Daily Dose: Peavy out for up to three months

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So much for all the trade talk. Jake Peavy will be sidelined for at
least one month and as long as three months after an MRI exam revealed
a slightly torn tendon in his ankle. He suffered the injury while
running the bases on May 22 and had one good start, one decent start,
and one terrible start since, but Peavy will now wear a protective cast
for the next several weeks.

Peavy is a long shot to be ready to pitch by the July 31 trade
deadline and even if he somehow makes it back by then the Padres would
have an extremely tough time getting anything resembling full value for
him. In other words, expect him to finish this season in San Diego
whether that means on the disabled list or in the rotation. Remember,
he’s still signed through 2012 with a team option for 2013.

While the Padres’ chances of avoiding last place take a major hit, here are some other notes from around baseball …

* Howie Kendrick came into the season as a 25-year-old career .306
hitter in 997 plate appearances, but after batting just .231 through 51
games the Angels sent him to the minors Saturday. Kendrick’s
strikeouts, walks, and power are basically all the same as usual, but
he just doesn’t have the secondary skills to be useful without hitting
.280-.300.

Even with this year’s struggles he’s a .294 hitter in the majors
after hitting .360 in the minors, so Kendrick will smack around
Triple-A pitching for a while and rejoin the Angels. In the meantime
Sean Rodriguez was picked over Brandon Wood to replace Kendrick on the
roster, although it remains to be seen if he’ll actually get any action
after hitting .290/.377/.637 with 42 homers in 124 games at Triple-A.

* Johan Santana cruised through 11 starts, going 7-3 with a 2.00
ERA, but tied a career-high by serving up four homers to the Phillies
last week and turned in one of the worst outings of his career Sunday
versus the Yankees, allowing nine runs while recording nine outs. The
good news is that he allowed just one homer, but Mets fans will have
reason to be nervous when he faces the Rays this weekend.

* Cliff Lee took a no-hitter into the eighth inning Sunday versus
St. Louis, settling for a complete-game, three-hit shutout. He now has
a 2.88 ERA and 69/20 K/BB ratio in 97 innings spread over 14 starts.
Through his first 14 starts last year, Lee had a 2.45 ERA and 79/15
K/BB ratio in 96 innings. Of course, the big difference is that poor
run support has Lee with a 4-6 record as opposed to 10-1 last year.

* As if passing on him to select
mega-bust Matt Bush with the No. 1 pick in 2004 wasn’t enough, Jered
Weaver reminded the Padres of their mistake by shutting them out
Sunday. Weaver followed his great college career and impressive 2006
debut by disappointingly posting a 4.13 ERA over the past two seasons,
but he’s now 7-2 with a 2.08 ERA and 74/25 K/BB ratio in 90.2 innings
this year.

AL Quick Hits: Brad Penny is eligible to be traded Monday and
the Red Sox have reportedly received multiple offers … For now at least
Toronto is hoping that Roy Halladay (groin) can make his next scheduled
start Saturday … Despite tossing seven shutout innings Saturday,
Anthony Swarzak is back at Triple-A
after filling in for Glen Perkins … A.J. Burnett struck out eight while
shutting out the Mets for seven innings Sunday … Scott Kazmir
(quadriceps) is scheduled to start a rehab assignment Wednesday at
Single-A … Gordon Beckham hit his second two-run double in as many
games Sunday, but is still just 4-for-35 … Oakland activated Travis
Buck (oblique) from the disabled list Sunday, but only to option him
back to Triple-A … Coco Crisp was put on the shelf Sunday after
initially trying to play through a shoulder injury … Scot Shields is
expected to undergo season-ending knee surgery Tuesday … J.P. Howell
struck out the side Sunday for save No. 3.

NL Quick Hits: Out for nearly two months, Jose Valverde (calf)
set down all four batters he faced over the weekend … Milwaukee finally
saw enough from Manny Parra after he was rocked for six runs in 1.2
innings Saturday, sending him back to Triple-A … Josh Johnson gave up
three runs Sunday in a complete-game win over Toronto … In the midst of
a 0-for-32 slump, Willy Taveras sat out Sunday’s game … Ryan Doumit
(wrist) has been cleared to resume baseball activities, but remains
weeks from returning … J.A. Happ struggled Sunday by walking six and
giving up seven hits, including a homer to Josh Beckett … Taylor
Buchholz tried to rehab his elbow injury, but will miss the next year
after opting for Tommy John surgery … Derek Lowe was knocked around for
seven runs while failing to make it out of the third inning Sunday and
faces Boston at Fenway Park next … Hitting coach Gerald Perry was fired
Sunday after the Cubs led the NL in runs last year.

