The 2010 Biggest Winner at the MLB Trade Deadline Debate… Ludwick, Tejada Legitimize Padres

August 2, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Loyal Homer and Babe Ruthless.

Many teams did an excellent job of improving their October chances on the last day of July. But, one team stands out from the rest of the pack as much for what the team did not do as for what it actually accomplished. The San Diego Padres, thought to be cellar dwellers coming into the season, are traditionally sellers at the trade deadline. More to the point, the team sells or it does nothing.

But 2010 is clearly a different season for the Padres. Thought to be considering major changes at the season’s outset, like the potential trade of the team’s only offensive All-Star, Adrian Gonzalez, the team decided it was time to commit to a newfound strategy – adding pieces of a championship puzzle for a run in October.

The hallmark of a good team – and good management in both sports and business – is the ability to refuse denial. When a team is already leading its division, as the Padres are currently doing by a game and a half (at this writing), the inclination is to stand pat. The team is leading, so let’s not upset the apple cart. But the Padres refused to maintain a division leading status quo. Perhaps the hard-charging San Francisco Giants had something to do with that. The Giants have won 18 of the last 23 games, and a once comfortable gap for the Padres has slowly been shrinking.

The Padres needed to add power and experience to a still young(ish) roster. The team clearly did not need pitching, with one of MLB’s best pitching staffs and its best relievers. But, offense is always a struggle in San Diego, so the team added some pieces that will be a big help.

The first helpful piece is veteran infielder Miguel Tejada. Sure, Tejada has a murky and potentially sordid history with performance-enhancing drugs. But those transgressions appear to be behind the slugger. He is certainly not the offensive threat he once was, but he did hit .313 last season in Houston. His .269 average at third base for Baltimore was not that impressive, but getting out of the A.L. East will likely be a boost to the hitter’s bat. He is a smart, savvy player who will be able to make effective use of the gaps in San Diego. All the team had to give up was a reliever prospect named Wynn Pelzer. It is clear the team has relief prospects to spare.

What makes the Padres the winners of the trade deadline is not just the quality of the talent added, it is the ability to add talent with a minimal price tag by taking advantage of other contending teams’ desperation. The St. Louis Cardinals were in desperate need of an upgrade to the starting pitching staff. The team targeted, and got, Cleveland Indians pitcher Jake Westbrook. But, the Cards would never have been able to secure Westbrook’s services if not for the inclusion of Padres’ farmhand Corey Kluber in the deal. With all of those factors in play, the Padres managed to get a premium outfield talent to add a big right-handed bat to the lineup in Ryan Ludwick.

Ludwick is not an afterthought talent. Once believed to a top prospect in the Cleveland Indians organization, he has blossomed after getting released by the Tribe and signed by the Cardinals. In fact, Ludwick’s plate production has been consistent, routinely hitting .266 or higher, including a .299 batting average in 2008. His 2010 batting average thus far is nothing to scoff at either, with another steady .281. Ludwick can hit home runs – he hit 37 of them, driving in 113 runs a couple of seasons ago – but he probably will not hit quite as many in the expansive layout of Petco Park. The good news is that he is also a great doubles hitter, already with 20 this season, and he has a pair of triples. Ludwick can cover a lot of ground in the field, and is fast enough on the base paths. The combination of right handed power and speed will be a big help to the Padres’ lineup.

It has long been a prevailing thought in baseball ownership that if the team wins, fans will attend. The ratio of wins to filled seats still is not in the team’s favor in San Diego, but it is probably too soon to judge. The good news is that the team took aggressive steps to get better at the deadline, proving to fans that this season is worth spending some money on. It is likely that fans will respond by paying for tickets, and the team will continue to win in a division thought to be lost to the Dodgers or Rockies way back in April. It is amazing what a few months – and a couple of shrewd trades – can do for the prospects of a team and its fans.

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The New York Mets are the Worst Debate – A Tough Mets Season Does Not Make Them The Worst Franchise in Baseball

August 13, 2009

Read the debate intro and Loyal Homer’s argument that the New York Mets are the worst franchise in baseball.

Image your team’s staff ace is Mark Maroth, the league leader in losses (21), earned runs allowed (123), and home runs allowed (34). Image your team’s number two starter is Jeremy Bonderman, second in the major leagues in losses (19), and second in the American League in wild pitches (12). Imagine your team’s first baseman/cleanup hitter is Carlos Pena who leads the American League in errors at his position (13), hit a robust .248 with an impressive 50 RBI. Image your team’s number three hitter – the player who gets the most at bats during a season, outfielder Dmitri Young, is fifth in the American League in strikeouts (130).

