Monthly Archives: November 2019

Hunter Renfroe Jersey

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The 2019 San Diego Padres have 17 games left to play this year.

If the team goes 10-7 the rest of the way, they will end up with a 77-84 record.

Flip that, and a 7-10 record will bring them to 74-87.

In the unlikely event that this club pulls off a win streak and manages a 12-5 mark over the next three weeks, a losing record, at 79-82, will be their ultimate reward.

However you slice it, the next month of Padre baseball has very little to offer aside from evaluational opportunities and the time-honored refuge of losing ballclubs—those so-called moral victories of September. Yuck.

With about seven months left until San Diego plays another meaningful baseball game, it’s probably time to start turning our attention toward the 2019-2020 offseason.

Given the club’s repeated expression that 2020 is the expected opening to its window of contention, said offseason figures to be a very important one; factor in the much-ballyhooed roster crunch GM AJ Preller will be dealing with, and it may be fair to upgrade the situation from “important” to “critical”.

The club’s 40-man roster is full. Eleven players currently sit on the 60-day injured list, putting them temporarily off of that 40-man—but they will need space on that roster when they are ready for activation. Several prospects will need to be moved onto the 40-man in order to avoid the Rule V Draft this offseason (including Buddy Reed, Esteury Ruiz, and Trevor Megill), while the club still holds 40-man spots for fringe considerations like Travis Jankowski and Edward Olivares.

Those last two players are of particular note. With a much-discussed logjam in the 2019 outfield, the Padres have received little in the way of clarity regarding their on-grass picture for 2020. Uneven performance, injury, and stagnation have more or less muddied what was already an uncertain state of affairs with San Diego outfielders this year. With Wil Myers, Hunter Renfroe, Josh Naylor, Nick Martini, and Franchy Cordero all expected back next season, how will the team continue to make 40-man room for players like Jankowski and Olivares?

It’s with a question like this that we kick off what will be a new series over the next two weeks, wherein potential trade pieces for the 2019-2020 offseason will be evaluated. Hunter Renfroe, who figures to be the second-most expensive player of San Diego’s outfield group next year, is certainly a trade candidate worth taking a look at.

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It was certainly interesting that the San Diego Padres added Jorge Ona to the 40-man roster protecting him from the Rule 5 Draft.

Ona, by resume, was certainly someone who should have been protected, but there are question marks behind Ona the player.

What’s interesting about protecting Ona was that the Padres had a similar decision with Franmil Reyes in 2017.

Reyes was eligible for the Rule 5 Draft that year but had a wrist injury that ended his season early.

The Padres gambled that no one would draft the big-hitting outfielder who had reached Double-A.

The gamble paid off.

In 2018, Reyes was fully healed and went on a tear at Triple-A El Paso and was promoted to the big leagues.

Once there full-time, Reyes hit 16 home runs in 87 games to go with a .280 average.

He continued to rake in 2019 for the Padres until he was traded mid-season in a three-way deal with the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds that netted prospect Taylor Trammell.

Ona, an outfield from Havana, Cuba, was signed by the Padres on July 20, 2016 for $7 million as part of a heralded international signing class that also included Michel Baez and Adrian Morejon.

He’s been beset by injuries so far as a Padre farmhand, having never played more than 107 games in a season.

Ona had been a fixture in the Padres Top 30 prospect list until most recently when he fell off the grid.

Last season, however, Ona was on the verge of a breakthrough when he was promoted to Double-A Amarillo and hit .348 with 5 home runs and 18 RBI in 25 games. He also had an OBP of .417 and OPS of .957.

But his season was cut short by a shoulder injury that required surgery.

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For many franchises, spending any amount of time discussing the 28th-ranked prospect isn’t worth the time and effort. However, the San Diego Padres farm system presents a different case, seeing as Edward Olivares, the Padres 28th-ranked prospect, is a top 15-20 prospect on most other teams. He is coming off a fairly successful season with the Lake Elsinore Storm, but will we see him suit up with the Amarillo Sod Poodles?

Olivares came to San Diego via Toronto when the Padres traded infielder Yangervis Solarte to the Blue Jays for Olivares and Jared Carkuff. Carkuff was later released, but Olivares showcased his speed and power in Lake Elsinore for 129 games.

His final stat line included a .277 average, .321 on-base percentage, 25 doubles, 10 triples, and 12 home runs. He swiped 21 bags, converting on 72% of his stolen base attempts.

