The Padres have played 23 games. They are not necessarily out of it, but they are playing like a team who is. They are playing like a team that doesn’t think they have a shot. They’re treading water. If the losses continue and the Padres can’t find a way to sweep a few teams and get some series victories, the make-up of the entire team could change very quickly. I talked about the Carlos Quentin possibilities on Thursday, but even more probable would be a trade involving Huston Street.
Street has had just three save opportunities in the first 23 games. He’s converted all three, but has not been able to help the team win because – well – they simply haven’t been winning. Across the league, there are plenty of teams who we expected to be in contention and those we did not who have lost their closers. The Reds lost Ryan Madson for the season. The Nationals lost Drew Storen for the year, and now Brad Lidge is on the 15-day DL. The Royals (probably not in contention) lost Joakim Soria for the year. The Red Sox lost Andrew Bailey. Tampa Bay’s Kyle Farnsworth is on the shelf too. Within the division even, we can find teams in need of a closer. The Giants lost Brian Wilson for the year to Tommy John surgery.
So what is the level of interest in Huston Street by any of the teams, and who are the legitimate players? It would be surprising to see Street dealt too far ahead of the July non-waiver trade deadline, so the rumors are quiet. The hot stove is not yet heating up, but let’s break down each of the team’s mentioned above. I’ll rate each team on a scale of 1-10 for interest level (1 being low and 10 being high).
When news of Ryan Madsen’s season-ending injury broke, many people thought the Reds were in trouble. Madson was the guy to help protect leads and get Cincinnati those few precious extra wins that could put them at the top of the division. However, Sean Marshall has stepped in and filled Madson’s shoes wonderfully. He has 5 saves, just one blown save, and has struck out 12 in 8 1/3 innings pitched.
The Reds have an in-house guy to shut the door at the end of games, so it’s unlikely they will seek help at the trade deadline. This all changes if Marshall gets hurts during any part of the season though.
Interest level – 2
No team has been decimated at the closer spot more than the Nationals this year. Drew Storen, a guy who saved 43 games for the Nationals last season hit the disabled list early and has now been shut down for the season. The Nationals had a back-up plan in Brad Lidge, but Lidge has had control problems for years now and he too is on the disabled list.
The Nats are currently using Tom Gorzelany as their closer. He’s had just one save opportunity so far, but he converted it. Yet, the Nationals, who are 14-8 and look like they are ready to compete for the National League East, need consistency. They may be interested in a proven closer like Huston Street even if it is just for half a year to help push them toward a postseason berth.
Interest level – 8
Kansas City is in a similar situation as the Padres. They are thought of as a team with a nice farm system, a team that’s rebuilding, and a team that will be competitive in a couple years. However, many also thought they would at least make some noise this season. That hasn’t happened so far, and they haven’t even been able to see their star closer perform this year. Jokim Soria went down with Tommy John surgery and is out for the season.
The Royals had a back-up plan in place in the form of former-Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton. Broxton has three saves for the Royals and a 2.43 ERA this season. Because the Royals have him as a contingency plan and because they are not winning, the Royals probably won’t be making very many buyers moves at the trade deadline.
Interest level – 1
The Red Sox
After watching Jonathan Papelbon sign a ridiculously rich contract in Philadelphia, the Red Sox went out and acquired Andrew Bailey from the Athletics. Bailey was a guy rumored to be linked to San Diego when they were searching for their next closer. Now, Bailey is out for an indefinite period of time with an injured thumb requiring surgery.
While waiting for a time table on Bailey;s return, the Sox have gone with Alfredo Aceves as their closer. He has five saves this season, but he also has a 12.00 ERA and two blown saves. He is not the answer the Red Sox are looking for. If Bailey is going to have to miss significant time, the Red Sox may be interested in a commodity.
Interest level – 7
Kyle Farnsworth, who has never been a true closer in his career, surprised everyone by saving 25 games for the Rays last season. The Rays are known for their philosophy of closer by committee, but Farnsworth’s injury has definitely been a blow to them. He is expected to return this season, but an elbow injury is tricky. It’s not certain when he will return.
Because of the Rays’ philosophy on closers, they must be included in the Huston Street discussions. Even though they should get Farnsworth back, the team is known for using multiple closers throughout the year. Tampa Bay may look to ad to their bullpen depth and give themselves a little extra insurance with Street and Farnsworth sharing closer duties.
Interest level – 6
The loss of Brian Wilson for the season was a huge blow for San Francisco. They are a team reliant on pitching. They have the starters and were hoping to have Wilson close the door at the end of games. His injury means the team has had to turn to Santiago Casilla, a 31 year old veteran who has never saved more than six games in a season.
So far, Casilla is working out. He has four saves and a 1.04 ERA, but the question is whether or not he can hold up throughout the season. The Giants may want a little insurance, but their level of interest may have less bearing not the decision than the Padres willingness to trade within the division. The Rockies traded Street to San Diego within the division, so it’s obviously not unheard of. Should the Padres fall further out of the race, there’s really no reason not to trade within the division if the return is good enough.
Interest level – 7
Based on these predictions, the Nationals may have the most interest followed by the Rays and the Giants. It is seeming increasingly clear that San Diego will have no choice but to trade players like Huston Street and Carlos Quentin. If Street continues to go without save opportunities in San Diego, there is no reason for the team to continue paying him. I would anticipate numerous teams showing interest come late-June, early-July.