mvn
Posted August 3rd, 2009 by mvn
Tags: Baseball, San Diego Padres
1%

Padres Do Well In Jake Peavy Trade

Many
big-name players were traded before the 4:00 deadline on Friday
afternoon. To me, it was the most exciting day to be a baseball fan in
some time. I just love seeing trades develop and then go through, and
the sheer number of players switching uniforms made for an interesting
day to follow the sport.

By far the biggest surprise, though,
was the Jake Peavy swap. With Peavy not expected back until August, I
was shocked to see his name even come up in discussions, let alone be
moved completely. I almost fell out of my chair when I saw the report
that he was traded to the Chicago White Sox for Dexter Carter, Aaron
Poreda, Clayton Richard and Adam Russell come up on my computer screen
at work. After a few tweets from journalists then confirmed that the
White Sox would eat the remainder of Peavy’s salary, I was even more
floored. It was definitely a fun way to lead up to the 4:00 cutoff
point.

From where I am standing, the Padres are easily the big
winners and I question the decision on Chicago’s end, given the payroll
considerations. Peavy is due to make at least $56-M over the length of
his contract, potentially up to $74-M if his option is picked up in
2013. Here is his exact contract info, courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts:

• 3 years/$52M (2010-12), plus 2013 club option o signed extension with San Diego 12/12/07 o 10:$15M, 11:$16M, 12:$17M, 13:$22M club option ($4M buyout) o full no-trade clause for 2010, may block trades to 14 clubs in 2011 and 8 clubs in 2012 (also earns 10-and-5 rights in 2012) o
award bonuses: $0.1M for WS MVP; $0.1M each for MVP or Cy Young
($50,000 for 2nd, $25,000 for 3rd); $50,000 for All Star starter;
$25,000 for All Star selection; $50,000 each for LCS MVP, Gold Glove
o acquired by Chicago White Sox in trade from San Diego 7/31/09

San
Diego will have a difficult time contending in the immediate future, so
having such a significant portion of the team payroll tied into a
single pitcher about to enter his 30s would not have been an efficient
allocation of resources. Freeing itself of that financial commitment
alone is a huge boost for the Padres, who can now use those payroll
savings to build for the future; perhaps the money will go to signing
draft picks, international free agents or to lock up hometown hero and
slugger Adrian Gonzalez.

After battling elbow issues that
limited him in 2008, Peavy is currently on the disabled list with a
torn ankle tendon. Plus, not only is he on the shelf right now, he is
tremendously overrated, anyway. Kenny Williams loves to deal,
especially for high-profile players, and somehow always finds way to
build a winner. Williams and the franchise are taking a major gamble
here, though, falling for the brand name.

Do not get me wrong.
Jake Peavy is an elite starting pitcher. A Cy Young starting pitcher.
Indeed, the right-hander has posted rates of 9.04 K/9, 2.92 BB/9 and
0.90 HR/9 and a 3.46 Fielding Independent Pitching Mark (FIP) in eight
major league seasons, which is impressive. However, it would be foolish
to ignore how much he has benefited from pitching in the weakest
offensive division in the National League while making half of his
starts in one of the easiest places to pitch in the majors; he has
posted a 2.83 ERA at home and a 3.84 ERA on the road during his career.
Essentially, while he is extremely effective and a legitimate
front-line starter, he is not nearly as good as the casual fan is led
to believe.

When Peavy does return–and he is a big injury
risk–he is in for a rude awakening, moving to the superior American
League and away from an easy home ball park to pitch in to a fairly
difficult one. As well, instead of facing the pitcher every eight guys,
he now has to go against Melky Cabrera-types. Chicago is still getting
a good pitcher, but odds are high that he will fail to live up the
remaining dollars on the contract, and, even if he does not, the value
between what he earns and makes will be fairly minimal.

Williams
is going for it, and perhaps Peavy will return from the disabled list
to lead the White Sox back to the Promised Land; the club does boast a
formidable front four in its pitching staff once he gets back. He is
giving up a lot, in terms of money and players, to roll the dice,
though.

In addition to eating the rest of the big contract,
Chicago sent along a fairly nice package–essentially the same group
that was offered earlier this spring, when Peavy was actually
healthy–of pitchers to San Diego.

Carter, a 22-year-old
right-hander, was a project when the White Sox took a flier on him in
the 13th-round of the ‘08 draft. Scouts loved his velocity, but his
mechanics left a lot to be desired. As well, he hardly tore up the
collegiate level at Old Dominion, posting an 8.76 ERA in 37.0 innings pitched during his
final spring at school. Since signing, though, something seems to have
clicked for him. He has made progress cleaning out his mechanics and,
while the competition is not that much different than what he faced in
college, has put up solid statistics at the lower levels of the minor
leagues.

The live arm that scouts were excited about indeed
translated into results for Carter at Rookie Ball in ‘08. He went 6-1
with a 2.23 ERA, 2.49 FIP and outstanding rates of 11.67 K/9 and 0.39
HR/9 in 68.2 innings pitched. His 3.56 BB/9 was a bit high, but he
overmatched young hitters, allowing only 44 hits and punching out 89.
The success has continued for him in A-Ball in 2009, as he is 6-2 with
a 3.13 ERA and 2.84 FIP in 118.0 innings pitched. Batters are hitting
him a bit harder, but he is still missing bats at an impressive clip
(10.91 K/9) and has cut down on the walks (2.44 BB/9).

