The biggest winner at this year’s trade deadline has been the San Diego Padres, as they were involved in virtually every significant deal from mid-June through 7/31. This went all the way back to when GM A. J. Preller sent All-Star closer Fernando Rodney to the Marlins. Since then it was: RHP James Shields (White Sox), LHP Drew Pomeranz (Red Sox), LF BJ Upton (Blue Jays), and RHP’s Cashner & Rea (Marlins), and the final atom bomb– the RF Matt Kemp salary dump to ATL.
Outside of NYY/CHC closer Aroldis Chapman, up until the day of the trade deadline, Preller had the market under his control. This year the trade deadline was extended to 8/1, due to the calendar, and there were 18 deals on that day alone , a veritable avalanche of trade activity, finally releasing itself after A.J. Preller dominated the market for 6 weeks.
Nationals land closer Melancon from Pirates 7-30-16
Padres fan here: Great deal for the Nationals. An ace closer is just what they needed. Hopefully the Pirates got value in return. Nats management did its job, now it’s up to Dusty and his players.
Sometime soon, all the baseball ‘experts’ are going to attempt to understand this trade deadline in terms of winners & losers, and will soon come to realize that Padres GM A.J. Preller owned most of this trading season, as he had first skim (Pomeranz), and second skim (Cashner/Rea) at the top prospect cream available, receiving ace-level prospect packages for each.
Rea leaves Marlins debut early with elbow soreness
Velocity dips in 3 1/3-inning start; righty will be evaluated over next couple of days 7-31-16
Really poor scouting & executive decision-making by the Marlins. This was a red-flag injury risk. Colin Rea (a rookie) was at 99.1 IP– his career high, and was struggling to get batters out. Padres were preparing to shut him down, when suddenly he’s sought after by Marlins GM Mike Hill at the deadline. What’s Preller to do? Unfortunately for Rea, Hill was expecting him to be a reliable back-end starter on a contender. That plan lasted 3.1 IP, and now Rea’s on the 15-day DL, with the Marlins back in the market for a starting pitcher. Jared Cosart, perhaps?
It was silly for MIA to rush Rea onto the mound, after he was just dealt the day before. Medical staff- FAIL. Scouting- FAIL. GM- FAIL. This can kill a competitive window for a team on the edge like Miami. By contrast, manager Andy Green & pitching coach Darren Balsley got to look at newly acquired RHP Jared Cosart the same day in a bullpen session, just to get familiar with their latest asset. Their pitching situation is much more desperate than the Marlins, yet the Padres are more patient & thorough. The report was everything checked out, so Cosart starts on 8/2. Meanwhile, he’ll get to know his new teammates for a few days before being asked to go into battle with them, which is nice. He’s pitched only 19 innings this year, and has a live arm w/ sink. Just what the Marlins need.
Final Update 8-3-17: Marlins GM Mike Hill felt compelled to claim ‘damaged goods’ and demanded A.J. Preller to take RHP Colin Rea back, after just one start. The Marlins ordered no MRI on his elbow before insisting, and had no idea to the extent of his injury. Preller defended his position with the arguments given above, at the time of the deal, but felt obliged as ‘good business’ to revisit the deal.
Marlins owner Jeff Loria & GM Mike Hill may have threatened to damage his and the Padres’ reputation, if they didn’t take Rea back. Preller acquiesced on this, and returned A-ball prospect RHP Luis Castillo, who was part of the 7-player deal. Padres immediately welcomed Colin Rea back, despite the abuse his elbow received in his 3-day stint with Marlins. Preller immediately sent for an MRI. If his elbow had no structural damage, then Preller would have immediately won this deal twice. They probably still have regardless, as recovery from Tommy John surgery is now very predictable.
It turns out to be (likely) TJ surgery for Colin Rea, who’s still under team control until 2022. Eighteen months for recovery will put him ready for Spring Training 2018. Young starting pitching proved a valuable commodity on the trade market this year (in case you didn’t notice), so it’s always a good idea to hold onto it.
