Archive for San Diego Padres
Via Scott Miller: Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler is among four finalists for the Padres’ GM job. Red Sox assistant GM Mike Hazen, Rangers assistant GM A.J. Preller, and MLB executive Kim Ng are the other finalists. The Padres passed on more experienced candidates and prefer to hire a young up and comer. A second round of interviews will be conducted in the coming week.
Eppler, a San Diego native, was the runner-up to Jerry Dipoto for the Angels’ GM job a few years ago, so this isn’t the first time he’s been among a round of finalists and called back for a second interview. He joined the Yankees in 2004 and was the director of pro scouting from 2005-11 before being promoted to assistant GM. It’s clear that Eppler will be a GM at some point in relatively soon, either as Brian Cashman‘s eventual successor or with another team.
The Yankees came into the All-Star break five games back of the Orioles in the AL East but only 3.5 games back of the Mariners for the second wildcard spot. The problem: they have to jump four teams to get that wildcard spot. Going for the division title figures to be a little easier thanks to all the head-to-head games remaining.
The team’s focus will likely be on pitching at the trade deadline in the wake of Masahiro Tanaka‘s elbow injury, but they can’t forget about the offense either. They average only 3.99 runs per game, one-third of a run below the AL average. They’re getting below-average production from every position other than left field, center field, and first base, but they are unable to make changes at some spots due to contract status, iconic status, etc.
Right field and third base are the easiest positions for the Yankees to upgrade. They’re shaken things up a bit by cutting ties with Alfonso Soriano and giving Zelous Wheeler a chance, but that has had negligible impact. The Yankees will need to make a trade (or two) to improve their run-scoring, and one of the teams that will be a seller at the deadline is the Padres, who are currently between GMs. That complicates things. Last week we looked at their pitchers, now let’s look at their position players.
3B Chase Headley
Over the last three weeks or so we’ve heard the Yankees are both “regularly” scouting Headley and not strongly pursing him. Both are probably true. The Padres are terrible and Headley is an obvious trade candidate, so the Bombers have to do their due diligence and get some eyes on him. They don’t have to be knocking down the door trying to trade for him at the same time either.
Headley, 30, is having a miserable season, hitting .226/.296/.350 (87 wRC+) with seven homers and a career-low 7.5% walk rate in 74 games. He has been better of late, going 21-for-63 (.333) with a 109 wRC+ in his last 18 games, which coincidences with his return from four games on the shelf with inflammation near a disc in his lower back. (He received an epidural.) Headley had a monster 2012 season, putting up a .286/.376/.498 (145 wRC+) line with 31 homers, and even last year he hit a solid .250/.347/.400 (113 wRC+) with 13 homers. This season has been a disaster though, and Headley doesn’t believe a simple change of scenery will do the trick.
“Even when things are going full-on crappy, like now, I’m confident that sometime in the near future, I’m going to get healthy, stay healthy and start playing the way I know I’m capable of,” he said to Chris Jenkins recently. “I don’t look at it like, ‘Man, I gotta get out of here to be me again.’ I’m going to be me again, whether it’s here or somewhere else.”
Petco Park is a notorious pitcher’s park, even after the walls were brought in last season. Headley is a career .286/.360/.444 (118 wRC+) hitter on the road (.243/.331/.371 (107 wRC+) at home), including a 154 wRC+ away from Petco Park in 2012 (97 wRC+ on the road from 2013-14). If the Yankees were to acquire Headley, he would be moving from one of the worst hitting parks in the game to one of the best. It would be damn near impossible for his numbers not to improve.
Headley’s struggles this year are not all ballpark related, however. Obviously his back was acting up at some point and that likely hurt his performance. How could it not? He is hitting fewer ground balls this season — 40.3% compared to 46.1% last year and 45.1% career — and the average distance of his batted balls in the air is down a bit from recent years. From Baseball Heat Maps:
That seems like something that could be explained by the back issues. Headley’s plate discipline numbers are right in line with his career norms and his numbers from both sides of the plate are down as well, so it’s not like he’s been fine as a lefty and brutal as a righty or something like that. Headley isn’t hitting the ball as far (and thus as hard) as he did the last few seasons, which could be attributed to the back injury or something else entirely, like a swing or mechanical problem. It could be both.
On the surface, Headley is a great fit for the Yankees as a switch-hitter with some power and a lot of patience from both side of the plate. He has also consistently graded out as an above-average defender at the hot corner, so he’s a true two-way player. That’s not who Headley is right now though, at least not at the plate. He hasn’t hit this year at all, and while the last few weeks have gone better, that’s not enough to erase three pretty terrible months.
