Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Verdict Is In

As we approach 100 comments and 1000 votes, there isn't what I would call a... wide variety of opinion. So, now is as good a time as any to post a response.

The fact that the "buy" vote is residing in Nader neighborhood isn't all that surprising . After all, the fans who are interested in this forum are generally passionate fans who have a solid overall understanding. It was interesting, however, to read through all of the comments, as there was a divide regarding certain players. Therefore, I wanted to offer some food for thought, though the following does not necessarily indicate the organizational approach over the next three weeks.

Free Agents
When teams talk about trading players at the deadline, potential free agents dominate the discussion. After all, teams want to get something for these players before losing them to free agency, which is the primary incentive to trade them. There were a number of comments regarding draft pick compensation, so that needs to be fully understood.

At the conclusion of the season every free agent will be ranked, and only the Type A and Type B free agents carry any kind of compensation with them. This is roughly the top 30% of players (overall, not just free agents) in terms of performance both on a one-year and multi-year look. For the Club to receive any compensation a few things have to happen:

1) The Club must offer the player arbitration (sometimes a risky proposition)
2) The Player must reject the offer of arbitration
3) The Player must sign a Major League contract with another organization

Furthermore, when a Type A free agent signs with another Club, the signing Club loses their first round pick (or second round pick if their first round pick is within the first 15 picks). So, if you have a Type A free agent, you had better be awfully sure that he's not going to accept arbitration and that some other team is going to be willing to sacrifice a top pick in order to sign him. Type B free agents do not "cost" the signing club anything in terms of a pick.

These rules are why there were just 16 compensation picks in between the first and second rounds of the 2008 draft despite the fact that there were over 100 free agents last winter. In short, it's not a foregone conclusion that you'll receive draft picks as compensation. There is no doubt, however, that the potential for draft picks (or lack thereof) weighs into the calculus at the deadline.

Non-Free Agents
These players just don't get moved all that often at the deadline. Don't get me wrong - it happens - but just not with the same regularity as potential free agents. Clubs generally have no sense of urgency when it comes to trading a player whose rights they control going forward. When Clubs don't have to make a deal, they generally don't. This is true in the greater world outside of baseball as well. People need to have a reason to act now, which is why the bulk of activity often happens in the last 24 hours before a deadline, any deadline. How many times did anyone here actually turn in a term paper early?

So, as it pertains to our younger players, we would need to be compelled to move any of them. That could certainly happen, but it's not commonplace at the trading deadline for a club that is "selling" to move a bunch of players who could be with the team in future years. Even though some of our players have had a disappointing few months, we still believe many (if not all) of them can play important roles in our future as we try to return to where we've been the last few years and beyond. We will always entertain offers and actively pursue opportunities that we think can make us better, but we won't sell just to sell (or even because we're disappointed in recent performance).

The Volume Myth
I have to address this one, because we always joke about it internally. Overwhelming teams with volume is not a recipe for bringing back quality players. Every team out there is smart enough to know that four times zero is still zero: "But what if we add this 4A guy AND this marginal prospect? No? Well then... what if we were to add this long reliever as well?" :-) It takes quality, not quantity, to get quality.

Specific Free Agents
For the purposes of this conversation, let's stick to our healthy potential free agents: Greg Maddux, Randy Wolf, Tony Clark and Trevor Hoffman. The first three, realistically, will create the most buzz due to their contractual status.

Greg Maddux - The first thing to mention here is that Greg has a complete no-trade clause, so if he chooses to finish the year in San Diego, he will. There is no doubt, though, that the interest in Greg is strong. Regardless of his fastball velocity, Greg is still a very effective pitcher (3.90 ERA) who gives innings (at least 198 innings in 20 consecutive seasons - jaw-dropping), and provides a veteran playoff presence. In fact, the last time Greg was traded at the deadline to a contender, which was in 2006, he went 6-3 with a 3.30 ERA over 74 innings down the stretch. Previous to the trade he had posted a 4.69 ERA. He's Greg Maddux, he's a winner, and every team that he's on is better because he is there. There is no doubt that the rest of our pitchers have benefited from his counsel.

