Archive for Padres

The Padres Rotation Might Be Historically Poor

Yesterday, the author of the current post published a lightly annotated version of Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections for the San Diego Padres. To no one’s surprise, likely, the forecast for the 2017 edition of the club isn’t wildly a promising one. After investing heavily in some expensive veterans during the first year of his tenure as the club’s general manager, A.J. Preller has taken a very different approach over the last calendar year, acquiring whatever young talent he could in exchange for the aforementioned veterans.

On the offensive side, some of that young talent is already materializing at the major-league level. Outfielders Travis Jankowski, Manuel Margot, and Hunter Renfroe, for example — who’ve recorded fewer than 600 plate appearances as a group — are projected to produce about two wins each next year. That’s encouraging both for the club’s present and future. On the pitching side, however, Szymborski’s computer was decidedly less optimistic: of the club’s likely starters, only one (Tyson Ross) was projected to produce more than a win.

Of course, the caveat attached to any team-based projections released at this time of year is that the complexion of said team’s roster can change dramatically. “This is bad,” one could reasonably say of the forecast for the Padres’ rotation, “but the team could still make some moves.”

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Nationals Trade for Last Year’s Worst Hitter*

For two or three days, I’ve been sitting around, waiting for the Nationals to make a big trade. This isn’t the one I was expecting, but, the hell with it, as long as I’m here anyway, the Nationals have picked up Derek Norris from the Padres, at the cost of Pedro Avila. Avila is as 19 as any other 19-year-old, and last year he was fine as a low-level starting pitcher. You know the rest of this. Intriguing stuff, many years away. I will not be discussing Avila again in this post.

Norris is the more interesting of the two. The Nationals wanted a catcher to pair with Jose Lobaton, and Norris can slide right in for cheap. The Nationals will have him for two years if they want, and this year he’ll cost about $4 million. Not much. But, the thing I didn’t expect: Norris was baseball’s worst hitter last season.

That is, if you go by results, and if you set a minimum of 400 plate appearances. The minimum is arbitrary, so, you might say someone else was worse. But Norris did the least with the most playing time. I’m not sure how that escaped my attention as it was playing out, but actually, yes, I am sure how, because Norris played for the Padres, and why would I have been paying attention to them? Norris was dreadful, as you can see in this table.

10 Worst wRC+ Marks
Player Rank wRC+
Derek Norris 203 55
Adeiny Hechavarria 202 56
Alexei Ramirez 201 63
Erick Aybar 200 65
Ketel Marte 199 66
Ryan Zimmerman 198 67
Alcides Escobar 197 68
Jason Heyward 196 72
Jose Iglesias 195 73
Freddy Galvis 194 74
Minimum 400 plate appearances.

He finished 203rd out of 203. It was an extremely brutal offensive season, and, related to that, Norris had a career-worst strikeout rate. Yet, it wasn’t all terrible. Fancy yourself an optimist? I like to subtract soft-hit rate from hard-hit rate. Here is a selection from that leaderboard, with the same 400-PA minimum.

Excerpt from Hard-Soft% List
Player Rank Hard-Soft%
Howie Kendrick 74 18.6%
Carlos Santana 75 18.5%
Marwin Gonzalez 76 18.4%
Jedd Gyorko 77 18.1%
Joe Mauer 78(t) 17.9%
Derek Norris 78(t) 17.9%
Eugenio Suarez 80(t) 17.7%
Cameron Rupp 80(t) 17.7%
Anthony Rizzo 82(t) 17.6%
Robinson Cano 82(t) 17.6%
Minimum 400 plate appearances.

No one’s impressed by being close to Marwin Gonzalez, but, Anthony Rizzo? Robinson Cano? Carlos Santana? Wilson Ramos was actually right after Cano. By this measure alone, Norris’ contact was just like Ramos’ contact. The point being, Norris didn’t fall completely apart. He can still sting the baseball, and his career wRC+ is almost league-average. The Nationals assume there’ll be a bounceback, just as Ramos’ three-year wRC+ marks went from 93 to 63 to 124. Like Norris, the bad, 2015 version of Ramos had a career-high strikeout rate. Last year he was one of the Nationals’ more valuable players.

