So we've all watched, often through our fingers, and shouted at the top of our foulweather lungs as Management continues to trade away fan favorites for the Rob Johnsons of the world. While the begrudging consensus is that we could be very, very good in a few years, we're still in dire need at two positions: second base and shortstop.
So let's take a look at what could be done to address the most pressing offseason issue. We'll begin after the jump.The Incumbents:
Orlando Hudson, 2B: Hopes were high when the Padres signed the boisterous two-time All-Star last year. At the very least, it was believed that he would be an upgrade over David "Scrappy-Doo" Eckstein. However, as time wore on, O-Dawg turned into No-Dawg as his performance flagged and his Tweets became less like anything resembling a coherent sentence. He finished the season with a disappointing .246 average, 7 homers, 43 RBI, and a reputation as a clubhouse cancer. In addition, his defense has been sadly lacking and Padres fans (especially GLBers) are clamoring for him to be put on a bus. However, as there's no immediate successor, it seems we'll have to wait for a deal to be worked out or deal with another year of semi-literate vitriol on Twitter.
Jason Bartlett, SS: The Padres picked Bartlett up off a down year in Tampa for a song (actually, a parcel of low-grade minor leaguers), hoping he'd regain his stellar 2009 form and fill the gap left by a resurgent Miguel Tejada. Unfortunately, he actually continued to regress, posting a line of .245/2/40 and earning the derisive nickname "Bootlett" for his 18 errors. He's actually a nice guy, so pushing him out to preserve chemistry like Hudson is not an issue, and there's room for a bounce-back year, but as long as he's a Padre and continues to play at his current standard, there's a black hole in the lineup.
Everth "Efren" Cabrera, 2B/SS: He's insanely fast, but not a special defender and can't get on (career-best batting average was .255 in his rookie year, not something to celebrate; also has K trouble). He's been dealing with injury lately and is exactly the sort of player who could be jettisoned without a second thought, but don't count him out if he sticks around.
Logan Forsythe, 2B: The Aristocrat has torn up the minor leagues, but hit .213 in 169 plate appearances last year. He's not ready, but is probably the closest of all those in our system.
Drew Cumberland, SS: Cumberland is coming back to baseball after missing a year to deal with bilateral vestibulopathy, for which he is now receiving treatment. He's still in the lower rungs of the minors and will probably start next year in Fort Wayne or Lake Elsinore. Not an immediate solution.
Cory Spangenberg, 2B, and Jace Peterson, SS: Both lefty rookies with high ceilings, but you won't see them until the fall of 2013 at the earliest.
Mark Loretta, 2B/Special Assistant of Baseball Operations: And he'll hit the home run that sends us to the World Series. Just sayin'.
Hak-Ju Lee, SS, Tampa Bay: There's been a lot of noise made about this guy, who signed with the Cubs out of South Korea at age 17. Keith Law raves about him, and he's got excellent potential, but most pundits think he needs one more year of polish. Could probably be had from the Rays for one of our first basemen (Rizzo
or Blanks) and an arm (Thatcher, Spence, Hamren, Matt Lollis, etc.).
Eric Farris, 2B, Milwaukee: He's a smooth hitter with good baserunning ability, and he's expendable as the guy sandwiched between everyday player Rickie Weeks and red-hot prospect Scooter Gennett (who's ranked higher in the Brewers' system). The problem here is that we don't have anything especially compelling to offer for him; Rizzo might be nice for them with Prince Fielder's departure, and an upgrade over Travis Ishikawa, but that seems unlikely to sway them. Perhaps James Darnell would sweeten the pot, as recent acquisition Aramis Ramirez isn't getting younger.
Ryan Flaherty, 2B/SS, Orioles: He was a stud prospect when he came up with the Cubs and has mashed the lower levels, despite struggling a bit at Triple A. Snagged by Baltimore in the Rule V draft, he'd make a nice piece in any deal to the Orioles-- hopefully not a deal for Adam Jones, who probably wouldn't provide the desired return on the investment. A little old for a prospect at his level, but still has upside.
Hanley Ramirez, SS, Miami: Do you believe in Santa Claus? This deal is completely crazy and unlikely to go down, which is exactly why I expect it to have crossed Josh Byrnes's mind. "Nobody is untouchable", after all.
And I'm certain I haven't touched on all the lovely possibilities out there. Any other thoughts, GLB? You guys are smarter than I am!