San Diego Padres: Bullpen Management & Draft Notes

The Padres have the most unique and effective bullpen in MLB, and it’s starting to turn heads. Padres manager Andy Green is as good as it gets in the dugout, and with the media. No one manages a bullpen or 25-man roster better. The Padres are currently 29th in OBP, 27th in SLG, 25th in runs scored, and 18th in total ERA. The only reason they are hanging around in the tough NL West (currently 34-38, 6.5 GB of ARZ) is because of Andy Green (below) and their unique bullpen. Let’s break it down.

On April 8, 2016 San Diego Padres GM AJ Preller claimed LHP Brad Hand off waivers from Miami Marlins (GM: Mike Hill). This happened just before Preller started trading his entire rotation, closer, and anything else he could dump. Brad Hand was available at the that trade deadline, and in 2017, but no fair offers came. Sometimes the best deals are the ones you don’t make, as Brad Hand (1.78 ERA, 35.1 IP, 21 saves) is now a relief ace and premium closer– under a team-friendly contract with a club option through 2021. Any MLB GM will tell you that is a championship-winning piece to the puzzle. His value may never be higher, but there’s no reason to trade him.

Right-handed set-up man Craig Stammen (above) was acquired on December 23, 2016 as a minor-league free agent, and invited to spring training. He performed and made the 25-man roster, and has been one of Andy Green’s most valuable bullpen pieces in complementing Brad Hand. He’s age 34 with a 2.23 ERA in 32.1 IP so far in 2018. Craig Stammen in 2017 had a 3.14 ERA in 80.1 IP for the Padres. He’s paid $2.25M/yr for 2018 & 2019. He’s a huge bargain in high-leverage situations– exactly where you need it.

On April 26, 2017 the San Diego Padres claimed RHP Kirby Yates (above) off waivers from Los Angeles Angels. Padres fans LOVE this guy! So far in 2018: 3-0, 1.00 ERA, 27.0 IP, with 2 saves. He’s pre-Arb2, with a salary of $1M in 2018. Andy Green sometimes uses Brad Hand in the 8th inning of a tight game, because that’s the match-up advantage or whatever.

Making the closer slot fluid, increases competitiveness in the bullpen. “Closer by committee” is an old-school baseball phrase, but this is something different. The Padres aren’t rotating their closer because they don’t have a reliable finisher, it’s because they have multiple guys capable of closing. This is very similar to the Cincinnati Reds “Nasty Boys” bullpen that won them a World Series in 1990. Kirby Yates is age 31, yet another Padres Arb2 player making $1M in 2018, and can’t be a free agent until 2021– at the earliest.

Righty side-armer (above) Adam Cimber (2018: 3-2, 2.52 ERA, 35.2 IP) is a guy the Padres actually drafted back in 2013, before AJ Preller became GM. But Padres fans know that the previous regime would have gotten rid of this guy long ago, and he’d be helping another team win games. Luckily for the Padres, new management understands the value of a good bullpen in high-leverage situations. It’s the difference between winning & losing a lot of games. Adam Cimber turns age 28 on August 15, and is Arb1, making the league-minimum salary of $545,000.

Rookie LHP José Castillo was acquired as part of the blockbuster Wil Myers deal with the Rays & the Nationals on December 19, 2014. This was AJ Preller’s signature deal as a rookie GM of the San Diego Padres. The key guy Preller gave up was SS Trea Turner to the Nationals. José Castillo is age 22 with electric stuff. He’s just been added to the bullpen, and so far in 2018 he’s 1-0, 0.00 ERA in 6.0 IP (4 games) with 12 K’s. San Diego Padres also sent C Rene Rivera, RHP Burch Smith and 1B Jake Bauers to Tampa in that deal.

As the trading deadline loomed last summer, on July 24, 2017 the Padres traded Brandon Maurer, Ryan Buchter and RHP Trevor Cahill to the Kansas City Royals for cash, 2B Esteury Ruiz, LHP’s Matt Strahm and Travis Wood.  Matt Strahm (above) and Ruiz were considered the booty in the deal for the Padres, as Travis Wood was released; then he got hurt in Spring Training with the Tigers and is probably finished in MLB. Cahill was a Padres rental, and Mauer & Buchter were fungible.

LHP Matt Strahm (2018 so far: 1-2, 2.55 ERA, 17.2 IP) was envisioned as a potential starter, but he’s still working his way back from a knee injury that he sustained with the Royals. The Padres have used him effectively as a long reliever and their “bullpen starter.” The bullpen start has gotten a lot of notice, especially in Tampa Bay, where the Rays have been forced to start a reliever repeatedly.

