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Posts Tagged ‘San Diego Padres’

Regarding Hiroki Kuroda, and with apologies to Winston Churchill, never before have so many written so much about a pitcher whose accomplishments are so few. As the offseason has dragged on without a big move by the Yankees, fans of the team have grown increasingly impatient, and Kuroda has become their cause célèbre.

Ed Whitson sports a grin on the day he signed with the Yankees. It would be one of the last times he smiled while in pinstripes.

In his brief four-year career, Kuroda has been a solid starter, posting a cumulative WAR of 8.6 and ERA+ of 114. However, the Dodgers’ right hander will be 37 next year, so, even if his transition from the N.L. West wasn’t already a concern, the risks associated with his age would be reason enough for pause. Of course, that doesn’t mean Kuroda wouldn’t represent an upgrade in the Yankees’ shaky rotation, but at the reported cost of $12 million (not to mention the corresponding luxury tax hit of roughly $5 million), it’s hard to argue that the marginal value would justify the additional expenditure.

Back in the winter of 1984, the Yankees were in a similar situation. Despite having a top offensive team, which was bolstered by the earlier addition of Rickey Henderson, the pitching staff was a jumble of question marks (and there wasn’t a CC Sabathia to serve as an anchor). As luck would have it, however, there was pitcher from the N.L. West available on the free agent market. His name was Ed Whitson.

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Once conducted in relative obscurity, the MLB Rule IV draft has gained increased exposure over the last few years. However, because even the best prospects usually don’t surface in the majors for at least a year or two after being signed, the interest level in baseball’s draft continues to pale in comparison to the events held by the NFL and NBA

Dave Roberts debuted with the Padres one day after being drafted.

There are exceptions to this rule, however. Since the draft process was instituted in 1965 (in various forms including secondary events held in June and additional rounds held in January), 20 players have jumped right from the amateur level into the big leagues, including 13 within 30 days of being selected. However, no one’s transition was quicker than Dave Roberts, who needed only one day to sign a contract and make his major league debut with the Padres in 1972 (interestingly, three of the major league’s four Dave Roberts have played in San Diego). 

Players Who Have Appeared in the Majors within 30 Days of Being Drafted

Draftees Team Drafted Debuted Days to Majors
Mike Adamson Phillies 6-Jun-67 1-Jul-67 25
Steve Dunning Indians 4-Jun-70 14-Jun-70 10
Pete Broberg Rangers 8-Jun-71 20-Jun-71 12
Rob Ellis Brewers 8-Jun-71 18-Jun-71 10
Burt Hooton Cubs 8-Jun-71 17-Jun-71 9
Dave Roberts Padres 6-Jun-72 7-Jun-72 1
Eddie Bane Twins 5-Jun-73 4-Jul-73 29
David Clyde Rangers 5-Jun-73 27-Jun-73 22
Dave Winfield Padres 5-Jun-73 19-Jun-73 14
Tim Conroy Athletics 6-Jun-78 23-Jun-78 17
Bob Horner Braves 6-Jun-78 16-Jun-78 10
Brian Milner Blue Jays 6-Jun-78 23-Jun-78 17
Mike Morgan Athletics 6-Jun-78 11-Jun-78 5

Note: Dick Ruthven was selected by the Phillies in the second phase of the January 1973 draft and debuted on opening day of that year.
Source: Baseball-reference.com

After 1978, teams started taking a more patient approach with their draftees. Since that time, only John Olerud and Xavier Nady have bypassed the minors and played a big league game in the same year in which they were drafted. Otherwise, only Pete Incaviglia, Jim Abbott, Darren Dreifort and, most recently, Mike Leake have played their first professional game in a big league uniform, although each of those players needed to wait until the following season.

As evident from the names above, a quick burst on the scene doesn’t necessarily translate into long-term success. In fact, in most of the cases, the early promotions seemed to be more a case of wishful thinking than prudent expectations. Nonetheless, even though the impact of baseball’s draft lacks the immediacy of other sports, it has still become a day of new hope for teams badly in need of a talent infusion.

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(In addition to appearing at The Captain’s Blog, this post is also being syndicated at TheYankeeU.)

Over the last 24 hours, the Boston Red Sox and San Diego Padres have all but agreed to a deal that would send All Star 1B Adrian Gonzalez headed east for a package of prospects. Although no one can dispute Gonzalez’ talents as a player, does the move alone make the Red Sox better?

The Red Sox hope to add Gonzalez’ powerful opposite field swing to their lineup.

There are two small red flags with Gonzalez. The first is he has played most of his career in one of the weakest divisions in baseball: the National League West. Because performance is best measured relative to competition, the Padres’ 1B may not be as successful playing in the AL East. Again, that’s not really a major concern, but it could suggest a lower level to what should be high expectations. The second question mark deals with Gonzalez’ recent surgery to repair his injured right shoulder. Speaking on XX1090AM in San Diego, the Padres’ slugging 1B indicated the surgery would require a long rehab and that he might not be able to swing a bat for 4-5 months. That was on November 10. Doing the math, it’s possible that Gonzalez will not be ready to take his normal cuts until at least Spring Training, but perhaps as late as Opening Day.  If the latter, it’s very possible that Gonzalez wouldn’t be in peak form until several weeks, or months, into the season.

Even with both of those concerns noted, acquiring Gonzalez is close to a no-brainer for the Red Sox, provided they are able to sign him to a long-term contract. Of course, picking up star players in the trade market also comes with another cost, which in this case could be Casey Kelly (ranked 18th overall by ESPN’s Keith Law), the team’s top prospect. If the combination of money expended (Gonzalez’ 2011 salary is a low $6.3 million, but a renegotiated deal could inflate that figure) and prospects traded prevent the team from making another acquisition (e.g., Jayson Werth, Carl Crawford, Justin Upton, etc.), the end result might not look so good.

Finally, if the deal for Gonzalez is consummated, that likely means the end of Adrian Beltre’s brief time in Boston. Going forward, it’s almost certain that Gonzalez will be a more productive hitter than Beltre. However, it isn’t for sure that he’ll perform much better than Beltre did in 2010. So, when you also consider Beltre’s top-shelf defense at a key position like third, the exchange becomes even less favorable. After all, Gonzalez’ gold glove at 1B will be replacing Kevin Youkilis’, who would be asked to move across the diamond to third, where he isn’t as sound defensively. Even if Youkilis is able to play third base at an acceptable level, he likely will not be in the class of Beltre. As a result, with all things considered, the Red Sox could be taking a step back in terms of infield defense.

With the departure of Beltre and Victor Martinez, the Red Sox have some ground to make up on offense. Without a doubt, Adrian Gonzalez goes along way toward doing just that. However, Boston will need its new acquisition to be healthy as well as able to make a quick adjustment to the AL East. What’s more, after wrapping up the deal, the Red Sox will need to have enough flexibility to make another addition. If everything falls into place, the deal should revive Boston’s standing in the division, but if the questions mentioned above are not answered in the affirmative, the benefit of adding Gonzalez might wind up being a more long-term proposition.

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