Friday, July 31, 2009

Peavy, notes

To many casual fans, the Padres are doing little more than cutting costs, and today's trade of Jake Peavy only reinforced that surface impression.

Who can blame fans for wondering why the conditional sale of the club in March hasn't increased the franchise's ability to spend money on the product?

My response is, stay tuned. I'll add that ownership may need to do a better job of explaining what it's doing, something that may be complicated by the ongoing John Moores divorce.

OK, onto the Peavy trade.

This looks like a potentially big victory for the Padres and new CEO Jeff Moorad -- if, and it's a big if, the club can parlay the $56 million saved into good investments throughout its baseball operations and future payrolls.

The Padres say the trade helps their chances of signing several draft picks, including top pick Donavan Tate, whose adviser, agent Scott Boras, is seeking $6 million and perhaps more if the money is spread out up to five years.

For what it's worth, the Padres regard as first-round talents all three of their unsigned players taken in the top four rounds. Doesn't do much good to draft them and not sign them.

The money also could allow the Padres to resume their aggressive posture in Latin America. In January, Sandy Alderson, the CEO at the time, said the club had budgeted $3 million for its international budget this year. By my math, the club had spent less than half of that after the July 2 deadline passed to sign international amateurs. Rivals such as the Rockies were more aggressive, while also charging hard in the draft.

With Adrian Gonzalez eligible for free agency after the 2011 season, the chance of retaining him may have improved when Peavy accepted the trade to White Sox. Moorad has said the club will listen to serious inquiries on Gonzalez in the offseason, yet even if the Gonzalez talks rekindle, and I expect that they will, clearing the $17 million due Peavy in 2012 gives the Padres more leeway to offer big bucks to Gonzalez.

Gonzalez's agent, John Boggs, told me today it would be nice if the Padres can be aggressive on two fronts -- acquiring talent to assist Gonzalez and, down the road, making him a fair offer. Boggs, though, also said he understands why the Padres might instead deal Gonzalez, because he could bring a lot of talent in return.

Players in Chicago say Peavy will fit in well with his White Sox teammates. Peavy, 28, and his fellow Sox starters could form a tremendous rotation next year.

Looks like a potential winner for both the Padres and Peavy, plus the four pitchers acquired by the Padres, who now get a chance to pitch in a pitchers park, opposite DH-less lineups.

Credit Moorad for not allowing obstacles to prevent him from acting on his long-term vision. The Padres moved a pitcher who often is very good when healthy, yet one whose contract and ankle injury eliminated many potential suitors.

Obviously if Peavy didn't have a no-trade clause, the Padres could have gotten a lot more for him last offseason than they did today. But two clubs I spoke with today said the Padres made a good trade, even a very good one, all things considered.

POWER SURGE

No matter how you slice it, the Padres have done an extraordinary job of acquiring power arms over a short period of time.

Go back to early March. GM Kevin Towers, angry over the dearth of strong arms emerging from the farm system, charged his scouts with finding hot fastballs, and they've brought back nine pitchers who will touch the mid-90s: Richard, Poreda, Russell and Carter from the White Sox; Gallagher, Webb and Italiano from the A's; Mujica from the Indians and Perdomo from the Giants. The Padres are playing to pair of strengths -- Petco Park and the teaching skills of manager Bud Black and pitching coach Darren Balsley, who too often were asked to work miracles with pitchers who lacked a good fastball.

NOTES

A source tells me Heath Bell was nearly dealt to the Dodgers. While mindful that Towers has made trades within the division, I strongly doubt that Gonzalez would've been part of the same deal. Moorad was averse to sending Peavy to the Dodgers, and I believe he'd be even less inclined to send Gonzalez, the face of the franchise, to Chavez Ravine.

The dismissal of hitting coach Jim Lefebvre is disappointing because the man is passionate about baseball, yet it was far from surprising if you read one of my recent posts. His ouster is probably not a great sign for farm system overseer Grady Fuson, who strongly backed Lefebvre's hiring into the job. Fuson, among others, had said that Lefebvre could untrack Kevin Kouzmanoff. But Kouzmanoff's on-base percentage has stayed below .300 most of the season, and he didn't generate interest in the recent trade market.

8 comments:

  1. Good insights on the cost-benefits of the trade and how the $$$ savings can be allocated. Not enough fans focusing on this point...I tried to send a few of the distraught Faithful your way with a link.

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  2. One of my thoughts last night was connecting the dots between Fuson's recent comments about not having the money for Tate, Williams and Sampson, and the cost savings from the Peavy trade. My hope that the savings will result in a better chance at bringing all three into the fold, therefore adding one more talented player into the haul for Peavy.

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  3. Going forward, the 4 prospects we got will have a better record than Peavy. Jake's best days are behind him. The "four young guns" will make us forget about the Alabama gunslinger.

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  4. First off ... I am a Dodger fan so I'm glad to see a longtime nemesis change leagues. Secondly, the Padres needed to make this move for the long-term health of the franchise. They got a nice collection of arms in return - pieces that will help them at home and in the pitching-friendly environment of several NL West ballparks. They also achieved some needed financial flexibility. Lastly, I believe they should seriously field offers for Gonzalez in the offseason. I know his contract is incredibly affordable for the next couple of seasons. That fact should only add to his value. If he doesn't bring an even better haul than Peavy then they can easily afford to keep him and take the draft picks in two years time. Best of luck Pads!

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  5. Many fans don't realize that trading Peavy will benefit the Padres for years to come. I cant believe the /white Sox made the trade. I think Chicago has made a gamble on Peavy. Trading 4 good prospects for a player thats injured. He hasn't looked that great this season plus he's 30 Y.O. We wont know how got the better end of the deal until a couple of years. But I guess its going to be a win for Padres and a mistake by the white sox.

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  7. People want to point to the economy as a reason for this? It's tough for me to believe that cutting $30+MM in salary (a straight to the bottom line expense) will not cover the decrease in margin from lost ticket/concession sales. If you look into the details, I personally believe they are making a lot of money from that trade off.

    Despite the PR spin, Forbes says that they are in the top 8 in Op Margin% and top 11 in Op Margin $ making nearly $23MM in operating profits (http://www.forbes.com/lists/2009/33/baseball-values-09_The-Business-Of-Baseball_Income.html)

    So when they use the Peavy trade as justification to invest in Tate/Williams/Sampson, I kind of cringe at people making the relationship valid. It is a cop out.

    My concern is that Moores is trying to fund his divorce by using the healthy cash flow of this franchise. It is a sorry excuse either way.

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  8. I think it remains to be seen whether Moorad will take the money saved from trading Peavy and reinvest it back into the club. There has been no indication that this will happen.

    He seems to be a poor communicator.

    PS- AceWild, Peavy is 28, not 30.

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