Tag:Jesus Guzman
Posted on: March 8, 2012 11:27 pm
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Spring primer: San Diego Padres

Bud Black

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Padres' offseason was dominated by their trade with the Reds -- sending starter Mat Latos to Cincinnati for four players, including projected starting first baseman Yonder Alonso and former All-Star Edinson Volquez. In an attempt to find more offense, the Padres also added Carlos Quentin in a deal with the White Sox. The Padres know their problem is scoring runs, and now it's just trying to figure out how to get it.

Major additions: OF Carlos Quentin, 1B Yonder Alonso, RHP Edinson Volquez
Major departures: CL Heath Bell, RHP Mat Latos, 1B Anthony Rizzo, LHP Wade LeBlanc, RHP Aaron Harang

Probable lineup
1. Will Venable RF
2. Chase Headley 3B
3. Cameron Maybin CF
4. Carlos Quentin LF
5. Yonder Alonso 1B
6. Nick Hundley C
7. Orlando Hudson 2B
8. Jason Bartlett SS

Probable rotation
1. Tim Stauffer
2. Clayton Richard
3. Edinson Volquez
4. Cory Luebke
5. Dustin Moseley

Back-end bullpen
Closer: Huston Street
Set-up: Luke Gregerson, Andrew Cashner, Joe Thatcher

Important bench players
OF Chris Denorfia, 1B Jesus Guzman, C John Baker, RP/PH Micah Owings

Prospects to watch
While the Latos trade is one that will be referenced throughout the season, the team could ultimately benefit more from last season's traded that sent reliever Mike Adams to Texas in return for right-hander Joe Wieland and left-hander Robbie Erlin. Both Wieland and Erlin are control pitchers with flyball tendencies that will benefit from the trade. Both starters project to benefit from pitching half their games at spacious Petco Park rather than at the bandbox in Texas. Wieland went 3-1 with a 2.77 ERA in five starts at Double-A San Antonio after the trade, while Erlin was 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in six starts for the Padres' Texas League affiliate. Both could find themselves in the big leagues later this year.

Fantasy sleeper: Edinson Volquez
"Volquez struck out 19 in 23 2/3 innings and held the opposition to a .250 batting average in four September starts. Another reason to be encouraged is that Volquez has a strong history at his new home ballpark, going 1-1 with a 2.33 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 21 strikeouts in 19 1/3 innings. PETCO Park can also help Volquez as he looks to cut down on his home runs allowed. Volquez was plagued by the long ball in 2011, yielding 1.6 homers per nine innings." -- Michael Hurcomb [Full Padres fantasy preview]

Fantasy bust: Yonder Alonso
"There are a few issues heading into 2012 we need to highlight before Fantasy owners reach for Alonso on Draft Day. The first being that he is moving to pitcher-friendly PETCO Park. Alonso is more of a line-drive hitter, which won't help his power numbers in San Diego. Second, Alonso is just 69 games into his MLB career. Once opposing teams get a better scouting report, the road will almost certainly get tougher for Alonso." -- Michael Hurcomb [Full Padres fantasy preview]

Optimistic outlook
The offensive additions bring a jolt to the Padres, with Quentin leading the way. While Petco does play big, it's not as extreme against right-handed pull hitters and he has one of the best offensive seasons we've seen in Petco. Speaking of offense, Alonso's left-handed but his natural stroke leads to a ton of doubles and with Maybin on base more often, he scores easily on so many of Alonso's two-baggers. The pitching staff benefits from the park more than the offense hurts and once again an unheralded pitching staff dominates -- led by a finally healthy Volquez -- and leads San Diego to a surprising run at the National League West title.

Pessimistic outlook
It's the same old, same old -- decent pitching at home, but not enough runs. Without scoring runs, the team slogs through another season, losing more than 90 games again. But hey, they're still in San Diego, so it's not all that bad.

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Posted on: December 31, 2011 7:12 pm
 

Padres making moves for 2012

Josh ByrnesBy C. Trent Rosecrans 

While the White Sox have sent some mixed messages this offseason, the Padres have not. New San Diego general manager Josh Byrnes wants his team to score more runs in 2012, and he again made a move to try to do that acquiring outfielder Carlos Quentin from the White Sox in exchange for two minor-league pitchers.

"Ownership let us stretch payroll to make this move," Byrnes said Saturday afternoon on a conference call. "We started a couple of years ago, when (former GM) Jed (Hoyer) put a big focus on building a talent base and acquiring prospects to a point where it's a real strength. (Owner Jeff Morad) told me we had ways to stretch our payroll if we can be a surprise team in 2012 and have a foundation to sustain success at the Major League level."

Byrnes, who took over the team when Hoyer went to the Cubs, has used not only what is arguably the game's deepest farm system, but also some of the current talent to improve the Padres' immediate future. 

