The San Diego Padres made an unsurprising move on Friday. They sent first baseman Anthony Rizzo and pitcher Zach Cates to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for pitcher Andrew Cashner and outfielder Kyung-Min Na. Much of the initial reaction to the trade is negative from the Padres’ perspective. Here are my thoughts (obviously).
I’m not going to get knee deep in the numbers, and I’m essentially looking at this trade for the Rizzo and Cashner pieces. Na’s track record leaves nothing to be excited about, and one season does not a prospect make as far as Cates’ status is concerned.
Geoff Young of Ducksnorts tweeted a nice piece by Jason Wojciechowski to help frustrated fans/bloggers to maintain perspective when they can’t get behind deals made by their teams. It was a nice refresher, but I’m still writing, aren’t I?
I know I don’t hold all the keys to the kingdom and am definitely “armchairing” it as I write about these things, but what Wojciechowski didn’t touch upon is the reason I write despite having little to no insider information. It’s the passion I have for my Padres. I’m not trying to turn this into a thesis on blogging, but I did think it worth mentioning that I am well aware of the knowledge I don’t possess, yet I’m compelled to opine anyway.
Okay…back on topic. The deal is done, and I’ve had some time to digest it (along with a God-awful heaping of Taco Bell that may taint my analysis). I’ve read what others think, and I’m trying to see as many angles as possible here. The conclusion I continue to reach, however, is that this has the potential to be a terrible deal for San Diego.
The thing about trades, though, is the time factor. Hence the use of the word “potential”. Only time will tell how this works out. That’s the funny thing about trades from a fan perspective. By the time a trade’s outcome can be measured, we’ve already focused on other, more pertinent issues at hand, so we don’t often stop to truly evaluate a trade at its most appropriate point. Mental note: write an article about this trade on the last day of the World Series. I think that will be the time we’ll be able to really figure out who won.
In fact, Joe Fan is probably already starting to get foggy about the Adrian Gonzalez trade to Boston. As it stands, we just shipped out the centerpiece position player of this deal in Rizzo. Patterson has already found greener pastures. With Kelly’s stock falling a bit and Fuentes not showing overwhelming numbers, it’s becoming clear that Boston got the better end of that deal.
Why does this matter? Because San Diego’s organization has little to no room for error. It’s imperative for both amateur and professional writers to hold the Padres organization accountable by critiquing trades. Baseball is an odd business because the bottom line for clubs is money; however, the way they make money is ultimately traced back and through its fan base. Therefore, is the team in it for its own bottom line or to appease its fan base? Or is one a product of the other? That being said, can we assume a team has its fans’ best interests at heart? How can you even measure that? I’m not sure of any of the answers to those questions.
My apologies. I feel like I keep going off on philosophical tangents, but I can’t help it. I know I should just toss this toga into the hamper and get back to the trade itself. I suppose it’s a way for me to rationalize the emotional…which may be an effort in futility.
Okay…I promise this time. Back to the trade analysis we go.
I’m going to Nostradamasize here and call this one a dud and will even go so far as to say that it will trump Josh Byrnes’ previous stinker: trading Carlos Quentin to the White Sox. In the future, he’ll be known for trading away Joey Votto 2.0 for a reliever who showed flashes of brilliance but would wind up taking the Aaron Poreda path of all stuff, no location. Then, to top it off, Cashner will get seriously injured and miss significant time. Meanwhile, Rizzo will win the starting gig coming out of Spring Training and will put up the following slash line: .275/.340/.480.
Gulp…that’s a hefty prediction on my part. Now that it’s on the screen, it looks pretty extreme. This would certainly be a worst case scenario for San Diego. While it may be bold, though, it’s not “off the map” bold. This could happen.
Now, this could also happen. Rizzo scuffles as he adjusts to MLB pitching, and finishes out with a line of: .220/.320/.440. He strikes out too much, and doesn’t exhibit the power stroke of a Votto. Meanwhile, Cashner is 100% healthy and remains so, thanks to San Diego’s top-notch training staff. He locks down the 8th inning role, which lifts some of the tremendous pressure on the young, talented bullpen arms. Huston Street is later moved at the deadline for a nice prospect or two, and Cashner, with Black and Balsley’s help, becomes a dominant closer with a propensity for the occasional flameout (as closers do). This scenario is also not “off the map,” but it is extreme in favor of San Diego.
So, that leaves us with the question: which is more likely? Your guess is as good as mine because neither guy is proven. I suppose that’s why it’s been so difficult to keep this article on topic.
Ultimately, my bottom line says that Chicago will benefit from this more than San Diego will. The reason being, we are in a more desperate need of position players with pop, not pitching (I know…you can never have too much pitching). To me, Brynes is looking like he’ll be featured on an upcoming episode of Extreme Couponing. The cameras will follow him as he proudly opens a pantry in the back of the clubhouse that has 50 different bullpen guys in numerical order, sitting on the shelf.
On one hand, you have to watch in awe. But on the other, you’re thinking: at what point is this just plain crazy?