Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Response to Comment

WebSoulSurfer wrote a constructive comment about our Rule 5 selections, and rather than burying it at the bottom of the last entry, I figured I would respond with an additional post.

Comment from WebSoulSurfer:
Cabrera, like Deivi Cruz, is really a 2B, having played 171 of his 219 games in the minors at that position.

He hasn't played much at SS, only 45 games in his professional career, and hasn't looked good when he did.

In 3 games I saw the Tourists play against the Del Marva Shorebirds and the Charleston Riverdogs, he started one game at SS and looked lost. One throwing error and another play that should have been called an error. Yes, 3 games and just one at SS is a small sample size, but from the people that follow the Sally League and the Tourists in particular, I got that it is typical of what little time he gets at SS.

On the bright side he did steal 4 bases in the 3 games.

Maybe he will do better than Travis Denker, EGon, and Matt Antonelli to win the 2B position in Spring Training, but from what I saw and from what I was told by those who watched him play daily, he is not a SS.His .946 FP and his 9 throwing errors of 11 total errors in just 45 games at the SS position seem to bear that out as well.

And now you have a 25 man roster slot filled by someone, 2 someones actually, who have very little shot at making the team. Kind of ties your hands if you want to make trades, doesn't it?I just don't understand either of the Rule V pick ups and nothing you have said makes it any clearer why you picked these two.

WebSoulSurfer,
It's not unusual for young middle infielders to play both 2B and SS at times. As an example, when Furcal was Cabrera's age he had played 114 games at 2B and 117 at SS (and his fielding percentage at SS was .932 - below Cabrera's) in his career. The next year he was the starting SS in Atlanta.

Sometimes playing both 2B and SS is for developmental reasons (most kids break in needing to be able to play multiple positions) and other times it's due to the presence of other players. In this case the Rockies had a young, 19 year old SS on Cabrera's team both last year and this year who was their 5th round pick in 2006. This happens more often than you might think.

In fact, it's happening right now in our system. Jorge Minyeti has been playing mainly 2B in the Dominican Republic, but we all believe he could play SS if needed. He's playing primarily 2B because Jonathan Galvez is getting most of the time at SS. In our system next year we'll have some similar decisions to make with guys like Drew Cumberland, Cole Figueroa, Beamer Weems, Lance Zawadski, Jesus Lopez, and Jeudy Valdez - every one of whom we believe has the ability to play SS.

Our scouts, including one who has seen Everth since he was an amateur in Nicaragua, believe that he has the tools to play SS, but he certainly needs more experience. Young infielders generally make errors - lots of them. I remember when I first got to Oakland, the knock on Eric Chavez was that he wasn't going to be able to stick at 3B. His BEST fielding percentage in the minors was .935, and he had made more than 50 errors in fewer than 250 minor league games. He won his first Gold Glove at the age of 23. The point is that if the player has the tools and athleticism to handle a position, they typically get much better with experience.

I'm not saying that we expect Everth to win a Gold Glove at SS, but this gets to your second question - why would we pick these guys? We picked them not solely because of what they are today, but also because of what we believe they can become.

In past years we've taken Rule 5 guys who can play a particular position or fill a certain role even though that's likely all they might ever do at the ML level. The good news is that our minor league system is now providing us with those players. This afforded us an opportunity in this year's draft, an opportunity to take a chance (or two) on players who have a higher ceiling in the future while filling a role today.

In the immediate term, Cabrera can play at least three positions (2B, SS, and CF), has impact speed, and is an excellent bunter. Most National League managers would love to have that guy available to them. Nova is a solid strikethrower, has a fastball that averages around 92-93 and flashes above average secondary pitches. Most teams won't do much better than that with the 12th pitcher on their staff.

In the longer term, Cabrera could be a leadoff-hitting middle-of-the-diamond defender with impact speed, and Nova could be a middle of the rotation starter with plus stuff. Will either player fulfill that promise? Very simply, we don't know. I wish we were that good. However, their ability to fill a role now while also projecting to more significant roles down the line made them worth the selections.

Now, of course, they actually need to make the team. We'll see how that goes come February and March, as neither one is assured of a spot.

PS The allure of Deivi Cruz was that he was an excellent defender at SS regularly posting above average fielding percentages and range factors. He played 1124 ML games at SS and just 51 at 2B.

20 comments:

Padman42 said...

Mr Depodesta,

I thought it was a great comment by Web (who I had to congratulate on his home message board) and glad that you gave this the response it deserved. I know this probably will not happen, but I would like to see Cabrera be the everyday starting SS starting opening day. If the Padres are going to go cheap...I mean "young" then lets start the young guys. As a fan I have a lot more patience with a team if they are young and full of talent. However it seems that every year we have the "stop gap" player (like a Devi Cruz) who is only there for 1 year. If we really are rebuilding than why not go with players like Cabrera and Antonelli, and let the fans watch them develop into, what I think will be above average middle infielders.

Also I was slightly intrigued that the Padres drafted Nova. From everything I saw I thought the Padres would have gone after another young pitcher in the Yankees system (Alan Horne). Horne was drafted in the first round, has great stuff, and unlike Nova pitched in AAA last year (and will be 25 in 09'). For that reason its not as much of a stretch to forsee Horne in the rotation compared to Nova. Just wondering if the injury last year scared the Padres away, or if they did just like Nova that much better?

Tom said...

Deivi Cruz's allure was mainly to opposing pitchers. "I can literally roll the ball to the plate and he'll swing at it." In fairness to him, he'd catch anything he could get to. But he aged quickly and what he could get to was soon "not all that much."