And Baseball Prospectus also considers Norris something of a defensive plus. While he’s not much for throwing out runners, Norris has put together two strong years of receiving, and it stands to reason that should continue into Washington. Acknowledging that we have no idea if Norris actually calls a good game — he seems above-average defensively, and at the plate, he’s been above-average before. This is a pretty painless buy-low, even if it seemingly removes the Nationals from the justifiably perplexing Ramos free-agent sweepstakes. His tale is a sad one, but the Nationals had to move on.

From the Padres’ perspective, easy space has been cleared for Austin Hedges, who deserves this opportunity. And for Norris, while he still won’t be a full-time catcher, at least now his 2017 job share will come with a contender instead of with a rebuilder. That’s not bad news to take a man into a weekend.


2017 ZiPS Projections – San Diego Padres

After having typically appeared in the very famous pages of Baseball Think Factory, Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections have been released at FanGraphs the past few years. The exercise continues this offseason. Below are the projections for the San Diego Padres. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

Other Projections: Chicago NL / Toronto / Washington.

Batters
Were one to have followed major-league baseball with some vigor through the 2014 season but then entered a coma at the end of that season but then just exited that coma this morning, that would constitute an unsual series of events. It would also uniquely qualify the nearly awakened to comment on the relative inexperience of the Padres’ starting lineup, because basically none of that lineup’s constituent members had appeared in major-league baseball by the end of 2014.

Catcher Derek Norris (450 PA, 1.7 zWAR), who’s recorded fewer than 600 career games (or less than four full seasons’ worth), is the veteran of this club. Wil Myers (621, 3.4) and Yangervis Solarte (519, 2.5) are the only other two projected starters who’ve recorded more than 1,000 career plate appearances. The starting outfielders, meanwhile, have compiled 552 PAs as a group.

Which, a note about San Diego and its outfields. The reader might remember, in 2015, when the Padres fielded an Opening Day alignment (from left to right field) of Justin Upton, Wil Myers, and Matt Kemp, marking one of the worst defensive units in recent memory. The results were not positive. In any case, the current iteration of the Padres outfield represents a great departure from that. Travis Jankowski (404, 1.6) and Manuel Margot (581, 2.6) are projected for +7 and +9 fielding runs in center; Hunter Renfroe (586, 1.5), meanwhile, is forecast to save +6 runs in right.

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Prospect Reports: San Diego Padres

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the San Diego Padres farm system. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as from my own observations. The KATOH statistical projections, probable-outcome graphs, and (further down) Mahalanobis comps have been provided by Chris Mitchell. For more information on the 20-80 scouting scale by which all of my prospect content is governed you can click here. For further explanation of the merits and drawbacks of Future Value, read this.

The KATOH projection system uses minor-league data and Baseball America prospect rankings to forecast future performance in the major leagues. For each player, KATOH produces a WAR forecast for his first six years in the major leagues. There are drawbacks to scouting the stat line, so take these projections with a grain of salt. Due to their purely objective nature, the projections here can be useful in identifying prospects who might be overlooked or overrated. Due to sample-size concerns, only players with at least 200 minor-league plate appearances or batters faced last season have received projections.

