
For years the Padres held a season ticket holders autograph session with the players and coaches. Regardless of the size of your season ticket you got to go. Once Petco opened that all changed and now only us full season ticket holders get in.

I don’t think the Padres realize how many people bought season tickets just for that privilege. They may have only attended 5 or six games a year on that 20 or 40 game package, but they BOUGHT it so they would have a chance to meet the players.


3rd – Sponsor Tailgate parties!
Bring in the official radio station (or other stations) and have a broadcast from the tailgate parking lot. Allow Vendors (that pay you big money to do it) to give away samples of their drink or free food.

4th – Sponsor a Local Elementary School for Sunday games during the school year.
To my reckoning that is about 6 games. Trot the kids out onto the field before the game and let us all cheer for them. It will be an experience they will never forget and it will engender a life long love for the Padres and baseball.

Get the players out to local elementary schools all during the school year to hype up the program and do community service work.

Stick them up in those seats in nosebleed that you can’t sell most Sundays anyway and you will make out from all the concessions and other licensed stuff they will buy. They will love it and you will benefit big time. Shoot, it’s probably a tax write off so you will make out in 4 ways – publicity, lifelong fans, concessions and taxes.

5th – Bring back the Compadres Club.

Let me tell you a story. In 2002 I was working 80+ hours per week as the owner of my own direct marketing firm. I was, and am still, a full season ticket holder, but my plan going into the year was to only make about half the games and give the rest away to my employees as bonuses (and a tax write off for me).

I don’t know if you remember, I wish I couldn’t because it was painful to watch, but the Padres stunk that year. Lost 90 something games.

Well, come the middle of July I noticed that I was at about 40 games attended.

Some of the games I had only made for a few innings, but I was still going. Sometimes I even gave away my season seats and then bought a cheap seat, paid for parking and watched for the last 3 or 4 innings. If I was diligent I could still get my Gold Star pin.

Why? Why would I do that?

WELL, for the bat they gave away for going to 70 plus games, a Gold Star pin that only about 700 people would get and for the opportunity to walk on the field with my bat held high on that last game of the year.

It was a point of honor.

And it wouldn’t be the same to just give it to me for being a season ticket holder like they did this year. Where is the fun in that?

The fun was in making sure I had a ticket even if I had to buy another one and racing in before the 7th inning when the Compadres Club Machines closed and running that damned card.

The Padres club also engendered a camaraderie amongst those who stood in line to swipe those cards. We made friends with other fans, not just those that sat in our section. We went on road trips together as fellow Padres fans. We looked forward to seeing those people in line.

Getting a season ticket holders Compadres Club card also made us feel special.

We got a discount in the Padres store because of that card. We probably bought 30-40% more in dollar value than we other wise would have because of that 10 or 15% discount. You won.

Now I don’t buy anything in the store. It is cheaper elsewhere and there is no that sense of belonging that I got by running my card and getting a small discount.

And most importantly from a marketing stand point, the Compadres Club captured the contact information from fans. It gave you an in house list of people to market to. It is ALWAYS more successful and more profitable to market to people who are already buying some of your product(s).

Add in a “tell a friend” referral bonus like one free seat upgrade to some really great “little league” seats behind home plate for anyone who refers a season ticket buyer and you may even get more value for your advertising dollar.


6th – Have Fans throw out the first pitch on the last game of the season.

Use that “Jersey off a Players Back” drawing to do three things.
One - Raise money for charity.
Two - Capture fan information. (See Compadres Club for why that is crucial)
Three - Bring fans to the ballpark regardless of record for those last few games.

This is how it would work.

The last MONTH of the season you would sell the Jersey off a players back scratch off tickets.

If the fans did not get a winner, they would get to fill in their contact info on the back and drop it off at a Compadres Club location for a chance to win
Grand Prize(s) – Throw out the First Pitch on the Final Day of the Season
1st Prize – 2 of the best seats in the house or Owners Box seats.
2nd Prize – A Signed Baseball from that season’s star player.
3rd Prize – A $25.00 gift card for the Padres Store.

You would have a drawing on the 2nd to last game to announce the winners.

7th – Have Padres PLAYERS throw out the first pitch at local Little League games.

Especially their season openers. Can you imagine how excited those kids will be for Padres baseball if even a Bullpen Pitcher or a Backup Catcher shows up to throw out the first pitch at one of their games? And if it is the Star pitcher or the Local boy turned All Star its all that much better. WOW!

They will drag their parents kicking and screaming to a few games at Petco just because of that PR appearance. And its FREE to you!

