Three days in Orlando for the baseball’s front office personnel is over. A long season for several other Padres youngsters is finally over as well. During the GM meetings, there wasn’t much progress made in any area. Initially there was a report that the Padres would use the three days as a chance to negotiate a contract extension with Third Baseman Chase Headley. Now, at the close of the meetings comes word from Buster Olney that there were no negotiations at all. In a recent interview with MLB Trade Rumors, GM Josh Byrnes addressed several issues that may be on the teams front burner this off season. Byrnes stated that the team would like to sign an extension with Andrew Cashner. He also mentioned that there is almost no chance of the team signing a free agent lefty reliever for any long stretch of time. As with other interviews this off season, Byrnes reiterated his high comfort level with the depth of the starting rotation. He added that Wieland and Luebke look like they will be ready to compete for the fifth starting spot. Byrnes’ comfort level with the rotation is also the driving factor behind an apparent reluctance to trade Chase Headley, with the expectation being that he will play a big role in the teams’ ability to compete next season.
Speaking of Joe Wieland, the young Padres starter pitched in the final Peoria Javelinas game of the season. After numerous setbacks in his return from Tommy John surgery, it appears that Wieland will be ready to compete with Luebke and others for the fifth starter spot in Spring Training. Wieland ended the Arizona Fall League schedule only having pitched two innings, giving up one earned run with one strike out. Dennis O’Grady and Keyvius Sampson were the best Padres pitchers during the Fall League schedule. Sampson, who looks to compete for the fifth starter spot with Wieland, pitched 11.1 innings giving up only one earned run while striking out nine. The Duke University product O’Grady, who pitched at High-A Lake Elsinore last season, made a huge leap forward with 9.1 innings pitched with no earned runs and 8 K’s. O’Grady will look to continue his improvement at Class AA San Antonio this season.
Undoubtedly the biggest star for the Padres in Arizona was Catcher Austin Hedges. After being promoted to AA late last season, Hedges struggled at the plate down the stretch. Whatever the issue was appears to have been fixed this Fall as Hedges produced a slash of .273/.333/.400 while keeping Peoria in numerous games with his tremendous pop times and gun for an arm. Tommy Medica may very well have been the Anti-Hedges this Fall. After a great stint with the Padres following the jump from AA, it may have been inevitable that Medica would fall back down to Earth. In 20 games, Medica produced a slash of .121/.205/.152 with only two extra base hits. Where Hedges may have earned a start in AAA next season with his performance, Medica may have guaranteed he will begin the year in San Antonio. Second Baseman Cory Spangenberg was typically very productive while working on his defense with a slash of .308/.357/.492.
So, what have we learned from all of this? Well, it’s hard not to be optimistic, that’s for sure. The General Manager is very happy with the direction of the team. The prospects are very impressive. Things may just be looking up heading into baseball’s Winter Meetings. Do not be discouraged by the apparent lack of activity from the Front Office in Orlando. There is no telling what ground work may have been laid in order to fill the few shortages identified by Byrnes and Company. As Peter Gammons said over at Gammons Daily, “most of what the general managers are talking about here are trades. The free agent stuff will come in a while.” All we can do is wait, as patiently as possible, to see which direction the team goes this offseason and how long it will take for Hedges and the others to become everyday players in San Diego.