Other lists: ARI, SF

Padres Top Prospects
Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 Anderson Espinoza 18 A RHP 2019 60
2 Manny Margot 22 MLB CF 2017 55
3 Cal Quantrill 21 A RHP 2018 55
4 Hunter Renfroe 24 MLB OF 2016 50
5 Adrian Morejon 18 R LHP 2020 50
6 Fernando Tatis, Jr. 17 A- 3B 2021 50
7 Jacob Nix 20 A RHP 2019 50
8 Chris Paddack 20 A RHP 2020 45
9 Jeisson Rosario 17 R OF 2021 45
10 Logan Allen 19 A LHP 2020 45
11 Carlos Asuaje 24 MLB 2B 2017 45
12 Luis Urias 19 A+ 2B 2018 45
13 Gabriel Arias 16 R SS 2021 45
14 Jorge Ona 19 R OF 2019 45
15 Mason Thompson 18 R RHP 2021 45
16 Reggie Lawson 19 R RHP 2021 45
17 Luis Almanzar 17 R SS 2021 45
18 Eric Lauer 21 A LHP 2019 45
19 Hudson Potts 18 A- 3B 2020 45
20 Jose Rondon 22 MLB SS 2017 45
21 Michael Gettys 21 A+ CF 2019 40
22 Phil Maton 23 AAA RHP 2017 40
23 Michel Miliano 16 R RHP 2022 40
24 Enyel De Los Santos 20 A+ RHP 2020 40
25 Dinelson Lamet 24 AAA RHP 2017 40
26 Josh Naylor 19 A+ 1B 2020 40
27 Buddy Reed 21 R CF 2019 40
28 Nick Torres 23 AAA OF 2018 40
29 Austin Allen 22 A C 2019 40
30 Josh VanMeter 21 AA UTIL 2018 40
31 Hansel Rodriguez 19 A- RHP 2020 40
32 Yimmi Brasoban 22 AA RHP 2018 40

60 FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Venezuela
Age 19 Height 6’0 Weight 160 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command
60/70 50/70 50/70 40/50

Relevant/Interesting Metrics
Recorded just 5.6% walk rate after trade to San Diego.

Scouting Report
Espinoza got a $1.8 million bonus in 2014 despite his diminutive stature because, despite a lack of height, his arm worked incredibly well and he already showed terrific feel for spin. He was unhittable in the GCL when he debuted stateside, allowing just three earned runs in 40 innings there. He wasn’t as dominant in 2016 and reports of his stuff and performance were a little inconsistent, after he was traded to San Diego for Drew Pomeranz, but this was an 18-year-old dealing with severance from the organization that changed his life and his peripherals were good despite inflated ERAs. By the time instructional league arrived, things had come together and Espinoza was arguably the best pitching prospect throwing during instructs in either Arizona or Florida. He was 95-97 with movement in an abbreviated final instructional-league outing and flashed a plus-plus curveball.

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Fall League Daily Notes: October 12

Over the coming weeks, Eric Longenhagen will publish brief, informal notes from his looks at the prospects of the Arizona Fall League and, until mid-October, Fall Instructional League.

Athletics OF Lazaro “Lazarito” Armenteros continues to take better at-bats than I anticipated and has an advanced feel for his strike zone. The power is as advertised, too, though he’s extremely vulnerable against breaking balls and is often so far out on his front foot against them that he can’t do anything but foul them off and live to see another pitch. He has a 40 arm, is a 50 runner and a left fielder for me going forward.

Also of note for Oakland yesterday in a Fall Instructional game against the Angels was RHP Abdiel Mendoza, who just turned 18 in September. Mendoza is extremely skinny but loose and quick-armed. His fastball sat in the upper 80s but I think there’s a good bit more coming and I like Mendoza’s athleticism. He’s purely a teenage lottery ticket but one I think who’s worth following.

For the Angels, INF Julio Garcia took the field at shortstop, which is notable because I hadn’t seen him play there for over a year. Garcia, a switch-hitter, came over from the DSL late last summer and looked tremendous at SS, but has spent this year playing a lot of 2B and 3B in deference to, in my opinion, inferior prospects — and also lost a significant amount of playing time to a facial injury. Scouts like the glove, body and bat speed but want to see a more measured approach to hitting, especially from the left side. The Angels’ middle infield is crowded at the lower levels, a group that includes 2016 draftee Nonie Williams, who posted an above-average run time for me yesterday.

Also of note for the Angels yesterday was the cage work of 2016 2nd rounder, OF Brandon Marsh. Marsh has not played in games since signing (neither in the AZL nor during instructional league) but showed above average raw power during a side session yesterday. The body should grow into even more pop. Mid-way through his session Marsh paused to take instruction from a coach behind the cage and immediately made an adjustment on his subsequent swings.