The 22-year-old outfielder is currently spending the offseason in his home country of Venezuela where he is playing with the Tigres de Aragua. In 24 games, Olivares is hitting .337 with a .402 OBP, two doubles, two triples, and two home runs. He has converted five of six stolen base attempts and ranks among the league leaders in several offensive categories.

During the MiLB regular season, Olivares hit .281 vs righties and .261 vs lefties, however, that split has widened in Venezuela. He is currently hitting .370 against RHP and .211 LHP. Looking back over his splits over the course of his minor league career, Olivares has a history of struggling to hit left-handed pitching. Just something to watch with him.

The question now becomes, will the Padres add him to the 40-man roster before the upcoming deadline to protect Rule-5 draft eligible prospects? Sam Dykstra of MiLB.com recently published this piece taking a quick look at every top 30 prospect who is eligible for the draft. Maybe it is just my reading of the San Diego Padres outlook section, but it seems like Sam believes that the Padres will lose one or more of their five top-30 prospects.

There are plenty of names that can be removed from the current 40-man and the Padres are believed to be a franchise that will be active on the trade market this offseason, including current rumors swirling around Maikel Franco and Noah Syndergaard. San Diego can make room for Olivares. He is a multi-tool outfielder that has the potential to be a major league contributing outfielder.

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Last week, outfielder Josh Naylor was interviewed by Gwynn & Chris of 97.3 THE FAN—an altogether great radio program in the afternoon drivetime hours.

I was excited to hear Josh interview because, from what I’ve seen, he’s got a fiery personality, is Canadian, and, well, doesn’t exactly look like a physical Adonis. That last point—that of Josh’s physique—was actually touched on by Tony Gwynn Jr., and the results were…somewhat awkward.

Gwynn: “One of the things that to me is uncanny watching you swinging the bat is that you have a lot of similarities to Prince Fielder…Have you heard that comparison before?”

Naylor, sounding uncomfortable: Um, yeah I have. Especially before my professional career, I got a lot of comps to him and stuff, and, you know, bigger hitters like that, but it is what it is—I don’t try to hit like him or be like him.

This was just one cringe-worthy moment in what was altogether a great interview (available below), but man did I want to crawl into the glovebox of my Scion listening to that exchange. Check it out around the 5:00 mark.

What’s most obvious about the back-and-forth is that Josh Naylor has been asked a lot about his appearance—and that interviewers, like Gwynn, try to soften the blow of the real question by comparing Naylor to, in Naylor’s words, “bigger” hitters like Fielder.

But let’s call it what it is: Naylor is chunky, yo.

And you know what else? Mans can hit.
Loving the skin you’re in

First, let me advocate for my use of the word “chunky”. Some people would call Naylor “fat”, but “fat” is almost universally an epithet used to make people feel shame and, in our tolerance-minded times, we will steer way clear of making our young outfielder feeling bad about his girthy frame.

“Chunky”, meanwhile, has better associations. Peanut Butter can be chunky. Rocky Road is chunky. The audio mixing on Portishead’s Dummy record could be described as chunky.

I will admit that there is one place where the word “fat” does have positive connotations, e.g. “fat stacks of cash”—which is exactly what our 6’1, 225-lb outfielder is going to make some day if he keeps hitting at his current pace.

In the second half, the 22-year-old lefty is hitting .276 with 5 HRs and a palatable 2:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Most importantly, the “Mississauga Masher” has shown an ability to hit situationally—something few Padres have succeeded at this year.
Simple approach, great results

Take a look at this at-bat from last night’s game:

Facing a right-side-heavy shift, the rookie Naylor does exactly what a professional hitter should do—just a nice, simple game of “Pepper” the other way. Since July 5th, Naylor is hitting .326 in at-bats where the defense has the shift on him. He seems to stick with the old adage of ”When you put the ball in play, good things happen”.

Of course, putting the ball in play has long been Naylor’s modus operandi. The big boy from north of the border struck out just 30 times in 223 Triple-A at-bats this year, and holds a 1.70:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio across 1700+ minor league at-bats—pretty solid marks in today’s swing-happy culture.

So call Josh Naylor whatever you wish—fat, chunky, girthy, big-boned, body-swollen, a hefty lefty, rotund, portly, or plump.

Just make sure you also call him what he is: a hitter.