There's little downside to either Rule 5 player making the team, which will hopefully be a decision not based on how they do in limited spring action. They're an investment. We'll lose more games with them than with league-average players, but there's no real difference between losing 92 and losing 102. It's like getting two draft prospects for 100K total. That's 7th rounder money.

Marc said...

I just wanted to say how much i appreciate Mr. DePodesta taking the time to write this blog. As a transplanted San Diego native (Grossmont High class of '69) i still follow the Padres even through tough times. Thanks for the effort- Marc Grosso

JC said...

Hi Paul,
So no comment on the officially being put on the market? I'd have to think that would take precedence over a rule V draft pick.
What will happen to the future of the franchise now? For that matter, where do you see yourself personally under a new ownership?

WebSoulSurfer said...

Paul,

Thank you for answering my comment directly. I was floored that you thought it was important enough to devote a blog posts just to my comment.

I think it is awesome that as fans we have access to a blog by FO personnel of a MLB team. That you seem to care what we think makes it even better.

Originally I only posted about it on my blog, but I wanted to give you an opportunity to answer and I appreciate greatly that you did.

Hopefully I didn't tick you off too bad and you will continue answering some of my comments on your blog.

Websoulsurfer

hector said...

Cabrera at the very least will provide Bud Black an opportunity to play some small ball.

Paul,

Is there a shift in the Front Office to include some of the concepts like speed and athleticism? I think the best results will be achieved when you diversify the approach. I love OBP and SLG, but we cannot ignore the other aspects.

My favorite stats is the 2B, BB, R and RBI. R and RBI are more a matter of opportunity, but also about the player taking advantage of that opportunity.

Ace2110 said...

Paul,

As always it's nice to get more of an insider perspective then is given by either of the local fishwraps.

Any comment on the sale of the team?

Any comment on Giles?

Lastly, wouldn't the selection of someone with bigger upside in the rule 5 draft, instead of a piece to a roster be more dependent on how the front office views the roster this year?

It would seem to me that a team headed for 70 wins would be more willing to risk 2 roster spots on future talent then the Yankees or Red Sox......

You guys do realize that the #3-5 spots in the rotation are the worst in baseball right now right?

JJT said...

Paul
I would love your comments on this, as it moderately pertains to this discussion.

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/more-2b3b-stuff

hector said...

when it rains...

All this turbulence should make you guys better in the front office, but it is not one thing, it is another, or another... it is demoralizing.

On a positive note, can you tell us aobut the 18 yr old kid the Padres signed...

Nathan said...

I like both these picks because they are low risk, high reward, especially long term. They're both going to be given every opportunity to succeed in spring training and earn a spot on the opening day roster. If they do, great. If they don't or if they falter during the season and we end up sending them back to their former teams, oh well, no big loss. If, and yes it does seem like a big if, a guy like Cabrera can make the jump from A ball to the pros, then good for him and good for us. We really don't have much to lose, and considering the kind of production we got out of the SS position last year, it can't get much worse than it already was.

As for the other issues facing the Padres, I hope you decide to keep these blog posts to personnel issues, a kind of safe haven from off the field drama.

field39 said...

Who is Eugenio Reyes and why is he following the Padres around?

David said...

Can we get a write-up on Chris Britton and Eliezer Alfonzo?

Seem like two good signings.

Jimmy said...

Mr Depodesta,

I wonder if you can/would comment on the possibility of a salary cap in baseball. I'm a huge dodger fan and would prefer you get rid of peavy(so we dont' face him), however I'm tired of watching home grown talent leave teams b/c of salary while teams like the yanks and rsox can continually give away money each year and take everyone's talent.

I want to see teams that grow talent have the ability to compete with the yanks and sox rather than be AAAA squads. I am fortunately a dodger fan so we have a bit more ability to keep our home grown talent, however I still don't think that's fair to teams like the royals, minnesota, pads, etc.

Is there any chance on the horizon for a salary cap, especially considering today's economy or will the players union completely block the idea forever?

Nathan said...

hey Paul,

there's a lot of recent press on the market for closers, or lack thereof, and it seems like the market for Trevor Hoffman may have dried up, making the $4 million original offer seem like it may in fact have been too high. Do you think perhaps that it's time for some healing in the team's relationship with Trevor, perhaps re-opening negotiations for his services with a fresh start at the start of the new year? It seems like the Padres may be his best option to close next year at this point, it might just be a matter of getting over hurt feelings.

Steve S said...

Dear Mr. DePodesta:

Please tell the Padres to stop taking all of our relievers.

Sincerely,
The Yankees

willkoky said...

Yeah, I dearly wish Doug Melvin would do this for the Brewers. The Brewers have some great fans who understand baseball well and would love to ask questions of the GM and assistant GM in our case. Heck we'd settle for the assistant assistant gm if they could relay interesting information. Thanks for this blog, I hope it inspires more GMs. And here's a quesiton, are Callix Crabbe's MLB chances better off now or without you taking him last year?

State Champs 04 said...

Mr. Depodesta,

How do you feel about Jeff Moorad becoming your new owner

jay mack said...

I really appreciate you doing this blog, it is most helpful. About the possibility of a new owner. Do you go about business as usual or can you anticipate a higher payroll. ie keep Jake and Trevor? Thanks

Steve Adler said...

Well I think we are all crossing our fingers! I'd love nothing more than to see a burner in the lineup!

You Know Me! said...

Can you compile a list of our top 20 prospects or so and what level you project them to be at next year?