In last night’s Arizona Fall League game between Peoria and Salt River, Mariners OF Tyler O’Neill posted a plus run time for me yesterday and showed off his plus bat speed on several occasions but I thought his at-bats were a little overaggressive. Seattle LHP Luiz Gohara sat 95-97, touched 98 and flashed a plus slider in the mid-80s but struggled with command and, at age 20, is already carrying what looks like 240-plus pounds.

Padres utility prospect Josh VanMeter squared velocity several times and had three hits. Orioles LHP Tanner Scott was touching 99 but not getting as many swings and misses as you might expect from a 95-plus mph heater and his low-90s cutter/slider wasn’t all that effective, either.


FanGraphs Audio: Eric Longenhagen’s Horrible Burden

Episode 688
Lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen is the guest on this edition of the pod, during which he discusses recent prep work on his horrible burden — namely, the forthcoming organizational prospect lists, which will begin with NL West clubs. By way of preview, Longenhangen discusses one prospect of note from each the five western teams: Jazz Chisholm (Arizona), Joan Gregorio (San Francisco), Michel Miliano (San Diego), Riley Pint (Colorado), and Jordan Sheffield (Los Angeles).

This episode of the program either is or isn’t sponsored by SeatGeek, which site removes both the work and also the hassle from the process of shopping for tickets.

Don’t hesitate to direct pod-related correspondence to @cistulli on Twitter.

You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or other feeder things.

Audio after the jump. (Approximately 1 hr 16 min play time.)

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Play

Christian Bethancourt as the Ultimate Utility Player

While fans of 20 teams were coping with the end of the season over the weekend, Dennis Lin delivered some incredibly exciting news. Padres manager Andy Green and host of other Padres officials were in Peoria to watch Christian Bethancourt throw a bullpen session. An injured player throwing an October bullpen session wouldn’t normally draw the manager, pitching coach, bullpen coach, minor-league pitching coordinator, and player-development coordinator, but this was no ordinary rehab session.

“We’re flirting with the idea of this guy being a very intriguing ’25th man’ who can catch, can play the outfield and can pitch,” Green said. “I know no team has actually really tried to deploy a guy in that capacity — probably ever when you consider those three dynamics.

“We’ll run as far down that road as his arm allows us to. I don’t know that we’re firmly committed to that or married to that, but it’s worth exploring.”

That’s right: the Padres are exploring the idea of making Bethancourt a catcher, outfielder, and pitcher hybrid.

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“Pitch” Pilot: The Right Woman for the Job

“Pitch”, FOX’s new hour-long drama, premiered last night. It was a strong first episode, both dramatic and entertaining. It presents a likable yet complex protagonist in Ginny Baker (played by actress Kylie Bunbury), while also introducing us to a supporting cast that has the potential to be compelling.

What follows is a recap of the show. As such, there are spoilers below, so consider yourself warned if you haven’t set seen the first episode.

We join Ginny as she’s getting ready to head to Petco Park for her major-league debut. A 23-year-old right-handed screwball pitcher who’s been in the Padres organization for five years, she is laser focused on mentally preparing for her spot start, uninterested in any outside distractions. Accompanied by her agent, Amelia Slater (Ali Larter) and social-media manager, Eliot (Tim Jo), she’s greeted by throngs of excited fans waiting for her outside of the ballpark.

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Projecting Manny Margot and Other Padres Call-Ups

Following the end of their Triple-A affiliate’s championship season in the Pacific Coast League, the San Diego Padres promoted a small collection of players to their major-league club on Tuesday. Below are forecasts for the three most notable prospects of that group — Carlos Asuaje, Hunter Renfroe, and Manuel Margot — according to my KATOH system and presented in order of projected WAR.

Note that KATOH represents the WAR projection for the relevant player’s first six years in the majors; KATOH+ is that same thing, except with the player’s Baseball America ranking included as a variable.