If your team was the 2003 Detroit Tigers, you do not have to use your imagination. They lost an epically bad 119 games that season. They managed to break their old record of losing 104 games in a season in 1952. A tough year all around and terrible top to bottom. An ideal example of the worst franchise of a particular season.

If the Detroit Tigers are the poster team for bad franchises, the 2009 New York Mets are not the worst franchise in the 2009 season.

It is nice is that I do not have to rehash the litany of injuries the New York Mets have suffered this season. Loyal Homer did that accurately. The amount of hitting the Mets have lost is extremely high. They lost their table setting speedster in shortstop Jose Reyes, their cleanup hitting slugger in center fielder Carlos Beltran, and their RBI/home run producer in first baseman Carlos Delgado. They lost their prize offseason acquisition, closer Francisco Rodriguez, for nearly a month, too.

Sure, the Mets stink this year, but injuries have the most to do with that. Losing that kind of production will cripple any team. Injuries have nothing to do with how the organization is run either on the field or in the front office. It is a reflection of bad luck… bad luck on a grand scale for these hapless Mets.

It is impossible to argue that general manager Omar Minaya has avoided controversy this season. The tumult within the upper echelons of the organization is obvious when Tony Bernazard, Vice President of Development, was recently fired for what amounts to conduct detrimental to the organization. If the public is hearing about an issue in the front office, it is easy to say that the front office is out of control. However, Minaya apologized for his own actions, and promptly fired the individual who also made the organization look bad (in his own unique style). Is it the best front office in baseball, in performance or organization? Clearly it is not. But, it is not the worst, either.

In fact, it is possible to make an argument for the San Diego Padres, the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the Washington Nationals as the worst franchise in baseball. The Mets have managed 53 wins this season – 13 better than Washington, seven better than Pittsburgh (who traded away every good player they have any may not win another game this year), and four better than San Diego who constantly invent new ways to stink (and should have more losses if their division was not so bad).

It is easy to blame the manager, the players, and the front office. But a keen look reveals the real issue – injuries. The Mets do not have the worst record in baseball (there are nine worse teams than them). They did not trade away every good player to hamstring them for the coming seasons, either. Sure, the Mets stink. But the worst? No way.

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The 2009 Trade Deadline Damage Debate – Don’t It Make My Blue Jays Blue?

August 3, 2009

Read Sports Geek and Loyal Homer’s arguments on which team did themselves the most harm at the trade deadline.

Well, the trade deadline has come and gone on for another season in Major League Baseball.

To celebrate, the bundles of sunshine and positivity that are the staff here at TSD decided to take a look back on the 2009 MLB trade season and discuss which team in the league had the worst trade season. Let’s be honest – they can’t ALL be winners, right?!

So, in the quest for identifying the owner of this dubious distinction, each of us are writing about the team we feel did themselves the most harm in their actions leading up to last Friday and the MLB trade deadline.

Sports Geek will arguing that it was the Cleveland Indians and their fire sale which was the worst of the season.

Loyal Homer will argue that the annual purge of Pittsburgh Pirates talent sits atop the mountain as most damaging.

For Bleacher Fan, I looked to John F. Kennedy for guidance, who once said, “There are risks and costs to a program of action, but they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction”.

The Toronto Blue Jays are about to learn that lesson the hard way!

For weeks leading up to the trade deadline of the 2009 MLB season, it seemed that you couldn’t turn on ESPN, pick up an issue of Sports Illustrated, or go to any sports news source without finding at least one mention about Blue Jays pitcher Roy Halladay and which new city he would be pitching in when August first rolled around. Everyone (including the folks in Toronto) acted as if it were inevitable that Halladay would be pitching elsewhere by the end of the season, and the only mystery appeared to be where that would be.

The frenzy began when Halladay, a six time All Star and former American League Cy Young Award winner, expressed interest in testing free-agency next year following the expiration of his most recent contract extension in Toronto, a three year deal signed in 2006 that was worth $40M.

In response to his comments, Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi decided to shop Halladay around to the other teams in the league, all in an effort to make a deal that would still net some value to the Toronto organization upon Halladay’s seemingly inevitable departure. When you consider the year that Halladay has had so far, there was little doubt that Ricciardi would have any difficulty in finding teams interested in the ace.

Halladay, who has been undoubtedly among the best pitchers in the American League for the past several years, has so far pitched in the 2009 season to an 11-4 record, a 2.68 ERA and 129 strikeouts to only 11 walks. He also was named the starting pitcher for the American League All-Star team when they took the field last month. With those kind of numbers, there were many teams interested in dealing with Toronto to bring Halladay on board.

