Safe at Home is a unique production, staged at St. Paul’s CHS Field, home of the St. Paul Saints, an independent baseball team known for its creative and wacky promotions and for being one of the best fan experiences in baseball. The Saints lent their three-year old park in the heart of St. Paul for Safe at Home. Groups of roughly 25 audience members were brought through nine areas of the stadium, with a seven-minute scene unfolding at each stop along the way. I attended the production Saturday, March 11, the fifth of the production’s six-night run.
CHS Field, a 7,210-seat stadium, serves as a stand-in for San Diego’s PETCO Park. The night of the play, the park is set to host Game Seven of the World Series between the Padres and the Rangers, creating a scenario in which a first-time champion is guaranteed. But in the play’s first scene, a bombshell is dropped at the Padres manager’s pre-game press conference: San Diego’s Game Seven starter, 25-year-old Dominican sensation Victor Castillo, is considering a monumental protest, in the form of refusing to pitch.’
As the audience moves through the stadium, the story reveals itself. A conversation between a young Dominican churro vendor and a veteran white beer vendor reveals the difference in perceptions of Castillo among San Diego’s racial communities. A trip to an out-of-the-way media room reveals the club owner’s attempt to bribe the reporter pushing the boycott story. In the men’s bathroom, two friends argue over one’s decision to wear the rivals’ colors in blatant disrespect of the man who provided the tickets. The next stop, the luxury suite of the Democratic candidate for President, reveals the implications of Castillo’s decision go far deeper than just the result of Game Seven.
It’s a long-term rebuild. If you take a look at their farm system, you can clearly see where the Padres are going. Before the *expected* payoff, though, there is going to be some bad baseball in San Diego.
The problem, though, is as much who assembled the roster as the roster itself. If Theo Epstein, for example, had hatched this plan, it might not be beloved, but the criticism would be more muted. Often without being provoked by a question, scouts I talked to in Arizona and outside-looking executives slammed what the Padres were doing, and it felt more personal toward Preller.
As for the San Diego Padres, they could have ended their contract with him, since he was no longer able to fulfill his obligations on the mound. Instead, they have continued to sign LaChappa to a Minor League contract each year, for more than 20 years – thus ensuring that he has a small income plus the health insurance he needs.
The Padres have agreed to sign Cuban pitching prospect Osvaldo Hernandez for $2.5 million, according to a source. The 18-year-old left-hander will join a record-breaking international class on which the Padres have spent roughly $80 million since July 2.
Hernandez, who was declared a free agent last month, drew interest from several other teams, including the Astros, Cardinals and Braves. The 6-footer has a fastball that reaches 94 mph. His secondary pitches — a curveball, slider and change-up — are considered advanced for his age.
Here’s the Padres’ official explanation, courtesy of FOX 5:
San Diego Padres spokeswoman Shana Wilson told FOX 5 an amount of rain had fallen so quickly the drainage was slow to keep up. Field crews do not anticipate any damage from the standing water.
The Padres also noted there was not grass on the field because of a recently hosted monster-truck rally. Presumably, Petco will be in better shape come April 7. That’s when the Padres will host the San Francisco Giants to kick off their home slate.
Heading into 2016, ESPN.com senior baseball writer Keith Law ranked the Padres’ farm system 20th in baseball. Now, they’ve rocketed to third on Law’s list.
In the last eight months, the Padres have signed 45 players from outside the United States: 15 from Venezuela, 14 from the Dominican, six each from Cuba and Mexico, three from Colombia and one from Taiwan. Organization-wide, there are 65 native Dominicans under contract alone.
“It’s the speed at which it’s been done and the pace at which it’s happened,” Geaney said. “Even if it was over a two-year period, it would be stark and striking.”
Padres Special Assistant Moises Alou played 17 seasons for seven big-league teams. The six-time All Star and career .303 hitter finished third in National League MVP voting twice.
Alou, a Dominican native, gazed at the facility that GM Preller labeled “the Taj Mahal” of the country’s academies and insisted a flicker is poised to be fanned into long-term flame.
“There’s no doubt in my mind,” Alou said, “that we’ve got something going on right here.”
The Rangers have not yet announced the deal, but Ross has chosen to sign with the Rangers over the World Series champion Cubs. Sources confirmed Yahoo!‘s Jeff Passan’s report that the contract is worth $6 million plus incentives.
We know there’s hope for the teams that just finished in first place. But is there hope for the teams that just finished in last place?
We’ve spent the past week asking that question to people all over baseball, especially in the wake of this sport’s new labor deal. We exempted the Atlanta Braves, a team moving into a new ballpark. We also exempted the Minnesota Twins, a franchise that just installed what is essentially a whole new group at the top of its baseball operations department.
But that still left four fascinating last-place teams with lots of questions about where they’re going, how they’ll get there and how the new labor agreement could affect them (or not). Those teams would be the Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, Tampa Bay Rays and Cincinnati Reds. You’ve heard of them, right?
So let’s buckle them all into our hot seat and hook them up to our cool new gizmo—the Hope Meter. Do they have hope on the field? Do they have hope off the field? It’s time to answer those questions, in order of impact on the franchise, for all four teams.
The Nationals have dealt for catcher Derek Norris from the Padres, per a club announcement. Righty Pedro Avila will head to San Diego in return.