Eric Hosmer’s eight-year, $144 million contract isn’t that bad

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Late Saturday night, Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the Padres and first baseman Eric Hosmer agreed to an eight-year, $144 million contract, the new largest contract in club history. According to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports, the contract includes an opt-out after the fifth year. Further, Hosmer will average $21 million per year for those first five years and $13 million for the final three years, so it’s severely front-loaded.

Hosmer, 28, had a career year last season, playing in all 162 games while batting .318/.385/.498 with 25 home runs, 94 RBI, and 98 runs scored in 671 plate appearances. Per Baseball Reference, Hosmer accrued 4.0 Wins Above Replacement, only one of six first basemen to do so. At No. 6, he was 0.4 WAR behind Anthony Rizzo and 0.4 WAR ahead of Logan Morrison.

Wil Myers had previously told the Padres he would accept a position change if the club were to sign Hosmer. He will be moving to the outfield as a result. The Padres now have a logjam in the outfield, so Jose Pirela could move moved to the infield. How the Padres plan to handle that situation remains to be seen.

The general consensus about the Hosmer signing once news broke was that it is laughably bad. Back in November, Dave Cameron — ironically now in the Padres’ front office — called Hosmer a “free agent landmine.” That thought hasn’t really changed among many writers. For example, using restraint, Dennis Lin of The Athletic calls the deal “a big gamble.” MLB Network’s Brian Kenny said Hosmer has at least three “red flags.”

FanGraphs projects the Padres to finish 71-91, so adding Hosmer isn’t likely to transform the club into a contender on his own. That being said, the Padres’ payroll was only at $70 million prior to the Hosmer signing, so the contract won’t hamstring them going forward. If the young nucleus of players — including Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe — perform as expected, the Padres could be a threat in the NL West relatively soon with plenty of cheap, cost-controlled players and having some experienced veterans like Hosmer and Myers could be useful for their intangibles — pennant race/playoff experience, clubhouse presence, leadership, etc.

Hosmer has had three seasons of 3.5 WAR or more, according to Baseball Reference. He’s had four between -0.5 and 1.0. Now entering his age-28 season, it’s hardly a guarantee he’ll be an All-Star-caliber player in 2018, let alone in 2022 when he is 32 years old. From a strict dollars-to-WAR standpoint in a complete vacuum, one could’ve done better than Hosmer at eight years, $144 million.

The Padres, however, aren’t a small market team; they just operate like one. Forbes valued the club at $1.125 billion last April. The Padres don’t have the financial muscle of the Dodgers or Yankees, but paying Eric Hosmer $18 million on average for the first five years of his contract won’t come close to hurting the organization in any way, shape, or form. More importantly, signing Hosmer shows the rest of the team and the fans a commitment to being legitimate, bumping the payroll up towards $90 million. That now dwarfs teams like the large-market Phillies, who opened up spring training with just over $60 million in player obligations.

In the grand scheme of things, the Hosmer signing is also a good sign given the standstill in the free agent market. Many veteran players — even reliever Fernando Abad, who posted a 3.30 ERA last season — had to settle for minor league contracts instead of guaranteed major league deals. Many others, including the likes of Jake Arrieta and J.D. Martinez, remain unsigned. The rumor that Hosmer wanted more than seven years and close to $150 million was laughed at last month. Agent Scott Boras was still able to get his client the deal he wanted, which could bode well for those still teamless. Martinez’s patience may yet be rewarded like Hosmer’s was; money may once again start flowing in the free agent economy.

In summation, the Eric Hosmer contract is good if: you are Eric Hosmer, related to or a friend of Eric Hosmer, a teammate of Hosmer’s, Scott Boras, a current or soon-to-be free agent, a Padres fan, and a baseball fan in general. The Hosmer contract is bad if: you are a penny-pinching owner of a Major League Baseball team, or someone who cares more about $/WAR than an actual good product being put on the field.