The Padres missed their best opportunity to trade Headley following that huge 2012 campaign. He is due to become a free agent after the season and has about $5M still coming to him in the second half. I can’t imagine the Padres will give him a qualifying offer after the season — the qualifying offer is expected to be north of $15M this winter, and after what happened with Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales, I think Headley would accept it in a heartbeat — so it won’t require a ton to get him in a trade. Nothing as valuable as a first round pick, obviously.
The list of rental hitters traded in recent years includes Kevin Youkilis and Shane Victorino, both of whom were once productive players going through disappointing seasons mired with injury concerns. Youkilis netted the Red Sox two fringe big leaguers (Zach Stewart and Brent Lillibridge) and salary relief while Victorino brought the Phillies a fringe big leaguer (Josh Lindblom), a middling prospect (Ethan Martin), a non-factor player to be named later, and salary relief. Seems like decent framework for a Headley trade, no? He is very much available and I don’t think the Yankees would have much trouble actually acquiring him. The question is whether he will produce in the second half.
OF Carlos Quentin
One of the many reasons the Padres can’t seem to get out of the gutter are their failed contract extensions. Guys like Cameron Maybin, Cory Luebke, Nick Hundley, and Jeff Gyorko simply haven’t lived up to expectations either due to poor performance or injury. Quentin belongs in that botched extensions group as well, though he was already a veteran and established when San Diego gave him four years and $37M three years ago.
The 31-year-old Quentin is hitting a weak .182/.287/.322 (78 wRC+) this season, though he has only appeared in 45 games due to lingering knee problems. He has played in only 331 of 581 possible games (57%) since 2011 due to ongoing problems with both knees, including four surgeries. Quentin hit .262/.356/.498 (137 wRC+) with 53 homers from 2011-13, so up until this season he had always hit when healthy. He was just never healthy.
The Yankees have zero right-handed power on the roster right now — their right-handed hitters have hit 16 (!) homers all season — and Quentin would provide that, at least in theory. He has always been a patient hitter who draws a healthy amount of walks (10.2% from 2012-14) and gets on base, which is something the Yankees lack in general as well. Quentin has zero base-running value and he’s more or less a DH who can play the outfield, so if he doesn’t hit, he’s useless.
Unlikely Headley, Quentin would not be a rental. He is owed roughly $4.5M through the end of the season plus another $8M next season. Unless the Padres eat a bunch of money like the Cubs did with Alfonso Soriano last year, I’m not sure Quentin is someone the Yankees want on their roster despite their need for righty pop. He should come cheap as a salary dump player, but there is no room for a defensively challenged, injury prone player on the roster.
OF Chris Denorfia & OF Will Venable
These two don’t have the name value of Headley and Quentin, but they have been quality platoon bats who also provide some value in the field and on the bases. Denorfia, 34, is hitting only .244/.295/.329 (79 wRC+) overall this year, but he has mashed lefties at a .296/.357/.458 (131 wRC+) rate since 2012. It won’t exactly solve the team’s right-handed power problem, but it would help. Denorfia is a rental. He’ll be a free agent after the season.
Like so many of his teammates, the 31-year-old Venable is having an awful year, hitting .201/.258/.277 (54 wRC+) overall. Just last season he managed a .268/.312/.484 (122 wRC+) line, and since 2012 he’s hit .252/.311/.417 (104 wRC+) against righties. Introduce him to Yankee Stadium and the short porch and his power output should tick up. Venable is arbitration-eligible for the fourth time as a Super Two next season, though his salary won’t be anything crazy. He’s making $4.25M this year. A year ago, both Denorfia and Venable would have been solid additions. This year, they aren’t worth much thought because they’ve stunk.
* * *
Outfielder Seth Smith would have been the best fit for the Yankees as a left-handed power-hitter for right field, but San Diego gave him a two-year contract extension two weeks ago. Jon Heyman says the Padres told Smith he will not be traded following the extension, so forget about that. He is hitting .283/.387/.508 (155 wRC+) with ten homers and would have been a wonderful fit as a rental right fielder. Too bad he’s off the table now.
Aside from the prospect of buying super low on Headley and hoping he rebounds in the second half, the Padres don’t have many quality position players to offer in a trade this summer. I’m guessing they would move Quentin today if some team was willing to take on his contract, and neither Denorfia or Venable are impact players even when they’re at their best. They’re just quality role players. If the Yankees can get Headley for a Youkilis or Victorino-esque package, they should be all over him. Other than that, there aren’t many reasons to call San Diego this trade season.
The Yankees lost ace Masahiro Tanaka for at least two weeks yesterday thanks to what is being called elbow inflammation. He still has to be looked at by team doctor Dr. Ahmad before a final diagnosis is made. Either way, the team was dealt a serious pitching blow that exposes just how little pitching depth they have at the moment, even after acquiring the adequate Brandon McCarthy.
