Sunday, July 31, 2011

Knee Jerk Reactions on the Trade Deadline

Here are a few thoughts moments after the deadline. I look forward to regretting putting these thoughts down in writing in a few days:

- If there is one thing I knew coming into July 31st, it was that Heath Bell was DEFINITELY going to be traded. Until he wasn't. The Padres decided to hang on to their All-Star closer (at least for the time being), opting to move Mike Adams instead. No one seems to be more surprised than Adams himself, quoted as saying "It was quite a bit of a shock," adding "I came in this morning prepared to be the closer." (courtesy of @theMTbrain)

- The Padres obtained from Texas Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland. Robbie Erlin doesn't appear to know how to walk people which is as good a quality as you can hope for in a pitcher in Petco. Let them put the ball in play and you will likely be ok. Keith Law ranks Erlin as the #5 prospect for the Rangers. Joe Wieland threw a no-hitter a few days ago in AA. So there's that. Two #3-#5 starters for Mike Adams seems like a pretty good haul. Of course, we won't really know for a few years.

- Perhaps more notably than who WAS traded was who wasn't. Heath Bell remained a Padres at 1:01pm on July 31st to the surprise of most everyone. Now the question is, was that smart? It became clear over the last week or so that Adams was the valuable asset in the minds of other GM's. Younger, better numbers and controllable beyond this year so that makes perfect sense. What didn't make sense was that reports had come out of San Diego that Adams was told specifically that he would NOT be traded. Then that report was debunked, then it wasn't and in the end nobody knew anything. In the end, GM's weren't willing to meet the price Jed Hoyer had presented for a rental.

- The question now is, was keeping Bell smart? That question doesn't really have a legitimate answer. From a statistical standpoint, it made more sense to trade him. At the end of the season the Padres will get two compensation picks assuming Bell does not accept arbitration. Those two picks have been predicted to possibly be in the mid-20's and then the mid-40's. Now there is talk of signing Bell to an extension. I'm fine with that. There was no gun to Hoyer's head to trade Bell like there was with Adrian Gonzalez or Jake Peavy. The Padres can afford to keep Bell and Bell has every desire to stay in San Diego. Also there is this. Right or wrong, the front office had to look at how this would look to their fanbase. I'm not crazy about making moves simply to appease the fans, but, in the past few years Padres fans have seen the two most recognizable players traded. Bell currently represents the face of the franchise, the lone All-Star and one of the few players on this team that casual fans are familiar with. Tickets need to be sold and I can only assume that there was some concern of playing into the stereotype of Padres front offices that simply trade away everyone. So, from that standpoint, its a small time risk to sign Bell.

Therefore, unlike with Peavy and Gonzalez, the Padres could wait for a package that enticed them. If it didn't come, then no reason to trade Bell. This can't be about making trades simply to make a trade. My guess is the package the Rangers gave over for Adams is similar to what San Diego wanted for Bell. But, as mentioned above, that's a lot to give up for a rental.

Now, if you think the Padres are within a year or so of contending, then you have a closer for that period. If you believe they are a few years away, then you have someone the fans can cling to while waiting for "the future." And if they resign him, nothing to say they can't trade him next year at the deadline if the Padres are in a similar position.

- Oh yeah, the Padres also traded Ryan Ludwick to the Pirates for slightly more than a bucket of balls (PTBNL). Unfortunately, as you know, Left Coast Bias has chosen the PIrates as our bandwagon team for the rest of the season. So it looks like I am stuck rooting for Ludwick the rest of the season (accept next week, obviously).

- With Ludwick gone, left field is now wide open for Kyle Blanks. So, I guess now is the time we find out if Kyle Blanks can play left field and hit MLB pitching.

In the end, the Padres lost a great bullpen arm today but added two strong young arms to their farm system. The Ryan Ludwick experiment mercifully came to an end. And Heath Bell remains a Padres. Worst things could have happened today. We could be Astros fans.

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