Thoughts on losing Simon Castro

When the San Diego Padres acquired Carlos Quentin from the Chicago White Sox, they gave up a couple of pitching prospects in Simon Castro and Pedro Hernandez. We’ve already discussed the trade in general, so now let’s focus more on Castro.

Right hander Simon Castro was signed as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic back in 2006. He was quite raw, obviously, and didn’t really burst onto the big time prospect scene until after his 2009 campaign at Single-A Fort Wayne.

Castro pitched 140 and a third innings that year, posting a 3.33 ERA, 10.1 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, and .6 HR/9. Those are some pretty solid numbers, especially for a 21-year-old who had yet to really put it all together previously. After the impressive season, Castro ranked as the 57th best prospect in baseball by Baseball America, the #2 Padres prospect by Kevin Goldstein, and the #2 Padres prospect by John Sickels.

Sickels called Castro an “excellent arm with improving command” and Goldstein said that “he will be an above-average major-league starter, with some scouts projecting him as high as a No. 2.”

in 2010, Castro jumped up to Double-A San Antonio and continued to perform. He again pitched 140 innings (10 and a third in Triple-A Portland), with a 3.28 ERA, 7.3 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, and .6 HR/9. The drop in strikeouts was a bit alarming, but overall the 6-5 right hander had a more-than-respectable year in his first taste of Double-A.

The prospectors didn’t waver. Baseball America rated him as the 58th best MLB prospect while Kevin Goldstein and John Sickels both kept him at #2 overall in the Padres system.

Last season Castro started out in Triple-A Tucson and lasted only six starts, posting an ERA over 10 and ugly peripherals. He was sent back down to Double-A San Antonio where he would regain some of his form. His ERA was 4.33, but as we mentioned in the Quentin trade analysis, his peripherals looked largely the same:

Year Inn K/PA BB/PA BABiP FIP
2010 129.7 20.2% 6.8% .271 3.34
2011 89.3 19.5% 4.3% .321 3.80

One could argue pretty easily that he was actually a little better the second time around in Double-A, as his strikeout rate stayed virtually the same and his walk rate dropped quite a bit. His strikeout-to-walk ratio jumped from 2.97 in 2010 to 4.56 in 2011.

Of course, there are some legitimate reasons to be concerned with Castro’s 2011 year. For one, he struggled mightily again in Triple-A, giving him a 9.50 ERA, 1.5 HR/9, and nearly one walk for every strikeout in 36 career innings. It’s a small sample, sure, but it is ugly performance. Further, he repeated Double-A and while his peripherals were a little better, it’s not as if he dominated.

After 2011, though, would you expect him to completely drop off the prospect radar? That’s kind of what happened. Baseball America didn’t list Castro in its Padres top 10, Kevin Goldstein rated him #20 in the system, and John Sickels didn’t even rank him in his top 27.

Now, prospect lists are certainly fluid, and Castro didn’t do much to build on his 2010 campaign. Further, the Padres continued to add minor league talent from the draft and trades, helping push Castro’s freefall – not to mention, other guys establishing themselves.

Still, if you’re trying to look at the whole picture, it’s hard to believe that Castro should have fallen this far based on his ‘11 performance. If he was a top three prospect prior to 2011, there’s no way he’s a top 20-30 prospect after. That’s only my opinion, of course, and the prospect experts certainly study these guys closer than I do and have a lot of scout/front office contacts.

The general point, though, is not about prospect lists. Instead, the concern is over what Castro could still become. We’ve talked a lot recently about the Padres depth in the minor leagues. Castro was kind of a guy who embodied that depth. Formerly a highly-regarded prospect, there he was sitting way down — all but forgotten — on our organization depth chart.

Castro is gone now and while we received Carlos Quentin for him (and Hernandez), at this point it’s not clear that the acquisition was worth the potential cost.

Previewing the 2012 Fort Wayne TinCaps: Hitting

Fort Wayne pitching staff 

For most of the 2011 season the Single-A Fort Wayne TinCaps relied almost solely on one hitter and one hitter only, Midwest League MVP Rymer Liriano.  The offense was so desolate that they were Padre-esque.  The 2011 TinCaps scored two or fewer runs in 32 of their first 72 games.  Their fortune started changing in the second half when Connor Powers started paying immediate dividends.   The good news is that Powers and later Cory Spangenberg helped fuel the team to the playoffs, the bad news for the 2012 team is that Liriano, Spangenberg, Powers, and nearly everyone else from the 2011 squad will be in Lake Elsinore in 2012.