Both the Diamondbacks and Cubs have already started selling off players in advance of the trade deadline. It’s only a matter of time before more non-contenders follow suit, including the truly awful Padres. They come into today with baseball’s eighth worst record (40-51) and are on pace to have the lowest team on-base percentage (.276!) since the 1910 White Sox (.275). You think the Yankees’ offense is frustrating? Imagine watching that night after night.
Anyway, the Padres are in a weird place right now because they don’t have a GM. Josh Byrnes was fired two weeks ago and they’ve been relying on front office staffer and former Mets GM Omar Minaya to make personnel decisions (along with some others) for the time being. Will he be allowed to make trades in advance of the deadline, or do they want to wait for the new GM to make those moves? Either way, they have some players who could interest the somehow still in contention Yankees. Here are the pitchers. We’ll look at the position players in the coming days.
RHP Ian Kennedy
Kennedy, now 29, is having his best season since his surprise 21-win campaign for the Diamondbacks back in 2011. He has a 3.71 ERA (2.93 FIP) in 19 starts and 116.1 innings thanks to career-best strikeout (9.67 K/9 and 26.0 K%) and ground ball (41.9%) rates. Kennedy has never really walked anyone (2.32 BB/9 and 6.2 BB%) and spacious Petco Park has helped him keep the ball in the park (0.77 HR/9 and 8.5 HR/FB%) more than ever before.
Between that 2011 season and this year, IPK had a 4.43 ERA (4.30 FIP) in 389.2 innings from 2012-13, so he’s sandwiched two very strong seasons around two very mediocre ones. Kennedy is what he is — a mid-rotation workhorse (180+ innings every year from 2010-13) who can be homer prone (career 1.06 HR/9 and 8.5 HR/FB%) because of his fly ball heavy style (38.1%). Fly balls aren’t a bad thing, mind you, they are high percentage outs, but they do go over the fence from time to time. Here is the PitchFX breakdown of Kennedy’s arsenal:
Kennedy does not have a single pitch that rates as above-average at getting both swings and misses and ground balls. (Whiff+ and GB+ are like ERA+, only for the individual pitch’s swing and miss and ground ball rates, respectively.) He’s basically a three-pitch pitcher who mixes in some show-me cutters and sinkers per start, which is fine because he has a breaking ball for same-side hitters and a changeup for opposite handers.
Kennedy is owed about $3M through the end of the season and he will remain under team control as an arbitration-eligible player next year as well, so he wouldn’t be just a rental. The Padres did an excellent job buying low on the right-hander last year — he cost them a big league lefty specialist (Joe Thatcher) and Double-A bullpen prospect (Mike Stites), that’s it — and I doubt he will come that cheap this summer. With Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel now in Oakland, Kennedy might be the second best realistically available pitcher at the deadline behind David Price.
Other pitchers who were dealt a year and a half prior to free agency in recent years include Edwin Jackson (D’Backs to White Sox) and Dan Haren (D’Backs to Angels). Jackson cost Chicago two good but not great pitching prospects (David Holmberg and Daniel Hudson) while Haren fetched a four-player package that included big leaguer Joe Saunders and two top pitching prospects (Tyler Skaggs and Patrick Corbin). Kennedy is much more Jackson than Haren to me. Not even close. Remember, 2010 Haren was pretty awesome.
It’s worth noting that, obviously, the Yankees know Kennedy well from his time in the organization. He’s had a reputation for being a bit of a jerk and a hot head, most notably throwing at Zack Greinke’s head during a game last season. That sparked a benches clearing brawl. (Kennedy led the baseball with 14 hit batsmen in 2012.) The Yankees value makeup and high-character players and all that. I wonder if it’ll be a dealbreaker if and when Kennedy becomes available based on what they know.
RHP Tyson Ross
The Athletics are the best team in baseball and GM Billy Beane built that team by trading all of his young players, including Ross. The 27-year-old righty cost the Padres nothing but two Quad-A guys (Andy Parrino and Andrew Warner) two winters ago, and last season he gave the club 125 innings of 3.17 ERA (3.20 FIP) ball.