Randy Wolf
- Randy has a limited no-trade provision in his contract, so there are a number of designated teams to which Randy does not have to accept an assignment. Randy is another guy who is on the collective radar of the buyers at this point and for good reason. After having a shoulder cleanup in the middle of last season, Randy has had a very good year to date. His average fastball velocity is the highest it has been in any of the past six years (which is the timeframe of the data set) and his strikeout rate is as high as it has been since 2001. His ERA currently stands at 4.38, though almost a full run of that is due to two starts in Colorado and Chicago during which he gave up 14 runs in eight innings. His collective line of 109 innings, 109 hits, 42 walks, and 100 k's is one of the better lines you'll find during this deadline, but his line of 101 innings, 95 hits, 33 walks, and 94 k's (3.48 ERA) without those two starts is even more indicative of the pitcher he has been. In fact, his 12 quality starts ranks 7th in the NL behind Haren, Lincecum, Hudson, Santana, Webb, and Volquez.

Tony Clark - Tony is the type of player that you'll often see moved at the deadline. He's a veteran player who has been very successful coming off the bench in recent years, can change the game with one swing of the bat from either side of the plate, and is known in the industry as one of the finest clubhouse leaders in the game. A player with all of those attributes can be hard to find, which is precisely why we signed Tony in the first place, but it's also why a contending club will look to add him to their mix. Though his power production has been down this year, his power is still there and he's still a threat every time he steps in the box. He can truly be a "finishing piece" on any good club.

OK, this post is much longer that I originally intended, and I still haven't covered everything I would have liked. I'm sure as the days and weeks of July pass I'll have more opportunities to post on this subject.

In conclusion, I'll say that Clubs are generally looking to add just a piece or two to finish their puzzle, so they'll really looking for winners, or as John Hart used to call them: "pile-jumpers". That is why the three guys I've mentioned above are already drawing interest from around the league. I don't know if we'll end up trading any of them, but I certainly understand the sentiment contained in the overwhelming majority of the comments. Thanks so much for your passion and participation.

25 comments:

william said...

[..]Non-Free Agents These players just don't get moved all that often at the deadline. Don't get me wrong - it happens - but just not with the same regularity as potential free agents[..] [..]We will always entertain offers and actively pursue opportunities that we think can make us better, but we won't sell just to sell (or even because we're disappointed in recent performance).[..]

Sounds like Kahlil is staying.

any chance he can get one of those phantom injuries? :)

jay mack said...

What about Brian Giles? Any interest in him?

I would like for you to address the question of trading some of our better minor league players. I drives me crazy when people suggest "throwing in" players like Blanks, Venable, Cumberland, etc. I believe, like Sandy said on 1090 on time, when asked about trading Headley, "We are going to find out what kind of major league player Chase Headley is on the Padres. We are not going to trade him and find out what kind of player he is on another club." I know anyone can be traded, but being a club determined to develop their own players, trading one of those guys I would think would have to bring a pretty special player in return. Not Felix Pie.

Bogart in P Towne said...

Thank you for this forum. It is apprecited on our end.

Alex said...

I really like your point about quality vs quantity, as I know I've found myself guilty of that crime a few times in the past. "Maybe if we just add fringe reliever that can push it over the edge!"

I know you obviously can't comment on anything relevant, but I think ATL is one of the best potential trade partners with SD, should ATL choose to be buyers (which I think they should, they're due to play better). They've got solid prospects currently at their lowest value and could really use another pitching presence both in their rotation and bulpen. On top of that, they have had a huge hole in the corner OF position and when Giles gets healthy he could fill that hole tremendously on both offense and defense.

Can you imagine the press reacting to Maddux and Glavine (when he gets healthy) reuniting? That could be like a corny action movie where the two veteran cops get together for one last hurrah into the sunset.

It's hard to gauge what ATL should do, but I think they should buy and SD is the perfect fit for them (and visa versa).

dtbtim said...

If the Padres were to deal either Randy Wolf or Greg Maddux, and then resign them next year, would they lose draft picks? Will either of these players be considered type A free agents?

Andrew Stebbins said...

That's a great line about 4x0 still equals 0. I'll have to remember it. With the players you mentioned, the players that could push a contending team into the playoffs, who initiates the deals? Do the Padres approach a team like the Marlins or do the Marlins come to the Padres?

everythingbaseball said...

Paul will certainly be able to answer your question better than I can, dtbtim, but as I understand it, the Padres would indeed have to give up their draft picks in order to resign Maddux or Wolf at the end of the season. However, that is all depending on what their Type designation ends up being.

Maddux will surely be a Type A. I think it is safe to say that he is still in the top 30% of major league starters. Wolf, however, I can't see qualifying for Typa A status. Therefore, any team that signs him will not have to give up their draft pick. That makes the Wolf situation more palatable for the Padres considering Wolf has already said he'd like to come back to SD if he is traded.

