Saturday, August 20, 2011

Who's Next? The Impending Drought of Retired Numbers

This Sunday something very special and very rare is going to take place. As anyone who even casually follows the Padres must know by now, Trevor Hoffman, MLB's All-Time Saves Leader, will have his #51 retired. Hoffman's number will become the 6th number retired by the Padres, joining the ranks of Tony Gwynn, Steve Garvey, Dave Winfield, Randy Jones and of course Jackie Robinson. It is rarified air no matter how you look at it or what your personal opinions are of the who has been bestowed with this honor (we will save that for another post).

No doubt in the next 48 hours, blog posts will pop up reminiscing on his career. In fact, I would think it would be a safe bet that you will find just such a post on this site in the coming days. But I'm not here to talk about that today. Nor am I here to debate the merits of who is retired.

I'm here to look at the future.

In the past 7 years the Padres will have retired the numbers of arguably their two most iconic players. I was born in 1980 so I can't speak of the '84 team with any personal knowledge, but in my lifetime there have been only two Padres players that have reached "icon" status. Tony Gwynn is obviously one. Trevor Hoffman is the other.

But who is next?

Who's number will be retired after Trevor's? Or perhaps this is the better question: is that player currently in the Padres system at any level? Let's take a extended look into the future of who could be next to find their number on top of the batter's eye at Petco Park and what former players came close to that distinction (in my opinion).

First, the former players:

1) Nate Colbert

The Case For Him: The first true "star" the Padres franchise ever had. He was selected by the Padres in the Expansion Draft of 1969 by San Diego, leading the team in home runs that year. He made 3 All-Star appearances as a Padre as and he continues to be the Padres All-Time Home Run leader...

The Case Against Him: 163 HRs. Colbert played only 5 years for the Padres though his entire career only lasted approximately 8 years. His numbers, while great for a team that was predictably bad for an expansion team, were not great by any other matrix.

2) Ken Caminiti

The Case For Him: The Padres have only had one MVP winner in their history. And it's Caminiti. He was also instrumental in the team's 1998 World Series run.

The Case Against Him: Pretty strong case here, sadly. The story of Ken Caminiti is a tragic one to me. Full of substance abuse and admitted steroid use during his MVP season, tarnishing that accomplishment forever.

3) Garry Templeton

The Case For Him: One of the most popular players in Padres history, he was one of the emotional catalyst of the 1984 World Series team. And, if I'm not mistaken, I believe he is the longest tenured SS the Padres have had, playing for 9 seasons.

The Case Against Him: He's not Ozzie Smith. The Padres traded the Wizard to St. Louis for Garry Templeton, a lopsided trade no matter how popular the player is.
*Where are they now? Did you know Templeton is now a minor league manager? Me either until today. See, you learned something.

4) Goose Gossage

The Case For Him: Talk about getting the most out of a short stint. Goose only played 3 season with San Diego yet left an indelible mark on the franchise. Still remembered fondly in San Diego, Goose is credited with creating the "modern closer." And of course, memorable saves in the '84 NLCS. And he is in the Hall of Fame...

The Case Against Him: a Yankee. Let's move on.

Now, some up and comers. These are highly touted players in the Padres organization who MAY have an outside chance of one day having their number retired. Keep in mind, not saying any of these players is there yet, but potential MIGHT be there. For these guys, no "Case Against Them" for, what I would think are, obvious reasons.

1) Chase Headley

The Case For Him: The Savior! The Padres traded Kevin Kouzmanoff in part to make room for this highly touted prospect. Has become a consistent contact hitter though power is lacking.

2) Cameron Maybin

The Case For Him: Arguably the most exciting player on the Padres right now, Maybin has all the tools to be a perennial All-Star for many years to come. Not to mention the Gold Gloves he will no doubt win throughout his career. Assuming he stays in San Diego long term, I would put Maybin as the favorite right now of everyone on this list.

3) Mat Latos

The Case for Him: Ace talent but has struggled in 2011. His struggles not entirely his fault as he has had little run support, nevertheless, Latos has not been the dominate pitcher he was in the first half of 2010. But that talent exists.

4) Anthony Rizzo

The Case for Him: Here is where we get into the long shots (not that all of these aren't longshots but you know what I mean). The argument for these players is potential based only. If you read scouting reports on Rizzo, the overwhelming response you read is how this guy is going to hit and hit a ton. If that's true and he is able to replace and make fans forget about Adrian Gonzalez one day...

5) Jedd Gyorko

The Case For Him: Obliterated the California High Single A league before getting promoted (rightfully) to San Antonio. Predictably his numbers have dipped somewhat, though still quite respectable considering the park in San Antonio.

Honorable Mentions in the distant, distant Future: Cory Spangenberg, Reymond Fuentes, Casey Kelly, Austin Hedges

But, in all likelihood, the next retired number will come from a player not even in their system at the moment. So look around your local Little League fields as somewhere out there is a kid who will one day experience what Trevor Hoffman will on Sunday.

And enjoy Sunday for all it's worth. It's going to be a long time before we get to do this again.


Anonymous said...
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matthew houskeeper said...

They have already retired too many numbers. IMO, it cheapens the currency.

GTH said...

Who would you say should be "unretired"? Not to say I disagree with you, but curious.