Adrian Gonzalez trade talk is starting up again

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Just when the Adrian Gonzalez trade talk seemed to have died down, his agent told the San Diego Union Tribune yesterday that he expects the Padres to deal the 27-year-old first baseman:

I don’t ever want to speak for ownership because I have no knowledge of what they have and what they don’t, but the feeling we’re getting is more than likely they are going to have to trade Adrian Gonzalez because they can’t afford him.

Asked about Gonzalez’s chances of remaining in San Diego long term, team CEO Jeff Moorad had a similarly pessimistic response:

While I’d be thrilled to have him part of the organization for the long term, the early signals indicate his cost will be greater than our ability to pay.

The combination of those quotes seemingly makes it all but certain that Gonzalez will be traded, but here’s the thing: San Diego still has him under contract for two more seasons at a combined cost of just $10.25 million. Controlling him cheaply for 2010 and 2011 obviously gives Gonzalez a lot more trade value, but it also means the Padres could try to rebuild around him and address the contract issue when he’s actually, you know, somewhat close to becoming a free agent.
Acting like he’s a goner two full seasons before his contract ends mostly just seems like a great way to piss off your entire fan base. Gonzalez can become a free agent after 2011, but so can Ryan Howard, Prince Fielder, Carlos Beltran, Jonathan Papelbon, Mark Buehrle, J.D. Drew, and a couple dozen other prominent players. You know why there aren’t articles every week with quotes about how those guys are all goners? Because for the most part their teams realize that two years is a long time.
A lot can change between now and 2012. Gonzalez could get hurt or simply decline from his current superstar level. Or maybe the Padres could even improve and start making more money. If they want to trade Gonzalez in an effort to rebuild that’s one thing, but acting like they’re being forced to make a decision two years ahead of time–and constantly letting their fans read all about it in the newspaper–is just silly.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

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A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.