Carter is
still extremely far away from the highest level, of course, and scouts
want to see him continue to excel against more advanced competition
before they will become completely sold. He has done a lot to solidify
his prospect status, though, displaying more consistency of a low-90s
fastball and developing curveball as well as the results. Although he
was left off the organizational top 10 by Baseball America
this offseason, he would have been a safe bet to crack the list the
next time around because of his to-date performance. He may never pan
out in San Diego, and his ceiling is that of a number three starter at
best, but he adds another quality arm to a farm system looking for exactly that.

The
highest-ranked chip sent to the Padres in the deal, Poreda is a solid-but-not-elite prospect. The 6-foot-6 southpaw, selected in the first
round of the 2007 draft out the University of San Francisco, has an
explosive mid-90s fastball that generates excellent sink and has
touched 100 MPH on the radar gun. He is essentially a two-pitch hurler,
though, and has had difficulty commanding the strike zone with his
high-70s slider. Indeed, he still has a lot of work to do to refine the
pitch. It would be wise for the Padres to give him every chance to
figure it out as a starter, where his value will be considerably
higher, but many scouts are excited about the possibilities of him
emerging as an elite relief ace; his stuff would play up in a bullpen
role, where he could mask his lack of repertoire diversity and unleash
his velocity in short bursts. While he has some issues to work out, he
was still one of the top overall prospects in the White Sox farm
system; Baseball America named him the top prospect in the organization in ‘08 and he checked in at two, behind infielder Gordon Beckham, in ‘09.

The
22-year-old Poreda had an outside shot at the fifth slot in the Chicago
starting rotation during spring training. The organization chose to
send him down to the minors for another shot at Double-A–he went 3-4
with a 2.38 ERA and 3.15 FIP in 15 starts at the level in ‘08–and to
work out his command issues and further develop his slider. While he
struggled with his control (4.90 BB/9), he had his impressive moments
and quickly earned a promotion. In 11 starts overall, he posted a 2.38
ERA, 3.33 FIP and excellent rates of 9.65 K/9 and 0.14 HR/9. While the
walks were concerning, he was tough to face, surrendering only 47 base
hits and one home run in 64.1 innings pitched.

Having seen
enough, Chicago bumped him to Triple-A, where he turned in a pair of quality
starts before his recent-call up to the big club. He has made 10 relief
appearances in the majors, striking out 12 in 11.0 innings pitched. He
is never going to be an ace, and he could indeed wind up in the bullpen
long term. If he can straighten out his command and develop some form of third
pitch, though, the Padres could have just landed a quality mid-rotation
starter at the major league level under team control well into the next
decade. Plus, he will certainly enjoy moving to the N.L. and cavernous
Petco Park, which has made pitchers look better than they actually are
since its inception.

Richard, the former University of Michigan
star, was a good pick up. His ceiling is limited, but he is cheap and
under team control for a while. He does not have swing-and-miss stuff,
instead pitching to contact and relying on a low-90s (avg. velocity:
91.1 MPH) sinker that forces hitters to roll over their hands and drive
the ball into the ground. Indeed, he has put up a 48.5 GB% in two major
league seasons, along with rates of 6.26 K/9, 3.29 BB/9 and 1.01 HR/9.
Overall, he is 6-8 with a 5.14 ERA and 4.38 FIP in 136.2 career innings
and has amassed 2.1 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in the majors.
Although he will not reap the benefits as much as fly ball pitcher would,
moving to such an extreme hitting-friendly environment to an extreme
pitching-friendly environment and to the weaker league will help, too.
Plus, he is still refining the craft at 25 years old and will provide
good value in terms of dollars earned/made.

As a reliever with
minimal upside, Russell has the least value of the group. He still has
a lot of ability and a live arm, though, relying on an explosive
fastball (avg. velocity 94.5 MPH), high-70s slider, and curve ball. But
he does not miss a whole lot of bats (6.4 K/9 rate in six minor league
seasons), either, and was lit up in his major league debut with the
White Sox in ‘08. That said, he has served as a solid relief piece at
Triple-A Charlotte in ‘09, posting rates of 8.15 K/9, 2.88 BB/9 and
0.80 HR/9 with a 3.20 ERA and 3.66 FIP in 56.1 innings pitched.

Clearly,
there are a ton of guys like Russell in the minors. But he adds another
arm and body to a team looking to enhance its pitching depth. As well,
he is ready to join a major league bullpen and will also benefit from a transition to the inferior N.L.

Recap:

The
package sent to San Diego lacked any real impact, superstar talent. The
Padres free up a ton of payroll, though, and succeeded at its goal of
adding quantity, all for an overrated pitcher whose home ballpark has
made him seem much better than he actually is. The franchise may have
botched the negotiations over the winter, but this was a great trade
for San Diego right now, especially considering that Peavy is hurt. Chicago, on the other hand, receives a pitcher
with star power who will help win now. He is expensive, though, and
comes with a ton of red flags.

Give credit to the Pads.

Tyler Hissey is the editor of Around the Majors and host of Minor League Notebook Weekly, FirstInning.com’s online radio show. Tyler, a 23-year-old baseball fanatic who works in Boston, was a recent guest of Sid Rosenberg’s baseball show on OpenSports.com.

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