So what does Ricciardi do? He prices himself right out of the market. Rather than face the fact that Halladay will likely be gone from the organization by the end of 2010, Ricciardi foolishly states that he wants to be “blown away” by a trade offer if he’s going to deal Halladay. Essentially, Ricciardi had set too high a price for any team to seriously consider working with Toronto.

The Philadelphia Phillies, who seemed like the leading contenders to land Halladay, decided to look elsewhere when they were unwilling to meet Ricciardi’s demands. They didn’t have to look far, though, as they found the Cleveland Indians, who were willing to deal reigning Cy Young winner Cliff Lee for a minor league prospect and a free coupon from Subway. When Lee was traded to the Phillies, Ricciardi should have realized that his price was, perhaps, too high. Instead, he persisted on demanding top value for his ace.

In fairness, I have no problem with Ricciardi trying to retain as much value as possible for a proven ace like Halladay. But, with other talent on the market like Lee, or Jake Peavy who FINALLY has been moved to the South side of Chicago, the going rate for pitchers just was not as high as Ricciardi hoped it would be. He made his mistake in either the refusal or the inability to read the writing on the wall and to adjust his expectations accordingly. As a result, the Blue Jays organization will suffer.

Now, instead of seeing some kind of return on investment for Halladay, the Blue Jays are going to keep him through the remainder of the 2009 season, which is like winning the sportsmanship trophy in high school. It means nothing, because the season is all but over for Toronto as they currently sit 12 games behind the New York Yankees in the AL East. As they move into the 2010 season, Ricciardi will likely try to shop Halladay around again, but next year the buyers will be holding all the cards because they know that they will have a shot at Halladay for nothing at the end of the season.

Ricciardi’s inactivity, and his unwillingness to make any concessions when the pressure was on for him to make a deal will ultimately cost the Blue Jays much more next year, when they watch Halladay just walk away from the team and have nothing to show for it.

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The Sign Stealing Debate – It’s Stealing, People!!!

June 17, 2009

Read the debate intro and Bleacher Fan’s opinion.

Sign stealing has been going on since the early days of baseball. It happened yesterday. It happened today. Guess what? It’ll probably happen tomorrow.

There are many unwritten rules in baseball. Some that come to mind are as follows:

  • Never steal a base late in a game that’s out of hand. This happens occasionally, and it really ticks me off when it does.
  • Do not show up a pitcher after hitting a home run. This means no trotting or no excessive flipping of the bat. This rule applies to people like Atlanta Braves shortstop Yunel Escobar. It also applied to former Chicago Cubs right fielder Sammy Sosa (I was hoping we’d heard the last of him) and Seattle Mariners second baseman Bret Boone, when they were active.
  • Never try to break up a no hitter late in a game by bunting. The last time I remember this happening was in 2001 when Curt Schilling was pitching against San Diego while still with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Those are three of my favorites. If a player pulls any of those tricks against a team I’m managing, payback is forthcoming. Your best hitter might as well go ahead and put some extra padding on, because he’s about to get a two-seam fastball drilled right into his ribs.

Here’s another unwritten rule to add:

  • Never steal signs!

The scenario Sports Geek touched on in the debate intro is interesting.

Let’s break down “sign-stealing.” More importantly, let’s break down the word “steal.”

According to Webster, “steal” means “to take (the property of another or others) without permission or right, especially secretly or by force.”

In this particular situation, A-Roid (sp??) is taking “property” (baseball game information via “signs”) away from the opposing team. I can guarantee you the opposing team didn’t give A-Roid (sp??) permission to steal signs!

What is Major League Baseball, and our good buddy Commissioner Bud Selig, going to do about it? Are they going to turn a blind eye like the NCAA does (see yesterday’s debate)?

When there is blatant sign stealing going on, MLB should do something about it. At the very least, a fine should be levied against the parties involved for a first offender. If it continues, perhaps a suspension will clean things up really quickly.

Selig is all about trying to clean up the game and get baseball through the steroid era. If you are going to attempt to fix that problem, you might as well address sign stealing, too. Technology is more prevalent in baseball than ever before. Batters actually go into the clubhouse and look at video of their previous at bat in the middle of the game. (Is this perhaps another opportunity to steal signs? Hmmmm…)

Step up, Major League Baseball, and do something!

The Jake Peavy Debate – The Verdict Is In

May 28, 2009

I want to begin with a big thank you to everyone who has visited us during our kickoff debate, and to everyone who added their comments, either directly on the site, or on our Twitter feed!

I also want to say thank you to Sports Geek and Loyal Homer for ensuring our inaugural debate was one worth checking out (and one worthy of being the first debate)!

And now, the Verdict is in.

