After the Padres’ “almost but not quite” 2010 season ended, all of us Friars fans had to come to the realization that the franchise was going to have to part ways with hometown super-star Adrian Gonzalez. An All-Star First Baseman with power to all fields and multiple Gold Gloves, Gonzalez’s fantastic play over his five year stay in San Diego had essentially driven his services out of the ridiculously frugal Padres’ price range, and there was no way the team could possibly re-sign/extend him. Thus, instead of paying their marquee player and only super-star, the Padres were forced to deal him elsewhere to get something in return instead of letting him walk as a Free Agent the following season and getting nothing at all. As we all know, Gonzalez was dealt to Boston that December for four prospects and the Padres subsequently lost their best Offensive threat of the last decade. Now that a year and a half has passed since the deal, I thought that it would be nice to discuss how the trade has worked out for both parties, with an emphasis on the Padres of course.
Adrian Gonzalez & His Productivity:
Since coming to Boston, Gonzalez has produced at his normal high level. As of yesterday, in 234 Games (924 At-Bats) for the Red Sox, Gonzalez has hit for a .316 Average, posted a .382 On-Base Percentage, a .504 Slugging Percentage, and a .887 OPS. Sure, Gonzalez’s Batting Average has taken a bit of a dip this season (.269), but he earned a Silver Slugger Award in 2011 for his efforts (.338 Batting Average). And while Gonzalez’s Home Run numbers are a tad lower than when he was with the Padres (33), he still has been adept at clubbing extra base hits. Over the last year and a half, Adrian has clubbed 69 Doubles, and ranks 2nd in said category with 24 so far this season.
In addition to his prowess at the plate, Gonzalez still remains a top notch First Baseman. In 2011, Gonzalez won his third Gold Glove Award, and posted an awesome .997 Fielding Percentage at First Base over 155 Games. This season, Gonzalez will likely receive yet another Gold Glove Award for his efforts in the field, as he has posted a perfect 1.000 Fielding Percentage in 2012 through 529.2 Innings of work. Just continued productivity from Adrian Gonzalez, one of the game’s best at his position.
What the Padres Received:
Trumpeted as Gonzalez’s successor and the Padres’ best prospect, Anthony Rizzo had a dismal showing with San Diego after he was called up last summer. After he tore up the pitching in Triple-A Tucson for 2011′s first two months, Rizzo was promoted to the big club and subsequently hit .141 in 128 At-Bats with 1 Home Run and 9 RBI’s, posted a .281 On-Base Percentage, and a paltry .242 Slugging Percentage. Rizzo was sent back to Tucson for almost two months after a 35 game audition before he came back as a September call-up with the Padres to finish the regular season.
Rizzo was deemed expendable as a First Baseman when San Diego traded its best starting Pitcher in Mat Latos this offseason to acquire Yonder Alonso, and Rizzo was traded (with Zach Cates) to the Cubs for Starter/Reliever Andrew Cashner and Kyung Min-Na before the season began. The jury is still out on Rizzo, but he will get all the chances in the world to develop for Chicago over the next few seasons. He is a favorite of those in the Front Office (Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and Jason McLeod) there, and has just started his career with the Cubs after he spent most of 2012 with Triple-A Iowa. What we do know though is that Rizzo is gone, and Gonzalez’s supposed replacement was not the answer the team though they received a year and a half ago.
A 1st Round pick by Boston in 2008, Casey Kelly did a nice job as he pitched for the Padres Double-A affiliate last season in his first year with the organization. Kelly posted 11 Wins over 27 Starts, a 3.98 ERA, and logged 142.1 Innings Pitched as the Missions won the Texas League title. Kelly led the team in Wins and Strikeouts (105), and teamed with Joe Wieland and Robbie Erlin to form a trio of some of the minors best young starters. Slated to begin the 2012 season in Triple-A Tucson and on track to possibly make his major league debut late in the year, Kelly was hurt after only 2 starts because of an elbow injury.
Let’s keep our fingers’ crossed that Kelly can return soon, because the way it looks now, San Diego is in desperate need of help in the Starting Pitching department. With 13 Starters already used in the first 80 games, Kelly could have gained some valuable big league experience this season had he not been injured, provided some stability to the rotation, and not given the Padres cause to sign veteran Free Agents. Still, we should see Casey sooner rather than later, and barring an injury, he should be taking the mound for the Padres sometime in 2013.
Another Red Sox 1st Round pick sent to San Diego in exchange for Gonzalez, Outfielder Reymond Fuentes is still currently working his way up through the Padres’ minor leagues. Fuentes had a decent 2011 season with High-A Lake Elsinore where he hit .275 over 510 At-Bats, logged a .342 On-Base Percentage, Stole 41 Bases, hit 5 Home Runs, 15 Doubles, 9 Triples, and knocked in 45 runs. Even though his Walk to Strikeout ratio was a bit high (44 to 117), Fuentes was promoted to Double-A San Antonio after the season. Fuentes however has yet to get hot and hit on a consistent basis at the Double-A level, and it appears that he will finish the year in San Antonio.
In 75 Games and 255 At-Bats with the Missions, Fuentes is hitting .235 with only 1 Home Run, and has only knocked in 19 runs so far. In addition, Fuentes’ On-Base Percentage has dipped to .319, his Slugging Percentage is at only .322, and he has already Struck Out 77 times. Fuentes still has the rest of the season to get on track with his bat, but it appears that he will likely need at least two more years in the minors before he can be called up to the big leagues and make an impact with the Padres.
Like Rizzo, Eric Patterson is no longer with the Padres’ organization, and was released in December of last year. The first of the four to make it to play for San Diego, Patterson struggled mightily last season in spot duty as both a utility Infielder and Outfielder. Patterson hit only .180 over 47 games and in 89 At-Bats and logged only 16 total Hits with 1 Home Run and 8 RBI’s over the course of the season. Patterson was released after the season by the Padres and was recently released by the Tigers.
Even though it is a bit too early to tell the ultimate long-term effects, it certainly seems that Boston has come out the winner in the deal. Patterson and Rizzo contributed little to nothing to the Padres’ big league franchise from a statistical productivity standpoint, and are not even on the roster as we are nearing July of 2012. Fuentes has yet to play a game above the Double-A level, and it appears that he will likely not make the jump to Triple-A until the middle of next season. As for Kelly, he came on strong last season in San Antonio and helped the Missions to a Texas League title in 2011, and did look decent in his two Triple-A outings this season. The injury to Kelly’s shoulder however has caused him to miss a significant amount of time, and he probably will not see any time in the big leagues this season. It is a shame too, because he likely would have been called up due to the ridiculous amount of injuries San Diego’s starting staff has sustained over the course of the year.
To their credit, the Red Sox saw a player which could help their franchise in the form of Gonzalez and pulled the trigger. Their organization, along with the other big payroll clubs, can develop more solid prospects to deal for outstanding players on small payroll teams which have outplayed their original contracts and are looking to play winning baseball. As much as it may anger me, these franchises are doing what they can to help themselves, and their investments pay off in the form of their ballclubs playing consistent winning baseball each and every season.
Hopefully Kelly and Fuentes can prove to be solid ball-players with the Padres at some point during their careers’. As it stands now, both are the only two players left in San Diego’s organization which the team received in exchange for Gonzalez. I am just crossing my fingers that my fear that the Padres would get almost nothing out of the Gonzalez deal will never be realized.