What should the Padres do with Carlos Quentin?
Here's a question worth equal consideration: if baseball reasons alone guide his pen, why would Quentin sign an extension with the Padres or return to them as a free agent in the offseason?
The American League and a different ballpark seem to better suit Quentin's skills. Like many hitters, he'd probably be better off in the National League Central.
Carlos Quentin, like so many Padres hitters before him, doesn't walk into Petco Park, gaze at the outfield's vast horizon and declare, "Wow, this is as beautiful as La Jolla cove."
In 22 career games here, playing in the city where he grew up and enticed the Diamondbacks to draft him in the first round, he's batted .154 with a .267 on-base and a .277 slug. Granted, he's had only 75 plate appearances and 65 at-bats at the ballpark that Kevin Brown built. This season at Petco, he's 9-for-46 for a .196 batting average. He's hit two home runs in San Diego, and both came in the same game, accounting for half of his four RBI in his hometown.
One of the most predictable moments this year came when the Padres announced that Quentin's season debut would be in a ballpark not named Petco. As Strategic Planners are want to do, the Padres gave it some thought. When they finally unveiled Quentin, it was at cozy Wrigley Field with a breeze blowing out. Sinatra's "Summer Wind" came to mind, though it was late May.
Unfortunately for Carlos, all of the outfields run large in the National League West and he runs slower than average, making left field defense more of a chore for him and presumably his surgical knee. A DH-less league also works against his chances of staying in the lineup, not a small matter for a player who's gone to the disabled list six times since 2007. Nor is age on Quentin's side. Soon to turn 30, he's past the typical peak years for a big leaguer, which means a greater likelihood of losing footspeed and getting hurt.
Sometimes a ballplayer who's eager to win a World Series or go to the playoffs will leave stacks of cash on the negotiating table despite the ballpark and the league not being a great fit. When the Padres (34-53) resume play tomorrow, they'll have the worst record in the majors. The gentlemanly NL West is known for producing surprise contenders like the 2007 Rockies, the 2010 Padres and the 2011 Diamondbacks. Carl Lewis didn't jump any farther than Quentin would, however, if he took a leap of faith that assumed the 2013 Padres as postseason material.