Thursday, February 5, 2009

Welcome, Cliff Floyd

Today we announced the signing of veteran OF, Cliff Floyd.

We've been talking for a number of weeks internally about the need to add a left-handed bat into the mix, as our bench was looking awfully right-handed. In an ideal world, we wanted to find a guy who could provide three primary skills: 1) the ability to do damage against RHP as either a pinch hitter, DH or occasional starter, 2) the ability to play somewhere other than 1B if need be, and 3) the ability to act as a leader for our younger players. We found a match in Cliff.

Performing in the DH role for a young Tampa Bay team in 2008, Cliff hit .268/.349/.455 and compiled an .819 OPS against RHP, so he could be a weapon for Buddy late in games. Last season we struggled to generate offense late in games, as our run production dropped significantly after the 6th inning. This isn't entirely unusual, because that's the point in the game when the better relievers are taking the mound. However, our drop was precipitous, no doubt influenced by the .540 OPS posted by our pinch hitters - by far the lowest in the National League. We knew this was an area that we needed to improve.

Importantly, we received positive reviews about Cliff's leadership and professionalism. No jokes about the MR here... we feel that the additions of David Eckstein, Henry Blanco and Cliff Floyd will help with the continued development of our young players and pitchers.

22 comments:

Nickfit said...

Paul,

It's interesting that you mention DH as part of the skill-set you targeted - you know, being in the NL and everything. I guess that begs the question: How much has interleague play changed NL teams' (and, more specifically, your) roster strategy? I hadn't thought very much about it before, but your post made me wonder a bit. It does seem that some teams have better rosters for interleague play (i.e Phillies using Howard at DH) than others (Red Sox trying to find a place for David Ortiz).

Thanks for your time!

Nick P

David said...

Can you comment on the decision to DFA Matt Bush? I assume the thinking goes that with so few spots open on 40 man rosters, if you don't find a trade you like, he won't get claimed in waivers?

Paul DePodesta said...

Thanks to mweldon for his recent comment. I didn't publish it, but I did get it.

Paul DePodesta said...

Nickfit,

It is something we at least need to keep in the back of our minds. It's typically only nine games per season, but quite frankly, we've been bad in interleague play and the DH hasn't helped.

In the past five years we posted a below average OPS out of the DH slot in each and every season: .695 in 2008, .394 (not a typo) in 2007, .687 in 2006, .653 in 2005, and .650 in 2004. The AL average in the past five years is roughly .790, whereas the NL average is about .730. We haven't even been at .620.

Again, these are small samples for NL Clubs, but the additional point here is that Cliff is a viable bat to put in the starting lineup on any given day. If any of our corner players need to miss a few days, we shouldn't take a big production hit with Cliff's bat in the lineup. Therefore, it's actually more than just those nine DH games.

Paul DePodesta said...

David,

You are correct that by designating Matt we create a window to explore trade opportunities. We intend to do so.

Nickfit said...

Paul,

Thank you very much for the response and thorough analysis. I consider myself sort of a stat-geek baseball fan, so an analysis that involves the level of detail to segregate and consider, even for only part of your roster-construction analysis, about 40 at bats per year, is very impressive! It shows the level of detail and importance given to every at bat and game. As we've seen, divisions are often won by a game (or a tie-breaker).

Thanks again and good luck this year!

Nick P

Chris D'Orso said...

Glad to see Cliff Floyd land in San Diego. As a long-time Mets fan, Cliff was one of my favorite players; David Wright, for one, has said that Cliff was instrumental in his development.

Best wishes to Cliff; I'll always root for him.

MSpiciarich said...

The chances of the Padres ($40-45m payroll) competing this season are slim. With that in mind, you signed Cliff Floyd and released Matt Bush. This could be one of the most egregious player personnel decisions in all of sports since Isiah Thomas was fired as GM of the Knicks.

Let's break this down.

The 36-year old Floyd makes his offseason home in Florida and his in season home on the DL. In the last five years, he has spent time on the shelf with injuries to his knees, ankles, thighs and feet. He has no real position making him a terrible fit in the the National League. He had a decent season last year with the Rays hitting .268/.349/.455, but the Pads need a lot more than Cliff Floyd to compete in the short term. At 36, he has no chance of being a long-term solution.