Paul .... Thanks for starting this blog. I am surprised that you can share as much as you do but certainly enjoy reading it!

Eugene Tierney said...

Hey Paul,

Did any of the posts in the deals thread make sense to the organization? Was there anything you saw that was new and intriguing?

Eugene

ross said...

Paul, I'd turn in a term paper early if it meant that my grade would be much higher.

The Brewers are going to get 3 or 4 more starts out of Sabathia since they made the deal early instead of waiting for the deadline. Those starts could be the difference in a close division race.

Just think of the impact a position player could have instead of a pitcher.

I wonder why more GM's don't get these deals done earlier? Is it a matter of waiting to see if they're buyers or sellers? It seems fairly simple to determine (in most cases). Do buyer's get better deals by waiting?

You Know Me! said...

like paul said, those players would have to be type A and have to be offered arbitration before we signed them for us to lose a pick.

andy said...

Hey Paul,
I think the Padres should bring the corner fence in and build around Adrian's power to both fields, coupled with the idea that Chris Young and Hoffman are our only pitcher's significantly vulnerable to an opponent's deep fly ball turning into a home run. Maybe in the future I'll take the time to do some zone ratings studies, but I think that moving the fences is would benefit the Padres more than our opponents. I'm gonna throw some numbers out here, backed only roughly by true stastical data, mostly by my intuition. Let's say the Padres hit 15 additonal home HR's by bringing the fences in, and opponents hit an additional 8. I don't think those are unreasonable estimates. That could lead to an additional 2-5 wins, especiallly considering the tight games the Padres play. How many games can we reasonably expect CC Sabathia to bring the Brewers instead of a mid-level starter like Manny Parra? Probably 2-5. But instead of giving up LaPorta, we'd be giving up some money for construction, which is not insignificant. However, as last season shows, a win can make the difference between having a playoff berth and not, and playoffs lead to additonal revenue. So from a business standpoint and a baseball standpoint, bring the fences in. Also, as Win Shares and NERV both show, if we expect Khalil Greene to continue to produce like this, than he must go. His Win Shares actually show him producing at a negative offensive value (or at least he was). Hairston should be given additonal PT, although I really like the idea of a '09 Gerut/Hairston platoon because it makes for a cheap, yet productive OF. We have a surplus at 2B. Let's decide who we want out of Iguchi, Gonzalez, and Antonelli, then trade the other two. If we think Edgar will be a decent 2B, let's try to get something for Antonelli. I think Catcher is our biggest need. A lot of people who I respect and really know baseball have said that you should always look at what a player brings to the table, not what he lacks. Barrett and Bard, although quality guys, bring very little to the table. Let's trade both, keying on the Marlins and the Brewers. Let's face it, Carlin is so far from being a MLB catcher. Finally, let's look for a player in the Tony Gwynn mold. It would be preposterous to suggest that we go out and get Ichiro or something, but it has occured to me how well Gwynn would fit at Petco, spraying the ball to all fields, utilizing the big OF. As a unique suggestion, why not check out "Similarity Scores" and target a few Gwynn like players.
I would love to hear what you have to say about this post.
Thanks.

hector said...

Paul,

How come you did not address Brian Giles?

I love his professionalism, stats and personality. But the Padres would be better served by trading him to a contender than keeping him. Besides, with the trade, his salary goes up for 2009. He (Giles) might follow the same route as Randy Wolf: Get traded in 08 and come back to San Diego in 2009.

Their stats point to being type A free agents. So at the very least the Padres will get 4 very good prospects for them one way or another.

Also, I love the way Mike Adams is trowing. Is he arbitration eligible after this season?
He looks like another KT special.

Daniel said...

Frankly, I find all proposed trade posts by fans to be worthless, there are just too many variables and too little information. No offense to those that love them, I know they're primarily just for whimsical entertainment value, it's just a pet peeve of mine.

Ross, I think Paul's comment about turning in the term paper early was in relation to trading a player in the last year of his contract, not when during the season to become a seller.

Paul or anybody else, am I correct in understanding that you find out a free agent's ranking before you sign them?

Paul DePodesta said...

Yes, the rankings of all the free agents are distributed to the clubs.

Paul DePodesta said...

ross,

You're absolutely right that the additional weeks a player spends with his new team can make an impact. I was referring more to our non-free agent players - there is no sense of urgency to trade any of them, because we control their contractual rights beyond this season.

