Skip to content

Springtime Storylines: What did the Mat Latos deal do for this team?

Mar 30, 2012, 1:00 PM EDT

Yonder Alonso

Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2012 season. Up next: The San Diego Padres.

The Big Question: What did the Mat Latos deal for this team?

We are seeing fewer and fewer blockbuster trades in baseball these days, but the Padres pulled one off last winter, shipping out ace Mat Latos and getting back a bunch of guys: Yonder Alonso, Edinson Volquez, Yasmani Grandal, and Brad Boxberger.  It was quite a haul, and given that it’s way easier to develop or attract pitching in Petco Park, it seems like a pretty winning trade for the Padres. But how much will the trade help now?

Well, if it pays off this season, it will probably be because the third most important guy in the trade — Volquez — returns to form after an awful 2011.  The real value here come in Alonso and Grandal, and each of them face some challenges. Alonso is going to have a lot of pressure on him to be a middle of the order threat, especially since Carlos Quentin will miss the first month or so of the season.  Grandal is going to be stuck in the minors for a while, it seems, as the Padres just extended Nick Hundley‘s contract through 2015.

Alonso will at least get the plate appearances and hopefully the pressure and the spaciousness of Petco Park won’t be too intimidating. Padres fans looking for the Grandal portion of the deal just have to be patient and hope that the Padres can figure out how to turn either him or Nick Hundley into some other parts they’ll need in 2013 and beyond.

What else is going on?

  • While this team has been offensively challenged for a while, there are a core of good hitters here in Cameron Maybin, Alonso, Hundley, Will Venable and Jesus Guzman. But man, that park kills ’em all.
  • That park also helps pitchers, and that makes the rotation seem better than it really is. They play half of their games on the road, obviously, and no one in this rotation save maybe Cory Luebke impresses you that much when you take them away from San Diego.
  • Losing Heath Bell is a blow, but the Padres have not wanted for good relief pitching in some time. Huston Street will slip into the closer’s role and import Andrew Cashner will provide some firepower in support. The pen, as always, will be a team strength.
  • The Padres may not scare anyone right now, but they have one of the top farm systems in the game and that is the sort of thing that keeps hard core fans interested. My spies in San Diego (well, my brother) tell me that there is a lot of excitement about the organization as a whole, even if no one thinks the big boys will do much this year.

So how are they gonna do?

Probably fifth place. Nothin’ personal, man, but they just don’t have the pop and they don’t have the top end pitching to compete, even if it only takes slightly above .500 ball to be in the conversation in this division for most of the season.

  1. icanspeel - Mar 30, 2012 at 1:19 PM

    Padres won’t win the division, but I think they will surprise a lot of people this year. As for the Latos deal.

    -Volquez has looked pretty good so far this spring and that is without actually pitching in Petco yet.
    -Alonso definitely has a nice swing for Petco and may be in the running for Rookie of the year
    -Grandal is 1 injury away from being on the MLB team and looked great in the spring.
    -Boxberger has some nice pitches, but didn’t do too much. The Padres are testing out the next line of relievers in their pen ahead of him anyways.

    • vanmorrissey - Mar 30, 2012 at 1:52 PM

      Agreed about all. Grandal will make it up sometime this year, just a matter of time when Hundley goes down with an injury of some sort. He might not be permanent, but he’ll make it. Cashner has been the one lighting it up so we’ll see if he makes some noise this year. Venable has not been a good hitter, except this spring, so it’s another make or break year for him. Headley is an example of the lack of power at third these days. Good OBP, no pop. Like last year, two weeks into the season they should be out of it and look to trade Quentin before he even gets into the lineup before any extension so we’ll see what Blanks, again another make or break, can do since Quentin will be out. Maybe it’s a good thing the TV deal has not been completed yet with TWarner, that way I don’t have to slug through another losing April.

    • cintiphil - Mar 30, 2012 at 10:43 PM

      Alonzo played about half a year in cincinnati last year. Can he still qualify as a rookie?