Bush was the first overall selection in the 2004 Rule V Draft. Sure, you drafted him as a shortstop only to convert him back into a pitcher. He has struggled on the mound and off (he had Tommy John surgery two years ago), but why give up now? Isn't he worth the flier?

I cannot fathom the thought process of the Pads' front office. How desperate was the need for a left-handed hitter (and a DH during interleague games) that you decided to give up on Bush? There is zero upside in this move.

David said...

Paul,

Many of us in San Digo are very confused by the DFA'ing of Matt Bush. All we've read have been favorable reports of his recovery and all we read last season were eye-opening reports of his velocity and stuff. With all the spare parts in lieu of pitchers, and the way the free agent market has played out, why not take a chance on the kid?

He's only 22 years old and it seems his upside has got to be glaringly larger than a Joe Thatcher or Chad Reineke or many other arms or second baseman on the 40-man.

Can we get some insight into the thinking of this move? DFA'ing to trade him doesn't make sense to me because the club loses all of its leverage.

field39 said...

It seems an odd time to give up on Matt. He failed at SS, showed promise as a pitcher, blew out his elbow and now that he is recovering. You cut him loose, to make room for an aging pinch hitter, on a rebuilding team.

Apparently this is why I pay to get in, because I don't get this on at all.

Shock said...

Paul,

Any word on this supposed incident that Matt Bush was involved in?

It's a shame. That kid had and still does have a ton of talent.

Just curious if it is all related to some of his previous indiscretions or something baseball-related.

Loren said...

Paul

I've been a fan of some of your other moves, even when I wasn't 100% sure of the logic behind them. I liked the pick up of Eckstein and Blanco. I saw some of the logic behind some of the other lower level acquisitions made like Correria and the trade of Greene.

But its moves like that that make me swear that the Padres are trying to make their fans lose their sanity.

Floyd's never been a long term pinch hitter in his life. Its also a fact that very few former starters turn out to be great pinch hitters. You can count them on one hand. He's usually played the outfield, and he can't any longer because of his injury history and age. WHere are you going to use him? He can't cover any ground in Petco, so is he going to change into a 1B? Furthermore his DH stats are worthless, that's still a position where he could've gotten regular playing time, assuming he wasn't injured all year long like he was.

Sorry but all I see in this is that the Padres acquired someone they hope can become a good pinch hitter and you also ended up with a designated hitter for the 9 games we play in interleague. When you could've had someone who could at least play a position besides pinch hitter, play in the national league, you got a broken down guy who can only play in the american league.

Sorry Paul, this was a bad bad bad decision.

field39 said...

Never mind,

Please disregard the Bush post.

5150bill said...

I'm glad the Padres finally admitted the Matt Bush mistake. Towers wanted Weaver or Drew that year, but was vetoed by an owner who didn't want to overpay. You get what you pay for, everytime!
I think that some of Bush's off the field problems were brought on by the over expectations of being drafted WAY over his skill level.
Good move, time to move on.

Christopher said...

Good pickup in Floyd. The Mets missed him a little and struggled to fill that lead-by-example role with various spare parts, Alou being chief among them. Floyd may have had his disputes in the past, but from a fan's perspective, they were always motivated by a deep competitive drive and desire to excel. It's no surprise that David Wright saw that and enjoyed it. I hope the Friars take full advantage of it... just not on the Mets West Coast swing this year.

Clayton said...

Considering that Matt Bush is being investigated on allegations of assault I think that this was completely appropriate.

I am tired of this kid and its time that the Padres wash their hands of this mistake.

neifichicken said...

Cliff Floyd is always one of the sadder stories in baseball, because the words that always seem to follow any mention of Floyd is "what might have been". He was always considered a top talent for the Expos (back when they had an elite farm system producing bats like Floyd, Rondell White, Guererro, Galaragga, Larry Walker, Marquis Grissom, etc.) but just always seemed to run into injuries.

For a 4-year period during Floyd's prime (his age 27-30 seasons) Floyd managed to stay relatively healthy and put up some huge years with the bat. Those seasons fell within the "modern steroid" age of baseball so it was often overlooked, but those years truly were incredible. In 2001, Floyd hit .317/.390/.578 with 31 homers in 555 at-bats. That puts him right on par with the type of production Alex Rodriguez had last season, only Floyd did it on a losing team in a pitcher's park.