8th – Add a “Tell a Friend” bonus for Season ticket holders
If you refer someone buys season tickets you get an upgrade for one game for awesome seats behind home plate. Or one Field Level ticket for every seat in your season ticket package for some games that you will have a hard time selling anyway like mid week games against the Pirates or Marlins or something like that.

The companies I consult for are seeing 30%-40% of their revenue come from referrals. The people who send them those referrals are compensated for them at a rate that is much less than the amount it would normally cost the company to generate a new sale, and they are GLAD to do it.

You are not using a fundamental marketing strategy.

That is a good start off the top of my head. Anymore and you will have to pay my consulting fee and I am not cheap. LOL.

Seriously, minor league teams in the Padres system are doing a better job of marketing their teams and building their fan base. This is supposed to be the Major Leagues. Where is the major league marketing talent?

Larry Lucchino was good at marketing and he had Charles Steinberg DDS to help him. They were so focused on making the fan experience a fun one, that they increased ticket and licensed merchandise sales even when the team was losing.

I've had my say. Now what do you think?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

2009 Padres Payroll Projections Redux

January 20, 2008 (Updated 1/21/09)

2009 Padres Payroll Projections Redux

Some Free Agent signings have happened and all the arbitration eligible players have been signed so I thought I should update this post.

When its all said and done the Padres will still be right at that much discussed $40 million budget for payroll in 2009.

San Diego Padres 2009 Contract Projections

Players with guaranteed salaries for 2009

Jake Peavy – $11.0 million
Chris Young – $4.5 million
Adrian Gonzalez – $3.0 million
Brian Giles - $9.0 million with $3 million buyout.

Total $ Guaranteed - $27.5 million

Arbitration Eligible Players
Jody Gerut $0.700m (2008) - 2009 Est - $1.5 - $2.5 m (Signed for $1.775m)
Scott Hairston $.406m (2008) - 2009 Est - $.750 - $1.5 m (Signed $1.250m)
Heath Bell $0.420m (2008) - 2009 Est - $2.0 - $2.5 m (Signed for $1.225m)
Luis Rodriguez $0.4025m (2008) 2009 Est - $0.410 - $.600m (Signed $0.675m)

Total Arbitration Eligible 2008 salaries - $1.9825 million Est 2009 Salaries - $7.1 million worst case ($4.925 Actual

Free Agents signed after Original December 15, 2008 Article

David Eckstein - $0.850m
Henry Blanco - $0.750 (Signed 1/21/09)

Total for 9 Signed Players = $34.005m

On 25 Man Roster & Under Team Control - 2008 Salaries Listed
Kevin Kouzmanoff - $0.410m (2008-not arbitration eligible)
Edgar Gonzalez - $0.390m (2008-not arbitration eligible)
Chase Headley - $0.410m (2008-not arbitration eligible)
Nick Hundley - $0.410m (2008-not arbitration eligible)
Mike Adams - $0.410m (2008-not arbitration eligible)
Cha Seung Baek - $0.3925m (2008-not arbitration eligible)
Josh Geer - $0.390m (2008-not arbitration eligible)
Justin Hampson - $0.4025m (2008-not arbitration eligible)
Cla Meredith - $0.415m (2008-not arbitration eligible)
Scott Patterson - $0.390m (2008-not arbitration eligible)
Matt Antonelli - $0.390m (2008-not arbitration eligible)
Will Venable - $0.390m (2008-not arbitration eligible)
Travis Denker - $0.390m (2008-not arbitration eligible)
Drew Macias - $0.390m (2008-not arbitration eligible)
Total 2008 Salaries - $6.395 million
Total if remaining 2 slots are filled at major league minimum of $0.400m - $6.560m

Total Current & Projected Player 2009 Salaries - $40.585m (Updated 1/21/09)

Some of those players won't be on the 2009 Roster opening day roster and other minor league signees and major league minimum type of players will be on the 2009 roster.

A 2nd catcher has to be added whether from the minor league signing of Eliezer Alfonzo or from a FA like Ausmus. Either way it will be at or near the major league minimum.

The Padres minor league signings like Mark Prior (will make $1.0m if he makes ML roster), Kevin Correia (will make $0.750m if he makes ML roster) and Chris Burke (will make $0.650m if he makes ML roster) are not on that list.

If all three (Prior, Correia and Burke) make the roster, the 2009 Payroll will be $41.750m (as of 1/21/09)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cubs making room for Peavy?

Sunday January 18, 2008

Today the Cubs made a trade of Felix Pie for Garrett Olson of the Orioles.

