Padres could rebuild organization by trading star slugger Gonzalez
Execs say Adrian Gonzalez could bring in a much bigger haul than Jake Peavy
With stunning ups and downs, the Pads are baseball's most exciting .500 team
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If the Padres really want to rebuild their team, opposing executives say a trade of Jake Peavy pales in comparison to a trade of Adrian Gonzalez. The Padres don't like to use the "R" word in San Diego, and so far by keeping Gonzalez they don't appear to be completely embracing the rebuilding concept, either.
The Padres are one of baseball's great stories, as their 10-game winning streak finally ended late Tuesday night with a leaping catch at the wall by the Diamondbacks' Chris Young. But it's still hard to imagine that big hearts and two stars can keep the Padres in contention for the full season. Plus, while they have traded well, they have drafted as poorly as anyone in recent years, leaving them with significant holes.
A trade of the ace Peavy -- if they can finally find a match and a place he likes -- would be the biggest cost-saver, of course, since he has about $60 million to go on his contract through 2012. But a trade of superstar first baseman Gonzalez could potentially patch several weaknesses. He is 27, a superstar and makes only $3 million this year and $4.75 million next year with a ridiculous $5.5 million club option for 2011.
In other words, he is the mother lode (or madre lode).
Competing executives still believe it's more likely the Padres will try to extend Gonzalez into his free-agent years, and if they can get him to agree to another charitable contract like that last one, that may be very tempting for them. But some competitors still believe the better idea might be to use him to rebuild an organization hurt by a decade of poor drafts.
"Peavy is an ace, but he's pitching in one of the best pitchers' parks and his contract is significant," one AL executive pointed out. "If they want to make a splash, one of the most underrated superstars is Adrian Gonzalez. If they want a [Dan] Haren or [Mark Teixeira] package, I don't think they can get that type of package with Peavy. To get the type of package to resurrect a franchise, they'd have to trade Adrian Gonzalez."
Gonzalez, who is tied for the major league lead with 17 home runs despite playing half his games in that pitchers haven, PETCO Park (no surprise, 12 of his homers have come on the road), might actually bring back more even than Haren or Teixeira. Gonzalez has a much more favorable contract situation than Teixeira had when Texas sent him to Atlanta in the summer of 2007 for several excellent young prospects. And Gonzalez has a contract about as favorable as Haren and is an even bigger star than Haren was when the Diamondbacks sent six players to Oakland for him.
The biggest advantage of all is that unlike Peavy, Gonzalez does not have a no-trade clause, and thus has no control over trades. Yet, there's no evidence the Padres are considering trading Gonzalez, who grew up in San Diego.
"Not at this point in time," Padres general manager Kevin Towers said Tuesday in a phone interview.
Of course, while he'd surely bring a haul, there are a lot of great reasons not to trade him, as well. The Padres are looking to pare their payroll, and Gonzalez has such a favorable contract that trading him wouldn't do too much in terms of dollars. He's also proven he can hit in PETCO, the consummate pitchers park. Plus, he's a Mexican-American star in San Diego, a marketing home run.
On top of all that, there's one more reason not to deal Gonzalez, and that's the great thing the Padres currently have going ...
The Padres are such a great story, even they're perplexed
The most amazing story going, even more surprising than the National League favorite Cubs' eight-game losing streak, was the Padres' 10-game winning streak. This is the very team that scouts were calling a potential 100-game loser this spring -- although, their team was somewhat hard to judge with Peavy, Gonzalez and others away for the World Baseball Classic.
I asked Towers on Tuesday how they're doing it, and Towers, answering frankly, said, "I have no idea."
The Padres opened 9-3 then went 4-19 over their next 23 before starting the 10-game streak. They are the most interesting .500 team going.
"I haven't been able to figure them out," Towers added.
The two things that Towers pointed to on behalf of the Padres, whose payroll is a puny $46 million (and may still go lower if Towers can find a place Peavy would like to play, beyond the Padres, that is): 1) There is no quit in them; and 2) David Eckstein is on their roster.
"A lot of it has to do with David Eckstein," Towers said.
Eckstein has been called the least talented player ever to play a critical role on two World Series champions, but he is a guy who will do whatever it takes to win, including in the last few days taking a 97 mph Brian Wilson fastball in the gut (he took another one in the arm last night in the middle of their ninth-inning threat), faking out a baserunner and hanging in on a DP while getting rolled over. Eckstein is the best $850,000 anyone spent this winter.
"When you have a player like that, it becomes contagious," Towers said. "He sets the standard. He's so fricking intense. And he has the best in-game instincts I've ever seen."
There's a great thing happening in beautiful San Diego, and Towers said he will weigh trade possibilities against the clubhouse morale. So there'll probably be no trade of Peavy, at least while the magic continues.
But after it stops, anything can happen.
"I've always taken the approach regardless of how we're playing, I think you have to keep an open mind for trade possibilities," Towers said.
And here's what may be happening with Peavy ...
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