Padres Prospect Mailbag: DecemberPosted by in AZL Padres | Eugene Emeralds | Fort Wayne Tin Caps | Lake Elsinore Storm | Mailbag | San Antonio Missions | Tucson Padres
Some questions have been slightly edited to be shorter and more direct. If you have a question for the next Padres Prospect Mailbag, shoot us an email: email@example.com
The Rays just locked up Matt Moore. When are the Padres going to do this with one of their young players and show the fans that they are serious about winning? – Steve
There are two things to consider here: 1) both Moore and the Rays are taking on a significant amount of risk in this move 2) the Padres lack the type of talent that you would consider giving this type of contract.
To the first point – Yes, this deal (much like the one given to Evan Longoria) looks fantastic on paper. The Rays just assured themselves what many pundits believe to be a premier, front-of-the-rotation starter through his age-30 season for a maximum cost of $40 million. To make this deal even sweeter for the club if Moore blows out his arm in his first start of 2012 they have only guaranteed him $14 million! But even $14 million for a club like the Rays that operates on razor thin margins is a significant commitment considering the attrition rate of young pitchers.
For Moore, his risk is tied to the fact that he may just live up to expectations meaning that he will lose out on tens of million of dollars in potential earnings through arbitration and his first few years of free agency. On the other hand, as mentioned above he could suffer a career ending injury next season but still have a nice $14 million cushion to help out him and his family.
To the second point – When teams begin discussing offering contracts to players with less than two years of service time the first question that is asked is: “What do we believe this player will become?”
While the Padres currently have one of the top farm systems in the league, they simply lack the elite level talent – top three to five in all of baseball – that you’d consider guaranteeing more the five years to before seeing any sort of production.
What do you make of this whole Drew Cumberland situation? – Tim
While the situation has definitely taken a turn for the better we still know little about Cumberland’s prospect status heading into 2012. Prior to 2011 he was easily considered a Top 10 prospect in the system, but concussion-like symptoms held him out for the majority of the season before he was diagnosed with what was reportedly a career ending condition.
Now Cumberland – who was just recently cleared to resume baseball activities – has plans to resume his baseball career without missing a beat, but this time as a second baseman.
Here is where we do need to note a few cautionary points:
1) The last game Cumberland played was on July 2010 for Double A San Antonio. Remember, he hasn’t necessarily been rehabbing from a traditional injury that would limit his physical activity; he has been doing little to no physical activity. In addition, Cumberland hasn’t faced any sort of live pitching in 17 months.
2) Look at the date on that first article. So – as of August 17 – Cumberland was still facing side effects that were severe enough that they were affecting his everyday life. The medicine and exercises have reportedly subdued (not cured) his condition enough for him to try and resume his career, but we really have no case examples to fall back on as examples of athletes coming back from this condition.
3) When Cumberland returns it will be as a second baseman. While this position suits his physical skill set more than shortstop it is also the most injury prevalent position on the diamond due to collisions on double plays and crossing the path of runners while fielding grounders.
I’m not trying to sound pessimistic, just realistic. I’m glad that it sounds like Cumberland has this condition under control enough that he’ll be able to live a normal life. The fact that he is able to attempt a baseball comeback is a huge bonus. It’s just important to keep this all in perspective.
Do you think Jesus Guzman can hold down the hot corner defensively until Jedd Gyorko is ready, possibly late next season? – Shannon
In short, no. I’m no fan of using errors to determine defensive ability but lets examine Guzman’s career at third base.
In 504 career games at third in the minors Guzman has committed 109 errors. If you take that same percentage of errors per game that’s 35 over a full MLB season. Mark Reynolds led all third basemen in errors in 2011 with 26 and is generally considered one of the worst fielders at any position.
At this stage of his career Guzman can offer a solid offensive option that will be less valuable to a National League team. His minor league production is a bit deceptive as much of it came in the friendly confines of the California and Pacific Coast Leagues where Guzman has played 562 of 881 career minor league games.
He can be passable in left field and at first base, but relying on Guzman to play third base in anything but an emergency situation would go against one of the Padres’ main organizational philosophies of run prevention.
We know about most of the big-name prospect in the Padres’ system. Who are some of the guys outside of the Top 10 who could breakout in 2011? – David
The most obvious answer is Donavan Tate. While he has struggled to stay on the field during his brief career – just 64 games in three seasons – Tate still has star-level tools that would shoot him up prospect lists if they begin to actualize.
A few other intriguing names:
Jace Peterson – fulltime baseball player for the first time in his life
John Barbato – projectable frame and enough raw stuff to dream on
Zach Cates – struggles with location but elite-level ability when he’s on
Jose Dore – was drafted completely based off tools but he needs to make more contact
Luis Domoromo – a personal favorite, Domoromo is very young and could put up big power numbers in the California League
Alberth Martinez – still realizing his own abilities, flashed an exciting power/speed combination
You’ve mentioned on Twitter a few times the idea of trading Mat Latos. What sort of a package could the Padres expect in return?
Right off the top I need to say that this offseason doesn’t seem like the most opportune time to deal Latos.
Make no mistake about it: Latos was phenomenal in 2010 in his first full big league season. His 9.27 K/9 and 44.7% ground ball rate put him in an extremely elite category before even mentioning the fact that he was just 22 years old. While makeup questions lingered – and still do – Latos showed that he has all the physical tools to be a top-of-the-rotation starter at the major league level.
Early season injuries and a rough first half led to many questioning whether the Padres had overused him in 2010, but Latos bounced back after the All-Star break to finish the year with an impressive 3.16 FIP.
Now we’re at a point where most of the desirable free agent pitchers have signed leaving Gio Gonzalez, Jair Jurjens and Latos as potential trade targets for hopeful contenders.
Any package involving Latos will require two things:
1) An MLB-ready player (or close to it – like Anthony Rizzo) that has a ceiling above first-division starter. Basically what this means is that the Padres are looking for a player with six years of control that projects to be a perennial All Star during their peak (top 10-15 prospect in baseball).
2) The second piece will either have to be a low-minors player with a similar ceiling (similar to Rymer Liriano) or another upper-minors player with a strong but limited ceiling (similar to Joe Wieland).
This potential trade is very different from both the Jake Peavy and Adrian Gonzalez deals since they are dealing a cost-controlled player with four years left of team control. The Padres need to be convinced to give up the best player in their organization whose peak fits the beginning of their contention window with how the organization is currently populated.
When looking for a potential trade partner try to pick out teams with multiple blue-chip prospects – since these teams would be more willing to part with some of their depth – and a window of contention centered around 2012-2015.