This is going to be tough. What I’m about to write is not easy and feels really strange, but I’m going to do it and we’re all gonna to have to live with it: I like what the Padres are doing right now. Like, really like it. Like, I might have a man-crush on Josh Byrnes. We’re getting to see first hand the smarts Byrnes’ used to build a contending team in Arizona using unproven prospects and scraps. What Byrnes and the organization are doing right now with it’s roster amid what seems to be a more heated trade deadline for the Friars than recent memory serves, is…refreshing.
Listening to talk radio and bloggers and sports “writers” wax on during July can be exhausting and almost always incorrect – especially in San Diego! You might be asking yourself, “Dallas, you’re a blogger, so does that mean you’re almost always incorrect?” My answer to that is, “Ha-ha, no.”
I invite you to come with me as I examine the Padres trade chips and why Byrnes has proven himself a great poker player, on par with Matt Damon in Rounders, or at least Knish.
Carlos Quentin: Yes, I know we just signed him to a very friendly (for both sides) $30 million/3-year extension, and it was the best thing we could have done. Even before Quentin played in one game for the Padres he was already involved in trade talks. Then when he came back from the DL and absolutely crushed the ball; sports radio couldn’t shut up about putting the right fielder on the market while he’s hot. But, they never stopped to think about one simple fact: What would we honestly get in return that we’d be happy with? History tells us we’d get a triple-A reliever sporting an ERA hovering under 5.00, maybe a double-A starter and a low single-A shortstop. HOORAY! WE DID IT! We traded him and got…these guys! Quentin is an aging, injury-prone slugger and whatever high-price the talking heads thought he could fetch was always much much lower than hoped. Everyone in Baseball knows exactly what they’re getting with Carlos Quentin, and that all of a sudden wasn’t going to change just because he hit four homeruns in six games. Keeping Quentin was always going to be better for us in the long run than letting him go. He gives us a solid hometown bat who can mentor these younger guys and help them with not only their approach at the plate, but their approach at staying positive while landing in a slump or on the DL. And, we got him for such an attractive price, that he’d still be completely tradable, if that’s something we want to do down the road. His swing is tailored for PETCO, and as the power to the fences fades, the power to the gaps increasing and that’s something specificly helpful at PETCO. Letting a guy go just to let him go and save payroll is not always the best idea.
Chase Headley: This one is very tricky, but the way it’s being handled is golden. The main complaint from other clubs when it comes to dealing for Headley is that the Padres asking price is too high. Good! It flipping should be! He means more to us right now then he could conceivably mean to somebody else, so why not get the very best you can? For years the Padres have come up short in a lot of these deals by undervaluing themselves and their talent. But, Byrnes is doing exactly what he should be doing, baiting. You want him? How much is he worth to you, cause he’s worth a lot to us. Headley has been pretty vocal that he’d be fine going somewhere else and I can respect that. He hasn’t bashed San Diego or claimed to be unhappy, and if he is it hasn’t shown on the field. I feel there’s a bit of a misconception that Headley could be a better player in a different ballpark, but I do think he could hit a few more homeruns and everyone knows that ladies love the longball. Headley can’t be that excited that his two choices so far seem to be Baltimore or Oakland, but being in the American League would give him the DH option, which is pretty attractive to guys who patrol the hot corner. I like Chase Headley, but luckily we do have some young guys who could fill Headley’s spot if he does in fact leave, like Jedd Gyorko (I dare you to try and pronounce that name correctly), James Darnell or even switch Logan Forsythe back to Third. However, keep him or trade him, the deal is being handled like it should be – like we have balls.
Huston Street: I like the extension talks. I think it’s a smart move for both sides. It’s smart for the Padres because Street is a solid closer who could be cheaper than past stoppers. Smart for Street because he gets to pitch in PETCO, in the NL West and just became an all-star for the first time, while a Padre. The only reasons he wouldn’t sign an extension are either for money or the possibility of trying to gain more notoriety on another higher-profiled team. Not bad reasons, just a bit unlikely on both fronts. The Padres have made it pretty clear that they’ll move him if they can’t sign him and I think this is also a great strategy. You don’t want to play here? OK. Later! It’s smart. Have pride in yourself and assemble a squad of guys who have pride in the uniform they’re putting on every game.
As a team it looks like the Padres are finally starting to build an identity. We have a slew of young guys, dying to prove themselves and a couple veterans to not only contribute, but also help the rookies find their way. I’ve written about this more than I probably should, but this is one of those times where the fans are going to have to be a little understanding. It’s hard I know. You spend your hard-earned money to go watch a glorified triple-A team? Sucks, right? But, it won’t suck for that long and right when you’re ready to give up this team of nobodies will all of a sudden be eight games over .500 and in second place. Your patience will be rewarded; you just have to be patient to begin with.
What Josh Byrnes is doing right now is good. You have to trust him and me. It may not make a ton of sense, but it will and in a couple of seasons you’ll be so happy you trusted me that you may even buy me a beer or offer me a nice dinner and I may just say yes. We’ll build a beautiful friendship, and years later when you’re asking me to be Godfather to your children, we’ll both look back and laugh about the two World Series the Padres won and the three no-hitters Yu Darvish threw (I guess we traded for him) and we’ll be happy. As Padres fans that’s all we really want, to be happy. Let Josh Byrnes be your General Manager of Happiness.
For more Padres stuff and other things you might not care about follow me on Twitter @dallas_mc