Allow me to be the first to congratulate the winner of the inaugural Sports Debate…


To recap, Jake Peavy recently made a decision to block a trade that would send him from San Diego over to the American League with the Chicago White Sox. While he has publicly given some explanation behind his decision, many people are still questioning what his real motivation was, and also whether or not he made the right choice.

Both sides made very convincing arguments. Loyal Homer, arguing that Peavy made the wrong choice, started the debate off strong when he pointed out that Peavy had expressed a desire to play for a contender, and then posed his position that the Padres were certainly not in a position of contention. Loyal Homer raised valid points regarding the White Sox and the fact that they have a legitimate opportunity to compete for the AL Central Title. He criticized Peavy for then passing on opportunities to play in Atlanta and Chicago for both the Cubs and the White Sox. Ultimately, he said Peavy is a Prima Donna, and that he would regret his decision to remain in San Diego.

In response, Sports Geek, arguing that Peavy made the right decision, called into question the White Sox ability to really compete for the World Series. His notes on some recent injuries, as well as some pitching and hitting problems for the ChiSox raised some questions about whether or not Chicago really would be a good place for Jake to call home. In his final comments, Sports Geek concluded by considering Peavy’s trade value, and a lack of any compelling reason for him to go to Chicago.

There was one more point raised, though, which I felt really cut to the heart of this debate, and ultimately which tipped the scales in favor of the Sports Geek. That was the point he raised regarding the present AND FUTURE trade value of Jake Peavy. With 10 weeks remaining until the trade deadline, Peavy still has plenty of time to separate the contenders from the pretenders. While the White Sox may be a contender right now, a lot can happen over a 10-week period.

That point, raised by Sports Geek during his initial comments, ultimately carried the day, and earned him the first victory in TSD! Congratulations Sports Geek!


Visit our Overtime blog for follow-up commentary by our contributors. See their reactions to the judge’s verdict, and weigh in yourself with more thoughts on the Peavy Trade, as well as your own reactions to the judge’s decision.

Once again, I want to thank you all for making our launch a successful one. Make sure to stop by later today and find out what our next debate will be! Also, don’t forget to subscribe to TSD’s RSS feed (it’s free), and make sure to follow us on Twitter!

The Jake Peavy Debate – He’s Not A Prima Donna, He’s Right

May 27, 2009

At a time when most geek’s everywhere are “having a moment” due to the fact that the new 2010 Madden Player ratings are out, I’m pulled back into this debate about Jake Peavy rightly spurning the White Sox trade proposal.

I can see the tendency to make the debate about Peavy being a prima donna, Loyal Homer. In fact, it seems that the very topic of a player exercising their rightfully earned no trade clause is your Pet Peavy (yes folks, I write my own jokes).

But, if you want to argue Peavy is a prima donna, what would you have him do when put in this precarious situation by his employer? Accept the trade terms that his idiot organization agreed to (when his trade value is lowest), and find himself in a situation not to his liking, while simultaneously having slammed the door on a possible return to San Diego? That doesn’t sound too smart for a pitcher that is smart.

So, let’s bring the debate back to the original topic our esteemed judge will deliver a verdict on: Jake Peavy should not have accepted the trade to the White Sox. It’s not a referendum on every historical Peavy trade possibility; it’s a debate about this specific trade. a trade whose outcome we all know for certain Peavy had 100% control over.

Jake Peavy has no compelling reason to go to the White Sox. He has no desire to play there. He’s mentioned the teams he would be willing to waive his no trade clause for, and various circumstances other than Jake Peavy’s opinion have prevented those trades from getting consummated (see the pending Chicago Cubs sale, for one). This trade proposal with the White Sox is the first one with an outcome we all know for certain Peavy had 100% control over with his well-earned no trade clause. I’m all for having a debate about the merits of the no-trade clause (comments, please?) but that’s for another time.

Also, unless Seezy is a die-hard Padres fan, I think it’s safe to say that casual fans can name other Padres.

None of your argument acknowledges the facts of the situation. The current Padres offer him a chance at success (and continued large contracts, though not with the Padres, it seems) because Petco Park plays to the pitcher’s advantage. Why leave a situation where the closer, Heath Bell, was good enough to oust shoe-in Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman? Why leave a park notorious for preventing homers? Why forgo control of your contract for a situation with another team where you don’t have control? Answer my rhetorical questions!!

Loyal Homer said, “the Padres obviously don’t want…” Jake Peavy. I completely disagree with that notion. It’s not that they don’t want him, it’s that they can’t afford to keep him. For this trade with the White Sox, Peavy had control and killed the trade because he doesn’t see the White Sox as a contender – and he’s right.

The judge’s verdict is next! Leave some comments to sway his opinion!


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