Ross has pitched to a 2.93 ERA (3.37 FIP) in 122.2 innings so far this year to earn a well-deserved spot in the All-Star Game. His strikeout (8.58 K/9 and 23.1 K%), walk (3.08 BB/9 and 8.3 BB%), and ground ball (58.1%) rates are almost identical to last season. It’s kinda freaky (23.6 K%, 8.7 BB%, 54.9 GB%). The only significant difference is the long ball — Ross has allowed 0.73 HR/9 (12.8 HR/FB%) this year after managing a 0.58 HR/9 (8.2 HR/FB%) in 2013. Here is the pitch breakdown:
The changeup is basically a show-me pitch. Ross uses the sinker to get grounders and the slider to get swings and misses. As you might expect given the general lack of a changeup, lefties (.319 wOBA) have hit him harder than righties (.297 wOBA) over the years. Not many pure fastball/slider guys succeed as starters, but Ross is making it work. (Bud Norris, Garrett Richards, and Chris Archer are some others with a fastball/slider/no changeup repertoire.)
The Padres deserve a lot of credit for stealing Ross from Oakland. He will earn $1.98M total this season, his first of four arbitration years as a Super Two. That means he will remain under team control for another three years and not qualify for free agency until after the 2017 season. Ross would be furthest thing from a rental and that means the price will be rather high. Doug Fister was traded from the Mariners to the Tigers at a similar point in his career, and, as I detailed in our Scouting The Trade Market: D’Backs Pitchers post, Detroit gave up two top prospects and two pieces off their MLB roster to get him. Acquiring Ross would help both the 2014 Yankees as well as the 2015-17 Yankees.
RHP Joaquin Benoit & RHP Huston Street
Very quietly, San Diego has one of the most dominant setup man/closer tandems in baseball. Benoit has a 1.91 ERA (2.42 FIP) with a 30.9% strikeout rate and a 5.0% walk rate in 37.2 innings this season while Street has a 1.13 ERA (2.93 FIP) in 32 innings. He has a 28.0% strikeout rate and a 5.9% walk rate. They aren’t quite Dellin Betances and David Robertson, but they’re not far off either.
Bob Nightengale says the Padres have let teams know Benoit is available, and I assume Street would be as well. The last thing a bad team needs is a high-priced closer with an injury history on the wrong side of 30. Benoit is under contract for next season ($8M) with a club option for 2016 ($8M) while Street has an 2015 club option worth $7M. The Yankees could certainly use another shutdown reliever (what team couldn’t?) and both guys would give them some protection for next season in case Robertson bolts as a free agent.
* * *
Righty Andrew Cashner would also make sense as a trade target because he is both really good (2.86 ERA and 3.19 FIP from 2013-14) and under team control as an arbitration-eligible player through next year, but he is currently on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. It’s his second shoulder-related DL stint of the season and he has a lengthy injury history too. It seems like every pitcher to come out of TCU has arm problems. TCU is the new Rice.
Anyway, I’m not sure the Padres would be willing to deal Cashner right now for anything less than a knockout return, otherwise they’d be trading away their most valuable asset for less than full value. They’re better off holding onto him, letting him finish the year healthy, then shopping him either over the winter or at next year’s trade deadline. Kennedy figures to be very much available though, ditto Benoit and Street, but Ross is someone a team would have to pay a handsome price to acquire. The Padres have little reason to move him.
Thursday: The Yankees will indeed give the Padres permission to speak with Eppler about their GM opening, reports Jon Heyman. Teams usually won’t block an front office member from interviewing for a promotion like this, so this isn’t a surprise.
Wednesday: Via Ken Rosenthal: The Padres have required permission to interview Yankees assistant general manager Billy Eppler for their now open GM position. Josh Byrnes was fired over the weekend and Eppler, a San Diego native who started his career as a scout with the Padres, is one of several candidates for the job. Buster Olney says he will receive “serious consideration.”
Eppler joined the Yankees in 2004 and was the director of pro scouting from 2005-11 before being promoted to assistant GM. The promotion appeared to put him in line to take over for Brian Cashman whenever the time came. The Padres did not interview Eppler for their last GM opening during the 2009-10 offseason, though he did interview for the Angels’ job three years ago and was reportedly the runner-up to Jerry Dipoto. It’s only a matter of time before Eppler becomes a GM, either as Cashman’s successor or for another team.
Unless the team changes course in the next few weeks, the Yankees are unlikely to add another infielder on a guaranteed Major League contract this offseason. They’ll attempt to replace the suspended Alex Rodriguez with a bunch of scrap heap pickups and hope one of them sticks at some point. I don’t like that approach but that’s what the team seems to be doing. So be it.
While signing a player to a big league contract may be off the table, the Yankees could still trade for a 40-man roster player. They have a 40-man logjam of their own and would be able to clear a spot (or two) in a deal. Jon Morosi reported yesterday that New York called the Padres about their infield depth in the not too distant past, perhaps right after they learned A-Rod‘s fate. San Diego has so many extra infielders that they had no room on the 40-man for Dean Anna earlier this winter, so they shipped him to the Yankees for a Single-A reliever.
