Friar Forecast contributors on Anthony Rizzo deal

My take on the Anthony Rizzo/Andrew Cashner swap is decidedly rotten. I figured it’d be interesting to gather the opinions of the rest of Friar Forecast on the deal. Chris Kelly will have his analysis as part of his Monday article, but here’s what Daniel, Scott, and Ben thought about the trade.

Daniel Gettinger

In swapping Anthony Rizzo and Zach Cates for Andrew Cashner and Kyung-Min Na, the San Diego Padres made a trade that is difficult to defend.

To see why, let’s make a few assumptions, that would seemingly tilt the deal in the Padres favor:

1) Anthony Rizzo profiles similarly to Adam LaRoche, a solid but highly replaceable first baseman.

* As Myron already outlined, although Rizzo is not a perfect prospect, he is relatively young, has had great success in the minor leagues, and is still highly rated by scouting gurus such as John Sickels. Prior to his 2011 campaign, in which he hit .331/.404/.652 in AAA, Geoff Young suggested Adam LaRoche as a good comp. for Rizzo. Although Rizzo struggled in his small sample of major league at-bats, his AAA performance suggests, in expectation, he still profiles to be at least as good as Adam LaRoche.

2) Andrew Cashner will quickly develop into a hard-throwing top flight reliever such as a Jonathan Broxton.

* Upon first hearing about the trade, my initial thought was, “somebody in the Padres organization clearly thinks Cashner can be a number two starter,” but reports since the trade suggest the Padres view Cashner as a reliever, with only the possibility of him becoming a starter in the future. Therefore, lets say the best case scenario is for Cashner to pitch top-notch ball out of the bullpen immediately, and do so for a number of years.

3) Zach Cates is no better a prospect than Kyung-Min Na.

* There are few (if any) favorable scouting reports on Na, while Cates seems to have some potential. For the sake of argument, lets say that Na and Cates are equivalent prospects.

Operating under these assumptions, and the fact that teams have six years of control until a player reaches free agency, the Padres, at best traded the first six years of Adam LaRoche’s career for years 2-6 of Jonathan Broxton’s career (Cashner already has over one year of service time).

Below is a table outlining the WAR (according to Fangraphs) accumulated by LaRoche (2004-2009) and Broxton (2006-2011) in their first 6 years.

LaRoche Broxton
Year 1 0.9 N/A
Year 2 -1.2 2.0
Year 3 2.5 2.2
Year 4 2.3 2.8
Year 5 1.5 1.1
Year 6 2.4 -0.3
TOTAL 8.4 7.8

With the exception of 2011, Broxton was about as good as a reliever can be in his 2-6 years, and he was still worth less in terms of WAR than Adam LaRoche in his first six years.

My assumptions were very favorable for the Padres in that they limited Rizzo’s upside to Adam LaRoche, assumed Andrew Cashner will be as good of a reliever as Jonathan Broxton, and ignored that Cates is likely a better prospect than Na. Even with these assumptions in place, trading Anthony Rizzo for Andrew Cashner appears to be at best an even deal.

Unless the Padres (and the rest of major league baseball) believe Anthony Rizzo’s upside is that of Adam LaRoche, and Rizzo comes with considerable downside risk as well, the Padres could have received greater value by holding out for a different deal.

Scott Tanderup (also posted on Scott’s blog)

A lot of initial fan backlash on this trade. I don’t have a huge problem with this trade and may actually like it. It is clear from the Latos and now Rizzo trade that a top middle infield prospect that is close to ML ready is just not available. There is such a huge drop in talent from guys like Machado and Profar to the next level of middle infield prospect. Some fans wanted Wade Davis from the Rays. Why? I wouldn’t put him ahead of Anthony Bass on the depth chart.

The biggest argument against this trade is from a “value” standpoint. Clearly, the Cubs valued Cashner very highly or Cates would not have been added. Many fans feel Rizzo has far more “value” than Cashner.