*****

Manny Margot, CF (Profile)

KATOH: 13.0 WAR
KATOH+: 13.6 WAR

Margot’s game centers around speed and contact. The 21-year-old struck out in just 12% of his plate appearances in Triple-A this year on his way to a .307/.355/.442 slash line. He also racked up an exciting 32 steals, while playing elite center field defense by Clay Davenport’s numbers. Margot also isn’t a zero in the power department, as he managed a respectable 46 extra-base hits in the minors this year, including seven homers. He’s one of the very best prospects in baseball by my math, and he’s big-league ready.

To help you visualize what his KATOH projection entails, here is a probability density function showing KATOH+’s projected distribution of outcomes for Margot’s first six seasons in the major leagues.

margot

To put some faces to Margot’s statistical profile, let’s generate some statistical comps for the speedy outfielder. I calculated a weighted Mahalanobis distance between Margot’s performance this year and every Triple-A season since 1991 in which a center fielder recorded at least 400 plate appearances. In the table below, you’ll find the 10 most similar seasons, ranked from most to least similar. The WAR totals refer to each player’s first six seasons in the major leagues. A lower “Mah Dist” reading indicates a closer comp.

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It Feels Like the Padres Got Off Easy

Yesterday, following a league investigation into claims that the Padres withheld pertinent medical information from other teams with whom they were discussing trades, MLB suspended Padres GM A.J. Preller for 30 days. The Padres admit that they screwed up and vow to change their “medical administration and record keeping,” but in their statement about the suspension, claim to have done so unintentionally.

Obviously, as outsiders without knowledge of what the league found in their investigation, we can’t make any definitive claims about what is true and what isn’t, but the idea that the Padres accidentally kept two sets of medical records — one for their internal use and one to be fed into the centralized league database — is absurd. You don’t unintentionally create more work for your medical staff without knowing exactly why you’re doing so, and it’s not like everyone in the Padres organization hasn’t previously worked with other organizations; they all knew the standard protocol for reporting health information in trade discussions, and they knew this wasn’t how everyone else does things. The idea that this was an accident, and that no one in the organization realized what the team was doing, is laughably unbelievable absent a compelling explanation, which the Padres did not provide.

As best as we can tell, the Padres lied (by omitting pertinent information) to other teams about the health of their players in order to try and complete trades and secure returns that they might not be able to otherwise if the full scale of medical information was disclosed. And it worked. They made the Andrew Cashner deal with the Marlins by also including Colin Rea, a young starter the Marlins thought they were getting to bolster their rotation; when it turned out that Rea got to Miami and admitted that his elbow hurt and had been hurting for some time, the Marlins went nuts and the Padres had to agree to rework the deal, taking Rea back and sending one of the prospects they got in the deal back to Miami.

Unlike the Rodney/Rea deal, the Red Sox didn’t force the Padres to rework the Drew Pomeranz/Anderson Espinoza swap, but it is fair to wonder if they would have surrendered their top pitching prospect had they known that Pomeranz had been taking anti-inflammatory medications at the time of the deal. We’ll never know, of course, but it’s at least reasonable to think that the Padres believed there was some benefit to their trade discussions by withholding that information from the Red Sox, or else they wouldn’t have bothered to omit that information in the first place.

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Ryan Schimpf and the Great Old Rookie

It was roughly a month ago that I wrote the post that Ryan Schimpf made necessary. Schimpf is 28 years old, and 28-year-old rookies tend not to merit a lot of attention. There have obviously been some great, older players to produce fantastic debut seasons — like Ichiro Suzuki, for example, or Jackie Robinson. This post, however, isn’t concerned with those players who were kept from the game because they played professionally elsewhere or were unable to play due to systemic racism. Rather, the present post attempts to remedy the lack of awareness for players in a situation like Schimpf’s — older players who make the most of their opportunity — both this year and in those that preceded it.

While Schimpf is certainly the best of the lot this season, he’s not alone among older guys in their rookie seasons this year. The chart below shows the rookies who are at least 27 years old and have recorded at least 100 plate appearances (and who didn’t sign as professional free agents before the season e.g. Byung-ho Park).