You are also correct that often times teams are trying to figure out if they're in it or not at this stage, which limits the market activity. We also have the psychological problem of wondering if there will be a better deal out there tomorrow. That mindset, which is prevalent, limits action leading up to any deadline.

rehman said...

hey depo,

A's fan here, whats your inside take on the harden deal. i sort of think they couldve got more. plus they included gaudin...surprising.

also there's rumors of a street/murton deal to padres from olney

Troy Patterson said...

It was nice to read this honest assessment from a major league GM. I would love to see this from Theo Epstein as a Red Sox fan. Hope you don't mine the link through my blog.

http://www.rotosavants.com/2008/07/i-love-paul-depodesta.html

Steven said...

Funny Brian Giles name should come up as fans try to figure out ways to get him off the squad (good luck with that as he has a 3mil kicker should he get traded... thats probably why Paul isn't talking about him being dealt).

I think whats happened with Giles backs up the philosophy about not trading young talent before you see what you've got.

Having Jason Bay and Oliver Perez instead of Giles the past few years might have been been what the Padres needed the past few years.

I wonder if Oli would have the same woes if he were on a pitching staff with G.Maddux and B.Black as his coach.

Also, as I watch X.Nady along side Bay this year, I wonder how much different the Padres OF would be if they had Bay & Nady out there with Hairston, Kouz at 3b, maybe Headly at 2b.

If anything, I'm glad the Padres are basically out this year. In fact, I hope they keep losing as the deadline approaches. It's time to commit to rebuilding and as fans we need to embrace this. Teams like Florida (Oakland, Arizona, Colorado) have shown that you can contend with young talent and if the Padres don't start redeveloping and using their trade chips now, they could be in a lot of trouble with the young talent maturing in Colorado and Arizona.

field39 said...

Steven,

The entire concept of embracing losing, disgusts me in ways that I dare not express on a "family" forum.

Any member of the team, or front office, that embraces losing as a chance for a new beginning, should be gone tomorrow.

Steven said...

field39,

I hear what you are saying but you have it all wrong.

To me, the goal isn't winning a few games, making the playoffs and being swept out in the first round.

The Pads have done just that the past few years and where has that gotten us? Teams like the Mets do that because they feel they need to contend every year and they refuse to rebuild.

The Pads haven't had room to make moves at the deadline because they have not put themselves in a position to make moves (salary wise or trade chip wise). Part of the reason for this is they haven't built a core of young, cheap talent.

If the goal is to win championships (which I'm sure you're on board here with), they need to follow the small market model (like Florida, Tampa, Oakland), retool the roster now and stop trying to win a few games here and there, the winning will come.

Remember, it's not about winning the division or the wild card to appease the fans. Second place is the first loser.

It's about championships.

hector said...

Field39,

It is not losing, it is more like investing in the future. Like you invest in yourself when you go to college instead of taking a mediocre job.

Without offending the Administration, they have tried to field a competitive team, and have been successful at being a competitive team, albeit with mediocre post season results. It is like going back to college and getting a Master's or PhD.

I think you will like the results in the long run.

So, lets trade and use the savings and sign that left hander Brett Mooneyham away from his college commitment.

Nathan said...

I noticed that the section about Trevor Hoffman was not included. I'm guessing he is the least likely of the Free Agents to be traded, but I'd like to hear what you actually have to say on the subject of Trevor, although I'm guessing it's a tricky and somewhat touchy subject.

Alex said...

Nathan,

Hoffman has 10/5 rights and thus has can veto any trade. It's hard to imagine him waiving those rights to leave San Diego

Nathan said...

I hadn't thought about 10/5 rights, probably because so few players earn them anymore, unfortunately. I never really thought that Trevor might be traded anyway, but I thought it was interesting that he didn't get a section in the post after he was listed. My real concern with Trevor is that he might want to keep pitching after this season, which I'm just guessing does not fit in with the team's plans.

Steve Adler said...

Trade Giles!!!!!!!

Yes! Please do. He still has value, I realize he's one of our most productive hitters this year. However he's not a future building block. If we keep him till the end of the year, we will be on the hook for an additional 3 million just to ask him to play somewhere else and 9 million if we keep him.

He's going to be 38, his numbers aren't going to get better and his health becomes a greater risk with every day that passes.

I think the Mets or Yankees would be a good destination for him. The Mets are on a roll and could use a good stick in the OF. They would have no problem picking up his salary.