Final, final updates: After return to SD, Rea to undergo TJ surgery 8-5-16
In other Padres news…
A.J. Preller handles Braves dirty laundry 7-30-16
RF Matt Kemp dumped to ATL w/ $10.5M, for Cuban OF Hector Olivera, whose $28M/4 years they eat by DFA-ing him, due to a pending misdemeanour assault charge. Padres are eating $40M to move Matt Kemp to ATL, so they can start winning in 2017. This proves a first-rate organization, and Padres fans should be ecstatic, as they now have brains & ownership working together.
Most teams approach the trade deadline, Preller attacked it; as he held his best trade option (RHP Andrew Cashner) hostage, until he was ready to deal him on the best terms possible, at the best time possible. He came at his opposition (all other 29 GM’s) from every angle using: salary dumps (BJ Upton & Matt Kemp) to clog the market for OF sluggers (ex: Jay Bruce blocked, and the Reds got very little for him), while unloading his biggest contract (Kemp $40M), just after trading the top available starting pitcher (Cashner) at ace value.
He tried his best to block C Jonathan Lucroy to Texas with Derek Norris, or at least soften the market. A deal in place with him to CLE was vetoed by Lucroy at the 11th hour, a savior move for the MIL franchise. Their foolish GM David Stearns was about to give away the best position player of the trade season for scraps, because he couldn’t handle the pressure. His emotions must have rose early, in the excitement of finally consummating a deal; then the deflation from the overwhelmingly negative feedback– now realizing he’s made a huge mistake–> only to be rescued by Lucroy vetoing the deal at the finish line. Joy was temporarily restored to Mudville. It just seemed like a lot of work & stress, for NOT trading a player.
Update 8-3-16: Brewers GM David Stearns was rescued again, when Texas approached MIL again on late 7/31, serious about making a deal. MIL ended up getting a much better prospect package with TEX, as compared to the CLE deal for Lucroy. He saved his GM twice.
The best news for Friars fans: outside of LHP Drew Pomeranz to BOS, Preller dealt junk. GM’s and analysts kept trying to wrap their heads around his latest trade & determine what it meant in the market, meanwhile A. J. Preller completely rebuilt his team on-the-fly, gathering top prospects & keeping his best players.
There are two seasons going on in MLB; the one they play on the field from March – October, and the one that goes on year round– which really determines who wins & loses. Padres under A.J Preller & manager Andy Green have revolutionized the game, with their innovative approach to the International draft and now their trade deadline dominance. MLB GM’s are now turning their heads, and the industry will notice.
Padres owner Ron Fowler is the benevolent owner who burns to win, and now fully trusts his GM, and hopefully, there will be no more meddling. This is the best type of MLB-owner that can be hoped for under capitalism.
COO Mike Dee is #2.
GM A.J. Preller is the deadliest of vipers.
First-year manager Andy Green is the Padres squeaky-clean front-man to the media, and already one of the games top skippers.
Padres’ HR streak comes to a halt in loss 7-30-16
The 2016 Padres are an incredible & most unlikely team to share the NL consecutive-game HR mark. They did it while trading away half their team for prospects, which is quite remarkable if you consider it. Real Padres supporters thank them for giving fans something to cheer about on the field.
Final Analysis & Thoughts 7-31-16
Padres sunk costs (2016-17): Jedd Gyorko ($7M), BJ Upton ($17M), Matt Kemp (~$40M), Andrew Cashner ($2M), James Shields ($20M)– if he doesn’t opt out after this season.
Food for thought: there is a strong possibility that Matt Kemp was forced upon newly-minted GM A.J. Preller in 2014 by ownership as he arrived. Call it an organizational rumor. It makes sense, if you consider that Preller is probably much too smart to get sucked into a deal like Matt Kemp’s contract. For that, fans misjudged him as incompetent at first, simply because they didn’t (and couldn’t) know the circumstances.
