Tag: Oakland Athletics

David Ross

Report: David Ross to sign with the Cubs


We heard a Jon Heyman report this morning that the Padres were going to get David Ross. Nope:

This makes sense, as Ross and Jon Lester had great chemistry in Boston. Now, presumably, he will be Lester’s personal catcher. Which, yes, takes Miguel Montero’s bat out of the lineup when the Cubs have their ace on the hill, but if it makes Lester happier — and more effective — it’ll be OK.

A’s release Nick Punto, eat $2.75 million

Nick Punto

Last offseason the A’s signed career-long utility infielder Nick Punto to a two-year, $5.5 million contract at age 36. He went on to play more or less exactly like you’d expect him to play, posting a .589 OPS in a part-time role, yet today the A’s released him.

Oakland needed the 40-man roster space, but in letting Punto go they’ll eat $2.75 million. He figures to latch on somewhere as a minimum-salaried bench player and it’s unclear why the A’s ever needed to give him a multi-year commitment in the first place.

The Padres have given their fans something to talk about. Which is badly needed in San Diego.

A.J. Preller

It’s possible that a team has made more moves in a shorter period of time than the Padres have in the past few days, but I sure as heck can’t remember it. Indeed, since the Winter Meetings ended a little over a week ago, the Padres have embarked on a roster overhaul the likes of which — particularly, the quickness of which — we haven’t seen in some time. I’ve seen it described as a “reverse fire sale,” and I think that comes closer to it than anything else. Instead of an urgent, frantic selling-off of talent, it as been an urgent, frantic shopping spree.

To summarize, in the past few days the Padres have:

That’s a lot of work done.

Of course, the Padres needed a lot of work. They’ve finished below .500 for four straight years. Their old general manager, Josh Byrnes, was fired during the season after failing to see eye-to-eye with ownership and A.J. Preller was hired away from the Rangers to take his place. His main task: to fix a perpetually awful offense and, of course, get the Padres to win more ballgames.

But just as important a task was to make the Padres relevant again. And that he has.

To be sure, such considerations are often subjective and, in a lot of cases, “relevance” is defined by how many games a team wins, rendering it the same job as improving the team from a baseball perspective. But I feel like perception is more important for the Padres than it is for a lot of teams. Because the Padres have a fan base that is about as bored and uninspired as it gets.

I experienced this first hand when I was at the Winter Meetings last week. One evening I joined several Padres bloggers for drinks. It’s worth noting that team bloggers, generally speaking, tend to be the most motivated and inspired fans in any team’s fan base. The die-hardest of the die-hards. When the rest of the fans have checked out, team bloggers are still obsessing and thinking about the team all the time. Which made what I encountered with some of the Padres team bloggers rather surprising: resignation. A feeling that nothing exciting was ever going to happen with the Padres. That, despite the rumors of the team being interested in this or that player, nothing interesting would ever happen. “I’ll believe it when I see it” was said more than once.

This reflects a general apathy that has begun to set in among Padres fans. My brother lives in San Diego. While he wasn’t born a Padres fan, he has more or less adopted them over the past 20 years he has lived there, and his enthusiasm is pretty low. I visit him a couple of times a year and hang out with his friends. When the talk comes around to baseball, the less said about the recent-vintage Padres the better. They want to talk about Ken Caminiti and Tony Gwynn and, if they’re old enough, Rich Gossage. They acknowledge that the Padres have been fielding teams in the past few years, and they realize that there are many teams who have performed worse than the Padres have, but they are anything but enthused.

To be fair, how can they be when, in a given year, their team’s most exhilarating pickups are Seth Smith or Joaquin Benoit? Fine players, but yawn city. At least if the Padres were truly bad they’d be interesting. They’d at least inspire mockery instead of the somnambulism that seems to characterize the current discourse about the Padres. And there would be a sense that something new and bold had to happen with the franchise as opposed to the half-measures and general meandering the team’s bosses tend to tolerate.

