Friday Fireworks

Posted by on December 12th, 2014  •  2 responses  • 

This is some day, to look back at yesterday, and to think ahead to baseball tomorrow’s. 
AJ Preller had the haggard look when I sat next to him on Wednesday in his media briefing at the Winter Baseball meetings.  That daunting exhausted look, like when you pulled all nighters in college for finals, or went out on a fraternity drinking binge.
He laughed when I asked him how many hours he slept this week during the free agent and swap fest of players.  He said he was averaging 3-hours a night.  He didn’t go to bed either on Wednesday night.  But when we woke up, because he stayed up all night, he had acquired Matt Kemp from the Dodgers, in a 3:15am transaction..
In the history of significant modern day trades, this is probably close to the deals that brought San Diego Fred McGriff, Ken Caminetti and Adrian Gonzalez.
Kemp fought back from surgery and 5-different injuries to shoulders, hamstrings and an ankle, to have a really strong second half last season.  It is a pricey acquisition, costing the Padres over 16M-per season for the next five years, with the Dodgers adding another 6M of their own each season as part of the package.
But the Padres had that money.  I wrote weeks ago, spend the combined 18M-they gave Josh Johnson and Chase Headley last year, to go get a bat.  They did.  It wasn’t Yasmany Tomas, but Kemp instead.  That’s okay.
Both teams are pleased, though San Diego may get more instant help out of this deal.  The Friars made this significant deal without giving up any of their top 4-starting pitchers, or the top lower minor league pitcher.  As of breakfast this morning, Cashner-Ross-Kennedy-Hahn are still in the rotation, and Joe Ross is on the way.
Yes they parted with a productive bat in Yasmani Grandal, but he still must prove he can catch 4-or-5 days a week.  And they parted with Joe Wieland, whom they really liked, plus Class A-prospect pitcher Zach Elfin.  Okay again, because San Diego doesn’t want to wait 3-more years to be in a pennant race.
And the Dodgers, they’re pleased too.  They made 5-trades in all, though they may have weakened the power aspect of their lineup.  Kemp is gone, Hanley Ramirez is gone, and Dee Gordon, the speedster. is gone.  They are renting Jimmy Rollins and Howie Kendrick, have picked up a catcher, and added 4-young players.  But the real story, is they made all these deals, and kept their 3-blue chip prospects in LA, Joc Pederson, Julio Uras and Corey Seager.
I guess you could call it ‘win-win’ for both.  Of course there is risk.  Can Kemp stay healthy over the next five years of the deal in San Diego?  Can Grandal hold up physically with the knee issue, and how will LA react if he continues to be horrid throwing out runners?
San Diego needed a big time bat, because this town and this columnist will only tolerate a (.212) hitting team so long.  LA needed to change its clubhouse chemistry, and did, getting younger, and a year from now, opening up some significant contract space for more free agent signings.
And maybe a trade engineered this past couple of months really helped push this deal over the top.  Fired GM-Josh Byrnes is now Andrew Friedman’s right hand man in LA-he knows and likes Grandal.  And Logan White, who came from Chavez Ravine to Petco Park, knows Kemp really well-he drafted him.  Don’t discount what those two execs, with new mailing addresses, did to help get this done.
AJ Preller looked like hell when I saw him, but he stuck to his guns, didn’t panic, didn’t blink.  He looked like he was burned out, but he burned up the phone lines finding a way to get this done.  And the Padres are better off right now than they have been in recent years.
A GM craving sleep, finally woke up a sleepy baseball town
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