Do any of the Padres’ extra infielders make sense for the Bombers? Surely at least one does, right? Let’s look at what they have to offer.
UTIL Logan Forsythe
Forsythe, who turns 27 today, is the reason for this post, really. Morosi mentioned he was the “most realistic target,” but I don’t know if that is him speculating or reporting the Yankees are targeting him. Either way, Forsythe definitely makes sense for a team in need of both second and third base help. He has extensive experience at both positions — his defense is okay at best, more likely below-average if he plays regularly — and he even started to mix in some corner outfield work last year as well.
Thanks to a year-long battle with plantar fasciitis that prevented him from playing at 100%, Forsythe hit only .214/.281/.332 (73 wRC+) with six homers and six steals in 243 plate appearances last season. Foot and knee problems have hampered him over the years. Forsythe did show a lot of promise during an extended stint as San Diego’s everyday second baseman in 2012, hitting .273/.343/.390 (110 wRC+) with six homers and eight steals in 350 plate appearances. His career numbers in Triple-A are off the charts: .314/.446/.540 (154 wRC+) with 11 homers and 11 steals in 325 plate appearances.
“Forsythe is a natural third baseman who’s below-average at second but is good enough to fill in there for a team without a clear in-house option, and his high contact rates give him offensive value even with his lack of power,” said Keith Law (subs. req’d) following that strong 2012 season. Forsythe is a) still in his pre-arbitration years, b) a right-handed hitter who has mashed lefties in the show (124 wRC+), c) capable of playing two positions of need, and d) a buy-low candidate because his stock is down following the disappointing year and injury. If the Yankees aren’t going to spend big on a third baseman, he makes an awful lot of sense as a low-profile trade target.
2B/3B Jedd Gyorko
Gyorko is probably the least available Padres infielder. The 25-year-old hit .249/.301/.444 (110 wRC+) with 23 homers in 525 plate appearances as a rookie last season while playing solid defense at second and third bases. Scouting reports and his minor league track record suggest the power is real and his walk rate will eventually come up. San Diego is going to build around Gyorko and they’re more likely to sign him long-term than trade him for help elsewhere. His age, right-handed pop, and defensive versatility would be perfect for the Yankees. Acquiring him just isn’t all that realistic, however.
3B Chase Headley
The Yankees have been trying to trade for Headley for years, but the team’s lack of viable trade chips has hurt their pursuit. He is entering his walk year and is projected to make $10M, which isn’t all that pricey for the Padres anymore thanks to their local television deal as well as the new national television contracts. Signing him to a long-term extension is probably off the table though.
Headley, 29, was an MVP candidate in 2012, hitting .286/.376/.498 (145 wRC+) with 31 homers and 17 steals to go along with excellent third base defense. He dropped down to .250/.347/.400 (113 wRC+) with 13 homers and eight steals last year after breaking a thumb sliding into a base in Spring Training and coming back sooner than expected. A broken finger sabotaged his 2011 season, but otherwise Headley has consistently been an above-average hitter with double-digit homers, double-digit steals, and strong defense since becoming a full-timer in 2008.
I’ve always been a big Headley fan and think he’d be a pretty damn close to a star if you get him out of Petco Park. A switch-hitter with power and patience (11.8% walk rate since 2011) who steals bases and plays the hell out of third base? I’ll take that player on my team everyday of the week. Trading for Headley would be an enormous boost for the 2014 Yankees but it doesn’t seem like the two clubs match up for a deal right now. They’ll have to wait and pony up nine figures in free agency next winter.
SS Ryan Jackson
The Yankees don’t have much need for the 25-year-old Jackson, who is an excellent defender but can’t hit a lick. They have the same player in the older and more expensive Brendan Ryan. The Padres would probably be much more open to moving Jackson than incumbent shortstop and stolen base machine Everth Cabrera despite his 50-game Biogenesis suspension. If the Yankees and Padres are going to get together for a trade involving an infielder, Forsythe is the most realistic target by far.
For the first time since the place opened in 2004, the Yankees are heading to Petco Park for an interleague series against the Padres. They never even got to play there before the walls were brought in. New ballparks are always fun, so this weekend will be pretty neat. New York wraps up the West Coast leg of the road trip with three games against their 1998 World Series opponent this weekend.
What Have They Done Lately?
At one point in late-June, the Padres got to two games over .500 for the first time since April 2011. No, really. They’ve gone 13-23 since, though they did win four straight before losing their last game. At 50-59 with a -57 run differential, the Friars sit in fourth place in the NL West and are nine games back of a playoff spot.