Whoever was truly responsible for the albatross, it was surely the worst deal in Preller’s name, and he’s over it in less than 2 years, which shows what a brilliant magician he is. Padres fans are excited that ownership can handle it. It’s his creativity & decisiveness in action that currently make him the best GM in MLB. Since last season ended, he has lapped the field, and written a new playbook on baseball front office management. Padres had a top-5 Amateur draft in June, and top-2 International draft in July, and dominated this trade season. Pretty impressive for a first-time GM in his second year.
I project the Padres to finish 2016 at 70-92, which coincides with their current winning percentage. They will likely finish 4th, in front of ARZ who are a complete disaster– sunk by bad trades & the Zack Grienke contract. In 2017 the Padres will easily overtake COL who are perennially in a holding pattern, and challenge the troubled LA Dodgers for second in the division. Giants still project to be superior in the NL West.
Marlins GM’s Mike Hill wasn’t ready for this kind of assault from Preller. He got fleeced and cost his promising team their season, and possibly its future. He deserves to be fired, along with a few other GM’s.
Toronto Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins deserves special mention, for driving the hardest consummated bargain on Preller. BJ Upton was probably the most difficult deal AJP had to swallow, because he was being short-changed on actual value, and the Jays had a huge need in CF. Preller ate $17M out of $23M owed, to dump him & gauge the market which was part of his greater purpose.
White Sox got middled on RHP James Shields, and now have a huge headache with his performance and possible opt-out situation. Preller doesn’t have any time for this, he’s busy building a Padres championship roster.
The Padres turnover is complete, and it’s now time for the ‘baby Pads’ which will feature more plate selectivity, higher OBP, and more SLG– up & down the lineup. Padres will play solid defense, while being aggressively smart on the bases. Preller’s Padres will feature hard throwers from both sides, in the rotation and bullpen. Have you noticed how many pitchers Preller has acquired recently? That’s what carries the most trade value, as we have seen. Systems are surely being put in place for improved injury prevention & rehabilitation.
Preller dumped Upton & Kemp on the market, just as opposing GM’s were hoping to move their own contracts, and start rebuilding with a nice prospect packages. Outfielders Jay Bruce (CIN), Carlos Beltran (NYY), Josh Reddick (OAK) all moved, but didn’t net as much in return as they should have. For example: Reddick had to be packaged with starting pitcher Rich Hill to maximize the return from the LAD.
Notes on Social Media & MLB
Up to half the 30 MLB teams may have been heavily relying on social media monitoring, as a form of ‘advanced scouting’ during this trade season. All teams use this to some degree. Raw fan data is valuable to an organization that listens, and all have access to it. Note that much of this ‘data’ can be manipulated and/or comprised in some essential way, if safeguards aren’t in place. This renders the ‘data’ useless, or possibly worse– vulnerable to a well-laid trap. The thesis here is: far too many unsuspecting organizations relied on social media monitoring far too much this trade deadline, and a few possibly got fleeced for it. Some were rendered impotent and bewildered by a rogue GM, who broke many long-standing rules of the trade deadline.
Bottom-tier front offices can easily be misled by online opinion leaders, whom influence what the majority believe & think. I played my part, by becoming becoming a most-respected commentator in the MLB.com forum in less than a year of activity. This MLB forum is shared by thousands daily, and influences organizational & media opinions by the minute. That’s serious clout.
I began this task by energizing a demoralized Padres faithful, online only, at the end of their miserable 2015 campaign. I engaged ~20-or-so active posters in the Padres.com forum, and won their confidence & trust, by telling them the truth. I demanded accountability in return. The message unconsciously became: we’re now all in this together, it’s a team mission which includes everybody, and failure is not an option.
