FriarBall: November 2007

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Brocail the second Padre heading for Houston

Doug Brocail became the second Padres free agent to head for Houston, signing a 1-year deal on Tuesday.

Unlike the Astros signing of Geoff Blum, I can't say I care about losing Brocail. He did a decent job at certain points last year but he also caused a lot of heartburn in other situations. And with Kevin Towers' rep for finding cheap, solid pitching - I am sure this is one loss we can overcome.

However, it would be nice to actually sign someone this year. A CF perhaps?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Hunter signs ... with another Cali team

First things first - Happy Thanksgiving to everyone out there. Now on to the real business.

The list of potential CF's shortened by one on turkey day as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (got to be PC around here) signed Torii Hunter to a 5 year $80 million dollar deal.

Most of us Pads fans were pretty sure Hunter was going to be out of our price range anyway but now the point is moot. Time to turn our attention elsewhere.

Speaking of FA signings, we will definitely have a new 2B next year now that Geoff Blum has signed a 1 year deal with Houston.

It's not time to panic but as teams are starting to fill their rosters now it would be nice to see more than just the re-signing of Greg Maddux and adding four minor leaguers.

But in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I will leave with one final thought - at least we aren't feeding the A-Rod beast. Good luck with that New York, we saw how that worked before.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Padres shopping list for free agency

I'm currently reading "Moneyball" (yes, I am really late to the party) and every time I put the book down I am suddenly in the move to play GM so with free agency officially open (it's just past 12:15 on the East Coast), I thought I would finally give my thoughts on some free agents the Padres should target.

Before I go on to new additions I first want to ID the areas of need. Obviously most of the talk has been on CF but with the release of Marcus Giles, 2B is also a need (it kind of was before the move) along with LF and Nos. 4 and 5 starters.

Let's deal with the big question first, who do the Padres target in a market full of CF's? The biggest attractions are Andruw Jones, Torii Hunter and even Aaron Rowand. Obviously if the price is right, Jones or Rowand are more attractive based simply on age. While Mike Cameron could also return, I think Jones is the intriguing choice here based simply on the fact he had a terrible '07, possibly putting him in the Padres range.

If the market prices are too high, expect Towers to pull off a trade. My suggestion is that we sign Doug Mirabelli again and trade him back to the Red Sox either Coco Crisp or a couple of minor leaguers on the verge of breaking out this season.

In left, I think the Padres should focus on resigning Milton Bradley. When he played he provided the lone offensive spark and except for the incident where he needed to be tackled by Bud Black, he has behaved himself.

To fill the hole at 2B, it is being rumored that SD is toying with moving reserve OF Scott Hairston there. While this would get his bat in the lineup every day, I think Hairston has more value as the guy who backs up Bradley. One move I think needs to be made is bring Geoff Blum back - he filled in admirably for Giles when the latter was benched - to be the utility guy off the bench. What would be great is if Blum could help Matt Antonelli get adjusted to the big leagues. Another option here could be Kaz Matsui, who had a resurgence with the Rockies and would bring speed and stolen bases to a team that didn't have much of either last year.

As for pitchers, one name that intrigues me is Jason Jennings. This guy could actually pitch at Coors but with no run support in Houston he had a pretty lousy year. With the help of Black, Jennings could regain his form and actually see his numbers improve quite a bit by pitching at Petco. Matt Clement and Kerry Wood have also been rumored to be on there way but I think Jennings has more upside.

Regardless of what happens the next few weeks and months, I think the biggest thing I want to see as a fan is some proof that the team is dedicated to winning and will make smart moves in trying to do so. Even if a couple of these holes are filled by minor leaguers, as long as we get someone to man CF I will be pleased. So let's hope Kevin Towers can make another one of those moves he is famous for.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Padres start offseason with key move

The Padres got things off on the right foot this winter by re-signing Greg Maddux to a one year deal.

While Maddux is not the staff ace he once was, this move was key for the Pads and not for the 10 or so games he will win next year. With Maddux back on staff, we should see Jake Peavy, Chris Young and the rest of the staff continue to improve and be the best staff in the NL once again.