For about a decade, the Padres were a pitching and defense team that really struggled to score runs. That’s not the case anymore. Quite the opposite, really. They average 4.0 runs per game with a team 95 wRC+, slightly below-average marks that rank better than the Yankees (3.9/82). San Diego is currently without OF Cameron Maybin (29 wRC+ in limited time), C Yasmani Grandal (99 wRC+), and 1B/OF Kyle Blanks (109 wRC+), all of whom are on the DL and won’t return this series. OF Carlos Quentin (142 wRC+) is day-to-day with a knee problem but could be back in the lineup as soon as tonight.
Former Rule 5 Draft pick and current leadoff man SS Everth Cabrera (109 wRC+) quietly leads the NL in stolen bases (37) and is having a great year, but he’s reportedly about to be suspended for his ties to Biogenesis. Sucks. The under-rated OF Chris Denorfia (104 wRC+) bats second ahead of 3B Chase Headley (103 wRC+), who has been battling injuries all year. 1B Yonder Alonso (111 wRC+) cleans up with Quentin out, then they’ve got OF Will Venable (101 wRC+) and 2B Jeff Gyorko (97 wRC+). It’s pronounced Jerk-o. Seriously. C Nick Hundley (96 wRC+) catches full-time with Grandal out.
The Padres have a decent bench by NL standards. 1B/OF Jesus Guzman (102 wRC+ vs. LHP) hits lefties well, but 1B/OF Mark Kotsay (54 wRC+ vs. RHP) doesn’t do much against righties. Yes, Kotsay is still playing. UTIL Alexi Amarista (97 wRC+) can play anywhere and play it well. IF Logan Forsythe (70 wRC+) is more potential than production at the moment. Former Yankees farmhand C Rene Rivera (31 wRC+ in very limited time) backs up Hundley. San Diego doesn’t hit many homers, but they have stolen the third most bases in the game (82). It’s not just Cabrera.
Starting Pitching Matchups
Friday: LHP CC Sabathia vs. RHP Andrew Cashner
Cashner, 26, is one of those guys with ace stuff but not ace results or ace durability. The right-hander has been on the DL three times in three full big league seasons, each time with a shoulder issue. He also sliced a tendon in his thumb with a hunting knife over the winter. Cashner has a 3.88 ERA (3.86 FIP) in 17 starts (and five relief appearances), plus his walk (2.91 BB/9 and 7.8 BB%), homer (0.81 HR/9 and 9.8% HR/FB), and ground ball (53.4%) rates are all strong. His strikeout rate (6.31 K/9 and 16.9 K%) leaves something to be desired. Cashner lives in the mid-90s with his four-seam fastball and he’ll run it up to 98-99 on occasion, but his low-80s slider and mid-80s changeup are nasty secondary offerings. Many think he’s a reliever long-term because of he can’t stay healthy, but the Padres are giving him a chance to show he can start. The Yankees have never faced Cashner before.
Saturday: RHP Ivan Nova vs. RHP Tyson Ross
How often does a pitcher leave the Athletics and actually get better? Not often, but the 26-year-old Ross is the rare exception. He’s got a 2.90 ERA (3.65 FIP) in five starts and 19 relief appearances for San Diego, pitching so well in relief that they moved him into the rotation. Ross walks a few too many (3.66 BB/9 and 9.9 BB%), but he has a decent strikeout rate (7.17 K/9 and 19.3 K%) and very good homer (0.61 HR/9 and 7.0% HR/FB) and ground ball (51.8%) numbers. Ross has five pitches but only really uses two, his low-to-mid-90s four-seamer and mid-80s slider. He’ll use those two pitches a combined 83% of the time or so. Low-to-mid-90s two-seamers and cutters as well as a mid-80s changeup round out his repertoire. The Yankees have seen Ross a few times over the years while he was with Oakland, and they roughed him up nearly every time.
Sunday: RHP Phil Hughes vs. RHP Ian Kennedy
All we need is Joba Chamberlain to appear in this game and we can have a Save the Big Three! reunion party. The Padres made a nifty little move to buy low on IPK at the trade deadline, snagging him for two relievers (one in Double-A) and a draft pick. Of course, Kennedy was acquired so cheaply because he has been awful this year. The 28-year-old had a 5.23 ERA (4.59 FIP) in 21 starts before the trade — this will be his first start with San Diego — and his peripherals weren’t anything special: 7.84 K/9 (19.7 K%), 3.48 BB/9 (8.7 BB%), 1.31 HR/9 (12.5% HR/FB), and 36.1%. Kennedy is a true six-pitch pitcher with three fastballs (low-90s two and four-seamer, mid-80s cutter) and three offspeed pitches (mid-80s slider, low-80s changeup, mid-70s curveball). He rarely uses the slider nowadays and the changeup is his bread-and-butter. It’s why he hasn’t had much a platoon split over the years. Kennedy has never faced the team that originally drafted him.