Obviously those days are well behind him, but I still think Floyd can be a very productive player in spirts. When he was last in the NL in 2007 with the Cubs, he posted a .373 OBP and I think there is plenty of merit to the argument that Floyd was unlucky last season. He showed more power in 08 than he has since 2005, with a .187 isoP and an 11.2% HR/BiA. Factor in his LD% 24.9% (probably skewed by sample size, but still) and his BABIP doesn't seem to make much sense given how well he hit pitches last year.

PETCO isn't going to help his power, but he still brings a great approach and should be a productive player

John said...

To all of you thinking Matt Bush still deserves a chance, remember that this is his third incident involving drunken behavior and possible assault charges. Even if he turns out to be a good player in many many years, he's got way too many problems off the field right now for the Padres to want to even be associated with him.

I still can't belive he had the audacity to say, "I'm Matt @%^&in' Bush," as if he's actually proved himself to anyone. I heard several players have tried to help him out, but he blows them off because he thinks he's the... (you know).

havok91784 said...

Paul,

I know this is way off topic, but I thought it to be kind of funny. There is a rumor Brad Pitt might play Billy Beane in a movie based on Moneyball. What do you think, good choice? Who would you want to play you in that movie?

Steve24 said...

Floyd, Eckstein, Blanco can all help the young players in the first half. Then, after they've done their job and the Pads have fallen back a little in the standings (which I'm sure everyone expects), the front office can look to deal them to contenders looking to make a late push (ala Maddux, Wolfe, Tony Clark). I like Floyd, I just hope he doesn't play too much because that will mean we're seeing more of Hairston, Gerut, Headley & maybe even Venable.

Bush is a sad story. Reminds me of Ryan Leaf or maybe even John Rocker. The possible rewards he might bring do not out weigh the negative influence he might bring to the young players the Padres are trying to develop. This sends a clear message to the young players that talent isn't everything.

Bravo to the front office for having the balls to finally cut ties with this chump.

Steve24 said...

USA Today Sports Weekly Feb 4-10, Top 100 prospects (ranked by who may have the biggest impact in 2009, not necessarily the top 100 prospects in the game).

24. Nick Hundley, C
29. Wade LeBlanc, LHP
64. Josh Greer, RHP
76. Matt Antonelli, 2b
79. Drew Macias, OF
82. Travis Denker, 2b
93. Will Venable, OF

It would appear that even with very good/great springs Antonelli & Denker are somewhat blocked this year by the Eckstein signing and Macias and Venable as well in a crowded OF featuring Hairston, Gerut, Headley, Giles, Floyd.

At what point do you need to just let young guys play at the ML level?

Obviously you want your development to have balance with vets to make the transition easier.

When do you have to make a decision if guys like Gerut & Hairtson will figure into your long term plans (beyond this year or perhaps next)?

Antonelli struggled last year so starting at AAA seems like a good move for him, but where does that leave Denker?

Any thoughts on moving a guy like Kouz to Minny for one of their young SPs?

Have there been any talks with Texas about Peavy? After them not being able to sigh Sheets I'd have to imagine they have the cash to add some salary. They're desperate for pitching, have a ton of great prospects who would fit the Padres style.

I'd love to see the Padres go after a M.Ramirez/T.Teagarden, Joaquin Arias (SS who could probably be expendable considering they have Elvis Andrus as their SS of the future), Neftali Feliz (shooting for the moon here)/Matt Harrison (more realistic).

Texas could use a CF type like Gerut too so that Hamilton could move to RF with Cruz in LF.

I'd have to imagine that treasure trove of young players would stack up pretty well with whatever the Cubs talks involved and Texas is more desperate. You might even get them to make a trade that would eventually rival the CY/Adrian deal.

Matt T said...

Hey Paul,

Quick question. I'm trying to do some undergraduate research on performance bonuses in baseball contracts. You know of any kind of previous work on this topic? Stuff that people like you in the industry would know of that the rest of us wouldn't? Is it a worthwhile area to spend substantial hours studying?

Thanks so much for your time,

MT
BSathletics25@yahoo.com