At this point in the season it is almost painful writing about the Padres, which is why I am sitting here doing just that at 2 a.m. The pain is masked by the exhaustion and yearning desire to jump into the cozy bed across the room.
Nonetheless, the Padres are still terrible and with their record at 32-44, 10 games back of the NL West-leading Arizona Diamondbacks, they are destined for failure this year.
So since we are beyond any practical or easy fixes to win this year, let’s set up future years to succeed. After all, that’s the only thing we seem to be good at (see Adrian Gonzalez trade).
For the purpose of this article I will serve as the team’s owner (in charge of the budget), general manager (making trades and promotions) and the manager (creating the rotation, bullpen and starting lineups).
First, and this is the most important part, trade or release everybody who doesn’t have a future with the team past two years. So goodbye Aaron Harang, Ryan Ludwick, Chad Qualls, Pat Neshak, Jason Bartlett, Alberto Gonzalez, Jesus Guzman, Orlando Hudson, Chris Denorfia and finally, with great pleasure, Brad Hawpe.
Thank you for your time, here is your last Padre-paid paycheck, have a nice day.
Mind you, players acquired from any of the trades to get rid of the big contracts of other players are not factored into the new team. All the acquisitions are players who have played in the majors for fewer than two years and are still considered a prospect.
No, I didn’t forget about Heath Bell. He is still on the team and there will be a note specifically about him later.
With all the previously stated guys off the roster, we now have to fill 10 spots: three pitchers and seven position players.
Right off the bat, Luke Gregerson (who is currently on the 15-day DL) and Simon Castro, both already on the 40-man roster, will fill the two vacant relief spots. Then call up the No. 2 prospect received from Boston in the Gonzalez deal, starting pitcher Casey Kelly.
With those moves the Padres starting rotation looks like this (in order of new rotation spot): Mat Latos, Kelly, Tim Stauffer, Clayton Richard, and Dustin Mosley.
The key to this whole concept is youth. With a youth-filled team there is no set ceiling the players can hit. Unlike veterans who have a track record and you pretty much know what they are going to do in a given year, young players have no expectations, no pressure to live up to stats they previously put up. Essentially anything is possible. They could be brilliant and there would be no stats to say otherwise.
Casey is the key change; he would now follow Latos, forming a lethal young duo at the top of the rotation. Casey is the Padres' No. 1 prospect in the minors since Anthony Rizzo was called up. He has posted a 6-2 record with a 3.94 ERA and 63 strikeouts at Double-A San Antonio.
Adding Castro to the pen, it would look like this: Bell* (closer), Mike Adams (8th inning), Luke Gregerson (7th), Simon Castro (6th), Ernesto Frieri (situational), Josh Spence (left-handed specialist), Cory Luebke (long relief) and finally Evan Scribner (long relief).
*NOTE ON BELL: Bell was on the bubble of making the team since he would have netted the Padres the best return. The whole concept of this new and improved team is that we are setting it up to win. When you have a winning team, you need an elite closer, plus he has said he is willing to take a San Diego discount, which I respect a lot. So as a result, he is on the team.
Now to the rest of the bullpen. When talking about how dominating the Padres' bullpen is, the first thing out of everybody's mouth is that if an opponent isn't winning after six innings, it isn't going to win. Bell, Adams and Gregerson are the dominant bookend to the bullpen. But with this new team we're taking that dominance to another level.
We're bringing Simon Castro up from Double-A and placing him in the new sixth-inning role, now creating a dominant foursome to close games. Castro is rated as the second-best prospect the Padres have after Kelly. In his minor league career, Castro has averaged almost a strikeout an inning and has rolled through the Padres' system, both as a starting pitcher and more recently a closer.
On to the offense, which not surprisingly will undergo the most change considering the abysmal .233 team batting average and 2.8 runs scored a game.
The Padres would call up the following guys from Triple-A Tuscon (all are on the 40-man roster): Kyle Blanks, Logan Forsythe, Everth Cabrera; from Double-A: Jaff Decker and Beemer Weems; from Single-A Lake Elsinore: Jedd Gyorko.
Debuting the “new” 2011 Padres starting lineup (with position noted): Everth Cabrera (SS), Will Venable (RF), Cameron Maybin (CF), Kyle Blanks (LF), Anthony Rizzo (1B), Chase Headley (3B), Logan Forsythe (2B), Nick Hundley (C).
On the bench would be Jaff Decker (OF), Beemer Weems (INF), Jedd Gyorko (INF), Rob Johnson (C).
The starting lineup is built around the speed at the top of the order, with Cabrera, Venable and Mayben leading off the ground attack. Then there is the power, starting with Maybin, then Blanks and Rizzo, followed by Headley and his high on-base average.
The only problem with the offense so far is the limited mobility in the field. Blanks is a liability in the outfield. And the bench isn’t very versatile. There needs to be one guy who can play the middle-infield positions and the corner outfield spots. This is a player who would need to be picked up in one of the trades.
To complete the “new” Padres team, management would sign Rizzo to a multiyear extension that would essentially buy out his arbitration years. They would pay him a lot more now, but this is more cost effective the better he gets deeper into his contract. It would be similar to the contract the Tampa Bay Rays got Evan Longoria to sign when they first brought him up.
My tenure would also include a continued effort to build the team around Petco Park: speedy guys who hit a lot of doubles and can play solid defense.
Of course this would never happen, but I had a fun three hours writing this.
Observations from the Week That Was, June 17-23
FRS Healthy Energy is good, and also the only reason I am still up writing this. I would recommend it for any athlete (or journalist who never has time to sleep). Oh, did I mention it is not horrifically unhealthy like the other energy drinks? And Lance Armstrong endorses it so it has to be good…
For those sports fans who dislike soccer for its lack of scoring, this clip is for you. Not too often a goalie scores, let alone from around midfield…
Dick Enberg is in England covering Wimbledon and he still manages to make an awkward/semi sports-related comment. Yeah—have I mentioned I am not an Enberg fan?
Fantasy Football is just around the corner, and from what is being reported it looks as if there will be a season after all. We can all rejoice and plan our weeks around debating whether or not to pick up a certain player.
Sports Tweet of the Week
Chad Ochocinco (@ochocinco) is still up with me at this late hour and for that he is this week’s tweet of the week: “Yes I'm still up, when 6 am hits I've officially been up for 24 hours straight with 1 training session and still no sleep under my belt #cool”
At least he is training, though I'm not sure no sleep in 24 hours will help his cause, especially if he has been playing Call of Duty.
For the Record
The Arizona Diamondbacks are this year’s 2010 Padres: get lucky through most of the year, manage to stay in first place, then completely fall apart and lose the division title the last month of the season.