Tuesday, July 31, 2012

All Quiet on the Trading Front

"So, you're telling me there's a chance."

That seems to be the message being sent by Padres GM Josh Byrnes today. As the trade deadline passed, nary a peep was heard from the front offices of Petco Park today.

Instead, the Padres spent most of their time leading up to the trade deadline extending pieces they believe will help them win in the more immediate future. Quentin is here to stay for awhile. So is Huston. Which begs the question "how badly do we need a closer on a sub .500 team?"

The answer with those two extensions seems to be that the front office of the Padres expect to compete. Soon.

But despite that, most expected the Padres to jettison their most coveted piece. Chase Headley. The market was weak for third basemen. With an extra wild card, there were even more teams willing to be buyers at the deadline. Chase's contract is more than reasonable.

As first pitch in Cincinnati was thrown at 4:00pm Pacific, hours after the deadline had passed, there was Chase Headley starting at 3rd.

It had been reported in the days leading up to the deadline that Byrnes was looking for a Latos-esqu deal. Talks appeared to progress to something beyond simple talk with at least Baltimore and Oakland. But teams weren't willing to meet the Padres high demand. The market never changed. The Padres took very few calls reportedly on Tuesday. And there stood Chase Headley, the longest tenured current Padre, still a Padres on Tuesday night.

This is the right call. The message is clear from Brynes. They expect to compete soon. If that is the case, you don't send a key cog of that wheel away for prospects. That's rebuilding. Byrnes appears to believe the rebuilding is over.

For the many shortcomings of the 2012 San Diego Padres (and there are many, though some through no fault of their own i.e. injuries), Chase Headley is not one of them. Yes, one can cherry pick statistics and point out his faults. The fact that one has to cherry pick stats to such a degree to find fault in a player, however, says everything you need to know about a player.

I don't know how one scouts and analyzes this season for the Padres. The team today is so different from where this season started that one almost has to throw out the first two months. We still don't know what the starting rotation would have done had the ghost of Tommy John not haunted Darren Balsley's staff.

I do know that, even fully healthy, this team as is is not winning a newly fully loaded NL West. Tweaks will need to be made. But Chase Headley is part of the solution, not the problem.

Of course, no extension of Chase followed his no-trade. At least not yet. Which will leave the door open this winter for us to all go through this again.


Anonymous said...

Larry in OB said:

I can answer your question: "how badly do we need a closer on a sub .500 team?" with another question: if a sub-.500 team doesn't need a closer, why didn't the Padres trade Trevor between 1999 and 2003? Those were all sub- .500 teams and the '02-'03 teams lost 96 and '98 games.

The real answer is that you need a closer if you want a decent bullpen. The closer is the anchor. As Bud noticed, once you have one, the other relievers fall into their roles, and you can make switches and substitutions galore without breaking up the overall effectiveness of the bullpen.

You'll never have a decent starting rotation without a decent bullpen either. Look at Arizona in 2010 and 2011. No closer, no bullpen in '10 and the starters were frustrated. Then they got JJ Putz and made a couple of role relievers, and the starters were more confident of handing the game to the bullpen. 97 losses turned into 94 wins, with a 2010 team that everyboy thouht was terrible, top to bottom.

If you want to build a winning team, closer is one of the positions you fill early, like defense up the middle. Quality closers aren't that easy to come by - ask the Mets, Dodgers and Red Sox.

GTH said...

For the most part I agree. I can't argue that successful teams, especially in the playoffs, don't need a strong bullpen. That's clear. And the closer is the anchor of that bullpen. So on those points I agree.

I'm not so sure I think it's one of the positions you fill early to build a winning team. But there in lies the issue. I don't think they believe they are at the beginning stages of building a winning team. I think the front office believes the team is much closer than that and that's why they lock Street up.