As we wind toward the end of an emotional week, the rumors have taken an interesting turn. For several weeks, we’ve been thinking about the Padres leadership – Josh Byrnes, Buddy Black, Phil Plantier – potentially having to find another line of work, or least, a different employer. But on Thursday, the fickle winds of change began to swirl around the player roster.
First, we heard Carlos Quentin may be willing to give up the no-trade clause in his contract. Then we hear that the Padres are in “sell mode”, suggesting that the front office is already trying to deal veteran players, with Chase Headley specifically mentioned. The team’s prospects have gone from “potential playoff team” to the first team to be looking toward next season in the course of under 75 games. That might be a new record.
So, let’s give the front office a break for a day, and take a look at which players should go. Obviously, we would want a reasonable return, but each of these players has a reason that they need to go somewhere else.
Chase Headley – Chase is the poster boy for Padres’ underachievement. The Padres put nearly a decade into trying to get Headley to become a top-tier third baseman, and it paid off – for two months, two years ago. Since then, he has hit .237 with 19 homers in over 700 ABs. Perhaps his brief dance with success, was the worst thing for Headley. He was on his way to becoming a decent second-tier player, good average, little bit of power. But suddenly he was a star, and expected to be the face of the franchise. Headley has never been a clutch performer, with a lifetime BA of .220 with two outs and men in scoring position, so a middle-of-the-order spot is clearly not the place for him to thrive. Perhaps a new start, in a fresh city, where he can hit second or seventh will help him get back to being the nice, slightly-above average player he was before 2012. We may never see that again if he stays in San Diego, where he has to be the star.
Will Venable –The hope was that Venable was a speed-power guy, and he kind of was. He’s not a 30-30 guy, but 20-30 was always a possibility. But he was really just never given the opportunity to do that, because he spent the prime of his career as a platoon player. Venable will be 32 in October, and he has never had 500 ABs in a season. What he could have been, unfortunately, we will never know. His speed will begin to decline within a year or two, and he’s still not an everyday player. The Padres’ opportunity to use Venable effectively has passed. Move him now, while he still has some residual trade value from last season’s career year.
Carlos Quentin – He’s the Padres’ best hitter, except that only plays half their games. He’s had three knee surgeries in two-and-a-half years, and is just a defensive liability at this point. It seems incredible to say that a team with the worst on-base-percentage in history should trade it’s best hitter, but Quentin’s salary and outfield immobility make keeping him prohibitive. Give Tommy Medica a chance to prove what he can do playing every day, and let Carlos limp up to the plate four times a game in the AL.
Yasmani Grandal – Actually, I’m on the fence about Grandal. He’s young, he’s got the pedigree that says he can hit, so his trade value is still probably reasonably good. Rene Rivera is considerably better defensively, and may be a suitable placeholder until Austin Hedges is ready for the majors. The thing about Grandal is, he’s just not very likeable. He strikes me as arrogant, always has kind of a smart-ass smirk on his face, there was the whole PED thing, and then last week the lack of hustle on the double-play ball. If he were hitting .300 with fifteen homers, I could live with the attitude. But until that starts happening, I’d rather see Rivera. But it doesn’t make much sense to trade him right now, since we don’t have another catcher, and Austin Hedges is still a couple of years away. So maybe we give him a little more time to grow up. But he’d better start hitting…
Chris Denorfia and Seth Smith – Deno, my favorite Padre? And Smith, the one guy who has hit consistently well in the cesspool that has been the Padres’ offense this year? Yup, dump ‘em. Let’s end this era of platoon players, and get some guys who can hit against both righties and lefties.
Hmm. We seem to be almost out of outfielders. Perhaps I’ve overdone it a bit.
But a .214 team batting average can do that to a guy.