What I like about this trade is that the Padres get a reliever that should be very effective at Petco in 2012 and still control him for several more years as they work to figure out what Cashner’s real future is. Cashner has solid stuff and a plus-plus fastball. His control has been improving each year and now he has a chance to work with Black and Balsley. The Padres essentially are getting a solid late inning relief guy with elite starter upside. The one thing the Padres deep stable of pitching prospects has lacked is an “elite” upside pitcher that is ML ready or close to ML ready. You could make an argument that Cashner has the best “stuff” of any Padres player or prospect. This represents the beginning of the next “phase” in the Padres future… acquiring and drafting “elite” upside players. I think you will see the trend continue in the 2012 draft. The days of drafting safe college players are behind the Padres.

Byrnes, in my opinion, has done an excellent job of continuing the movement for the future while simultaneously putting together a team in 2012 that may surprise. Cashner fits both the “win now” and “build for the future” scenarios.

I realize I may be in the minority, but they had the depth to take the gamble.

Ben Davey

I am not a big fan of the trade. Both Rizzo and Cashner have question marks. However, if both pan out, Rizzo’s value as an all-star first basemen far outweigh that of a  closer. Would you trade Ryan Howard for Jonathon Broxton? Didn’t think so.

Padres acquire Andrew Cashner for Anthony Rizzo

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If we learned anything from Jed Hoyer’s stay in San Diego, trading with him probably isn’t the best idea. With the likes of Theo Epstein and Jason McLeod as reinforcements, it doesn’t help matters.

On Friday, Josh Byrnes and the San Diego Padres traded first basemen Anthony Rizzo and right hander Zach Cates to Hoyer and the Cubs for right-handed reliever Andrew Cashner and center fielder Kyung-Min Na.

When the Padres acquired first basemen Yonder Alonso as part of the Mat Latos trade, Anthony Rizzo was immediately expendable. While there’s certainly debate about who will be better, Alonso or Rizzo, it was obvious that the current regime liked Alonso’s bat as a better long-term fit. He’s more polished at this point and has had major league success, and he may be better suited for Petco.

Rizzo struggled mightily in 153 plate appearances with the Padres last season, hitting .141/.281/.242. He struck out in 30 percent of his PAs. Still, 150 major league PAs do not negate over 1,500 in the minors. Further, Rizzo had one of his finest overall years in 2011, hitting .331/.404/.652 in Triple-A Tucson. He pounded 61 extra-base hits in 93 games.

Despite the major league hiccup, Rizzo was still a consensus top 10 prospect in the Padres system this offseason. In fact, he was recently rated as the number one prospect in a highly-regarded system by Baseball America and John Sickels.

Some are still concerned with how Rizzo’s offensive game will transfer to the big leagues. As Kevin Goldstein notes, he’s struggled against lefties, he has a hitch in his swing, and he tends to get pull happy. Further, left-handed pull power probably isn’t the best fit for Petco Park. Though that’s not a reason to dismiss a prospect, it may have helped vault the more well-rounded Alonso ahead of Rizzo on the organizational depth chart.

Warts and all, Rizzo will have a chance to excel for the rebuilding Cubs, and he’ll get full support from a front office who believes in him. Jed Hoyer has now acquired him twice, once with the Padres for Adrian Gonzalez and now with the Cubbies. Theo dealt him to the Padres, but he received Adrian Gonzalez in return, so we can’t blame him. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Rizzo turn into a solid everyday starter at some point in 2012.

The Padres also gave up right-handed starter Zach Cates. Cates, drafted under Hoyer and McLeod in the third round of the 2010 amateur draft, pitched 118 innings at Single-A Fort Wayne last season. He posted a 4.73 ERA and walked four per nine, but he struck out an encouraging 22 percent. He also surrendered only four home runs.

The former catcher isn’t highly-rated in the Padres current system, but he’s a little more than just throw-in. Drafted in the third round, reportedly with solid mechanics and stuff (with less wear and tear than most pitchers), and a solid debut campaign make him an intriguing lower level prospect.

The main piece acquired by San Diego is reliever Andrew Cashner. This offseason, Kevin Goldstein rated Cashner fourth on the Cubs under-25 top ten list, ahead of all but two of their current top ten prospects (and Starlin Castro). He said:

Cashner has looked good stuff-wise in his return from injuries, but he’s likely bullpen-only at this point, and his command is far from all the way back.