Now to stay focused & consistent, improving our understanding of what AJP was doing, because no one had ever seen a GM like this before. Example: Four Rule 5 draft picks last December; one was RHP Luis Perdomo, who now projects as a top-of-the-rotation starter. Preller managed to retain another Rule 5 selection, OF Jabari Blash, by making a deal with the Mariners after the Padres could no longer afford to keep him on their 25-man roster. He was then optioned to AAA-El Paso, where he raked, and he’s now replaced Matt Kemp in RF. Jabari Blash is 27 and a long-shot at best, but the point is the process, which is a winning one of rewarding hard work with a deserved opportunity.
I patiently explained setbacks so understanding was quicker, and lessons were deeply absorbed, so everybody could now begin to find their own voice. After awhile, I mostly let the discussions run themselves, because I always knew another forum leader was watching & correcting as needed. I still check daily or so, and if there was something grossly off-track, I still patiently point out mistakes and reveal unseen facets, which empower others. Mostly, I speak with the ‘Like’ button for top comments. Do it that way, and everything flows towards success & love.
I discovered the tremendous power I wield, becoming a dominant commenter in MLB.com fan forum discussions. Everyone respected me instantly, and I was virtually impossible to dismiss, as long as I was polite & respectful. Yankees, Red Sox & Dodgers forums can be intimidating to comment in (as an opponent). I now can consistently drop in on them, make whatever point I need to make (however I need to make it), and then leave with grace & dignity. Sometimes I go back to check, sometimes not. Note: mistakes must always be corrected, as someone always notices and remembers.
At this trade deadline, Padres faithful were a mobilized & alert fighting unit. Not everyone exactly on the same page, but more than enough understood the mission– dump contracts & get top prospects. I live in Florida, and most of the Padres games are late with 10:40 PM EDT starts. I rely on Padres comrades to update me on any latest breaking Padres news. Breaking West coast news sometimes takes an hour or two to travel back east. That keeps me playing from behind at times, and that’s not where you want to be with AJP– in anything.
About 8-10 hardcore Padres fans have been nothing short of invaluable during my self-imposed assignment, as my ‘eyes & ears’ of the San Diego Padres social media world. These fans actually go to the games, or at least watch most of them on TV, supplying first-hand accounts of the games, with their impressions. Many live in San Diego, and share all the local buzz. Minor league reports are now shared & discussed in depth, regularly.
Conversely, I’ve only seen ~ a dozen games this season. I’ve followed more games on MLB Gameday, and it’s a unique view with scouting value, but it’s limited. Padres fans now share everything they know openly, in a dedicated & monitored forum. This forum is not nearly as vulnerable to outside attacks (other team’s fans), as the Padres fan core is now more knowledgeable & resolute.
For example: I fell asleep bewildered on the mentioned BJ Upton to TOR deal (7-26-16). Next morning I entered the fan forum, and joined a lively discussion with everyone (50+ at least) focusing on their reasons as to why AJP made that crazy deal? It didn’t make any sense, with what everyone knew. There’s something we don’t know? Sometimes it’s such a simple answer, you don’t consider it. Leadership, serious purpose, and everyone invested, is what got me what I needed to know in less than an hour.
Upton to TOR was Preller finding out how much the Padres were going to have to eat in order to move Matt Kemp. After the Upton deal, I had estimated $40-45M in the forum, and published an analysis write-up, linked at the bottom. Preller got the best deal he could on the Matt Kemp dump, as he learned the absolute market limits from the Upton deal a few days earlier.
When I figured this out, I immediately dispatched my distillation back into the forum. Now most understand & accept the official Padres line, which is hidden to most. That does make a GM’s job easier. How much? I can’t say, but it is significant, and deserves more study.
The point is, the Padres instantly have 50+ loyalists spreading the word, strengthening the Padres ‘social media trending’ line. Trust me: it’s monitored & manipulated, because it matters; and Preller got all the help he needed (and more), from an energized online fanbase this time around. Opposition fans and data harvesters invade all team’s forums. No longer are they allowed to piss all over the Padres forum, without censure and repercussions. Yankees & Red Sox fans NEVER allow it, why should the Padres?