Since taking over, Byrnes acquired a replacement at closer for Heath Bell in Huston Street, pulled off a big trade with the Reds that brought in Yonder Alonso and Edinson Volquez, along with more prospects, for Mat Latos. And the Byrnes may not be done yet.

"We feel like we still have some work to do," Byrnes said. "I think certainly the biggest weakness of the 2011 team, the offense, we feel like we've taken some steps to improve it."

Quentin -- if healthy -- could be a big part of the new Padres lineup, hitting in the middle of the lineup along with Chase Headley and Nick Hundley.

Quentin was named to his second All-Star team last season, hitting 17 home runs in the first half of the season, before being limited to just 33 games after the All-Star Game in Arizona. The San Diego native -- and current resident -- hit 36 homers in 2008 and has averaged nearly 24 homers a season since, despite playing in just 116 games a year since his break-out season.

San Diego Padres

"He's a real threat and we lacked that last season," Byrnes said. "Last year, when we were down two or three runs, we were out of the game."

Quentin also is a better fit than many for Petco Park because he's a right-handed hitter and the majority of his homers are to left field, where it's easier to homer at Petco. Of Quentin's 24 home runs in 2011, all but one came to the left of second base. While U.S. Cellular Field has the opposite reputation for home run hitters as Petco, 14 of his 24 homers were calculated to have gone out in all 30 parks, according to HitTrackerOnline.com -- and as Byrnes noted, the Padres do play half their games away from Petco Park, something he's no doubt told free agent hitters since taking over.

"I've heard the different talks about the park. I was here when the park was first built -- I'm familiar with it, I've played here," Quentin said. "Bottom line is I'm a hitter first. … It's always been my approach to hit first and stay within myself. That's the most ideal approach to produce power. I'm not planning on changing that at all."

Acquiring Quentin helps rectify what Byrnes called one of his "regrets." As general manager of the Diamondbacks, Byrnes sent Quentin to the White Sox in December of 2007 in a move that helped bring Dan Haren to Arizona.

"The key point with Carlos is the intensity he has, he plays with a real edge and that's something we've been missing," Byrnes said.

Quentin will play left field, joining center fielder Cameron Maybin in the outfield a likely platoon of Will Venable and Chris Denorfia in right. The team also has Kyle Blanks, Mark Kotsay and Jesus Guzman, meaning another trade is far from unlikely at this point.

While one of the pitchers the Padres traded away, right-hander Simon Castro, was ranked as a Top 100 prospect before the 2011 season, he struggled in 2011 at Double-A and Triple-A, putting up a 5.63 ERA (although some of that can be attributed to the altitude in Tucson). Castro, and left-hander Pedro Hernandez, were unlikely to be ranked in the Padres' Top 10. Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein had Castro ranked as the team's 20th best prospect and Hernandez wasn't ranked by Goldstein, so the true cost of the Padres' acquisition will be money. Quentin is arbitration-eligible and will be a free agent after the season. He could make as much as $8 million this season through arbitration, plus the Padres took on payroll in the Latos deal, meaning the team could see a significant bump in its payroll for 2012.

As for the White Sox, they have perhaps the worst minor-league system in baseball and the acquisition of Castro and Hernandez should help. Both should be in Chicago's top prospects list. The White Sox have already traded off closer Sergio Santos and despite the extension for John Danks, the team appears to be in rebuilding mode, which is why they went ahead and dealt Quentin.

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Posted on: September 22, 2011 4:12 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 San Diego Padres

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series...

Team name: San Diego Padres
Record: 68-88, 19.5 games back in NL West
Manager: Bud Black
Best hitter: Chase Headley -- .291/.377/.405, 4 HR, 44 RBI, 42 R, 28 2B, 13 SB
Best pitcher: Mat Latos -- 8-14, 3.60 ERA, 1.212 WHIP, 176 K, 187 1/3 IP

Nobody expected much out of the Padres after losing Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox  and they didn't disappoint. If 2010's run at the NL West title was a shock, 2011's last-place finish wasn't.

2011 SEASON RECAP

San Diego was eight games back by the end of April, so it's hardly a surprise the team finished dead last in the NL West. After fantastic pitching led the team to the brink of the playoffs a year ago, the team couldn't recreate its magic of 2010. Mat Latos took a step back (but was still pretty good), while Clayton Richard made just 18 starts before being shut down for the season and undergoing shoulder surgery.