The Twitter-verse has already confirmed that Cashner will be used in the pen next season, with a chance to develop into a starter (so says Byrnes). It sounds like he’s better off in the bullpen, where he can reportedly touch 100 on the radar gun.

Cashner threw a total of 15 and a third innings in 2011, between the Cubs and the minor leagues, thanks to shoulder issues all season long. In 2010, he pitched 54 and a third innings for the Cubs out of the pen, striking out 8.3 and walking five per nine. His HR/9 was 1.3.

Drafted four times, Cashner finally signed with the Cubs after being selected 18th overall in the 2008 amateur draft. He spent his first three years in the minor leagues working primarily out of the rotation, until he was called up in 2010. He had mixed results as a starter.

In 2009, he pitched 100 and a third innings in High-A and Double-A to a 2.60 ERA, but he K’ed only 18 percent. He did only gave up one homer. His strikeout rate jumped to 27 percent in 2010 in 59 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. Again, he allowed just one homer.

In 182 minor league innings, Cashner allowed an off-the-charts good three home runs. He struck out two batters for every walk, and posted a 2.82 ERA. Cashner was well-regarded in the minors: Kevin Goldstein rated him as the fifth best Cubs prospect in 2010 and he cracked Baseball America’s top 100 that same year.

Injury concerns plus, as Goldstein notes, a high-effort delivery and low minor league pitch counts as a starter lead many to believe he’ll end up in the pen, which is where he’s been with the Cubs and where he’ll start as the Padres. The chance that he’ll develop into a starter is always there, but for now we have to view him as a reliever.

Big velocity with the fastball and a solid slider, combined with solid groundball and home run rates, will give Cashner a chance to be devastating in the back of the Padres pen. Petco will help the home run issues he had in the majors in 2010. Cashner is arbitration eligible in 2013 and will reach free agency in 2017, according to Cot’s Contracts (he’s a super-two). edit: there are conflicting reports as to Cahsner’s super-two status.

The Padres also acquired center fielder Kyung-Min Na. The 20-year-old was excellent in Rookie Ball in 2011, hitting .360/.453/.450 in 119 plate appearances. He quickly advanced to Low-A ball where he hit .171/.276/.184 in 88 PAs. In Single-A he rebounded some, hitting .258/.333/.303 in 100 PAs.

That short stint in Rookie Ball in the lone bright spot in an otherwise underwhelming early track record. Na has recorded just 16 extra base hits in 519 minor league plate appearances. He’s still young and I suppose offers some upside, but he has a lot to prove before one can think of him as a legit prospect.

If the Padres were a competitive team with a hole in the back of the pen, this deal would be understandable, if not favorable. They aren’t expected to compete, however, and they’ve been able to pick up solid relievers off the scrap heap for years now, thanks to good scouting/coaching and generous Petco Park.

Rizzo was expendable, but there was really no rush to trade the 22-year-old. If he performed well in Triple-A again, surely a contending team in need of some pop would come along and offer a package better than Cashner/Na. Let’s not forget the Padres had to include Cates, who probably has a better long-term outlook at this point than Na.

This move may help the Padres in 2012, but it won’t help them much long-term. A late-inning reliever, even one as potentially dominant as Cashner, isn’t what they should be shopping for right now, especially if it involves dealing away an everyday player as potentially valuable as Rizzo.

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Padres deal Anthony Rizzo to Cubs

Not coming as a huge surprise with the recent acquisition of Yonder Alonso, the San Diego Padres have traded first basemen Anthony Rizzo and right-handed pitcher Zach Cates to the Chicago Cubs for right hander Andrew Cashner and center fielder Kyung-Min Na.

While the Padres perhaps lost some leverage when acquiring Alonso, this appears to be a surprising small haul for a prospect of Rizzo’s potential. We’ll have more later on, giving the trade some time to digest. Feel free to discuss here.

Friday links

We hope you’ve enjoyed the recent influx in content here at Friar Forecast. We plan to keep it that way as we get closer to the season. Keep visiting and interacting with the site (we love comments). And make sure to follow us on Twitter. Now the links ….

