Good morning, Padres fans! Welcome to the 2nd half of the 2020 MLB “season.” As you all know, our Padres stand at 18-12 and in 2nd place in the NL West. The team will welcome their natural rivals the Seattle Mariners to Petco today, starting this year’s competition for the vaunted and highly valued Vedder Cup. Seriously, bask in its glory:
Since the team had the day off yesterday, I propose we continue yesterday’s conversation regarding potential acquisitions for the team, given our noted deficiencies. In my mind, the team is looking to address three key areas before the trade deadline, in no particular order: Catcher, Relief Pitcher, and Outfield, specifically, Left Field. Below, I’ll lay out the case for and against an acquisition, and you can tell me how moronic I am and what the team should REALLY do down in the comments. Cool?
Alright, let’s do this.
Issue: This one is fairly straightforward. The team has suffered through anemic performance from the catcher’s position for years now. Despite finishing 2019 strong, C Francisco Mejia has regressed so far this year, going back to his swing-at-everything approach. C Austin Hedges, despite being one of the best defensive catchers in MLB, hit below the Mendoza line in 2019, and has only been acceptable at the plate for the last three weeks, and even then just barely (and that’s maybe being charitable). Add in recent call-up Luis Torrens, and the Padres backstops have combined for the second-lowest batting average (.114), lowest on-base percentage (.188) and second-lowest OPS (.475) in MLB.
Reason for acquiring a Catcher: Was I not clear enough above? Padres backstops have been a blackhole of suck for a while now, and in a year where they look more and more like a playoff contender, anemic production from any spot in the lineup is cause for concern. The team should shore up any spot in the lineup, especially since prospect and potential catcher of the future Luis Campusano is, by all measures, likely two years away from breaking in with the club (remember, he played all of 2019 at Hi-A Lake Elsinore; he hasn’t played a game at AA yet).
Reasons against: Ok, here’s the problem with acquiring catchers. Two-way catchers don’t grow on trees, and usually are the product of years of development. So, if a team actually has one, they’ll want a king’s ransom in any trade in order to pry him loose. With the Padres bounty of prospect riches, any potential trade partner will demand a drastic overpay to acquire said catcher. That prospect depth is exactly what the team is planning on using to remain in contention for years to come, not just this year. So, unless it’s for someone that has years of control remaining on their contract, any deal maybe tough to come by, unless said trade partner also has a need the Padres can fill, or is desperate for ANY infusion of talent. Plus, C Francisco Mejia should be coming off the IL soon, and with Hedges producing something, the Friars can maybe hold out hope for an internal solution.
Potential Targets (note that these are possibles, not probables. This is really just to start discussion): Christian Vazquez, Red Sox; Austine Romine, Tigers; Mike Zunino, Rays; Pedro Severino, Orioles.
Issue: The Padres bullpen this year has been beset with volatility. We’ve become accustomed to the Padres ‘pen been solid if not spectacular, with the team seemingly getting results from other teams’ castoffs. However, multiple injuries as well as underperformance led the bullpen to blow six leads (contributing directly to three losses) and the 25th ranked ERA (5.45) in the majors. The bullpen has recovered recently, but with key acquisitions LHP Drew Pomeranz still on the IL, RHP Emilio Pagan pitching through soreness, and closer Kirby Yates likely done for the year, the team could use some reinforcement.
Reason for acquiring a relief pitcher: As mentioned above, having more quality arms available is never a bad thing, especially with Padres relievers performing as they have. While the team has several touted pitching prospects toiling at the alternate site, most of them are still a year or two away from being likely MLB-level contributors. Snagging a proven arm is never a bad thing, especially for a run to the playoffs when an injury or two could completely derail everything.
Reasons against: Maybe we’re jumping the gun a bit here? Padres relievers haven’t allowed a run in its last 10.1 innings and has a 2.88 ERA in 34 1/3 innings during the Padres’ seven-game winning streak. Despite the struggles from early in the year, the bullpen could actually be finally living up to the pre-season hype. Add in that Drew Pomeranz could return soon, and in the playoffs, back-end starters become relievers, and simply, there may not be a need to acquire an arm.
Issue: The Padres acquired LF Tommy Pham during the off-season, and he brought much-needed intensity to the team while also adding credence to being selective at the plate that the organization espoused. Unfortunately, despite hitting the ball hard often, Pham found few holes, and posted a .608 OPS, more than 200 points below his career average. I’m also speaking of Pham in the past tense, because Pham underwent surgery last week to repair a fractured hamate bone, and the team doesn’t expect him to return this year. As a result, the team is rolling with Jurickson Profar, Josh Naylor, and Jorge Mateo, none of whom profile as above average fielders, and only Naylor projecting as an above average hitter.
Reason for acquiring a LF/OF: With Pham out for the year, and prospect OF Edward Olivares sent back to the alt site to find his hitting approach, the team could use a fresh injection of talent in the outfield, especially one that can play better than average defense in a place like Petco. Additionally, such a player doesn’t need to be a masher; a high OBP, more-glove-than-bat-OF is not going to cost the team what a projected 40+ home run guy (ala Kyle Schwarber) likely would.
Reasons against: This might be a tough sell, but let’s give it a shot. As others mentioned yesterday, the team doesn’t actually need an outfielder right now. While not ideal, Jurickson Profar has actually been pretty good the last two weeks. Since August 9, Profar’s slashed .277/.364/.489 with 3 home runs, 10 runs scored, and eight RBI. That’s pretty good, especially for a guy at the bottom of the order. Add in Josh Naylor, who can come in and give you a few starts when not DH-ing, and the outfield situation may not be as dire as we thought.
Potential Targets: Brian Goodwin, Angels; Sam Haggerty, Mariners; Corey Dickerson or Matt Joyce, Marlins; Jeff McNeil, Mets.
Alright, so have at it! In news and notes:
- Though it may be a bastardization of all that is pure and true in baseball, the SD-UT examines how the DH is benefiting the Padres this year, particularly as it relates to our phenom, SS Fernando Tatis Jr.
- The SD-UT also takes a look at the Padres at the midpoint of the season. Overall, the team’s done well, and looks to continue in the 2nd half.
- As others mentioned yesterday, 3B Manny Machado was named the NL Player of the Week.
That’s it for today. As mentioned, RHP Chris Paddack will take the hill against the Mariners. He’ll face-off against LHP Marco Gonzales, the Mariners’ #1 Starter. First pitch is set for 1810 Pacific.