The plan for Andy Green is typically to have LHP Matt Strahm go through the line-up once, then bring in a right-handed long reliever to bridge to the “real” bullpen. An advantage of a bullpen start is that it prevents the opposition from stacking their lineup for the righty/lefty match-up advantage.

The Padres have had to use “bullpen starts” because they don’t have enough reliable starters. Teams are supposed to have five starters for a rotation. Most teams today don’t have even four reliable starters, and the Padres are among them. They actually have only two: RHP Tyson Ross & LHP Clayton Richard.

The rest of their “starters” include rookie LHP Eric Lauer who is 3-4, 6.20 ERA in 45 IP in 10 starts with a 1.98 WHIP. Eric Lauer was the Padres top pick in 2016 (#25 overall) out of Kent State, and just turned age 23. He has been rushed up to the majors due to injuries & poor performances, including: RHP Dinelson Lamet (TJ surgery), RHP Luis Perdomo (ineffective, optioned to minors), LHP Joey Lucchesi (DL- hip injury), and RHP Colin Rea (TJ surgery recovery from his one start while with the Marlins in 2016).

Taking a closer look at these numbers reveals a secret behind Andy Green’s success in managing this staff. Eric Lauer (below) has 10 starts with only 45 IP, for a 6.20 ERA. Eric Lauer typically only pitches 4-5 innings, and gives up 3 runs. That’s not good, but it’s not a disaster either. It would be a disaster if Andy Green tried to push Lauer another inning or two. Then those games would get out-of-Hand [!], giving him no chance to use his effective relievers in a situation that matters. By pulling his struggling starters early, or going to a bullpen start; Andy Green keeps the damage to a minimum which gives his team a chance to rally. In baseball, this is called being an outstanding manager, with an excellent “feel” for his team.

On August 1, 2017 RHP Jordan Lyles was released by the Colorado Rockies, and a week later AJ Preller grabbed him. The Padres had priority on NL waivers claims at the time, due to their poor record in 2016. This is just another example of how AJ Preller acquires talent outside-the-box. The Padres have used Lyles in 2018 as a their fill-in 4th starter; so far 2-3, 4.83 ERA in 20 games, seven of them starts. He’s pitched 59.2 innings, which averages 3 innings per appearance. This is the same situation as Eric Lauer, in that Jordan Lyles eats innings, but gets pulled early. This is because winning baseball theory says, “If you leave a 5.00+ ERA pitcher in too long, you lose.”

LHP Robbie Erlin (above) is another organizational soldier who has recovered from Tommy John surgery. Erlin was originally acquired from the Texas Rangers back in 2011 for righty set-up man Mike Adams. Robbie Erlin bombed as a starter in his few opportunities he had earlier this year, but he has found a niche as a lefty longman out of Andy Green’s bullpen. Overall, Robbie Erlin in 2018 is 1-3, with a 4.05 ERA in 40.0 IP and a WHIP of 1.05. His 19 appearances include 2 disaster starts which ballooned his ERA. Robbie Erlin has been very valuable during the bullpen starts, and in long relief.

The only thing left on the current Padres pitching staff (above) are RHP’s Bryan Mitchell & Phil Hughes. On December 12, 2017 the New York Yankees traded 3B Chase Headley, RHP Bryan Mitchell and cash to San Diego Padres for RF Jabari Blash. Blash was quickly DFA’d by the Yankees. This deal was made because 1) the Yankees needed to get under the salary cap as they were about to acquire Giancarlo Stanton; and 2) Padres GM AJ Preller liked RHP Bryan Mitchell.

The Padres took an Chase Headley’s $13M contract for 2018, in the hopes they could squeeze a year out of him and gain a potential starter (Mitchell) in the process. Headley bombed and was DFA’d by the Padres after a slow start, and Bryan Mitchell appears to have serious mechanical issues that are limiting his effectiveness. So far in 2018 Bryan Mitchell is 0 -3, with a 7.08 ERA in 48.1 IP. If that isn’t corrected, then this deal will be a $13M bust for the Padres. This only proves that no one wins them all as a GM in MLB.

Phil Hughes was acquired from the Twins on May 27, 2018 for minor-league C Janigson Villalobos. Twins are paying all of Phil Hughes $13.2M salary in 2018. In 2019 Hughes earns $13,200,000, of which only $5.95M will be paid by San Diego Padres. This deal was made by AJ Preller so he could acquire the 74th pick in this year’s amateur draft, and extra pool money.