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Wil Myers has had a bumpy San Diego Padres career that has included an All-Star appearance when they hosted the MId-Summer Classic in 2016, but after that season he has struggled.

The big story for him is his strikeouts. It seemed like he was striking out at least once every game, which meant a majority of the time he was an easy out in the middle of the lineup.

The Padres even tried to bench him to let him just refocus and get some extra practice in off of the curveball machine, but that didn’t even work.

He seems lost in the outfield at times, and he can’t go back to first base with Eric Hosmer there for the foreseeable future.

So, with that said I think the Padres should just eat his contract and trade him to another team because it seems to me like he is hurting the team more than he is helping them.

The only tricky part about eating his $83 million contract is that in order to actually eat the contract, there has to be a team that is willing to take him on, which is most likely going to be the front office’s biggest question.

If the Padres were to find a team for Myers, they would at the very least be able to save $20-$30 million to either save or spend on some free agents in the offseason like a Gerrit Cole.

People bring up the argument that the San Diego Padres don’t want to eat his big contract, but Wil Myers is not performing and is a hole in the lineup which means they are essentially eating his contract anyway so they might as well trade him to another team.

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Centerfielder Manuel Margot has played himself back into the conversation for the San Diego Padres, per MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell.

If it seems like Margot has been around forever, that’s because he’s not only in his third season as a regular contributor in San Diego, but before that he was a key piece in the trade that sent Craig Kimbrel to the Red Sox – after which he instantly became the top-rated prospect in the Padres’ system by MLB.com. He was the 26th-ranked prospect in the game at the start of 2016 when he looked like a potential future star in center, batting a projectable .263/.313/.409 as a 22-year-old rookie.

The Padres have had so many prospects enter the national conversation since that 2015 blockbuster that Margot has faded well into the background, not only on the national level but for the Padres as well. As it stands today, Margot’s career line of .251/.303/.394 doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence as the centerfielder of the future.

Still, he’s remarkably only 24-years-old, and as Cassavell points out, for a little over a month now, he’s raked. Since June 23, he’s holding a .260/.387/.519 line. Consider positive career defensive ratings in center (19 DRS, 11.8 UZR), and Margot may yet contribute to the next contender in San Diego.

Despite San Diego’s deep farm system, they don’t necessarily have their next centerfielder bookmarked. That plays in Margot’s favor, but it might also make the Padres all the more proactive in seeking an outside solution. Unless he can consistently put together quality results against right-handers, he’s more likely pegged for a future as a fourth outfielder, whether in San Diego or elsewhere.

The Padres best bet is to play out the string for the remainder of 2019 and hope he does enough to improve his stock for a potential offseason trade. His youth is encouraging, but he’s also approaching his first season of arbitration, making 2019 a put-up-or-shut-up season for Margot. His first time through arbitration won’t break the bank, but it does change his valuation moving forward. Another couple of months like his last, however, and Margot could change that valuation once again.

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Padres GM AJ Preller spoke to reporters at the GM Meetings in Arizona yesterday, with a few interesting notes on the club’s current roster concerns. While Preller didn’t unequivocally dispel rumors of Luis Urias’ availability on the trade market, he did offer that he sees “a lot of scenarios” in which the youngster is starting in the middle infield in 2020 (as noted in an article from Dennis Lin of The Athletic). Meanwhile, catcher Francisco Mejia is “very much in the catching equation” for the club next year, and team officials still feel like Austin Hedges can “swing the bat a lot better than he did [in 2019]”.

Preller also shared that the club is expected to retain second bagger Greg Garcia and that the club’s catching depth is “an area we get hit on” from other teams. Taken together, these comments don’t provide much clarity with regard to the team’s plans at catcher and second, but could be seen as typical of an executive staring down an offseason that offers a dizzying number of potential routes toward club improvement.

More from the NL West…

Another one of Preller’s many touted young players, outfielder Franchy Cordero, tweaked a glute muscle while rehabbing at the team’s complex in Arizona this week. As reported by AJ Cassavell of MLB.com (link), the injury is not expected to be overly serious but should delay the 25-year-old’s participation in the Dominican Winter Leagues. Padres fans know well the extent to which Cordero has been limited in recent years by injuries, as a chronic elbow issue acted in concert with a quad injury to rob him of the majority of his 2019 season. Cordero, a lefty-swinging outfielder capable of playing center, fits exactly the type of player the Padres have been rumored to be in pursuit of this offseason, though he has been limited to just 79 major league games since debuting in 2017. For what it’s worth, Preller still characterized Cordero as, “One of the more talented and physically gifted players in the league in terms of a speed/power combo.”