Final Update 8-4-17: One last serious organization improvement that deserves mention is the addition of Padres beat writer A.J. Cassavell, who replaced Corey Brock during Spring Training. Cassavell’s reporting is more frequent, and has much more thought & depth than his predecessor. That has really helped improve fan dialogue in their forum.
Padres are officially no longer chumps. AJP just revolutionized MLB, much like in Michael Lewis’ sketch of Oakland A’s GM Billie Beane– Moneyball (2003). I have no material proof concerning any of what I have just claimed, other than the content of this piece, which was updated in real-time during the weekend carnage, then finally updated on 8-4-16. It’s accuracy, as related to what actually happened, speaks for itself.
By Monday 8/1 Preller was reclaiming his 26-YO starting pitcher, for a 23-YO A-ball pitching prospect, which satisfied the opposing GM in the deal. This was complete dominance for Preller over many weaker GM’s, who didn’t understand this market and how AJP controlled it up until the next-to-last day. It takes planning & guts to eat $60M in salary, but what truly upped their value was the timing. When played at precisely the correct moment, dumps will also block other teams from getting what they need for similar-type players.
Matt Kemp to ATL was brilliantly timed in the evening of 7/30, as it depressed the OF market just as selling teams had to make a deal. For example: Reds GM Walt Jocketty didn’t have a clue on the market for Jay Bruce, and probably should have kept him, instead of getting reamed by the Mets GM Sandy Alderson. Jocketty also desperately & unsuccessfully tried to trade SS Zack Cozart to the Mariners, but the return was too little even for him.
When it was all over, too many GM’s had enough of Preller’s antics, and no one made a deal for the two most valuable commodities remaining on the market: lefty relievers Ryan Buchter & Brad Hand, both effective and team-controllable for years to come. Preller’s price was too high, so he held on to them, which is what smart GM’s do. When the trade season was all over, about 6-8 buying teams (BOS, TEX, CLE, SFG, WAS, NYM, CHC) got what they needed; a few others didn’t (MIA, CWS, BAL); and too many sellers got short-changed, One GM was ready for more, but it was all over– just as planned. 
The bizarreness of this trade deadline is wrapped up in it’s final deal, Rays sent LHP Matt Moore to SFG for 3B Matt Duffy and 2 iffy prospects. Rays GM Matt Silverman was interviewed before the Rays/Royals game that evening (8/1/16), saying they finished the deal with <10 seconds to go. He should have hung up on the Giants with 20 to go.
The deal wasn’t announced by MLB until ~6:00 PM EDT, nearly two hours after the deadline expired, so therefore Matt Moore (a TJ reclamation with ace stuff), and 3 years of affordable team controllability remaining, is suddenly moved for comparatively less than Pomeranz or Cashner.
Moore (whose velocity & spin-rate are now returning) was the most valuable pitcher who moved in this year’s market, where pitching was they most desperately sought-after commodity. Moore was dealt (squandered) in a last-second rush, by a GM who understands nothing about winning baseball or player value. Silverman is the same GM who dealt Wil Myers for Steven Souza, Jr.– with the Gnats being the intermediary.
Padres drawing scrutiny after trades with Marlins, Red Sox by Buster Olney @ ESPN.com 8-6-16 “According to sources [?], the Red Sox have become aware of medical information with Pomeranz that they believe was not properly disclosed during trade talks.”
If the Red Sox & MLB have any evidence, then please reveal it, otherwise this reeks of a smear campaign against the Padres. Would ESPN be part of any East coast bias? A.J. Preller made some great deals for his club this trade season, and MLB is now finally figuring it out. The Marlins GM Mike Hill & owner Jeffrey Loria are children who fail to practice due diligence, and it has cost their organization dearly. This is neither A.J. Preller’s, nor the San Diego Padres’ fault; as they were given complete access to all medical records on Colin Rea. Always consider the source, which is likely Loria here.