Old Rookies in 2016
Name Team Age PA HR AVG OBP SLG wRC+ Off Def WAR
Ryan Schimpf Padres 28 226 16 .242 .367 .613 155 17.8 -4.2 2.1
Jarrett Parker Giants 27 136 5 .254 .375 .430 123 3.5 -3.2 0.5
Jeremy Hazelbaker Cardinals 28 197 11 .250 .309 .506 111 2.2 -4.5 0.4
Whit Merrifield Royals 27 220 2 .271 .305 .381 81 -2.5 6.0 1.1
Shawn O’Malley Mariners 28 193 2 .238 .318 .343 85 -3.5 0.2 0.3
Brett Eibner – – – 27 127 5 .209 .270 .391 72 -4.1 3.9 0.4
Tyler Holt Reds 27 170 0 .213 .292 .260 50 -9.9 -2.6 -0.7

Jeremy Hazelbaker took a path fairly similar to Schimpf, moving from the Red Sox to the Dodgers to the Cardinals, who finally gave him a bit of a chance this season. Parker was drafted by the Giants, has hit in virtually every stop and debuted last year for San Francisco — and is back with the team this season after spending much of the season in the minors. Merrifield progressed slowly with the Royals, eventually making Omar Infante expendable, but ended up back in the minors last month with Kansas City giving Raul Mondesi a shot. Shawn O’Malley was drafted 10 years ago and received only brief exposure at the major-league level in both 2014 and 2015 before appearing this season. Eibner was traded for Billy Burns earlier this year, and the A’s are making a bet that Eibner’s success in the minors can translate to the bigs if given the chance. Tyler Holt is a speedy, low-power player who has gotten to the majors in each of the past three years.

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The Padres Are Running Towards History

A few weeks ago, Jeff Sullivan wrote about the Padres spectacular baserunning this year. I didn’t see that post, because I was in Oregon shopping for a house when he published it. So this morning, I started writing about the Padres spectacular baserunning, and then Jeff tapped me on the shoulder and informed me that my post was redundant. 2016 has gone so badly for the Padres that even when we try to write about them, even that gets messed up.

But thankfully, I’ve noticed something that wasn’t true when Jeff wrote his post on August 11th that is still interesting enough to justify this post. His post focused on the Padres overall baserunning success, looking at every factor involved in a team’s aggressiveness and success on the bases. I want to point out the Padres insane success at taking bases after contact. To illustrate their success, here’s a graph of the top 10 team UBRs for 2016, which measures the runs added or lost by a team through non-stolen base baserunning, so things like going first-to-third or second-to-home.

2016 Non-SB Baserunning

The Padres are #1, at almost +16 runs; the Indians are second, at +10 runs. The Padres are six runs better than the next best team at this on the year; only four other teams are even six runs better than average by UBR this year. This is an area where the Padres are an island to themselves; no one is even close to being as good as they are this.

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The Padres Are Running Like Crazy People

You might not know very much about Travis Jankowski, but he’s just about tied with Bryce Harper in WAR, in half the plate appearances. The bat has been fine, but the defense has been exceptional, and the work on the basepaths has been daring. Just Wednesday, Jankowski pulled off a successful steal of home. As a rule, players don’t really try to steal home. Jankowski has now done it twice. His teammates in San Diego have done it another two times.

That’s four successful steals of home. Here they all are, in one clip:

The last team to record even three steals of home in one season was the 2008 Giants. The last team to reach four was the 1999 Padres, who actually got to five. Jankowski already has two such steals to his name. Wil Myers has also done it, and so did Melvin Upton Jr., before he was dealt. You can see that the Padres have been willing to take some chances.

But really, it’s more than that. It’s not easy to notice, because the Padres as a club this year haven’t been easy to notice. They’re bad, and their own team officials acknowledged after the Drew Pomeranz trade that a return to contention is probably many seasons away. Yet, okay — every team in spring training says one of the goals is to get more aggressive on the basepaths. Typically, nothing comes of it. The Padres have been remarkably aggressive, and they’ve been even more remarkably effective. The Padres have been the best baserunning team in baseball, and it’s not even all that close.

