Jun 7, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres pitcher Joaquin Benoit (56) pitches the ball in the 11th inning against the Washington Nationals at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Stan Liu-USA TODAY Sports
As reports are coming from CBSSports.com and other websites that reliever Joaquin Benoit and closer Huston Street are drawing the most interest from MLB teams, it definitely appears Ron Fowler and Mike Dee are trying to distance themselves from previous General Manager Josh Byrnes. The team is pushing forward quickly on trying to find a new GM, but it is more important they are trying to establish a new philosophy on the future of the team.
However, this leads to a larger question about many of Bynres’ acquisitions and signings,especially Benoit. Granted, the Padres’ were picked by many analysts throughout baseball as a sleeper along with the Miami Marlins. The Padres’ have clearly been a disappointment while Miami has certainly lived up to expectations.
What was Byrnes’ philosophy anyways? With an increased payroll to $90 million for 2014, the former Padres’ GM had a little more leeway to bring in higher priced free agents than normally seen under the last years of the John Moores and Jeff Moorad reign. In other words, Byrnes squandered the opportunity to bring in a game-changing bat into the lineup.
There is no doubt Benoit is an excellent set-up man, and can be an elite closer in the league for another team, but what was the purpose of Byrnes signing him? The Padres’ offense is set to the be worst offense in the last 100 years, and they don’t have a player whose hit more than ten home runs or 30 RBI this season. Chase Headley, Carlos Quentin, and Everth Cabrera were all question marks coming into this season for different reasons, so explain the need to sign two pitchers for a combined $16 million, when there were viable bats on the free agent market
Benoit has certainly lived up to expectations, posting a 3-0 record with 1.42 ERA, but like Street, his role becomes worthless if the team is constantly trailing. Moreover, he is set to make $6 million for 2014, and $8.5 million in 2015. More importantly, Byrnes’ disastrous signing of Josh Johnson for $8 million was probably his worst along with Quentin’s no-trade clause.
Think about it. What was Byrnes’s direction for this team? There are some GMs who work better with smaller payrolls, and there are others who succeed with larger ones. It was clear Byrnes did not have a clear direction outside of pitching when given this larger payroll.
While the Benoit signing looked great on paper because it gives the Padres’ a great 1-2 punch in the eighth and ninth innings, it didn’t make sense considering the strength of the bullpen last year. However, there were some good free agents that were in the market such as Nelson Cruz, 1 year-$8 million with Baltimore, Justin Morneau 2-year $13 million with Colorado, and Mike Morse 1 year-$6 million in San Francisco. Each of these players were question marks coming into the season as well, but they were a better investment than Johnson and Benoit. Any one of them would have upgraded the Padres’ lineup and give some stability to an ever-changing Bud Black lineup.
The Padres’ need to move either Benoit or Street because as CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman stated, both are the two best trade chips. They may be the top-two relievers with reasonable contracts on what might be a thin relief market.
If trading Benoit does anything, it gives the Padres more prospects and depth, while providing the team the ability to spend Benoit’s money on free agent hitters this coming winter.