San Diego Padres manager Bud Black talks pitching with David Lauria of FanGraphs. FanGraphs also has a couple of pieces on Petco Park’s impact on offense (more specifically, how it might affect Carlos Quentin).  Note that while Petco is a more friendly home run park for right-handed hitters, it suppresses total offense for righties and lefties about equally (it’s tougher on doubles — a more frequent event — for right-handed batters).

Dex loves the Quentin pick-up, and over at GLB he posted a poll asking how he’ll perform in 2012. Of the 300 some voters, 72 percent believe Quentin will play at least 120 games and 53 percent think he’ll homer 20 times or more. I wasn’t a big fan of the deal, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Quentin gets 500 plate appearances and hits 20-25 homers.

Bill Center at The Union-Tribune (now with better URL) has an article on the Padres potentially extending Cameron Maybin and/or Carlos Quentin. Quentin will be 29 next year and, unless he has a breakout-type year, I can’t see the Padres extending the already slow, injury-prone slugger into his early thirties.

At Friarhood, Steve Adler posted an interview with recently jettisoned right hander Mat Latos. In the interview Latos does little to squelch the notion that he may have some maturity issues. He’s still only 24 years old and I doubt it had much to do with his trade to Cincinnati (Josh Byrnes has said as much). The Padres got a really good package for him. Still, “maturity issues” aren’t exactly a trait you’d look for in a potential multi-million dollar investment.

Don’t take this as sour grapes, though. Latos will have every chance to prove the naysayers wrong in Cincinnati. I wouldn’t be surprised if he remains a borderline top-of-the-rotation starter over the next few years with the Reds. Like I mentioned, this trade was largely a baseball one.

On the prospect front, Baseball America reports that Adys Portillo made strides in the Venezuelan League, including a five inning, one hit performance in November. Randy Smith on Portillo:

 He has a “burning desire to be successful. Even after getting hit around, he bounces back the next day,” Smith said. “I think he gets it; he understands he is a work in progress and does not get too high on a good day or too low on a bad one.”

As a 19-year-old, Portillo struggled last season in his first real taste of Single-A ball. His strikeout rate actually improved (25 percent), which is encouraging, but he walked six per nine and posted a 7.11 ERA in 82 and a third innings.

Chicken Friars takes a look at the Padres middle infield and starting rotation heading into 2012. The middle infield of Orlando Hudson and Jason Bartlett is not one to get too excited about. If anything, though, their combined production should improve in 2012, as they should regress back toward career norms.

The greatest Website in the history of the Internet, Cot’s Contracts, is moving to Baseball Prospectus. The look and feel will remain largely the same, there’s some extra tools to play around with, and it’ll remain free. Not much to complain about.

I’m still writing at The Hardball Times every other week. My latest piece is one the Boston Red Sox bullpen.

Please step forward: Upper Minors

We can revel in the exceptional depth of the current San Diego Padres farm system all day long, but until players start graduating all we have are dreams of future success. There are a handful of prospects in the Padres system that need to take a step forward this coming season. Here are two in the upper minors that have an opportunity this year to force the Padres hand by 2013.

Casey Kelly

One of the centerpieces of the A-Gon deal, Kelly needs to show why he has been consistently rated as a top prospect. Thus far, his performance has been tepid in the eyes of many Padre fans. He enters what is essentially the equivalent to his third season of pitching in the minors. He was rushed to Double-A ball pretty quick as a 20 year old. He started out as a short stop for the Red Sox. He has yet to impress at the Double-A level. Scouts still believe in his potential.

Personally, I see him this year the way Cory Luebke was after the 2008 season. Although never as highly regarded, Luebke was expected to produce better than his early performance in the Padres system. Something clicked with him beginning with the 2009 season. I think Kelly may do the same. Another mediocre year from Kelly could take him out of the prospect landscape.

Jaff Decker

The Phoenix area native enters his fourth full season in the Padres system in 2012. He should start the season in Double-A, but could end up with Tucson by the end of the year. Decker’s OPS has fallen each season as he progresses. The good news is that his defense seems to be improving each year and his conditioning has been solid.