Compensation picks are now tradeable in MLB, which is new. Unsurprisingly, AJ Preller was the first to take advantage of this new development, and get an advantage for his franchise. The Padres used this pick from the Twins in the “Competitive Balance B” section of the draft to take OF Grant Little from Texas Tech, with the 74th overall selection. The Padres forfeited their 2nd Round pick to the Kansas City Royals for signing unrestricted free agent 1B Eric Hosmer, so this deal made up for that lost draft pick. Nothing is more valuable in MLB than young talent, and AJ Preller (below) knows it.  So far in 2018 with the Padres Phil Hughes is 0-0, 4.05 ERA in 6.2 IP.

DL Note: Phil Maton is a righty set-up guy the Padres drafted in 2015. His 2018 numbers are 0-0, 0.56 ERA in 16.0 IP, with 17 K’s. Maton is currently on the DL with a right lat strain, and pitching in AA (San Antonio) for rehabilitation. The Padres will get him back after the All Star break at the latest, probably sending Jose Castillo down, as Bryan Mitchell and Phil Hughes can’t be optioned.

And finally… Carter Capps was the Marlins wipe-out closer in 2015, until his elbow snapped, necessitating Tommy John surgery. He was dealt to the Padres during his recovery in the controversial “Cashout” deal. On July 29, 2016 the San Diego Padres traded RHP’s Andrew Cashner & Colin Rea, with RHP-prospect Tayron Guerrero and cash to Miami Marlins for RHP Jarred Cosart, RHP Carter Capps, RHP Luis Castillo and 1B Josh Naylor. This deal has been discussed & analyzed in detail here.

Anyways the prize of the deal for the Padres was Carter Capps, whom they expected to return to form in 2017 as an elite closer after rehabbing his reconstructed right elbow. The problem was (and now forever is) that his delivery to home was an illegal motion. He was hopping off the mound, then replanting his back foot before firing home. This made him unhittable, as his ERA in 2015 was 1.16 in 31.0 IP before he got hurt.

MLB (finally) ruled in Spring Training of 2017, that Carter Capps’ delivery was illegal. Much of this can be seen as extended punishment of AJ Preller by the Eastern Establishment. That aside, the Padres have tried everything to change Capps’ delivery while keeping him effective, but nothing has worked. He’s about to turn age 28, and he’s still getting rocked in the minors. He’s making ~ $1.3M this year, with one more year of arbitration before free agency.

The blame for all this lies with the Miami Marlins, who allowed this pitcher to come through their system with an illegal motion. The Atlanta Braves correctly challenged his delivery in a game, shortly before his was disabled, but were rebuked by the umpires. MLB never acted upon any of this nonsense, until the Padres acquired him. Then it was pronounced illegal. Talk about nullifying a deal by judicial fiat?!!

PADRES 2018 DRAFT SIGNEES (as of this publication)

3 | SS Owen Miller (Illinois St.)
4 | RHP Dylan Coleman (Missouri St.)
5 | OF Dwanya Williams-Sutton (East Carolina)
7 | OF Jawuan Harris (Rutgers)
8 | RHP Steven Wilson (Santa Clara)
9 | 2B Luke Becker (Kentucky)
11 | C Nick Gatewood (Georgia St.)
14 | RHP Erik Sabrowski (Cloud County CC)
16 | C Michael Curry (Georgia)
20 | RHP Reiss Kneher (Fordham)
21 | OF Mason Fox (Gardner-Webb)
22 | RHP Payton Smith (Strom Thurmond HS, S.C.)
25 | 2B Lee Solomon (Lipscomb)
26 | LHP Tyler Mortensen (Davis HS, Calif.)
27 | RHP Gabe Mosser (Shippensburg)
31 | RHP Jake Sims (Saint Leo)
32 | LHP Cody Tyler (Wichita St.)
33 | C Rainier Aguilar (Redlands)
39 | RHP Seth Mayberry (Dinwiddie County HS, Va.)

Draft Notes: Padres forfeited their 2nd Round pick in compensation for signing free agent Eric Hosmer. The Kansas City Royals used this 34th overall pick on Daniel Lynch, a LHP from the University of Virginia whose suggested slot value is $2,066,700.

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The worst free-agent signing of the off-season was Alex Cobb (4/$57M) to the Orioles, inked at the end of spring training (March 21, 2018). Alex Cobb was the last “big-name” starting pitcher on the market, and the O’s were desperate. So far for Cobb: 2-8, 7.23 ERA, 56.0 IP.

The Orioles also forfeited their 2nd-round pick to the Rays in this deal. The Rays then selected #31 overall, and took LHP Shane McClanahan out of South Florida, whose slot value is $2,224,400. In a free agent market that had completely collapsed for all but the very best players, this was about as bad a deal as a franchise could make. Unfortunately for Orioles fans, the owner can’t be fired. He needs to be forced to sell.