The Giants are considering University of Michigan coach Chris Fetter for their pitching coach vacancy, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (link). As noted previously, Fetter was a considered as a candidate for the Mets’ pitching coach opening. Fetter, a former ninth-round pick of the Padres back in 2009, previously spent time as a coach in the Dodgers system while new Giants manager Gabe Kapler was serving as the Los Angeles director of player development.

Speaking of L.A., Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman reiterated the club’s plans to use Julio Urias in the rotation next season, as noted in a tweet from Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times (link). Friedman currently projects to use Urias, Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, and Kenta Maeda in the rotation, while Ross Stripling will “have a chance” to compete for a spot. The perennial NL West champs have also been connected to a number of high-profile starting pitchers this offseason (Gerrit Cole included), and starter Rich Hill has expressed a strong desire to return to the Dodgers. The team also has Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May on hand as starting options, with Pedro Moura of The Athletic (link) relaying that the club still views May as a big league starter moving forward despite his late-season 2019 deployment from the bullpen.

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A flurry of moves on Thanksgiving eve signaled that the prospect-hoarding San Diego Padres can afford to be impatient.

Late Wednesday morning, a number of Milwaukee Brewers turned Padres and vice versa. First, San Diego dealt infielder Luis Urías and left-hander Eric Lauer to Milwaukee for righty Zach Davies and outfielder Trent Grisham.

The Padres also reportedly signed lefty Drew Pomeranz, who was lights out as a reliever for the Brewers down the stretch this year, on a free-agent contract.

Adding Pomeranz, 31, and Davies, 26, provides a veteran presence to a bullpen and rotation littered with some names that currently occupy top prospect lists. And Grisham, who filled in nicely for Christian Yelich but could’ve potentially been haunted by a game-changing error in the wild card game, bolsters the depth of a veteran outfield. Lauer was quickly replaced and didn’t do much to separate himself from the next wave of San Diego’s very talented pitching prospects.

But giving up on Urías so quickly means that the Padres are exiting the rebuild stage and fine-tuning their major league roster to win now. Which makes sense because a team 13 years removed from their last National League West title and hasn’t finished better than fourth in the division since 2014 should be moving with urgency.

San Diego graduated a number of the game’s best prospects the past few seasons. The most notable among them being Rookie of the Year finalist Fernando Tatis Jr. and Chris Paddack, the fireballing right-hander who went from Class A Advanced to ace of the staff within a year. The Padres still entered the season with nearly a dozen players listed among the top prospects in baseball and traded for more at the deadline.

Urías, 22, was part of that group when the year began. A natural second baseman with experience at shortstop, he was considered among baseball’s best 30 prospects after he batted no lower than .296 in five minor league seasons.

But at this time last year, Urías entered his first offseason as a major leaguer whose debut didn’t come close to approaching his minor-league success. He compiled a .221 batting average and .649 OPS in 83 total games in the majors.

Urías was young enough and had the past success to earn a little extra patience. Especially from a team that’s building around young talent. The slow start was easy to understand, but it wasn’t the only thing working against him.

San Diego has already proved willing to buck convention to reward success and move on quickly from what’s not working.

The long-term, big-money deals with Eric Hosmer and Manny Machado were signs the Padres’ rebuild wouldn’t rely solely on prospects. They also showed a willingness to skip the line in development should a player earn their spot, considering neither Tatis nor Paddack played a game at Triple-A.

They still also have one of baseball’s best farm systems with a number of players in the pipeline that can play Urías’ position.

The two best, CJ Abrams and Xavier Edwards, are still a couple of years from the big leagues. Edwards made it to the California League and batted .322 overall in his first full season. Abrams, a regular shortstop and the sixth overall pick in June, batted .393 in his first 34 pro games.

There’s a fair chance the Padres look outside the organization to add the final piece to what could potentially be the best infield in baseball. Mike Moustakas, Didi Gregorius, Starlin Castro, Jonathan Schoop and Howie Kendrick are veteran free agents that should be attainable on short-term deals. But the Padres proved they probably want more than a player that could bridge the gap to Edwards or Abrams.