Decker’s minor league performance thus far reminds me of Will Venable’s major league performance, flashes of brilliance with an extreme swing of the pendulum the other way. In Decker’s case, some of it may be due to injuries. While the offensive regression should be cause for concern, he has managed to maintain exceptional plate discipline. Excellent plate discipline and a poor BABIP, in recent years, has me believing that Decker will rebound with a solid performance this year. Decker will be fine, IMO.

I look forward to seeing if Kelly and Decker take a big step forward in 2012.

 

Ben chats with Matt Eddy at MadFriars

Our own Ben Davey also writes for MadFriars about the San Diego Padres minor league system. Check out his recently posted interview with Matt Eddy, the Padres expert at Baseball America.

Lots of great discussion on BA’s methodology, Rizzo and Alonso, Drew Cumberland’s return, and the Padres system in general. Both articles are free, but consider subscribing to MadFriars for the rest of their top-shelf prospect coverage if you’re not already.

Previewing the 2012 Fort Wayne TinCaps: Pitching

Editor’s note: Ben is back with his annual preview of the San Diego Padres minor league affiliates. We’re always glad to read more of his work.

Last year the Single-A Fort Wayne TinCaps had some dominant pitching, led by top prospect Keyvius Sampson.  This year should be no different.  The interesting thing about the Fort Wayne rotation is that it shows off the two different types of top drafted pitchers.  Do you go for the polished college pitcher with a high floor and low ceiling (Andriese, Hebner, and Pope), or do you go after the high schooler with tremendous, but raw, ability (Portillo, Barbato, Ross, Kelly)?

The other question is who is going to fill the giant void left by Kevin Quackenbush?  The ace closer will be pitching up I-15, leaving Fort Wayne searching for their closer de jour.  Eugene had eight different pitchers close out at least one game, and a majority of the saves came over the last few weeks of the year showing that there was not an odds on favorite for closer in Fort Wayne.   Conundrum or not the college arms taken in the 2011 draft should provide a solid bullpen for the Tin Caps, something the 2010 team was sorely missing.

Starting Rotation:

Matt Andriese: 3rd round draft pick from the 2011 draft, and the first college pitcher taken by the Padres.  Andriese signed immediately and dominated from the beginning in Eugene.  He went 5-1, with a 1.51 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, and averaged over a K/IP.  Andriese has good size and mechanics that should enable him to stay with the TinCaps.  He doesn’t have tremendous stuff as his fastball tops out around 93-94, but he has good movement and a solid slider that he uses as his strikeout pitch.  He needs to improve on his slider and change if he wants to succeed at the upper levels but he has a high floor which should lead him to dominate at Fort Wayne.

Cody Hebner: Hebner doesn’t have the size that most hope for, but he gets every bit out of his 5’11” frame and is a true student of the game.  Hebner is the first in the video room and the last to leave.  Hebner uses his FB as his bread and butter pitch.  He doesn’t nibble but sometimes his pitches will move be too much and lead to walks.  This led to the 15 walks in 37.2 IP.   He has a good 12-6 curve, with late action, that can be close to 20 mph slower than his FB.  At this point he doesn’t have a true change-up or slider, but both have already improved since joining the Padres.  Hebner is another pitcher with a high floor.  His ceiling is as a back of the rotation starter, but that shouldn’t stop him from excelling in Fort Wayne.

Adys Portillo:  Not much needs to be said about Portillo.  Tremendous stuff, but the results haven’t followed yet.  Another year in Fort Wayne and hopefully this time yields better results for Portillo.  He has received rave reviews during instructs, and as he continues to hit 98 on the gun, should finally be able to dominate.

John Barbato: Speaking of pitchers with high upside…  Barbato has arguably the highest upside of any pitcher in the system not named Portillo or Sampson.  Barbato has a plus fastball and slider, both of which have the ability to be absolutely filthy.  Like most young pitchers his change is a work in progress, but as he develops it also has the change to really make him an ace pitcher.  While everyone loves movement, Barbato suffered this past season from too much movement.  He often struggled finding home plate with his fastball which led to 31 BB in just 57 IP.  Ace potential but needs to locate his pitches better.