Olson was rumored to be part of the 3 team trade that would send Jake Peavy to the Cubs.

Originally we heard and read that in exchange for Peavy, the Cubs would send the Padres a package including Olson from the Orioles, Josh Vitters, Sean Marshall/Jeff Zemarzidja, Ronny Cedeno and others.

Does today's trade presage a heating up of the Peavy trade rumors?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Changes and Chances in the Wild, Wild NL West

Tuesday January 6, 2009

(Note: Yes I know it’s the 17th. This post turned out to be a whale of a project on limited time and then I took a 9 day trip to 4 different countries and left this sitting on my desktop computer at home. I am STILL not completely finished, so I am going to post what I have and update it as I can. Bear with me please. I promise it will be done before pitchers and catcher report. lol)

On one of my favorite message boards, Friar Nation, a question was posed about what changes were made by each of the NL West teams in the off season and what effect would that have on the teams chance at winning the division.

Once I started my answer, I realized it was a little longer and more involved than a post on a message board should be so I decided to take a crack at it here.

I have not included players signed to minor league deals unless they are expected to crack the 25 man roster and make a substantial contribution. In other words Rule V draftees and guys that are not expected to come in and contribute are not included with the exception of the Padres who may just play ALL of their minor league signings and Rule V draftees.

Here goes.


- LHP Randy Johnson. 30 starts 11 wins 184.1 IP
- RHP Connor Robertson 27 yr old Rookie reliever traded to Mets for Schoeneweis
- SS/2B David Eckstein

Free Agents not expected to be resigned
- Reliever Juan Cruz. 2.61 ERA with 8 holds in 57 appearances
- OF Adam Dunn. 8 hr and 26 rbi in 144 abs, roughly 1/4 of a season
- Starting 2B Orlando Hudson. Hit team leading .305 and played solid D
- Closer/Reliever Brandon Lyon. Team leading 26 saves in 61 appearances

- 2B Felipe Lopez. 28 yr old hit .385/.426/.538 in limited duty w/the Cardinals
- LH Reliever Scott Schoeneweis. Lefty specialist 3.34 era in 56 appearances for Mets
- Brought back Tony Clark

What this means to their chances to win the NL West
30 starts, 130 relief appearances, and 2 everyday position players left.
50-60 Relief appearances were added and 1 everyday position player.
Max Sherzer will be expected to fill the shoes of future HOF in starts, innings and wins. Those are HUGE shoes to fill for a 24 year old with just 7 starts and no wins to his credit.

With Eric Byrnes still iffy for opening day and a lot of holes still left to fill, the Diamondbacks figure to regress from their 82 wins season in 2008 if they don’t make more moves this off season.


- Of Matt Holliday. .321/.409/.538/.947 with 25 HR & 88 RBI
- Closer Brian Fuentes 30 saves with a 2.73 ERA in 67 appearances
- 2B Jayson Nix Little Used Backup
- OF Willy Taveras Speedy CF Hit .251/.308 with 68 SB in 479 AB
- RP Matt Herges - 5.04 ERA in 58 appearances (FA signed with Indians)
- RP Luis Vizcaino 46 IP and 5.28 in 43 appearances

Free Agents not expected to be resigned
- SP Livan Hernandez - 13 wins in 31 starts w/ 6.05 ERA for Rockies & Twins in 2008.
- C Adam Melhuse. A little used backup. Just 15 games played between Rockies & Rangers in 2008.

- LH reliever Alan Embree Aging LH specialist had 4.96 era in 70 appearances for A's
- OF Carlos Gonzalez 23 yr old hit .242/.273/.361 in 330 abs his first season at ML for A's. Expected to take the place of Willy Taveras in CF
- RH Starter Greg Smith 24 yr old had 7 wins & 4.16 era in 190 IP for A's. Had Elbow surgery in offseason.
- Closer/Reliever Huston Street 18 saves & 3.73 era in 70 appearances for A's

What this means to their chances to win the NL West
The Rockies lost a perennial MVP candidate in Holliday and one of the best closers in baseball in Fuentes and a true leadoff hitter in Taveras.
31 starts, 168 relief appearances, 25 hrs, 30 saves, and 68 stolen bases gone.
30 starts, 60-70 relief appearances, 4-5 hrs, 4-5 sb, and 18 saves added.
Taveras had a poor season in 2008, but just one year prior he had hit .320/.367
Gonzalez will fill in ably on defense and has more pop in his bat, but will not be able to match the speed or batting average of Taveras.
Huston Street is a reasonable replacement for Fuentes or a good setup man for Corpas.
Smith was the big cog in the trade for Holliday and he is a question mark for 2009 due to elbow surgery in late October. If he heals successfully and if he can continue to progress, he can be a good addition to the Rockies rotation. IF.
Helton is also ailing, he had back surgery September 30th, and his production has seen a marked decline in recent years.
The addition of Jason Marquis would be a wash with Hernandez. A durable, but not good, starting pitcher.

