Padres News: Yonder Alonso Shut Down


Perhaps it is time for me to admit that Yonder Alonso is injury prone.

Alonso last played on September 1. He has been out ever since with a bad back. The Padres organization decided Thursday to shut him down upon a bone scan revealing a stress reaction, according to Dennis Lin.  Lin reported that it “sounds like a season-ender” for Alonso. 

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It seemed that Alonso might only have had injuries that emanated from that 2013 hit by pitch to his wrist that took a long time to heal. But now it’s his back; earlier this season, he injured his shoulder.

Barring the early season stint on the disabled list, the first baseman was having his best year at the plate. His on-base percentage rests at .361 – the highest on the club. While he hasn’t developed the kind of power he was believed to possess coming up through the minors, he has displayed good on-base ability this season.

So now the question is what to do.

Option 1: Trade Yonder Alonso

It certainly wouldn’t be selling him as low as if they had done so last year. But he is now certifiably labelled as injury prone. Plus this power hasn’t developed and Alonso will be 29 next season.

From there the Padres have a couple other options.

Sub-Option 1: Turn Wil Myers into the Everyday 1B

One scout told ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick that Wil Myers has the potential to become a gold glove first baseman “based purely on his athleticism.” Myers has had a nagging wrist that has hopefully been fixed by this year’s surgery. If he is all mended then the Padres will have a guy with power occupying a traditionally powerful position.

It would be a little ironic if the Padres got rid of a player with the injury prone label and replace him with another player who is starting to get that very same label.

The best side effect would be that a corner outfield spot would be left open for Rymer Liriano or Hunter Renfroe to occupy in 2016 and later as it seems evident that Justin Upton will leave in free agency. Myers is not a center fielder. So he will either have to move to the infield or secure left field.

Sub-Option 2: Try Brett Wallace

One of the most baffling things about Pat Murphy‘s management of the club in September has been in regards to Brett Wallace. He has been testing Jedd Gyorko out at shortstop. Myers has had spot time at first as has Derek Norris. But why hasn’t Brett Wallace – a player with a slashline of .344/.408/.594/1.002 – not getting more playing time? Obviously some guys, such as Scott Hairston, are just more productive coming off of the bench and getting spot starts.

Some players are late bloomers. Take Alex Gordon. Wallace was thought highly of as a prospect. His talent hasn’t died. What if Wallace is one of those late blossoms and is starting to show what he can do on the major league level? In his 49 games in 2015, Wallace has a 177 OPS+. To put that into perspective, Justin Upton – the qualified team leader – has a 120 OPS+. Has he not at least earned some more starts especially with Alonso having been out? 

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If Wallace were to work out, the Padres would also have a productive left-handed hitter in a 2016 lineup featuring (as far as we know…) Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, Derek Norris, and Jedd Gyorko. A lineup needs some balance. Having Myers at first and, for example, Renfroe or Liriano in left field would only create a further imbalance.

Option 2: Stick with Alonso

It is ok to have depth. As seen above, the Padres have other players to play first. He is being paid $1.65 million this season. With arbitration, he will be earning more in 2016, but his salary won’t break the bank. So why not keep him?

If he goes down with another injury, he would cost less than Josh Johnson. When healthy, the team can go with the hot hand at first – whoever that might be. In fact, the 2016 Padres could start Myers or Wallace at first while also having Alonso on the team.

The ultimate problem with keeping Alonso is the same with keeping Tommy Medica. Medica wasn’t productive enough to be irresistible enough to stay in the show. With Myers, Wallace, and even Norris as potential first base options, Alonso might suffer from what kept Medica from starting.

The decision starts here in September. Pat Murphy must test out Wallace to see what the team will have for 2016. Finding out if Wallace’s last couple months have been a fluke or a sign of things to come is an integral bit of information for the success of the 2016 Padres. Knowledge is power. Pat Murphy, give us power.

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