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Ryan Buchter on Spin Rate and Its Limitations

Padres reliever Ryan Buchter has been around — playing for five organizations since 2008 — which really only means that teams haven’t agreed on his value. For every team that’s passed on the left-hander, another onehas seen something. That’s the life of a reliever, sure, but this one is doing well right now, and took a while to find his way to San Diego.

The lefty is well aware of his strengths and weaknesses in the minds of those organizations, since he heard different directives from each development team. He’s a fastball guy who doesn’t feature great secondary pitches, those coaches have told him, if not in those exact words. But along the way, Buchter has developed his own view on what makes his style effective. And it’s not just his elite spin rate.

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Trade Deadline 2016 Omnibus Post

As it has been the past few years, the 2016 non-waiver trade deadline brought about a flurry of activity that was hard to keep up with even if it was the only thing you were doing. Since most of us have other things that we have to or would like to occupy our time with, we figured we would save you some hassle and create an omnibus post with all of our trade deadline content so that you have it all in one place. For clarity’s sake, I’m going to limit this to articles about trades that actually took place.

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Scouting All the Prospects in the Andrew Cashner Trade

The Padres have continued to load up their farm system with interesting pieces, this time netting power-hitting first-base prospect Josh Naylor and low-level fireballer Luis Castillo in exchange for Andrew Cashner and others.

Naylor, a native of Ontario, stood out during his showcase summer because of his big raw power but wasn’t seen as a potential first rounder until he began to rake against advanced international competition with the Canadian Junior National Team late the next spring. By draft day, there was buzz that Philadelphia was interested in him at 10, but he fell to 12 where the Marlins made him their second big-bodied first-round selection in as many years. I was not a fan of the pick at the time and remain skeptical of Naylor, but he does have some impressive tools that might allow him to clear the high offensive bar required of a first-base-only prospect.

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Padres, Braves Exchange Toxic Assets

Note: this is all pending physicals, so

Follow-up note: physicals complete! Trade official. Update included at the very bottom.

Usually, we’re at least able to focus on the baseball side of things. Even though we all recognize that baseball is a business, we’ve gotten good at ignoring that part, focusing on the more baseball-y parts of player transactions. Business matters some in the Mark Melancon trade, but it seems mostly about the Nationals getting a good closer, and the Pirates getting some longer-term pieces. You know, baseball stuff. We’re all in it for the baseball stuff, after all, because the business part is seldom entertaining.

The Padres and Braves have made a business move. Oh, sure, there’s a baseball side, kind of. The Braves must see something in Matt Kemp, something they didn’t see in Hector Olivera. To help cover some of Kemp’s remaining cost, the Padres are reportedly including $10 – 12 million. It would be possible to look at this and think only about the roster implications. But this is mostly just a money move, and from where I sit, the Padres are coming out ahead.

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Projecting the Prospects in the Andrew Cashner Trade

Here are the prospects changing hands in today’s deal between Miami and San Diego as evaluated by my newly updated KATOH system. KATOH denotes WAR forecast for first six years of player’s major-league career. KATOH+ uses similar methodology with consideration also for Baseball America’s rankings.

Josh Naylor, 1B, San Diego (Profile)

KATOH: 4.4 WAR (80th overall)
KATOH+: 4.6 WAR (77th overall)

Though he turned 19 just last month, Naylor’s held his own in Low-A this year. Nothing in Naylor’s batting line is particularly great, but he also lacks a major weakness. He makes a decent amount of contact and draws an acceptable number of walks. His home-run total is a bit underwhelming for a first baseman, but’s made up for it by hitting a bunch of doubles this year. He’s also swiped 10 bases and played good defense, so KATOH gives him something of a pass for his underwhelming offensive numbers.

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Marlins Add Andrew Cashner, Colin Rea for Stretch Run

One need only glance at the Marlins’ projected starters over the next few days to determine where the team could use an upgrade. Jose Urena, a hard-throwing right-hander whose stuff hasn’t translated to strikeouts out of the bullpen or in the rotation, will pitch tonight’s game. Tomorrow, Jarred Cosart is scheduled to pitch — and he has a 15% strikeout rate and 11% walk rate over his career. The Marlins apparently didn’t like the look of that situation going forward, especially if Jose Fernandez‘s innings need to be managed and/or if Wei-Yin Chen is unable to return from the disabled list soon.