Joe Ross: 1st round selection by the Padres in the past draft.  Ross was given a huge bonus to not attend UCLA so I would guess he jumps Eugene in favor or Fort Wayne.  For being a pitcher a few months removed from high school, Ross has already displayed two plus MLB pitches in his fastball and curve.  He can already hit 95 on the gun which should go up a few mph as he gains more muscle.  Ross could find himself on the fast track to San Diego, but he needs to gain experience.  Ross has a very high ceiling, but like most high school draftees also has a very low floor.

Mark Pope: Pope might end up in the pen as the #5 starter, but chances are he gets a chance to start at least to begin the year.  Pope is not afraid and pounds the zone with his fastball (around 90).  He has a solid slider and curve and is not afraid to throw any pitch in any count.  Similar to Hebner and Andriese, Pope has a high floor with a low ceiling.  He will probably wind up in the pen, but he is a veteran enough pitcher (and was given over slot money) that he should do well in Fort Wayne.

Other CandidatesMichael Kelly could crack the starting rotation, but after missing the entire 2010 season by not signing until the deadline, Kelly needs time working on his delivery.  Kelly might have better “stuff” then Ross or Barbato but his delivery has been inconsistent and he needs to get his delivery ironed out before facing pro hitters.  Other candidates include James Needy, Juan Herrera, Colin Rea, Chris Wilkes, and William Scott.

Bullpen:

With Quackenbush more than likely ending up in Lake Elsinore, there is not a clear cut favorite for who will be the closer in Fort Wayne.  When Quack was promoted to Fort Wayne last year Eugene had seven different people record a save.  No one really showed the dominance to become the everyday closer.  With all that being said the favorite might be Rafael Arias if he can come back from surgery and show off his mid 90’s fastball.   Other candidates include Chris Wilkes (5-1, 3.28 ERA, 35.2 IP, 46K/18 BB), Matt Stites (4-0, 1.93 ERA, 32.2 IP, 36 K/8 BB), or Greg Gonzalez (4-1, 3.99 ERA, 29.1 IP, 33 K/12 BB).  James Jones was the closer in Peoria before a late season call up to Eugene.

Putting themselves on the map (the sequel)

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For my first piece at Friar Forecast, I took a look at a position player (Connor Powers)  in the Padres minor league system that you won’t see on any prospect lists but has a chance to open some eyes. For this time around, I’ll focus on a pitcher: Matt Jackson.

Jackson was drafted at the age of 21 by the Padres in the 31st round of the 2009 draft out of the University of South Alabama. He was a letterman in both football and baseball at Haughton High School in Louisiana. Jackson initially attended LSU, and, as a freshman during the 2007 season, he pitched 32.0 innings, walked eight, and struck out 20. His final record at LSU was 0-0 with a 4.50 ERA.

Jackson subsequently transferred to Chipola JC (Florida) and was dominant, going 10-0 with a 2.61 ERA. Over 72.1 innings, he walked 14 and struck out 55. Following that season, he transferred to USA where he finished 5-4 with a 5.33 ERA. At South Alabama, he pitched 74.1 innings, allowing 81 hits while walking 27. Jackson struck out 64 batters for a K/9 of 7.75.  Overall, his WHIP that season was 1.45.

Those college numbers don’t necessarily jump off the page, but the Padres saw some things they liked in the 6’4″ 190 pounder’s arsenal.

In his first season of professional baseball in 2009, Jackson finished at short season Eugene with a record of 3-7 and a 4.97 ERA. He pitched 58.0 innings, resulting in a WHIP of 1.31 to go along with a 6.8 K/9. In 2010, Jackson split time between Eugene and Low-A Fort Wayne. All totaled that season, he went 4-3 with a 4.98 ERA, a 1.375 WHIP, and a 5.8 K/9.

Thus far, the numbers Jackson put up were very solid but not eye-popping, especially for a 22-year old pitching in a pitcher-friendly league. However, 2011 saw a different Jackson altogether.

