Friday, July 31, 2009

Peavy to the White Sox

Today, just seconds before the 1pm pacific trading deadline, we acquired LHP Clayton Richard, LHP Aaron Poreda, RHP Adam Russell, and RHP Dexter Carter from the White Sox for RHP Jake Peavy. The final minutes were quite a whirlwind, but in the end it got done.

Here's a quick breakdown of each guy:

Clayton Richard - A 25 year old, 6'5" left-hander out of the University of Michigan, Clayton has spent the entire 2009 season in the Majors with the White Sox. Between 14 starts and 12 relief appearances he has compiled a 4.65 ERA in 89 innings. Particularly tough on left-handed hitters, Clayton has limited them to a .643 ops over his 137 innings in the big leagues. A good strike thrower who also gets more than his share of groundballs, Clayton will move right into our rotation in San Diego.

Aaron Poreda - The first round pick of the White Sox in 2007, Aaron made his Major League debut earlier this season out of the bullpen for the Sox. However, he had spent essentially his entire minor league career as a starter, and that's how we see him fitting with us in the long term. A power left-hander at 6'6", 240 lbs, Aaron has thrown up to 96 mph and generally sits in the 93-94 range. Like Clayton Richard, Aaron is a good strike thrower who also generates groundballs. Over the course of this season in the minors (AA and AAA) he has a 2.54 ERA with 78 k's in 74.1 innings. He'll be reporting to AAA Portland where he'll be part of that rotation.

Adam Russell - At 6'8", 250 lbs and possessing a fastball that runs as high as 97 mph, Adam can be an intimidating presence on the mound. Moved to the bullpen full time in 2008, Adam has split the past two seasons between AAA and the ML (3.07 ERA in AAA and a 5.19 ERA in the ML in 26ip). Like Poreda, he'll report to Portland where he'll go into the bullpen to complete a trio of potential back end bullpen types with 96-97 mph fastballs - Webb, DeLaCruz, and Russell.

Dexter Carter - A 13th round pick in 2008 out of Old Dominion, Dexter is currently leading the South Atlantic League in strikeouts with 143 in 118 ip (meanwhile, our own Simon Castro is leading the Midwest League, the other A league, in k's). Dexter is 6'6", 200 lbs and has a fastball that runs anywhere between 87 and 93 mph. So far as a professional he has a combined 2.80 ERA in 184 innings with with 147 hits and 57 walks allowed while striking out 232. Not a bad start to a career.

In summary, we needed a frontcourt to be able to compete against some of our 2009 draftees.

In all seriousness, we're very excited about the return here. In the past week we've added four young pitchers with Major League experience and power arms (Gallagher, Richard, Poreda, and Russell). In trading someone like Jake, we did not want to have to take all A-ball prospects who inevitably carry high risk and don't show up in Petco for years to come (if they do at all). Instead, we have guys who can contribute either immediately or very soon and who have the chance to be part of our Club for many years going forward. We may have to reload, but that doesn't mean we have to take years to do it.

We need look no further than 2009 to illustrate just how important starting pitching and particularly depth in starting pitching is to winning in the Major Leagues and especially in Petco (we're currently second to last in the NL in ERA for starters). The playoff caliber clubs here in San Diego from 2004-2007 all had solid starting staffs, and two of them (2006 and 2007) led the NL in starter's ERA. We need to get back there, and we believe we can.

Doing it without Jake, of course, makes it challenging. He has been nothing short of a tremendous pitcher for the Padres. We're incredibly fortunate to have had him here, and it was a difficult decision to trade him, as I'm sure it was a difficult decision for him to approve the trade. After all, though this is a business, it is a personal one, not only for us, but also for the players, their families, and all of the fans.

That having been said, though we're not yet all the way to where we want to be, this deal was a significant step toward giving us a better chance to win in 2010 and beyond. Our concentration of talent made us deeply vulnerable to the unexpected, so it's important for us to build quality balance - an imperative that we've been aggressively pursuing and that this deal helps us achieve. We're certainly a younger team, but we're very excited about the potential of these players, especially as many of them (Blanks, Latos, Cabrera, etc) are beginning to show what they can do at the ML level.

It's going to be fun to see what these guys can do.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


I guess three weeks is enough, and I couldn't leave you hanging as we approach the deadline.

Today we announced the acquisition of Sean Gallagher as the player to be named later in the Scott Hairston trade with Oakland. I know many of you attempted to post comments in the past couple of weeks regarding Sean, but I did not publish them as it was not official until today. I didn't think it was fair to Sean or the A's to add to the speculation. However, now that we can talk about it...