The 2012 squad will look for new blood to help them get back to the playoffs.  It will be a very young team filled with players who have the potential to be in the upper echelon of prospects.  So without further ado here is your 2012 team.

1)      Jace Peterson, shortstop:
Selected in the first round by the Padres and picked by Matt Eddy as his breakout player for the 2012 season, Peterson has the speed and ability that you want to see at the top of any order.  He had 39 SB (10 CS) in 73 G and could easily get over 50 in a full season.  Peterson is a slick fielder, which means for once, that the Padres don’t have to face an immediate question as to whether or not he will be moved to second base (see Galvez, Cumberland, E-Cab, etc…).  The question will be whether Jace can hit well enough to stay at the top of the order.  Hopefully we can see a better season out of Jace than we did out of Guinn last year (.245/.307/.307, 34 SB).

2)      Casey McElroy, second base:
McElroy was taken in the 11th round and signed right at the deadline for above slot money.  McElroy play second base in high school but shortstop at Auburn.  With Jace at short he will undoubtedly return to second.  With Auburn, McElroy led the SEC in hits, and finished in the top 10 in nearly all offensive categories including batting average (.370), RBI (53), HR (9), and 2B (18).  He hit .301/.381/.466 in 19 games in Eugene.

3)      Luis Domoromo, left field:
Domoromo will be more than likely be returning to the TinCaps to begin the 2012 season.  For a 19-year-old in Fort Wayne, Luis had a pretty spectacular 2011 season hitting .283/.335/.405 with 9 HR and 68 RBI in 112 games.  The Venezuelan should only get stronger and better during the offseason.  If Domoromo can work on his eye, as he continues to build muscle, he very well could be a MWL All-Star.

4)      Lee Orr, designated hitter:
Orr led the Ems in HR (8) and was one of the leaders in the NWL.  Orr has some of the best power on the team and can be a 20-20 guy in the MWL.  The question will be whether or not he can hit enough in the MWL.  Orr hit only .219 with 88 K in 62 G.

5)      Jose Dore, right field:
Dore signed at the deadline in 2010, hit .375 in the Arizona League, and the came to Fort Wayne last year after the Tate/Williams collision.  After hitting well initially, Dore struggled to make solid contact.  After struggling he was demoted to Eugene where he once again struggled making solid contact.  Dore has a big arm, is a plus fielder, great power, and has yet to turn 20.  Dore has the makings of a top prospect but will need to cut down on his strikeouts as he had 111 Ks in 98 combined games between Eugene and Lake Elsinore.

6)      Duanel Jones, third base:
Another young prospect with a lot of potential.  Jones, as many know, was given a huge bonus as a 16-year-old, only to have it taken away when he tested positive for an illegal substance.  Well that voided contract was the opportunity the Padres needed to swoop in.  While he struggled at times in Peoria and Eugene, he did show great power (8 HR in 37 AZL games), and has the chance to develop into a strong middle of the order hitter.  But for right now as a 19-year-old, batting a little lower in the order should relieve some of the pressure.

7)      Austin Hedges, catcher:
Coming into the draft we kept on hearing: “Hedges is already an MLB quality backstop on defense, but the offense will be the question.”  However, from interviewing Randy Smith among others, and looking at his stats, he has been a pleasant surprise on offense.  Hedges defense will be top notch, but if he can hit even .250/.320/.380, he will continue to jump up the prospect charts.

8 )      Zach Kometani, first base:
He might be the default first basemen and split time with quite a few others, but for the time being he is the best choice at first.  The USD product has pretty good power (second on the Ems in both HR (4) and 2B (13)), but does not have a great eye at the plate, and like way too many first basemen has a longer than normal swing that will affect his batting average.  The best case is a Cody Decker type player, but more than likely will be lucky make it to Double-A.

9)      Kyung-Min Na, center field:
Acquired in the Anthony Rizzo trade, Na provides speed and defense for the TinCaps.  Na is the type of player that when he learns how to run the bases has the speed to be a 50+ SB player.  The question is, will he hit enough?  Na hit .171/.276/.184 in 25 MWL games last year.  A year older and the now 20-year-old should hopefully provide that spark at the bottom of the lineup.  If he can hit like the Padres hope (as they essentially gave up Cates for him), he can provide a dynamic one-two punch with Peterson, but for right now I see him batting at the bottom of the order until he can prove he can hit.  (See what they did with Guinn towards the end of last year).