There were many things Kevin Towers needed to accomplish this offseason and he has apparently made strengthening the rotation a priority, now he needs to find fourth and fifth starters - either in the minors or on the market.

The move all but guarantees the Padres will see at least one milestone next season as Maddux has 347 career wins. Now that this first piece is in place, let's see what other moves Towers has in store - hopefully a CF perhaps?

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Did the NL West just get tougher?

It's finally official, Joe Torre is now in charge of the underachieving Dodgers. And naturally all sorts of Padres followers are asking how this hire affects the NL West as a whole.

Like I have said before, Torre is a good manager but I question how well he fits with LA. But I am not going to get into that discussion again. What I want to talk about is how hard the NL West could be in 2008 if this move pays off for the Dodgers.

SD ended 2007 by falling 1 game short of the playoffs, losing out to eventual NL champ Colorado in a wild card playoff. Arizona played well above expectations and a streaking Colorado bumped us out of the mix. If things were to remain the same for AZ and Colorado, along with an LA team helmed by Torre playing well, more than one team in the division will be guaranteed an early start on the offseason again.

If Torre gets the Dodgers to live up to their potential, the NL West should clearly become the toughest division in baseball, despite the fact that SF will most likely be terrible again.

While I am not a proponent of throwing money around hoping a championship can be bought (I have watched my Washington Redskins try that approach year after year with no success), I do think this hire requires some smart moves this offseason, something Kevin Towers always seems to be ready for. The obvious areas are the backend of the rotation and the outfield, but even a strong middle reliever could be good enough.

Again, I am not proposing wholesale changes and a shopping spree, but some noise needs to be made. A lot is being made about getting a top name center fielder but even re-signing left fielder Milton Bradley is a great start. But with a thin - and overpriced - market for the other outfield positions, this could be the Padres biggest challenge. Somehow I think Towers pulls this off given what happened at the end of the year and don't be surprised if help once again comes in the form of a trade.

As the stove warms up there will be plenty more rumors to discuss and available players to drool over but for now the consensus is this - no one in the NL West is safe after last year and something obvious has to be done to improve. If it doesn't happen, the Pads will once again be on the outside of the playoffs.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Quick news and notes

Now that the Red Sox have officially ended the 2007 season, it's time to start looking at 2008 and doing what any good fan does, play Armchair GM through the winter. Already there are two things of note for Padres fans that I would like to weigh in on.

1. Joe Torre to the Dodgers? In their usual way, LA is going for the big move in hopes that it will fix its dysfunction and get the team to the playoffs. I've got nothing against Torre as a manager, but I just don't see him as the difference maker the Dodgers need.

Now this is not to bag on a guy with 4 World Series rings, but I think the bigger concern LA has is getting rid of a ton of oft-injured, aging and under achieving talent - something very few if any managers can make work. Luckily for Padres fans, the longer the Dodgers neglect their real issues, the better the shot SD has at staying towards the top of the NL West.

2. I'm sure most of you have heard - and read the subsequent comments - about Mike Cameron's 25 game suspension. Granted Cameron is not on the '08 roster but there are a couple of interesting opinions being bantered about.

Jbox over at Gaslamp Ball feels that even though he didn't want Cameron back before, this situation may present a discount opportunity.

Obviously the CF situation is one to be followed closely throughout the winter but here is my first take on the situation - while I think Cameron did a good job defensively in CF the past couple seasons, and had some good offensive hot streaks, I want to see what someone else can bring to the table.

The big names being thrown around are Andruw Jones and Torii Hunter but they both hinge upon price. I think Hunter is the more intriguing option here as both his offense and defense would not only be upgrades, but his defense would provide a constant spotlight as it will be regularly featured on highlight reels. For a club always worried about return investments, the extra national media exposure could only help right? Again, this is something to be watching all offseason and as more players file for free agency, it will be fun to see who the Padres add to punch things up.