While nobody stepped up to take all of Gonzalez's offensive load, the team had some surprisingly good offensive performances, as third baseman Chase Headley put together a solid season, as did catcher Nick Hundley (.289/.352/.471 with eight homers) and first baseman Jesus Guzman (.313/.369/.479 with five homers). And then there was Cameron Maybin, the former first-round pick of the Tigers and big part of the trade that sent Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera from Florida to Detroit had been labeled as a disappointment for several years now despite the fact he's now just 24 years old. Not only did Maybin hit a respectable .266/.322/.397 with nine homers and 38 stolen bases, he's shown the ability to patrol the spacious outfield at Petco. If he continues to improve and works on his on-base percentage, Maybin can be a maintain in San Diego.

2012 AUDIT

With the rise of the Diamondbacks, the return of the Giants, what has to be a better year for the Rockies and hopefully new ownership in Los Angeles, there's not much room for optimism in the NL West for the lowly Padres. But hey, it's a really nice ballpark, and you live in San Diego, what can you really complain about?

The rotation should be relatively stable, with Latos, Richard, Tim Stauffer and Dustin Moseley, with Cory Luebke, Robbie Erlin, Joe Wieland and Casey Kelly ready to step in if needed. The bullpen is a bigger question, with free agent Heath Bell and the departure of Mike Adams

The biggest weakness in the lineup is the middle infield, where Orlando Hudson was OK, but aging, and Jason Bartlett didn't do much. Kyle Blanks has once again flashed the ability to rise above the constraints of the ballpark, but lacked consistency.

FREE AGENTS

Heath Bell, RP
Jeremy Hermida, OF

OFFSEASON FOCUS

Can the Padres get anyone who can actually hit the ball? Or is it that tough to do Petco Park? Well, it'd be nice to get a big bopper, but with the reputation of Petco, no free agent hitter in his right mind is going to sign with San Diego. Even those with good numbers before coming to Petco, like Ryan Ludwick, left without much success. While Ludwick hasn't exactly rebounded in Pittsburgh, his free agent stock will take a tumble and there's no doubt he and his agent will blame it on Petco. Petco -- and the team's payroll ceiling -- will force the Padres to add offense through trades and developments rather than free-agent signings.

Then there's the matter of the team's bullpen. There will be a lot of the same names, but the backend will be different than it was this season after the trade of Adams and the possible departure of Bell. Here's five things I'd do to help the Padres going forward:

  • Wave goodbye to Bell. Bell wants to stay in San Diego, but the team's budget can't afford a luxury such as a veteran closer like Bell, who made $7.5 million in 2011 and will be expecting a raise. San Diego held onto the right-hander at the trade deadline, but for a team like the Padres, the value of the draft picks if he doesn't accept arbitration and signs elsewhere was more than the team would receive at the trade deadline. It's tough to see Bell go, but is hardly like watching Trevor Hoffman save games for another team. That's  something they've lived with before and can live with again.
  • Trade Guzman to the American League. The guy is born to be a designated hitter and you just don't utilize that position in the National League. The Padres should ignore Anthony Rizzo's 2011 (.138/.274/.244 in 146 plate appearances) and let him get his chance to play every day in 2012. Rizzo struggled in the big leagues, but killed it in Triple-A. There's enough talent there to believe the Triple-A results are the real deal. If not, you know going forward. Guzman could pick up yet another starter, a reliever or even a replacement second baseman for the the aging Hudson.
  • Pick up the option on Aaron Harang. It's a mutual option, so he has a say, but there's no player happier to be playing for one team than Harang is playing for San Diego. A native of San Diego, Harang has loved being around his and his wife's families, especially after having Twins last December. A close second to family concerns for Harang is the relief of pitching in Petco Park. A fly-ball pitcher, Harang gave up an average of 24 homers a year in his six full seasons in Cincinnati, with 35 in 2008. This season he's allowed 20 -- and just seven at home. He's not going to get Cy Young votes anymore, but he'll be steady in the rotation. While Harang could maybe get more than the $5 million the Padres are on the line to pay in 2012, he's not going to get any more money from San Diego. It's the perfect marriage for the player and the team. There was certainly itnerest in Harang at the trade deadline this year, and there may be a year from now, too. 
  • See what you have in outfielder James Darnell. Between Double-A and Triple-A, Darnell hit .310/.406/.547 with 23 homer runs. Darnell had been a third baseman, but played a bit in the outfield for Triple-A Tucson. He needs to work on outfield play in the offseaosn and come into camp ready to take a spot.
  • Any free agent signings need to be modest and target the bullpen. Target lower-priced, veteran arms who could help out in the bullpen, not overpriced closers. Names to think about include Shawn Camp, Matt Belisle and Todd Coffey. Nobdoy's going to get excited about these moves, but they could work out and shouldn't cost too much.

No, the Padres aren't going to the World Series with these moves, but they'll be under budget and have a better idea of what their futures holds after the 2012 season. Some things may not work out, Rizzo may not be the hitter we think he is, but we'll know. And as a wise man once said, that's half the battle. The other half is lasers. 

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com