That certainly changes now. In the space of days, A.J. Preller has gotten the biggest star from the Dodgers (a team that, based on my own first-hand experience, electrifies Petco Park more than the Padres do). They’ve picked up one of the best outfield bats available in Justin Upton. In Wil Myers they get a prospect who, while coming off a bad year, has promise. They’ve picked up multiple role players who both fit the Padres needs and who will push out some of the dead wood that has lead to that aforementioned somnambulism. Good travels, Carlos Quentin, we wish you well. Padres fans have a lot to talk about now, and have some reason to be excited for the rest of the winter.

Of course, excitement is one thing, and actual winning is another. Will the Padres win with this overhauled roster?

They should certainly win more. The Giants aren’t doing anything this winter and could easily be worse in 2015. The Dodgers are retrenching to some degree and have not gotten significantly better themselves, if at all. The Dbacks are rebuilding. The less said about the Rockies the better. It only took 88 wins to make the playoffs in the National League last season. The boring and bad Padres won 77 with some good pitching and no offense to speak of. Now they have some offense. Some right-handed offense, which plays better in Petco Park than anything. None of the recent moves guarantee the Padres anything, but there is reason to think that the Padres can compete now, and that’s more than a lot of people figured they’d do in 2015 based on the past offseasons they’ve had.

But even if true competition doesn’t truly come to pass, the Padres have inserted themselves into the conversation in a major way in the past few days. They have at least raised the question of their being truly competitive and have given their fans something to talk about. And while talk may, generally speaking, be cheap, it has been a scarce resource in San Diego indeed, and scarcity translates into value.

Way to give ’em something to talk about, A.J. Preller.


UPDATE: Nope: David Ross is going to the Cubs.

David Ross

UPDATE: Scratch that. It’s the Cubs!

12:00PM: Oh, look. The Padres finally made a move.

Clearly the Padres’ plan is to sign all the players so that the other teams have no players. If that happens, they could win a lot of baseball games.

Ross will backup Derek Norris, presumably. Unless they go and trade for Yadier Molina, Russell Martin, Miguel Montero and a bunch of other catchers before noon.

Justin Upton traded to the Padres for three prospects

Justin Upton

The Padres are close to trading for Braves outfielder Justin Upton. Jeff Passan and Ken Rosenthal led the way on these reports this morning, which have now been confirmed by multiple reporters.

At the moment it appears as though the Padres will get Upton for a package of prospects. Jim Bowden says the Braves will receive pitching prospect Max Fried and infielder Jace Peterson. Jeff Passan says Mallex Smith will be included as well. It is unclear if anyone else will be involved. Such a package does seem much lighter than what the Braves had been reportedly requesting for Upton, however.

Fried underwent Tommy John surgery in August but was one of the game’s top pitching prospects before blowing out his elbow. If he recovers he could be a top prospect once again. Peterson, the Padres’ first round pick in 2011, was overmatched in a small handful of at bats with the Padres last season. He has been a pretty effective hitter in the minors, however. Smith is a speedster — he had 88 steals across two levels last year — and a nifty line of .310/.403/.432. He has a .383 OBP in 1217 minor league plate appearances. He’ll turn 22 in May.

For the Padres part, they’ll get Justin Upton for one year before he hits free agency. They’ll also, presumably, get a first round draft pick for him in the event they make a qualifying offer to him next fall and he leaves via free agency.

If and when this trade is completed, it will just be the latest of a zillion Padres moves in the past several days. They’ve added Wil Myers in an 11-player trade. They’ve added Matt Kemp. They’ve acquired Derek Norris. They’re re-signing Josh Johnson. They signed Brandon Morrow.

Now Upton. It’s a total makeover for San Diego under new general manager A.J. Preller. Particularly in the outfield, where they’ll have added three bats in Upton, Kemp and Myers with the potential (potential in Myers case anyway) to be game-changers for the team’s perpetually-suffering offense. Of course, it’s possible Myers could play some first base too, allowing Kemp to move to a corner (where he belongs, frankly) to better manage the vast dimensions of Petco Park. In that case Cameron Maybin could cover center and, in turn, be expected to provide way less offense than they asked him to give in the past.