San Diego’s bullpen isn’t as strong as we’re used to seeing. In fact, the entire pitching staff isn’t all that good. RHP Huston Street (6.13 FIP) is a cardiac closer who gives up a freaking ton of homers. I’m talking ten homers in 35.1 innings this year (2.55 HR/9). Even Hughes is embarrassed for him. Setup man RHP Luke Gregerson (2.90 FIP) continues to be excellent, and RHP Nick Vincent (2.38 FIP) has impressed in his limited opportunities.
The Padres shipped primary lefty Joe Thatcher to Arizona for Kennedy, so their only southpaw right now is LHP Colt Hynes (6.98 FIP in very limited time). RHP Sean O’Sullivan (3.54 FIP in limited time) and RHP Tim Stauffer (3.60 FIP) round out what is currently a six-man bullpen. That will probably change at some point. It’s worth noting that manager Bud Black is a Showalter-level strategic manager who always seems to make the right pitching change and whatnot. There’s only so much he can do with this group, however.
Both the Yankees and Padres were off yesterday, so their bullpens are relatively fresh. David Robertson was unavailable on Wednesday because of a tired arm and it’s unclear if he’ll be available tonight or at all this weekend. We’ll find out soon enough. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for recent reliever usage, then check out Gaslamp Ball for the latest and greatest on the Friars.
Got two small updates on former Yankees. First, Nick Johnson has decided to call it a career according to Sweeny Murti. The 34-year-old retires as a .268/.399/.441 (126 wRC+) hitter with a 15.7% walk rate, though injuries — specifically to his right wrist and hand — derailed his career. More than anything, this gives me a chance to post Johnson’s batting line with Double-A Norwich in 1999: .345/.525/.548 with 123 walks, 88 strikeouts, and 37 hit-by-pitches. Yes, 37 hit-by-pitches.
Second, Freddy Garcia has signed a minor league contract with the Padres according to multiple reports. Garcia, 36, should do quite well in Petco Park given his extreme fly ball ways. Plus it’s a minor league deal, so tough to complain about that. The sweaty one posted a 4.29 ERA and 4.35 FIP in 254 innings with the Yankees over the last two season. Good luck in San Diego, Freddy, see you in the World Series.
The Winter Meetings officially come to a close today, and the rumor mill should start to dry up around noon (probably sooner) after the clubs flee the Gaylord Opryland. The two biggest free agents (Zack Greinke & Josh Hamilton) are still on the board and the Yankees haven’t done a thing other than announce Alex Rodriguez‘s new hip injury. Somehow they’re actually going to leave this week with more questions than when it started.
The Rule 5 Draft starts at 10am ET and I’ll have a liveblog up for that, but otherwise this is your thread for various Yankees-related rumblings throughout the day. Here are Monday’s, Tuesday’s, and Wednesday’s rumors. All times are ET.
- 3:49pm: The Yankees have not contacted the Padres about Chase Headley, which is a little surprising. Even though San Diego says he’s off-limits, you’d think they’d at least ask to hear it from the horse’s mouth. [Chad Jennings]
- 12:06pm: The Yankees spoke to the Mets about R.A. Dickey this week, but apparently they didn’t have the right pieces to swing a trade. I can’t imagine the PR hit the Mets would have taken had they dealt the reigning Cy Young Award winner to the Bronx. [Andy Martino]
- 10:53am: The Yankees did not inquire on Michael Young because they don’t believe he can handle third base full-time. Can’t say I disagree. [Joel Sherman]
- 10:49am: Cashman met with reporters during the Rule 5 Draft and said he’s been engaged in trades more than free agents so far. [Chad Jennings]
- 8:40am: Curtis Granderson is one of five players the Phillies are targeting for their center field opening. It’s unclear if (or how much) the two sides have talked and what Philadelphia could give up in return. [Danny Knobler]
- 8:00am: Agents who have spoken to the Yankees get the impression that a clamp has been placed on the team’s spending. Brian Cashman is supposedly frustrated by his inability to act and is working with ownership to see what he can spend. This is ridiculous. [Joel Sherman]
- Veteran infielder Alex Gonzalez is in the team’s mix of third base candidates. The 35-year-old has some pop, but he’s a sub-.300 OBP candidate. Gonzalez is coming off surgery to repair a torn ACL and was considered a strong defender at short, though he’s never played a big league game at another position (even DH). The Yankees need to see him work out following surgery before discussing a contract. [George King]
- The Yankees are open to discussing Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova in trades. This isn’t that surprising, they’ve always been a team that will listen on pretty much every player. [Andrew Marchand]
Outside of the fact that they both lost a ton of players to injury in 2012, the Yankees have Padres have very little in common. They play in different style ballparks in different divisions in different leagues on different coasts, and they’re far apart on the roster age and payroll spectrums as well. Those differences also happen to make them pretty compatible trade partners, as each team’s surplus matches up with the other’s need.