So, they’ve conducted a trade, which reportedly includes the following pieces (arranged in approximate order of name-recognition):

The Marlins get:

The Padres get:

As for the Marlins, they receive an immediate boost from adding Cashner to the rotation. While his season numbers (which include a 4.76 ERA and 4.94 FIP) look pretty ugly, Cashner seemed to have boosted his trade value over the last few weeks. As August Fagerstrom noted recently, he’s been much better since coming off the disabled list:

Cashner’s picked up a half-tick on his average fastball. Pre-disabled list, 15% of his fastballs went 96 or harder. These last four starts, he’s reached that upper-tier of velocity on 21% of fastballs. The walks are down from a bit over 9% to a bit under 6%. The strikeouts are way up, from 15% to 28%, because Cashner is missing plenty more bats. He’s missing more bats inside the zone, perhaps due in part to the added life on the heater, and he’s missing more bats outside the zone, and that’s because of the slider. The slider is really what this is all about.

Cashner’s slider has been more effective of late, and if he can maintain his current run, he should be able to hit his roughly league-average projections and represent an improvement over where the team stands right now. If the playoffs started today, the Marlins would be in, playing in a one-game playoff with the Cardinals for the right to play the Dodgers in another one-game playoff to qualify for the divisional series.

However, the projections see the Cardinals as the better team going forward. They actually see the same for the Mets, who are a game and a half behind the Marlins and Cardinals. The chart below shows the playoff odds before the trade for the teams that look to be in the hunt for the second wild card. The Marlins are in orange, essentially in a dead heat with the Mets and behind the Cardinals.

chart (9)

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The Post That Ryan Schimpf Made Necessary

Twenty-eight year old rookies on non-contending teams tend not to generate a great deal of attention. Maybe free agents from Japan who are technically rookies might get some publicity, but guys like Ryan Schimpf? Not so much.

Nevertheless, the San Diego Padres second baseman has had a debut worth noticing. Schimpf has recorded just 115 plate appearances as a major leaguer, but has already produced nine homers and .371 isolated-slugging mark — or, about 40 points higher than David Ortiz‘s league-leading number right now. Will it continue? Of course not. But it could be an interesting exercise to figure out exactly how Schimpf got here.

In 2009, Schimpf was on a Louisiana State University team that won the College World Series. That team included future major leaguers Louis Coleman and DJ LeMahieu — as well as first-round picks Mikie Mahtook, Jared Mitchell, and Anthony Ranaudo. Schimpf was taken in the fifth round by the Blue Jays in 2009 and given a low-six-figure bonus. He hit pretty well in the New York-Penn league.

At the conclusion of the 2009 season, Schimpf, a 5-foot-9 second baseman with some power, drew a Dustin Pedroia comp from Baseball America, who ranked him as the Blue Jays’ 16th-best prospect in the organization:

He has a short stroke and surprising power for a guy his size. He projects to hit lots of doubles, and the Jays think he could produce 15 or more homers per season. He should also steal 15 or more bases annually with his tick above-average speed. Schimpf is reliable if not spectacular at second base. He has a fringy arm and needs to get a better feel for the position, starting with turning double plays. He could open his first full pro season in high Class A.

That was the last time Schimpf ever appeared in Baseball America’s organizational rankings. He started the next season in Low-A and didn’t really distinguish himself, recording a .240/.332/.418 line over 395 plate appearances. He walked a lot (10% BB rate), but also struck out a lot (24% K rate), and when he did receive a promotion to High-A that August, he struck out in 27 of 74 plate appearances. This left him off the radar as a 23-year-old in High-A and, radar-wise, that’s basically where he has been the last half-decade.

To recap his seasons briefly:

2011
Started the season on the disabled list and, in 228 plate appearances at High-A, hit a lot of homers (10), walked a lot (10%), and struck out a lot (23%).

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