Each and everyone one of our readers I consider to be well-educated. If not in the facets of life or traditional education, then in the verse of baseball. I truly believe that the readers of this site understand the game and appreciate the intricacies of putting together a ball club. Yet, every so often the reactionary fan in all of us grabs the well-educated fan by the collar, drags him to the nearest bathroom, and gives him the meanest swirly seen since high school.
I’m guilty of this as much as all of you. I’ve done it before, and I’m sure I’ll do it again. That’s both the beauty and the curse of being a baseball fan. The passion. However, I’ll ask Padres fans one thing. Take a step back from the Anthony Rizzo trade. Take a step back from the reactionary feelings you all might be experiencing. Go deeper, and analyze the trade like you’re a baseball GM.
Not everyone was a fan of the move that sent Anthony Rizzo to Chicago. Fair enough, but why? Why have so many Padres fans been disappointed by the move? I’ve yet to hear from the Chicken Friars readers, so I’m speaking in general terms here, basing this piece on Internet reaction mostly. There are three main reasons I can think of; Rizzo was part of the deal that saw us lose our saving grace in Adrian Gonzalez, fans value Rizzo’s upside despite his short audition to the Show last season, or fans simply don’t know enough about Andrew Cashner to get excited.
I’ve given you my analysis of the trade in yesterday’s article, so I won’t go into great analytical detail here, but let’s explore each of the three possibilities I laid out above.
1) Rizzo was part of the Gonzalez deal
So what? The Padres were going to lose Adrian Gonzalez no matter what. They made a move that has still yet to develop, but included one player who now resides in Chicago. If Anthony Rizzo were to continue his struggles in San Diego, would anyone care that he was once a chip in the Gonzalez deal? Rizzo struggled last season and found himself low enough on the first base depth chart that he may not have been called up from Triple-A next season at all.
2) Fans love Rizzo (or Rizzo-mania)
When a losing team is given something to hope for, something to dream of, and a reason to get excited, it’s hard to watch the source of the joy head out of town. That’s what has happened with Rizzo. Locked in a horrible season, the Padres brought Anthony Rizzo up to get a look at his Major League ability. Padres fans were instantly excited. I remember watching him in Tucson, and I too felt that jolt of energy knowing he’d be swinging the stick with the big league club. His first few at-bats showed us everything we could have hoped for and more, but then Rizzo took a turn. He struggled the rest of the way and was eventually demoted back to Tucson. But the shine of those first few at-bats – the booming double, the hard single, the line drive home run – would not wear off for some fans.
3) Fear of the unknown
Andrew Cashner was on no one’s radar. Most fans probably never heard of him before the Rizzo trade. And that’s scary. Read number 2, then put yourself in each of those fans’ shoes, watching Rizzo leave in exchange for a guy you’ve never heard of? That’s tough. Yet, Cashner is someone to get excited about. I’m not sure the Padres have ever had a pitcher who could throw as hard as him. His career is just getting started, but he has shown the flashes of success that make him exciting. For those who are upset about Rizzo’s trade because the Padres couldn’t even land a “name” player in return, research Cashner. Read up on him. Let his numbers, videos, and scouting reports act as the introduction you need to turn Cashner from unknown to known.
The life of a fan is reactionary in nature. A hard single scores a run and fans react. An up and in fastball brushes a batter back and fans react. To be a fan, you must be ready to react at a moments notice. You must be willing and able to summon the proper emotions to react to a situation that often takes mere seconds to play out. So it is counter-intuitive to leave our reactionary tendencies alone when a trade is made. But if we did, perhaps we all could discover, or at least understand, what Josh Byrnes and the entire front office saw when they traded Anthony Rizzo.