Chat with Friar Forecast: Today (1/17/12) at 10:00 AM PST

A chat with yours truly will be live today at 10:00 AM PST/1:00 PM EST. Please, feel free to bring all of your questions regarding the San Diego Padres offseason, the upcoming year, sabermetrics, you name it. Hopefully we’ll have a good time, answer a bunch of questions, and make chats a more regular feature here at Friar Forecast. Or I’ll sit here talking to myself and we’ll never speak of this again.

A case for Cord Phelps

There’s been plenty of talk this offseason about moves the San Diego Padres have made. Like them or not, Josh Byrnes has not hesitated to pull the trigger on deals that he thinks are best for the team.

What has also been discussed around the virtual watercooler are the moves Byrnes hasn’t made. The one I’m interested in the most for this piece is the acquisition (or lack thereof) of middle infield starters. After all the deals that have been done, San Diego is still without proven talent at SS or 2B.

Fans and bloggers alike were clamoring for help at these critical positions. The assumption was, since we didn’t acquire any, then such players must: #1 not be out there, or #2 must not be available. In looking at San Diego’s system, it is difficult to believe that ownership wasn’t attempting to upgrade at these positions. However, maybe they feel comfortable with any of Logan Forsythe, Everth Cabrera, Beamer Weems, Jeudy Valdez, Jonathan Galvez, or a healthy Drew Cumberland. One could argue a case for any of them, although most on that list are 1-2 years away.

I did some investigating into potential options that would be viable for San Diego to acquire. Viable was really at the crux of my research. It’s easy to dream for guys like Starlin Castro, Asdrubal Cabrera, etc, but those are pies in the sky. So, on the one hand, there are plenty of talented, young players at those crucial positions; but, not surprisingly, teams aren’t interested in parting with them (takes care of #2 above). The other side of the coin seems to indicate that available talent in that area is limited. Many names that piqued my interest were still 1-2 years away. If the wait is that long, why look outside the organization?

There was one name, though, that struck a chord (apologies): the Cleveland Indians’  Cord Phelps.

Now, if you do the research, Phelps is not an elite prospect by any means, and most scouts would probably project him to be a utility guy. To me, though, I see some opinions wavering as to his future status. Some think he might blossom if given a starting gig. I’m firmly entrenched in that camp.

First, let’s look at his career MiLB slash line over four seasons (I’m not going to consider his MLB numbers since he only has 71 at bats under his belt.):

.288/.376/.434 (.810 OPS)

Obviously, the OBP stands out. Over the past three seasons, he’s had more than 375 AB per season. In 2009 (A+), his OBP was .386. In 2010 (AA/AAA), it was .368. Finally, in 2011 (AAA), it was .376. Those percentages are consistently strong.

Now, let’s look at some advanced stats. Keep in mind, these are his MiLB numbers we’re talking about, and we know that past performance doesn’t always predict future success.

His wOBA over those seasons: .350, .383, .377.  Again, average is typically around .330. Impressive, right? There’s more. His BB% over those three seasons averages out to 10.8. Anything in the double digits in BB% is considered above average. The guy has excellent plate discipline.

Additionally, his K% over those three seasons averages out to 16.2. That percentage might even be slightly elevated, since his K% in Triple-A Columbus last season was 20.5, generally six to seven percentage points higher than his typical performance. Why? Likely because he wanted to prove he had some pop, as he hit a career-best 14 homers that season, nearly double the output of his previous career-best.

Phelps’ track record also has a nice history when it comes to runs created. Here are his wRC+ numbers for those same seasons:

2009 (A+) 115
2010 (AA) 96
2010 (AAA) 141
2011 (AAA) 134

So, in High-A Kinston of the Carolina League, Phelps was 15% better than league average, and during the first half of 2010 in Double-A Akron, he was 4% worse than average. He made significant improvements in this category in Triple-A. For the last half of 2010, he was 41% higher than average and then this past season he was 34% better.

Now, there’s plenty more, but I wanted to focus on his ability to get on base and to create runs. I think we should harken to the old days where your middle infielders are the guys at the top of the lineup who set the stage and score the runs. He seems to be well-suited to the 2-hole, as he hits from both sides of the plate and scouts say his swing stays in the zone for a long time, allowing him to barrel up the ball.

Phelps is also looking for a home. He’s currently on the Indians radar as a utility player. He can play 2B, SS, and 3B. In fact, this fall, they tested him out at 3B during the Arizona Fall League. He’s blocked by a couple of prospects that are in line to inherit his positions. Lonnie Chisenhall is earmarked for  third base, Cabrera has short stop locked down, and Jason Kipnis is slated to be the regular second basemen. I say we make a move to acquire Phelps and make him either our short stop or second basemen. I wouldn’t give up any major prospects for him, but I could see an MLB bench guy plus a young arm in the system. Jesus Guzman makes sense and would fit well in the AL.