In his second stint at Ft. Wayne, Jackson found his niche. Despite being 23 and repeating the level, his numbers bear notice. He finished with a 5-1 record that included a 1.95 ERA in 64.2 IP. You read that correctly: a 1.95 ERA. It gets better. Over those 64 some innings, he allowed 49 hits, walked 12, and struck out 68. Yep…68. That resulted in an impressive K/9 of 9.5. Equally impressive was his WHIP of 0.943. Minuscule is a word that comes to mind.

Let’s look at a tale of two seasons here (data courtesy of Fangraphs.com):

IP K% K/9 BB% BB/9 HR/9 BABIP WHIP
2010 50.0 14.9 5.94 5.4 2.16 0.54 0.331 1.42
2011 64.2 26.5 9.46 4.7 1.67 0.14 0.279 0.94

Granted, Jackson spent several weeks of the 2011 season on the DL, so it’s likely his numbers would have been slightly less stellar. Regardless of age, injury, and experience, though, that’s a pretty dramatic improvement. Those 2011 numbers show absolute dominance.

The real question, of course, is will he be able to maintain this dominance? He’ll likely be moving up to Hi-A Lake Elsinore, and it is notorious for being a hitter-friendly league. Laws of probability would say that he won’t maintain the level he attained this past season, yet to see such a significant change in his performance, it is obvious Jackson has made some adjustments that will work for him in 2012, and I expect to see him performing in the same neighborhood as he did this past season.

If he can maintain at or near an 8.0 K/9 and a WHIP around 1.10, you’ll see him move quickly on up through the system. He’s got the frame, so if he can fill out some more without sacrificing any of his stuff, Jackson could at best be a mid-to-back of the rotation starter, and at worst, he could be a long reliever. He relies on a fastball, sinker, curve, slider, and circle change–a wide array of options, which can create havoc for opposing hitters.

2012 will be a pivotal season for Jackson. Another strong run of stats like he put up in 2011 will quickly earn him a place on the prospect lists which, given the status of San Diego’s system, is really saying something.

Padres acquire Carlos Quentin

The San Diego Padres have acquired outfielder Carlos Quentin from the Chicago White Sox for right-handed pitcher Simon Castro and lefty Pedro Hernandez.

Carlos Quentin, who has spent significant time in both outfield corners, enters his final year of arbitration. He’s estimated to make $7.5 million in 2012 before entering free agency in 2013, according to MLB Trade Rumors.

Quentin is above average with the bat, hitting .257/.352/.505 in four seasons in Chicago. In 483 plate appearances in 2011, Quentin hit .245/.340/.499 – numbers almost identical to his career line. Quentin has very good power and much of his on-base skills are due to extremely high hit-by-pitch totals (78 over the past four years).

He’s a solid offensive player, but he’ll leave hitter-friendly U.S. Cellular for Petco, and it’ll remain to be seen how his fly-ball-centric offense will adjust (Quentin has averaged near 50 percent fly balls over the past three years). Every hitter is hurt by Petco, but some adjust better than others .

Further hampering Quentin’s value is his defense. Over his career in the outfield, Quentin is -22 by DRS and -32 by UZR (-8 of that thanks to his arm rating), according to FanGraphs. His Fans Scouting Report numbers have also not been encouraging, with only one attribute (arm strength) being rated above average. Overall, he doesn’t appear to be a good outfielder.

At an expected $7-8 million in 2012, there isn’t a lot of value to be had here, especially on a team not expected to compete.

The Padres didn’t give up any top prospects, but they did give up a couple of intriguing pieces.

Prior to last season, Simon Castro was rated as the 58th best prospect in MLB by Baseball America. Kevin Goldstein had him pegged as the Padres second best prospect before ‘11.

Castro failed to build on his promising resume and when the Padres acquired a slew of shiny new prospects, he fell to Prospect Obscurity Land (outside of BA’s and BP’s top 10).

Check out his peripherals in Double-A from 2010 and 2011:

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

That looks like largely the same pitcher. His walk rate  actually went down, his strike out percentage went down only slightly, and his average on balls in play (of which he’d have the least control over) skyrocketed.