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The Padres have signed 19 of their 2018 draft picks, including six of their top 11 selections. They have until July 6 to sign these remaining selections:

1st Round: #7 overall Ryan Weathers LHP from Loretto (TN) HS, whose slot value is $5,226,500. Money isn’t a problem for this organization anymore, as this signing is imminent. Ryan is the son of former MLB pitcher David Weathers.

Competitive Balance A: #38 overall Xavier Edwards SS North Broward Prep (FL) HS

Competitive Balance B: #74 overall (acquired from Twins) Grant Little, OF from Texas Tech

6th Round: #171 overall Alexuan Vega, LHP, Leonides Morales Rodriguez HS, San German, Puerto Rico

10th Round: #291 overall Jose Quezada, RHP, Texas Tech; this selection was a gamble as he’s a fourth-year senior with a lot of tools. Padres are trying to be creative with their bonus money to sign him. He’s a teammate of the Padres Competitive B selection, Grant Little, discussed above.

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MLB Umpiring Notes: It’s difficult enough for a last-place, west coast team to go on a 10-games-in-10-days east coast road-trip, and beat a 1st-place team. It becomes nearly impossible, when the umpiring is fixed.

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San Diego Padres In -Season Report

These were the top free-agent pitchers available last winter and who actually won.

Hu Darvish: signed with Cubs 6yr/$126M, so far: 1-3, 4.95 ERA, 40 IP; currently on the DL with right triceps tendinitis with no timetable for his return.

Jake Arrieta: signed with the Phillies 3yr/$75M. so far: 5-4, 2.95 ERA, 69.2 IP; he’s been the best performer of all the free-agent pitchers. He’s still an injury risk.

Lance Lynn: signed with the Twins 1yr/$12M, so far: 4-4, 5.08 ERA, 62.0 IP; wasted money for the Twins, but not a disaster deal.

Alex Cobb: signed with the Orioles on March 21 [!] for 4yr/$57M, so far: 2-7, 6.19 ERA, 52.1 IP; this was an inexplicable waste of money as everyone stayed away from him, but that’s Peter Angelos– see also Chris Davis.

Sidenote: Orioles should release 1B/DH Chris Davis (.152/.232/.232), which would be addition by subtraction. He’s age-32 and a sunk cost, so “hoping” for things to turn around is futile. It’s hard to eat over $100M, but that’s the best thing the Orioles can do, if they are concerned about making themselves better, and they should be. This is the worst team in MLB, by far. The Chris Davis contract compares to the Pujols (Angels) & A-Rod (Yankees) albatrosses, and is probably actually worse. His best season under this 7-year deal at ($23M/per) was 2016: .221/.332/.459 in 665 PA. This is all on owner Peter Angelos, of course.

On December 27, 2017 Padres GM AJ Preller inked RHP Tyson Ross (above) to a 1yr/$1.75M deal, so far: 5-3, 3.43 ERA, 76 IP; this was the best free-agent pitcher signing of the off-season. Jake Arrieta has been better, but he costs 15x more money. For GM’s it’s about finding value and properly allocating resources. You can’t do better than what the Padres got here, and they really needed it.

Padres also signed 1B Eric Hosmer 8yr/$144M, who has been an invaluable addition. Without Hosmer, the Padres are at least 10 GB, instead of the 5.5 they currently sit. It’s the leadership he brings with the performance, as Padres fans now understand why Royals fans hated to see him go. This guy is a winner, and was the best position player available last winter in free-agency.

The fact that the Padres are still in last place despite these helpful additions, only proves how far back they actually were. This organization has been rebuilt from the ground, since the in-season sell-off of 2016. People are starting to see how this could be a dangerous team, as they have the best farm system in baseball, with a few interesting pieces at the MLB level.

Media rumors about the upcoming trade deadline (7/31) have again floated Padres closer Brad Hand (above) as an acquisition target for a championship contender. This is the same situation as last year, and the year before– actually. If a team is serious about upgrading their bullpen, then it’s Brad Hand. No one else is even close to his value. So far, no one has been willing to pay the Padres what he’s worth.

In 2018: 32.1 IP, 1.95 ERA, 50 K’s, 1.021 WHIP, with 18 saves. This is your basic wipe-out lefty, who gets stronger as the season progresses. Everyone covets that. Salary: $4M in 2018, then $7M, $7.6M; and the option for 2021 is $10M, with $1M buyout. This was yet another great move by AJ Preller this past winter, and he will sell only if the price is right. Until then, Brad Hand will continue to make manager Andy Green’s job easier, and the Padres look better than they really are. I believe Brad Hand is staying in San Diego.