Chase Headley is obviously the most desirable player on San Diego’s roster, but you’d be buying high following his monster second half. The time to get him was at the trade deadline, and besides, I don’t think the Yankees even have the pieces to swing a trade for the third baseman anyway. Instead, let’s look at some lesser but still valuable Padres who make sense for New York if the free agent market doesn’t swing their way in the coming weeks.
The 30-year-old Venable is one of those players who was so underrated that he’s actually become overrated. He’s been a consistent .252/.323/.411 (105 wRC+) hitter over the last three years, but his road numbers (120 wRC+) are substantially better than his homr numbers (89 wRC+). Petco Park is brutal on all hitters, but especially left-handed hitters. Venable does have a sizable platoon split (112 vs. 64 wRC+), but he plays strong defense in all three outfield spots and is a threat to steal 25+ bases. Although he will strike out some (20.0 K% in 2012), he deserves a lot of credit for working hard to get the whiffs under control in recent years…
San Diego is locked into big money commitments in left (Carlos Quentin) and center (Cameron Maybin), so right field is the only open spot for Venable, the underrated Chris Denorfia, James Darnell, and down the line, top Double-A prospects Edinson Rincon and Rymer Liriano. Venable is what he is at this point, but move him out of Petco and into Yankee Stadium could turn him into a 15-homer, 25-steal guy if platooned properly. He would be a bit redundant with Brett Gardner (and to a lesser extent Curtis Granderson), but he is a fit. Venable will become a free agent after 2014 and is projected to earn just $2.5M throughout arbitration next year.
The Padres gave their 29-year-old backstop a three-year, $9M contract last offseason, and he rewarded them by playing so poorly (29 wRC+) that he had to be demoted to Triple-A at midseason. Hundley hit a solid .259/.323/.435 (110 wRC+) from 2009-2011 however, which earned him that contract. Oddly enough, his performance on the road (85 wRC+) was far worse than his performance at home (135 wRC+) during those three years. The various catcher defense rankings (2010, 2011) have rated Hundley anywhere from average to a tick above in recent years, though it’s worth noting that he had minor elbow and knee surgeries in the last 18 months.
Yasmani Grandal posted a 144 wRC+ in 226 plate appearances this year to solidify his place as the team’s catcher of the future, turning Hundley in a pricey ($3M in 2013 and $4M in 2014) backup. If the Yankees (or any team, really) believe Hundley is fixable — ultra-low .196 BABIP and 4.7 HR/FB% in 2012 — he might be the best trade candidate should Russell Martin sign elsewhere. They’d certainly be buying low, that’s for sure.
* * *
Trading for Hundley got a little complicated yesterday because Grandal was suspended for 50 games, meaning the Padres will likely hold onto him for at least the first two months of the season. That doesn’t help the Yankees all that much. Venable still could though, as could the legions of relievers on San Diego’s 40-man roster if they want to expand the trade. The Yankees already claimed one Padres reliever this week, I’m sure there’s another one or two they’re interested in.
Anyway, by all accounts the Padres are seeking starting pitching this offseason, which is odd because usually they look for offense and just turn random arms into league average or better pitchers via their ballpark. The walls are coming though, so finding quality pitching won’t be as easy. The Yankees are short on starters themselves at the moment, but surrendering a Phil Hughes or Ivan Nova or Adam Warren or David Phelps would be easier to swallow if Hiroki Kuroda and/of Andy Pettitte return for another year. There are no indications that these two clubs are talking about a trade involving any of this players — or that the Yankees are talking trades with anyone, for that matter — but they match up fairly well if they want to get together for a deal at some point in the coming weeks.
The Yankees have claimed left-handed reliever Josh Spence off waivers from the Padres, the team announced. Earlier this evening they claimed right-hander David Herndon off waivers from the Blue Jays.
Spence, 24, has pitched to a 3.15 ERA (3.92 FIP) in 40 innings for San Diego over the last two seasons. He’s an extreme fly ball guy (33.0% grounders) and an extreme soft-tosser (mid-80s fastball, mid-70s curveball) with a funky arm angle, but he’s held left-handers to a .222 wOBA with a 26.7 K% as a big leaguer. He’s another Clay Rapada, for all intents and purposes. Spence has at least one minor league option left, maybe even two.