There are obviously some concerns. His groundball rate dropped (and his home run rate subsequently increased), his serious struggles in limited Triple-A innings are alarming, and the general decline in his strikeout rate as he climbs the ladder is not encouraging.

Still, if you’re telling me this guy was a legitimate prospect before last season and now he’s an afterthought, well, I’m not quite buying it. Either your prospect ratings weren’t that good to begin with, or you’re overreacting to his 2011 performance.

While losing Castro stings, Pedro Hernandez may be the bigger prize here. He’s left-handed, he doesn’t turn 23 until April, and he’s performed well at every level besides Triple-A. His career strikeout-to-walk ratio is 5.4. He’s K’ed eight per nine while walking just 1.5, in 343 minor league innings.

There are concerns, too, of course. His size, mainly, as he’s only 5-10, 200. Further, his stuff isn’t overpowering as his fastball sits in the high-80s.

Castro and Hernandez aren’t top prospects, and there’s a chance that they don’t develop any further. Still, why deal them for a one-year rental on a team not expected to make a true playoff push in 2012? Sure, they could deal Quentin at the deadline or pick up a draft pick or two next year if they decide to hold onto him (edit: probably won’t get picks, thanks to the new CBA).

Personally, I’d rather they held onto Casto and Hernandez or targeted someone with more long-term value than Carlos Quentin. This isn’t a terrible trade by any means and it doesn’t change my (still optimistic) outlook on Josh Byrnes, but I can’t say it gets my Fred McGriff stamp of endorsement.

Wave through the window

Editor’s note: Welcome Scott Tanderup to Friar Forecast. He’ll be a regular contributor. He writes at Padres Future and he’ll be focusing on prospects and the general direction of the organization.

Fellow San Diego Padres fanatics and baseball junkies (you have to be a baseball junkie if you are reading another teams blog), the Padres are about to enter what could be an unprecedented era of sustained success. Past follies, and plenty of them, are in the past. The future looks bright.

For some Padre fans, it’s the same old tune. We have been promised a bumper crop from the farm before, only to find a wilted field full of Tag Bozied and Matt Bush. Others will remind us all of the promises of payroll juggernaut, only to find players paid with peanuts. I am here to tell you this time will be different.

I understand the frustration of fans that expected a Petco payroll in the $70-$80 million range. The reality is… divorce sucks. The Padres payroll, just prior to the John Moores mess was heading north and was at the anticipated range that many fans felt it should have been at. Going through a divorce and having to sell a team in the process has its consequences. Payroll took a nose dive. There is good news. The Moorad group is nearing completion of the purchase of the team. A new TV deal will add additional revenue. The payroll has already started to trend upwards with promises of getting back to that $70-$80 million range. I know, I know, we have been promised this before. Unless Moorad plans to sell the team or has a divorce of his own to contend with, I have no reason to believe the payroll won’t get there.

The other source of fan frustration has been the dismal farm system production over the last several years (and by several I mean longer than I can remember). There is good news on that front as well. Did I say good? I meant great, unprecedented, and spectacular even. I know, I know we have been sold on the farm system before. This time is different. I realize that prospects are just prospects and many of them bust. Once in a while, boom goes the dynamite. The more highly rated prospects a team has, the greater the chance one or more of them pan out. This current crop is in uncharted territory.

The combination of no long-term contract commitments, a commitment to grow payroll over the coming years as the Moorad group takes over, and the exciting bonanza of prospects puts the Padres in a position to dominate the NL West for years to come. Having no current long-term commitments puts the Padres in a position to start wrapping up some young core players to club-friendly deals and keeping payroll low as the farm system provides low cost talent. This situation allows the Padres to then trade from strength to fill specific needs and go out and sign specific players they need to plug any potential holes. Loads of flexibility and a wave of talent coming through the system should give the Padres a long window to win some division titles. They appear to be headed towards the Rays model without having to compete with Boston and New York.

Here is a quick look at the wave of talent coming through the system and what the Padres window could look like. Of course, trades and free agent signings will alter things.

So I say… sit back, relax and wave through the window!

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