      • micker716 - Mar 30, 2012 at 11:06 PM

        He had 88 AB last season in Cincy. The standard is 130 AB and 45 days on the ML roster before Sept. I think he still qualifies as a rookie.

  2. xpensivewinos - Mar 30, 2012 at 1:32 PM

    Please define “excitement about the organization?” Team has the look of a 90-loss club. Starting pitching is average at best (Tim Stauffer is the #1…….yikes) and there is zero pop on this team. Don’t need a solid bullpen to hold 7 run deficits.

    Ownership situation is the biggest joke this site of Frank McCourt and the Wilpons and ask anyone in San Diego if they can watch a Padres game on TV via their cable or satellite provider……..let alone what channel it might be on.

    The team is completely irrelevant in San Diego.

    • schlom - Mar 30, 2012 at 2:01 PM

      I think you are exaggerating a bit, they are not completely irrelevant in San Diego. I think there is a lot of excitement about the upcoming season and especially about how Hoyer quickly built up the farm system (which was Kevin Towers weak spot).

      However, Time Warner’s failure to include their tv network is a major hit at the moment – although I’m not sure that’s entirely the Padres fault. Remember that this season Time Warner wasn’t televising Knick games in NYC – only Jeremy Lin’s emergence made them change their minds. Also I’m sure that the return of John Moores isn’t making anyone in San Diego happy although I’m assuming he’ll sell the team as soon as he finds a buyer after seeing how much the Dodgers sold for.

  3. gogigantos - Mar 30, 2012 at 2:02 PM

    I wish they were more relevant in their home town. They are plenty relevant in the reality of who does what in the NL West, and the game in general. Their ballpark is not a great place to go and need to win. They may not perform as well on the road, but Los pinche Padres are a beast in their own yard. Mr. Black may not be related to the infamous Jack, but he is an example of quality this league could be better off with more of. Who knows what is up with the ownership? But, this squad is usually better than perceived and never fun to play in San Diego. Pinche Pads,,,,,

  4. SmackSaw - Mar 30, 2012 at 2:19 PM

    Go fucyourself, San Diego

    • ch0psuey - Mar 30, 2012 at 3:06 PM

      Mat Latos is that you?

      • foreverchipper10 - Mar 30, 2012 at 5:30 PM

        I think he was channeling his inner Anchorman. I could be wrong, but that is my guess.

  5. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Mar 30, 2012 at 3:04 PM

    I understand why some parks like Fenway and Yankee Stadium are locked into their field dimensions because of real estate constrictions or eons of tradition, but why don’t clubs with extreme field dimensions like San Diego and Seattle bring the walls in a bit? It seems like the clubs would be easier to manage if the parks were a bit closer to neutral. The extreme nature of the current situation does not appear to be giving the club an advantage.

    • lanzurrah - Mar 30, 2012 at 4:27 PM

      The Padres have been tabbed as having the best, if not…at least having one of the top 3 farm systems in baseball this year. This is a system that emphasizes players with athleticism, and range defensively and alot of really good up and coming pitchers that should hit the majors in a couple of years if not sooner. Why would you change the dimensions of the park you’ve built your farm system around and built your pro team around? That would make no sense…when you have guys like Alonso, Grandal, Liriano, Spangenberg who are line drive hitters and a plethora of young pitching….you keep that big ballpark and play to your system’s strengths.

      • Glen - Mar 31, 2012 at 9:33 AM

        So they’re the As south. That’s not a good recipe for drawing fans, and in San Diego more so than most other places, if the team isn’t winning the locals won’t go to the games.

      • gloccamorra - Apr 2, 2012 at 12:12 AM

        Glen, in 2002, the A’s won 103 games and drew 2.169 million. the same year, the Padres LOST 96 and drew 2.220 million. The Padres have drawn two million plus every year since 1996, except for 2009. The A’s would love to have those numbers.