Sean is a 23 year old right-hander with 144 Major League innings under his belt. At 6'2", 235, Sean has shown a big fastball, which combined with his minor league dominance (a 2-something ERA at all four full-season levels: A, A+, AA, and AAA) helped him get to the big leagues with the Cubs when he was just 21 years old. His fastball can be overpowering (90-96) at times, though our scouts have also seen him in the 88-92 range.

Spending most of 2008 in the Majors with Chicago and Oakland, Sean pitched 115.1 innings, giving up 118 hits and 58 walks while striking out 103. The strikeouts are particularly impressive for a 22-year old rookie, and it was encouraging that he was able to hold both left-handed hitters and right-handed hitters below an .800 ops. He did miss three weeks toward the end of the season with shoulder inflammation but came back to make four appearances in September. This year he has been on the DL since early June with a knee issue. We're not sure whether he'll be able to pitch again this season, but regardless we're expecting him to be at full strength in plenty of time for spring training.

This acquisition gives us another Major League ready starting pitcher with big potential upside.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Scott Hairston to Oakland

Today we traded OF Scott Hairston to the Oakland A's for RHP's Ryan Webb and Craig Italiano as well as a player to be named later.

Ryan Webb is a 6'6" 23 year old pitcher currently with AAA Sacramento. Originally a 4th round pick by the A's out of Clearwater Central Catholic HS in Florida, Ryan has been a starter throughout his minor league career until this season in AAA (though he has made two starts). Ryan has always been a good strike thrower with an above average arm (fastball that runs 90-94) who generated plenty of ground balls. His already plus velocity has jumped even higher this summer in the pen, touching as high as 99 mph. We really like Ryan's upside.

A 2nd round pick in 2005, Craig Italiano is a 6'4" 22 year old pitcher currently with high A Stockton in the Cal League. Like Webb, he also has a power arm, pitching as a starter between 91 and 95 mph. Having missed most of 2006 (shoulder tendinitis) and 2007 (skull fracture), Craig hasn't had the same pro experience as most 2005 draftees. He split the 2008 season between the Midwest League the Cal League, posting a 3.78 ERA with 112 strikeouts in 100 innings. His walks have been on the high side, but that's not unusual for a young power arm.

Unfortunately, I can't divulge any information on the player to be named later, but when the time comes, I'll write a breakdown of him as well.

While trading Scott is difficult and not without risk, especially given his excellent production this season, this move provides us with some young power arms with big upside - a real need for us - while also allowing for other young players to continue to amass Major League at-bats in our outfield.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Dodgers in Town

So tonight is the return.

It's not really my place to comment - after all, he's not our player and we have a game to win - but I'm interested in hearing your thoughts. What will the reception be? What should the reception be?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Player of the Month

At the conclusion of every month we name both a Player of the Month and a Pitcher of the Month in the minor leagues. Mike Wickham, our Director of Minor League Operations, sends out the ballots to both front office and field staff, and my guess is that it's usually a pretty lopsided vote. In fact, I'd be surprised if more than two players or two pitchers receive any votes at all in any given month.

This month, however, is different.

June was witness to a slew of remarkable offensive performances (as well as pitching performances) in our system. I think it's a tough call, as a number of players are deserving of the award. Therefore, I'm putting you to work. The stats are below (arranged by level and then alpha) and the poll is on the right.
  1. Kyle Blanks, AAA .370/.478/.630 in 66 pa's
  2. Craig Stansberry, AAA .330/.417/.394 in 108 pa's
  3. Brian Joynt, AA .358/.400/.593 in 88 pa's
  4. Lance Zawadzki, AA .381/.474/.567 in 114 pa's
  5. Logan Forsythe, A+/AA .345/.477/.540 in 109 pa's
  6. Danny Payne, A+ .316/.464/.605 in 97 pa's
  7. Beemer Weems, A+ .319/.479/.444 in 90 pa's
  8. Sawyer Carroll, A/A+ .344/.443/.611 in 106 pa's
  9. James Darnell, A/A+ .370/.452/.593 in 93 pa's
  10. Dan Robertson, A .358/.400/.494 in 86 pa's
  11. Blake Tekotte, A .348/.446/.609 in 107 pa's
Those are some serious numbers!

Of course, these aren't all the relevant stats, but it gives you a quick overview. I expect you to provide some reasoning in the comments section!