The move to Milwaukee joins Urías with another former top second base prospect, Keston Hiura. Orlando Arcia’s disappointing offensive production —1.2 oWAR over the past four seasons — will likely place the versatile Urías at shortstop in Milwaukee.

Davies went 10-7 last year and led the Brewers, who did not produce a single pitcher that qualified for an ERA title, with 159 1/3 innings pitched. His 3.55 ERA was a career-best and the lowest among Milwaukee’s regular group of starters.

The Brewers don’t possess much pitching depth, and Davies’ third year of arbitration eligibility comes in 2021. Urías is the prize for Milwaukee in the deal, and acquiring him came at the price of arguably their most reliable starter.

There are a lot of moving pieces still left to pin down for a Brewers team that booked consecutive playoff appearances. San Diego earned their Thanksgiving relevance Wednesday, but there’s still a lot of work to do before they’ll be a topic of conversation around Halloween.

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Awards season has officially begun with Gold Gloves given out on Sunday to baseball’s premier defenders where the San Diego Padres came up empty-handed.

On Monday, Major League Baseball revealed the finalists for the four major awards from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, which include MVP, Manager of the Year, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year.

The San Diego Padres were represented among the finalists by their beloved rookie shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. — up for 2019 Rookie of the Year.

The nomination is a surprise to few, if any, due to Tatis’ unforgettable rookie season which included jaw-dropping plays all over the field.

At the plate, Tatis Jr. finished his season with a .317 average, 22 homers, and 53 RBI.

Defensively, he made diving plays, impossible throws, and leaping grabs that one could only shake their head at. He was easily Manny Machado‘s equal defensively, which is almost an impossible comparison when thought about.

The base paths is where Tatis really separated himself from the ordinary, however.

He scored multiple times while being at second on groundballs in the infield, including one to the pitcher against the Giants in San Francisco.

The youngster tagged up from 3rd and scored on a pop up to the 2nd baseman that was a step off the infield dirt.

His best trick, though, was escaping a pickle that saw him avoid a tag going back to first that could have landed him a role in The Matrix.

In August, however, after only 84 games, the 20-year-old Tatis was shut down for the season by the organization due to lower back issues.

The announcement ended the chance at a playoff run for the Padres as a team, and also ended some chances at records and awards that Tatis was well on his way to winning if healthy.

One of those very easily could have been the Rookie of the Year award, but he will likely lose votes due to the 78 missed games.

Likely, it will go to Pete Alonso of the New York Mets, who had an excellent and historic year of his own.

Alonso finished with 55 home runs (a rookie record) and 120 RBI.

A full season of Fernando Tatis Jr. against Alonso’s monster power numbers and Mike Soroka‘s 13 wins and 2.68 ERA would have made the NL Rookie of the Year race a lot more interesting than it is likely to turn out.

Win or lose at Monday night’s award ceremony, it is Tatis Jr. who has won the hearts of San Diego’s fans with his energy, his passion, and his other-worldly skills.

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Manny Machado was signed by A.J. Preller and the San Diego Padres at the beginning of Spring Training with the thought that he was going to be the Manny Machado we saw in Baltimore, but that wasn’t really the case.

People forget that he still hit 32 home runs in 2019, but what they do remember is the .256 batting average he had.

While it wasn’t Machado’s best year or anything the Padres were hoping for, he is still under contract for nine more seasons and I don’t see how he doesn’t have a comeback season in 2020.

You have to remember he didn’t have Fernando Tatis Jr. on base for a few months due to his hamstring and back injuries in addition to not having a healthy Hunter Renfroe and no Franmil Reyes in front or behind him to give him protection, which could’ve been a factor to his mediocre numbers in the second half.

Look, Manny Machado is a superstar player and he was still amazing on a daily basis over at the hit corner so to say that it was a bad decision for San Diego to not sign a future Hall of Famer would be stupid.

There are some positives though if you want to compare his contract to that of Bryce Harper who actually got more money.

Although Bryce had a better year, as his war was 4.2 compared to 3.1, he is not leaving Philadelphia for 12 more seasons.
Machado is going to age better than Harper, as Machado is a much better defender than Harper and I think Harper will age like Albert Pujols has which means he will end up fitting a DH role once it happens.

On the other hand, I don’t see Machado declining defensively so he will be playing third base for pretty much the entirety of his career.