Talking Padres With Geoff Young


Geoff Young has covered the Padres for years on his blog Ducksnorts.  Up until September of this year, he was the ESPN Sweetspot affiliate for the Padres.  He decided to hang ’em up after 14 years to focus on other things and will surely be missed.  But we have him here, talking Padres baseball, just like old times.

A sincere thanks to Geoff for agreeing to do this.  I’m sure all the CF readers will enjoy the knowledge you can share about the Padres.

What’s your favorite Padres memory?

I can’t narrow this down to just one. On TV, it was watching Tony Gwynn get his 3000th hit in Montreal. In person, it was watching Trevor Hoffman break the all-time saves record and watching Gwynn’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Cooperstown. I will never forget any of those moments. If I had to pick just one, it would be Gwynn’s induction because I was there with a bunch of Padres fans who finally got to see one of their own honored.

What do you think of the Huston Street trade?

I made some snarky comments about it at the time, but I’m pretty neutral overall. The Padres won’t miss Nick Schmidt, and $7 million isn’t much for a closer in the current market. Say what you will about not spending money on a closer while rebuilding, that’s a tough sell to players currently on the team who want to win games. Besides, sometimes a team ends up contending when they’re supposed to be rebuilding. Either way, Street will be gone by the end of the year, so it’s not like he’s tying up a lot of resources now or in the future.

Have the Padres leap-frogged the Rockies with the moves San Diego has made versus those Colorado has made?

The Rockies have been incredibly aggressive in their pursuit of young talent. Adding Alex White, Drew Pomeranz, and Tyler Chatwood in the span of a few months sends a message. They probably won’t all pan out, but the Rockies have committed to building for the future, which in light of the way things fell apart for them last year is a good strategy. On the Padres side, off-season moves have been more window dressing. I like that they’ve picked up a bunch of relievers who have achieved some measure of big-league success (Matt Palmer, Alex Hinshaw, Dale Thayer) at minimal cost; that’s a very Kevin Towers approach, which served San Diego well for many years. Going back further, I think the Mike Adams trade is going to work out well for the Padres.

When will the Padres get a contract extension worked out for Cameron Maybin?

With the closer situation settled, this has to be their top priority. Maybin proved that he absolutely can be an above-average big-league center fielder, and he hasn’t reached his physical peak. He may never hit for a great batting average, but he does everything else well and he is willing to improve himself. I don’t know if or when they’ll be able to work something out, but it would behoove the Padres to lock him up as soon as possible.

What are your thoughts on Jesus Guzman? How can he fit into the Padres lineup?

Guzman is a terrific line-drive hitter with occasional power who is a defensive liability at several positions. I see him as a guy who can notch 350-400 plate appearances backing up at the infield and outfield corners. He could start at first base or in left field if Anthony Rizzo isn’t deemed ready for prime time, but Guzman’s best role is as a support player a la Scott Hairston.

Who will develop first, if at all, Jedd Gyorko or Anthony Rizzo?

Rizzo. He already has a full season of Triple-A under his belt. Gyorko is a better fit for Petco Park, but assuming neither is traded, both should be contributing to the Padres by 2013.

How long do you give Josh Byrnes to build a competitive team here? Does he get a two or three year grace period?

He won’t need that long. There is some good young talent already up with the big club, and the farm system looks better than it has in years. As long as there is continued improvement, he should be fine. My biggest concern about Byrnes is that some fans may have preconceived negative ideas about him and may have built up Jed Hoyer, who did a great job in his brief time here, as more than he is. Byrnes’ biggest battles could be on the public relations front, but in terms of competence, I have no concerns.

How will the Competitive Balance Lottery affect the Padres long-term?

In theory it should help, but I worry about other aspects of the new CBA that restrict how much a team can invest in amateur talent. That was one of the few ways small-market clubs could close the gap between themselves and their large-market counterparts. The Padres haven’t always taken advantage of that avenue, and now that they finally have started moving in that direction (e.g., buying Austin Hedges away from his UCLA commitment), it may not be an option… at least not to the degree that it was when they weren’t pursuing guys like Hedges.

Will Chase Headley be in a Padres uniform in 2012?

Like it or not, Headley is one of the Padres best players. Unless they are blown away by a Maybin type offer, I would say so.

Finally, where do you think the Padres will finish in 2012?

Somewhere other than where I pick them to finish. Seriously? I’ll say fourth, ahead of some team that surprises everyone by being worse than the Padres. They’ll win 75-80 games.

Be sure to check out Geoff on Twitter @ducksnorts and Baseball Prospectus.