The Padres have one of the best bullpens in MLB, and a manager who knows how to use it. That’s why they’ve been able to hang around in the NL West. Bullpens are really important, and still underrated & misunderstood by most. Today, most games are won or lost by the bullpens. Starting pitching is valuable when it performs and rests the bullpen. There aren’t a whole lot of those starters left, hence this bullpen revolution in MLB.

No one expects the Padres to seriously compete in 2018, but their dugout and front office haven’t given up on the season either. What’s going on is a constant evaluation process in which management is trying to figure out who their best young players are, and which ones they can trade. Roster management and protecting from the Rule 5 Draft are now issues for the Padres. GM AJ Preller thinks way ahead of everybody on these things, so expect him to make to deals before the deadline.

AJ Preller and company have assembled plenty of talent, so the focus is now on player development & injury management. The Padres drafted another LHP in the 1st Round of the June amateur draft, selecting Ryan Weathers a high-schooler, and the son of David Weathers former MLB pitcher. The Padres have more premium pitching talent than any farm system in baseball, and just added to it. If it is kept healthy and develops on track, then the Padres will be a force in the NL West by 2019, 2020 at the latest.

Meanwhile, this is a (mostly) young team that makes lots of mistakes, but doesn’t quit. They aren’t a good team, but they aren’t a joke either, and that’s an improvement. The energy is there, the brains are there, and the talent is coming. Padres fans are excited in ways they’ve never been before, and we’re talking about a franchise with a 50-year history.

They actually have a farm system and a plan to succeed long-term, based on home-grown talent. This never existed before AJ Preller was hired in 2014, and it’s all the difference in the world. Fans don’t mind watching a young scrappy last-place team, that they believe will get better over time. But fans won’t tolerate an old, overpaid team tanking into oblivion, with no hope for next year– see the 2018 Orioles.

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Hashbag & Bashtag Campaigns

By now everyone has heard about the byebyebikini campaign for the 2019 Miss America pageant, which has been instituted by the MeToo-ers.

Also the “evening gown” competition has been changed, to allow the contestants to wear whatever they choose. The organizers claim this will allow the contestants to better display their talent in representing Miss America.

Of course, “talent” for women means their ability to make a man get a hard-on, and then satisfying his whims. All this leads to the obvious question: what if a contestant chooses to come out IN A BIKINI!?! It could be a winning move, considering her talent.

Final point: you can’t remove the bikini from the optional wardrobe section of the Miss America competition, without taking away a woman’s right to choose. Checkmate

Nothing irritates these hysterical brainless hashbags more than being mated without their consent.

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Free Julian Assange Now!!

Julian Assange has been a political prisoner for nearly eight years. For the past six years, he has been trapped in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, under conditions that have deteriorated into cruel & inhumane confinement. Julian Assange has committed no crime. He is being persecuted for exposing the crimes of the global ruling class- primarily those of the US & UK.

This attack campaign began with sensationalist rape charges in November 2010, by Swedish authorities on behalf of two women with which Assange had been intimate. These initial allegations have since been revoked by the accusers, after they were proven to be false and part of a frame-up. The criminal case has been dismissed by Swedish authorities, yet Assange’s detention continues– as the US/UK deep states are the motor forces behind silencing Assange.

This video, titled “Collateral Murder” forever earned Assange (& Wikileaks) the enmity of US imperialism. After viewing this footage, most people around the world responded with shock & horror. It’s instructive to notice how liberal apologists (CBS here) respond with blathering nonsense such as, “It’s important for all of us to remember; it was a hectic, violent, and uneasy day…”

Julian Assange can only liberated from this sadistic punishment through a direct assault on the institutions that are imprisoning him. The US government-military-corporate-intelligence apparatus has worked together to censor opposition to his illegal detention, while slandering him in the media. These corrupt bastions of reaction must been courageously confronted, ruthlessly exposed, and finally smashed.

This offensive against fascism must be relentless & global. Every government of every nation has abandoned Julian Assange and shifted to the right, and thus his only political ally is a united international working class armed with a program of revolutionary socialism.

Everyone who freely lives & breathes needs to join this fight, as Julian Assange has represented those who didn’t have a voice. Therefore, it is now our turn to speak up and act in his behalf, as he personifies the yearning for freedom that burns inside all of those who resist oppression, and strive for peace & equality.

Haters, Step Aside!

Free Julian Assange!!

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