  6. mrredlegz - Mar 30, 2012 at 3:58 PM

    Really didn’t understand the Hundley extension. Yasmani is going to be a stud. I’d rather have kept him than Mesoraco, but I guess Meso was further along, and we’re trying to win now.

    • lanzurrah - Mar 30, 2012 at 4:28 PM

      Hundley is pretty decent when he can stay healthy.

    • icanspeel - Mar 30, 2012 at 6:59 PM

      Even though he only played half of the season last year, Hundley had an .824 OPS with 9 HR and 29 RBI’s in 82 games while playing at Petco. His durability is the only question mark and that is where Grandal comes into play. It’s a very club friendly contract too.

      • cintiphil - Mar 30, 2012 at 10:52 PM

        Grandal is a very good PROSPECT. That is good for the Padres, but he never showed anything in the Bigs yet. Many of these guys look good in AAA, then fold in the major leagues. The guys who showed they can hit on the big team are Mesoroco and Alonzo. We hated to see Alonzo go, but we still have an excellent catcher who can it and with power in this league.

    • gloccamorra - Apr 2, 2012 at 12:21 AM

      The Padres rely on pitching and defense, especially at catcher. Hundley is an above average defensive catcher and take-charge type. Grandal has one year in pro ball, and though he can hit, he had nineteen passed balls in 94 games last year. If either Hundley or Baker get hurt, it’ll be strictly as backup, and Grandal likely won’t be the catcher called up.

      The Padres have Jason Hagerty in AA, also a 6’2″ 200 lb switch hitter with power, who is farther along defensively than Grandal, and has 218 games experience as catcher. Yasmani will put up huge numbers in the hitter happy PCL, but so did Anthony Rizzo. Hoyer gave in to the fans and brought up Rizzo against his better judgement last year, and Josh Byrnes was there to see how that turned out. Do you think he’ll do the same?

  7. thetruth113 - Mar 30, 2012 at 8:23 PM

    “While this team has been offensively challenged for a while, there are a core of good hitters here in Cameron Maybin, Alonso, Hundley, Will Venable and Jesus Guzman. But man, that park kills ‘em all.”

    Just STOP talking about how much Petco kills Padres’ hitters. It kills the hitters on the other team too. It affects both teams equally, christ and it is mutually exclusive. There are a few exceptions depending on what side of the plate a player’s power comes from but applying it in a blanket situation is just flat out wrong. How in the world were you ever a practicing laywer is beyond me

    • cintiphil - Mar 30, 2012 at 10:47 PM

      Take it from me, Alonzo it the best hitter on the Padres. We saw him last year in Cinti, and I can say that most of us regretted him leaving more than Volquez. However, what he lacks on the field could negate his bat. Yes, he was that bad in the OF and the infield.

  8. ch0psuey - Mar 31, 2012 at 4:51 PM

    I could be mistaken, but I believe the Padres had Brad Hawpe starting many a game at 1st the beginning of last season.

    • gloccamorra - Apr 2, 2012 at 12:28 AM

      Nah, Hawpe only started 40 games at first. He was so bad defensively that the Padres put him back in RF and tried Jorge Cantu at first. Cantu was almost as bad with the glove and hit .191 and was released when Rizzo was called up to hit .141. Hawpe was on the DL with an elbow problem by then (late May) and never played another game, having TJ surgery in August. Those three combined for .198 production at first, over two thirds of the season. Alonso doesn’t have much pressure to improve over that.

  9. wj4122 - Apr 2, 2012 at 12:51 AM

    The Padres are finding themselves to be the forgotten southern California team. Angels and now the dodgers with new ownership is generating a lot of exciting talk while the padres do not.. Plus they have some of the worst looking uniforms in both leagues!

  10. losangelasbasketball - Apr 2, 2012 at 7:00 AM

    Remember when the padres played at the “Murph”… those were the golden years….

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. J. Baez (2249)
  2. B. Crawford (2215)
  3. H. Pence (2179)
  4. B. Harper (2096)
  5. C. Correa (1961)