Now, defensively, Phelps is not a wizard, but he’s not a butcher, either. Let’s look at his range factors for the seasons above:

RF/G 2B SS
2009 4.72
2010 4.30
2011 4.09 4.08

Those numbers put Phelps right in line or slightly above the players currently in the system that I mentioned earlier, with the exception of Cabrera whose RF/G is generally higher. So it seems as though he’s capable with the glove and has a really nice approach at the plate. That’s why I think he’d be a good fit for the lineup.

I’d love to see him take over at shortstop, but I’m not sure he has what it takes to play the position at the major league level. Peter Friberg makes some interesting points  for Weems as a potential short stop, and Valdez seems to be suited for the position defensively, so maybe Phelps could hold that fort down until the lower level guys establish themselves, then switch to second.

Any takers?

Chat with Friar Forecast: Tuesday (1/17/12) at 10:00 AM PST

We’ve done a few chats in the past with reasonable success, and I’d like to potentially make it a somewhat regular feature here at Friar Forecast. Bill Center’s chats at the U-T are always informative.

So bring your questions regarding the Padres offseason, the upcoming season, sabermetrics, blogging, whatever you have in mind. If there’s an audience, we’ll make chats more of a staple here at FF, and maybe get some of the other authors involved as well. Thanks and come back on Tuesday!

I’ll put up a new post with the Cover It Live platform on Tuesday.

Friday links: Ownership transition delayed

The San Diego Padres ownership transition from John Moores to Jeff Moorad’s group was delayed on Thursday, when owners failed to vote on its approval. It appears that there are some financial concerns surrounding the groups’ ability to take over the Padres.

Important to note, the owners didn’t vote down Moorad’s group; they simply didn’t vote at all. Apparently the vote will take place after more information is revealed. It could be done by conference call, according to Bud Selig. A 75 percent vote is needed for approval (Dex has all the details).

It’s just business as usual for the Padres this offseason. Upheaval in the front office, big trades involving Mat Latos and Anthony Rizzo, acquiring Carlos Quentin, now complications regarding the sale of the club. It’s been a strange few months, to say the least.

Still, the ownership transition wasn’t expected to be completed for a few more years, so it’s well ahead of schedule – thanks to urging by John Moores. It’s obviously hard to tell the significance of this delay. It could be a minor snag or the beginning of the end for the Moorad-led group. We’ll have to wait and see.

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Corey Brock discusses the Padres offseason, including the Anthony Rizzo trade and Jesus Guzman’s role on the 2012 club.

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At Friarhood, Peter Friberg analyzes shortstop prospect Beamer Weems. In 990 minor league plate appearances, Weems has hit .235/.362/.354. Last season at Double-A San Antonio, Weems finally showed some pop, hitting nine homers (and 27 extra-base hits) in 309 PAs. He had hit just three home runs prior to his 2012 campaign.

Weems’ plate discipline and power surge make him an interesting prospect. Peter notes Weems’ very solid defensive reputation, and that’s where his value probably lies. If he can become a plus defender at shortstop in the bigs, he doesn’t have to do all that much with the bat.

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Melvin takes a look at the big trades of the offseason and notes that the difference between Anthony Rizzo and Yonder Alonso may end up deciding just how good (or bad) these moves were.

I still think the two first baseman are close in overall value, but obviously the Byrnes’ regime isn’t as high on Rizzo. Jed Hoyer certainly feels differently. If anything, dealing Latos for Alonso (and company) and then flipping Rizzo off to Hoyer in Chicago shows that Byrnes, while seemingly similar to Hoyer in background, has entirely different plans for the future of the Padres organization than the former general manager did.

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Avenging Jack Murphy has some deep philosophical thought on plungers and relates that to the Padres offseason. In all seriousness, I share a numbers of his concerns about the strange proceedings post-Hoyer. 

An early look: Who’s on first?

No, I am not going to do an Abbott and Costello routine. The Padres have had, thus far, a busy offseason with a flurry of trades following Josh Byrnes’ takeover of the front office. Barring another major trade, I believe the Padres are just about set with their 40-man roster. They have one opening and it will likely go to a pitcher since they have a surplus of batters on the 40-man roster.

