When the month of July began, many including this Staff Writer believed that the Padres would be “sellers” in the trade market and would likely move one to three of their best and most experienced players in the forms of Carlos Quentin, Huston Street, and Chase Headley. San Diego however threw myself, and many just like me a proverbial “curve-ball” when they not only extended Quentin and Street, but made the somewhat shocking choice not to deal Headley before the deadline to trade players passed. Surprising moves aside, I am extremely pleased with San Diego’s decisions on all three players, and would like to discuss why these moves were a step in the right direction for this franchise.
Extending Carlos Quentin and Huston Street:
It has not been in the the Padres’ nature in recent seasons to extend “impact” players with expiring contracts, when they have either a) been coveted by other (contending) franchises around the league, or b) commanded a decent dollar amount for an extension or new contract the cash-strapped Friars could not afford down the road. G.M. Josh Byrnes & Co. however have bucked that trend since they took the reins, and Quentin and Street were actually extended.
Instead of simply trading Quentin, the Padres showed great confidence in the 29-year old’s ability to become a major part of what appears to be a legitimate “rebuilding-process” going on in San Diego at the moment. With the 3 year $27 million dollar extension, the Padres locked up their most potent power threat in their lineup (10 Home Runs, .500 Slugging Percentage), but also gave the team a long-term answer in Left Field as well. While Quentin might not possess the type of defensive skill-set as a Cameron Maybin, from an offensive standpoint the move to extend Quentin provides the club much needed “power insurance” and a solid Right-Handed bat in the lineup.
With Quentin and the Cleanup spot effectively filled, the opposition will begin to think twice about pitching around Headley to get to Quentin, and they will think less of pitching around Quentin because of developing youngsters Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal behind him in the #5 and #6 spots. Plus, with the “DH” position likely being used more next season (because of the rule of one Interleague series per series played with Houston going to the A.L.), Quentin can focus solely on hitting and take a breather every once and a while from his Left Field spot to stay healthy.
As for Street, I particularly enjoyed how the move to extend their 2012 All-Star was not only cost effective, but a solid baseball and bullpen move for the rebuilding Friars as well. I am sure that if one polls any Manager, Player, or Friars fan, they will all agree that nobody has performed better out of San Diego’s bullpen this season than Street has in 2012. Street has only given up 11 Hits in 30.2 Inning Pitched, but has more impressively posted a 0.88 ERA to go along with his 40 Strikeouts and 17 Saves!
Not only will the Padres have a consistent and veteran threat to Close their games over the next two seasons (hopefully three), but Street can “bridge the gap” during the rebuilding process and help the youngsters coming up over the next few years too. With Street in the back end of the bullpen over the coming seasons though, the Padres should be in good hands. And this should be especially true when San Diego begins to play some more competitive baseball in 2013 and 2014 which in turn will give Huston more chances to shine.
Not Trading Chase Headley:
Signed through 2014, San Diego can hold on to Headley who is relatively cheap for what the club is currently paying him. And the Friars decision to hold on to their Third Baseman was one which may have been a tad surprising, but very practical nonetheless. The Padres had a “price/value” in mind for sending Headley away, and when they did not receive an offer of the sort, they did not panic, and reacted intelligently by not shipping him out for an offer they did not deem worthy for his services.
It is the contenders which lost out on Headley, not the other way around. San Diego can simply turn around and trade Headley this offseason or at the deadline next year if they choose. Granted, what other teams might be willing to offer has the risk of fluctuating, but with a healthy Quentin, Grandal, and Alonso producing and bolstered lineup in 2013, Chase’s productivity at the plate could and should rise. And if that happens, I firmly believe that some G.M.’s might be willing to meet Byrnes & Co. asking price in a trade.
For now however, let’s be happy that San Diego has their most consistently productive overall Offensive weapon (.273 Batting Average, 13 Home Runs, 57 RBI’s, 61 Walks, 21 Doubles, .372 OBP) through at the most the 2014 season. If the Friars do indeed choose to keep Headley until his contract is up, then great. Yet if his trade value goes up and the Front Office cannot keep him, then that is great too. What matters is that San Diego did not act hastily and trade their Third Baseman for something lower than their asking price.
So far, I have really liked the moves which Josh Byrnes has made during his short tenure as G.M. of this ball-club. And if Cameron Maybin and/or Nick Hundley begin to produce with any sort of consistency at the plate (Maybin is more likely due to the fact he can and should eventually win his full-time job back), I will especially view his moves to mold the core of his team’s roster will be viewed as terrific.
I have seen entirely too many “rebuilding-projects” over the last two decades, and I am glad that this Front Office has at least been proactive in acquiring and subsequently holding on to the players which could give them their best chance to become a consistent winner. And while the moves to keep Quentin, Street, and Headley around may not have garnered a large amount of noise over the past couple of weeks, I believe I need to tip my cap to those responsible for making these steady moves happen.
What do you the readers think of San Diego’s July moves? Good, Bad, Ugly, Making No Sense?
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