All in All the Rockies have taken a step backwards and are now relying on unproven and in the case of Smith, injured young players to take the place of veterans. A repeat of the 74 win 2008 season is probable if they keep their current lineup.

Los Angeles

- RH SP/RP Chan Ho Park
- SP Greg Maddux
- SP Brad Penny
- RP Scott Proctor
- OF Andruw Jones

Free Agents not expected to be resigned
- LH RP Joe Beimel
- C Gary Bennett
- SS Angel Berroa
- 3B/1B Nomar Garciaparra
- SP Jason Johnson
- 2B Jeff Kent
- SP Derek Lowe (FA signed with Atlanta)
- Util Pablo Ozuna (FA signed with Philadelphia?)
- Closer Takashi Saito (FA signed with Boston)
- Pinch Hitter Mark Sweeney

- 2B Mark Loretta
- SP/RP Claudio Vargas
- RP Guillermo Mota

Free agent but who knows what will happen
- OF Manny Ramirez

What this means to their chances to win the NL West
The Dodgers have lost more than half of their relief appearances, more than half of their saves, more than half of their starts, and 3 players with at least some starts at key positions in 2008

By resigning Blake and Furcal, have made splashes in the FA market but not really improved their team. No one has played a full season in the ML after having the surgery Furcal had, so he will again be a question mark health wise all season and Blake has always been considered a utility man, not an everyday 3B.

Mark Loretta is a solid utility man and probably a much better role model for young prospects to learn from in 2009, but certainly will not provide the offense of future HOF Jeff Kent.

Claudio Vargas is a swing man that may be expected to start in a depleted Dodger pitching staff.

If the Dodgers sign Manny Ramirez they can once again be named as the favorites in the NL West. His offensive production is enough to improve the entire lineup. He gives opposing teams a bat to fear in the middle of the lineup and the batters hitting in front of and immediately behind him will see better pitches to hit, improving everyone’s production.

If they don’t sign Manny, their suspect offense and thoroughly depleted pitching will see them make a huge step backwards towards the pack in 2009.

San Diego

- C Josh Bard Signed with BOS ($1.6 mil, 1 year)
- C Michael Barrett Signed with TOR (minor league deal)
- RP Kevin Cameron Signed with OAK (minor league deal)
- SP Enrique Gonzalez Signed with BOS (minor league deal)
- SS Khalil Greene Traded to St Louis
- RP/SP Clay Hensley Signed with HOU (minor league deal)
- OF Paul McAnulty Signed with BOS (minor league deal)
- 2B Tadihito Iguchi

Free Agents not expected to be resigned
- OF Chip Ambres
- SP Shawn Estes Signed with the LA Dodgers (minor league deal)
- SP Charlie Haeger
- Closer Trevor Hoffman Signed with Milwaukee

- 2B David Eckstein -

3 signed to minor league deals and added to 40 man roster
RP Chris Britton
RP Mark Worrell
2B Travis Denker – picked up on waivers from Giants

2 picked up in Rule V draft and added to 40 man roster
RP Ivan Nova
2B Everth Cabrera

4 signed to minor league deal and invited to Spring Training
SP/RP Kevin Correia
C Eliezer Alonzo
Util Chris Burke
SP Mark Prior

What this means to their chances to win the NL West
30 Saves, 142 relief appearances, and 3 starting position players gone.
Added an unknown number of relief appearances from players with little or no ML experience, a swing man in Correia, and a starting 2B.

Eckstein will start at 2B, give them a legitimate #2 hitter and allow the Padres to give Antonelli more time to play everyday at AAA and get his hitting stroke back. LRod will give the Padres a better batting average with average defense at SS. They will miss the power bat of Greene, but not his lack of clutch hitting.

The loss of Hoffman will hurt the Padres in the short run. While Bell is a competent reliever, he is no Hoffman and 1st year closers, regardless of their ML experience, average nearly 20% lower save percentage than Hoffman’s 2008 save percentage. In the long term it may free up money to make a trade at the deadline, maybe including Giles, that will set up the team for years to come at other positions.