When taking a look at the roster, what jumps out at me is flexibility. The biggest weakness appears to be middle infield, but tell me something I don’t know. Here is my prediction of the 25-man opening day roster, acknowledging that some moves could still be made:

Pitching (12): Cory Luebke, Tim Stauffer, Clayton Richard, Edinson Volquez, Dustin Moseley, Anthony Bass, Huston Street, Luke Gregerson, Andrew Cashner, Ernesto Frieri, Joe Thatcher, Josh Spence

Hitters(13): Nick Hundley, John Baker, Yonder Alonso, Jason Bartlett, Jesus Guzman, Chase Headley, Orlando Hudson, Chris Denorfia, Mark Kotsay, Cameron Maybin, Carlos Quentin, Will Venable, Logan Forsythe

Notice a glaring omission? Where is Kyle Blanks? There is no way the Padres carry six outfielders plus Guzman on the 25-man roster. This means either a move will be made or Blanks starts the year in Triple-A. This also leaves Blake Tekotte and James Darnell off the big league club. Tekotte, Darnell, and Blanks all in the PCL together is going to be big fun. Wish the team was in Escondido.

The pitching staff offers some depth and flexibility. Anthony Bass is a capable replacement if any of the starters should go down. Street/Gregerson/Cashner should provide a formidable 7-8-9 shutdown. Thatcher and Spence will be used against lefties and occasional righties. Frieri is just gravy.

I took a look at all of the hitters left vs right splits and liked what I saw. This team has lots of batting flexibility and should be able to score runs against RHP and LHP. Forsythe takes the final hitting spot because he can play multiple infield positions and even shortstop in an emergency. Forsythe also has a solid track record against lefties in the minors and the Padres need a bench bat that can hit lefties. Cabrera gets an immediate call-up should Bartlett go down.

Here is my projected lineup against RHP (with career splits vs RHP):

Will Venable – RF .258/.327/.442/.769
Cameron Maybin – CF .254/.321/.401/.722
Chase Headley – 3B .273/.352/.399/.752
Yonder Alonso – 1B .337/.388/.526/.915
Carlos Quentin – LF .260/.345/.501/.846
Orlando Hudson – 2B .285/.356/.427/.782
Nick Hundley – C .262/.314/.433/.746
Jason Bartlett – SS .259/.322/.348/.670

 

With bench vs RHP:

John Baker .284/.365/.417/.782
Jesus Guzman .298/.356/.453/.809
Mark Kotsay .280/.338/.415/.753

 

Wow, what a difference Alonso and Quentin make for this team against RHP.

Projected lineup against LHP (with career splits vs LHP):

Chris Denorfia – RF .305/.377/.423/.800
Jason Bartlett – 2B .312/.378/.427/.805
Jesus Guzman – 1B .321/.368/.472/.840
Carlos Quentin – LF .228/.347/.458/.805
Chase Headley – 3B .260/.322/.376/.697
Nick Hundley – C .234/.316/.381/.697
Orlando Hudson – 2B .258/.316/.393/.710
Cameron Maybin – CF .257/.309/.349/.658

 

With bench vs LHP:

Mark Kotsay .274/.322/.395/.717
Logan Forsythe

 

The additions of Baker, Quentin, and Alonso along with the emergence of Guzman, Maybin, and Hundley give this team perhaps the most potent Padres lineup in several years. I am digging the flexibility.

So, the answer to the question of “Who’s on first”? Clearly, not Rizzo (sorry, couldn’t resist).

The new digs

We’ve recently installed a new theme here at Friar Forecast, as you may have noticed.

It’s a work in progress, for now, as it’s highly customizable once I dig into the code. I am far from a Web designer, so the customization process can be a bit … challenging, to say the least.

You can see some of the new features already, though. The Twitter and Feedburner icons are located on the right side of the navigation bar, easily visible but not too intrusive.

For now, you can see the author of the post by looking at the categories (on the top) or at the end of the post (where you can click through and view all of that authors posts). At some point, I would like there to be a byline at the top of each post, but we’ll have to figure that out.

My main concern is usability, and I hope the installation of this new theme will enhance your experience here at Friar Forecast. I’m particularly hopeful you notice an increase in the speed of the site, as that is one critical element to usability. I’m a bit obsessive about Website speed; I can’t stand overly slow sites.

There are likely a number of things that will be changing over the coming days/weeks, but what you currently see is the basis for the new look of the site.

I hope you like it, but please let me know what’s working and what isn’t. What needs to be added/deleted? Any comments on the new look and the overall usability of the site are welcome (encouraged!), either here or via email.

Thanks,
Myron

This frown's not turning upside down

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?

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