Sunday, July 19, 2009
Padres make another baffling tradePosted by Evan Brunell
Lost in Transactions (since retired; transaction recaps will happen on a more timely basis at THT Live), I took the Padres to task for their trade of Scott Hairston for three very questionable arms. The esteemed Geoff Young at Ducksnorts objected to my complaints, saying that:
'Why give up a player like Scott Hairston for a No. 4 starter and two questionable bullpen pieces?'
Because the Padres have a stronger core of young hitters than young pitchers. ...
As much as I hate to see Hairston leave, this was about dealing a strength to address a weakness. The Padres desperately need arms. The guys they acquired might not be great, but at least they’re something, which is more than can be said about much of the current pitching staff.
And now the Padres have traded a 26-year old groundball machine for a 31-year old career minor leaguer (okay, so he has 150 major league at-bats, spread between 2002, 2008 and 2009).
This really doesn't make sense. If the Padres need arms, why are they trading Meredith?
Meredith burst on the scene for the Padres in 2006 after being part of the desperation move by Theo Epstein to bring Doug Mirabelli back to Fenway (remember 'Belli's police escort to the park?). He posted an excellent 1.07 ERA to go along with a 6.17 K/BB and 94.7 percentage of batters left on base. Of course, he accomplished that ridiculous percentage by inducing 68.8 percent groundballs that year. In 2007, Meredith made 80 appearances to check in with a 3.50 ERA. His ERA (and FIP, by the way) kept skidding: in 2008, he posted a 4.09 ERA (3.91 FIP) and seemed to lose his place in the Padres' long-term plans: he served as a mopup man for the Padres this year, posting a 4.17 ERA in 36.2 innings (but reversed his rising FIP trend, posting a 3.54 FIP).
A 26 year old middle reliever who induces groundballs shouldn't be untouchable, but he certainly shouldn't be rail-roaded out of town... especially a team that's so hard up for pitching. The two minor league pitchers the Padres acquired for Hairston are highly unlikely to have a career, while the third player (Sean Gallagher) will at best, be a league-average starter for several years.
And yet, the Padres found their replacement bat for the 29-year old Scott Hairston by getting a... first/third baseman in Salazar. I'm sure Adrian Gonzalez, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Kyle Blanks and Chase Headley are shaking in their boots.
Granted, Salazar is no slouch with the bat; over the last 112 at-bats spanning 2008-9, he has a .321/.394/.536 line. Small sample size alert, of course.
It just makes it all the more baffling why the Padres felt that dealing a cost-controllable centerfielder who has proven he can send the ball out of Petco Park for three highly questionable arms made sense, only to turn around and convert a valuable commodity in Meredith into, essentially, someone who will register as a blip on the radar in the Padres' history. Sure, Salazar could play an iffy second base until David Eckstein gets back to the team, but is that really what the Padres need?
No. They need young hittng and young pitching. I may not have been a fan of the Hairston trade, but at least they stuck to the model. They certainly didn't stick to it this time.
On Baltimore's side, they get a 26-year old groundball machine who can be their new Chad Bradford. He'll find the going a bit more tough back in the AL East, but there's no question the Orioles made out in the trade. Yes, Meredith is more valuable to them given their ballpark, but wouldn't that mean the Padres could have gotten more in return?
I'm beginning to think the great Kevin Towers has lost his touch. That's not necessarily an indictment on him; sometimes if you stay in one place too long, you lose your touch.
Evan Brunell is currently editor of Fire Brand of the American League, a Red Sox blog he began in 2003. He also scores games at Fenway Park for MLB. He was the co-founder and president of MVN, an independent sports media web site.