The Padres probably will not compete in the NL West, but they will improve. Just an improvement from MLB record injuries in 2008 to MLB average injuries in 2009 will give them a huge boost.

I can see them winning 74-78 games in 2009 and climbing out of the cellar.

San Francisco

C Eliezer Alfonzo C
SP/RP Kevin Correia
RP Brad Hennessey

Free Agents not expected to be resigned
- 1B Rich Aurilia
- SS Omar Vizquel
- RP Tyler Walker Signed with SEA

- RP Jeremy Affeldt
- RP Bob Howry
- SP Randy Johnson
- SS Edgar Renteria

What this means to their chances to win the NL West
The Giants lost little; a swing man, a reliever, a backup corner infielder and an aging SS.
They have added a future HOF pitcher, a good and slightly less aged SS and 2 good relievers.

The offense of the Giants while still suspect is better and they will offer arguably the best rotation in baseball and an improved bullpen in 2009.

An improvement is probable over their 72 win campaign in 2008. 80-84?

Closing Thoughts
As bad as the Giants were last year, the Padres picked up 3 castaways from their trash heap, Alonzo who got popped for steroids and spent 50 days on suspension in 2008, Correia who is returning from injury in 2008 and Travis Denker who no one can really figure out why he was available on the waiver wire.

As of today 2 teams are in definite decline for 2009, 2 will improve (the Padres have no where to go but up) and the Dodgers are in limbo waiting on Manny.

None of the teams in the West have what I would call a World Series caliber team, but then neither did the 2007 Rockies or the 2006 Cardinals.

Without Manny, no team in the West is a prohibitive favorite to even win the West, let alone take a run deep in the playoffs.

Friday, January 02, 2009

1st Clues to Padres Possible New Ownership Appear

In an article on Yahoo from Bob Baum of the AP, Jeff Moorad, CEO of the Arizona Diamondbacks has reportedly resigned to pursue ownership in the San Diego Padres.

So we have our first clues as to whom the Moores may be selling their controlling share of the Padres.

Moorad is a former agent, who took over as CEO of the Arizona Diamondbacks when Jerry Colangelo sold controlling interest in the team to a group or minority partners that included current managing general partner Ken Kendrick and Paul Schloss.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Market for Hoffman Begins to Heat Up

January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

Now that the top three closers on the market have signed for 4 years @ $13.375 million per - K Rod, 3 years @ $10.25 million per - Wood, and 3 years @ $9 million per - Fuentes; what does this presage for Future HOF Closer Trevor Hoffman?

The Mets also acquired Seattle Closer JJ Putz in trade as a setup man. So really 4 closers are off the market.

Who needs a closer now? Great question.

Seattle needs a closer. Aaron Heilman is currently listed as closer on most depth charts in the media, but he is not the closer type.

The Dodgers non tendered Takashi Saito so unless they go with Broxton, who blew 8 of 22 save opportunities in 2008, they need a closer. The Dodgers have been spoken about as a possible landing point for Hoffman in many quarters including

The Diamondbacks have Chad Qualls listed as their closer on their depth chart but he blew 8 save opportunities of just 17 total and they had Brandon Lyon at closerlast year, but he struggled mightily in 2008. They could use an effective closer.

Unless they plan on using the oft-injured Joel Zumaya as a closer, Detroit stands in need of a closer.

CJ Wilson, the closer for the Rangers had a 6.02 ERA so they could use an effective closer.

Tampa Bay has the aging Troy Percival(39 years old) who ended the season on the DL and had back surgery in December listed as their closer. The World Series demonstrated the need for a healthy and great closer in those pressure games. They also need a closer.

Eric Gagne proved ineffective and Solomon Torres retired so the Brewers could use a closers also.

That is at least 7 teams with a glaring need (not including the Giants whose closer had a 4.62 era and the Pirates who can't afford anyone) and there are no other top level closers on the market other than Hoffman.

With so many teams in need of a closer, Hoffman should garner a deal that is worth more than the Padres offer of one year @ $4 million with no incentives.

I would guess that he will get offers for a two year deal at $5 million plus per year before this is all over.

Will the Padres increase their offer to match? I would not think so unless they are able to trade Peavy and that is a discussion for another post.

Get ready for the first season in 15 years without Hells Bells in San Diego

Now I've had my say. What do you think?


January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

A new year dawns and with it faith that we will see peace, prosperity and more wins from the Padres in 2009.

May God Bless Us All and Keep Those That Protect Our Freedom Safe.