It’s a homecoming of sorts for Norris, who was once a well-regarded prospect in the D.C. system before being shipped to Oakland in the deal that landed Gio Gonzalez. Now, he joins righty A.J. Cole in finding his way back to the Nationals organization via trade.
Norris never suited up at the major league level with the Nationals, but he’ll surely do so in 2017.
Preller stressed that there was never an intent by the Padres to deceive the Red Sox—or any other organization they’ve dealt with. He acknowledged that the club didn’t enter all necessary data into the league’s injury information system, saying it was a “misunderstanding” as to how the information was recorded.
“[Major League Baseball] felt like our medical record keeping wasn’t in line with some guidelines, from an administrative standpoint,” Preller said. “From an integrity, intent standpoint, at no point in time for myself or anyone in baseball operations was there an intent to deceive. ... It was about the administrative side of things.
“That’s something we’re going to be very committed to correcting and making sure that obviously will not happen again. We’re going to be industry leaders on that front, and we’re going to be best in class and at the forefront in making sure that, from an admin standpoint, a reporting standpoint, [we’re] following guidelines.”
Ryan Ludwick and the Cincinnati Reds agreed to a $2.5 million, one-year contract Monday, according to a person with knowledge of the deal.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Monday night because the deal was pending a physical and no announcement had been made by the team.
An All-Star in 2008 with St. Louis, the 33-year-old Ludwick was traded from San Diego to Pittsburgh at the July 31 deadline last season. He batted a combined .237 with 13 homers and 75 RBIs.
Ludwick could give the Reds the right-handed bat they’ve been seeking to complement lefty sluggers Joey Votto and Jay Bruce. He figures to see playing time in left field, a spot filled mostly by Chris Heisey down the stretch last season after Cincinnati traded Jonny Gomes to Washington in late July.
Major League Baseball has been embarrassed in recent years by financial debacles surrounding the ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets. And baseball is determined to avoid being burned again, Forbes.com reports.
That’s the real reason owners tabled approval of the sale of the San Diego Padres to Jeff Moorad at last week’s owners meetings, the report says. Commissioner Bud Selig is not convinced of the net worth of Moorad’s limited partners and is putting them “under a microscope,” Forbes reports.
With the Hall of Fame results being announced today, we decided to take a trip down memory lane and dig up some old scouting reports from the Baseball America archives on some of the ballot’s notable candidates. . .
8. Barry Larkin, ss, 21, 5-11, 175, R-R
Larkin looked right at home in AA, hitting .267 for Vermont. He didn’t show power (one home run in 255 at-bats), but that will come. The key for him was just getting his feet on the ground, and he was not overpowered by the high level of competition (21 strikeouts in 255 at-bats). He will have good power for a shortstop.
6. Edgar Martinez, 3b, 25, 5-11, 175, R-R
Martinez’s discipline will produce runs. He’s averaged 70 RBIs the last four years. In the field, he’s solid, with good reactions and the soft hands of a middle infielder.
Theo: You’re looking good, Riz.
Rizzo: Eat your heart out.
Theo: And sloppy seconds are my style!
The Cubs acquired first baseman Anthony Rizzo and right-hander Zach Cates from the Padres on Friday, sending right-hander Andrew Cashner and outfielder Kyung-Min Na to San Diego.
The 22-year-old Rizzo batted .331 with a 1.056 OPS, 34 doubles, 26 homers and 101 RBIs in 93 games for Triple-A Tucson last year… Rated the top first-base prospect in the league by MLB.com, Rizzo struggled during his brief time in the Majors last season batting .141 with one home run and nine RBIs in 49 games…
Cates, 22… made his professional debut last year, posting a 4-10 record and 4.73 ERA in 118 innings over 25 starts for Class A Fort Wayne. He struck out nearly a batter an inning and allowed only four home runs on the year.
Cashner, 25, went 2-6 with a 4.29 ERA in 60 big league appearances with the Cubs, including one start, over the last two years….he was limited to just seven outings in the Majors last season due to a right shoulder strain.
Na, 20, hit .268 with 10 doubles and 22 RBIs in 83 games between four different teams in the Cubs’ Minor League system last year.
DL: Should you pitch more to contact in Petco than in other ballparks?
BB: I think that you can, but there are a couple of ways to look at that. You don’t want to lay the ball in there. But I do think that it can help you mentally — knowing that if you throw the ball to certain spots — you can feel good about it. When you’re behind in the count, you can throw to certain spots, as well.
More than anything, if you’re a strike-thrower… that helps you at Petco. If you’re an extreme fly ball pitcher, that helps you at Petco. When the ball gets hit into the air, it hangs up and maybe doesn’t travel as well because of the coastal situation we have — the heaviness of the air. It’s not unlike San Francisco or Dodger Stadium.
Some pitchers might be hurt because they’re fly ball pitchers. That doesn’t apply to us as much because we play 81 games in our park, plus nine more in both San Francisco and Los Angeles.
DL: Do you want fly ball pitchers on your staff, as opposed to guys who tend to keep the ball on the ground?
BB: Not necessarily. It’s whatever a pitcher has results with. It’s simply that a fly ball pitcher isn’t effected as much in Petco as he would be in a place like Cincinnati, Philadelphia or Toronto.
There is a whole lot of talent changing hands here.
The Reds and Padres announced a five-player deal Saturday, as Cincinnati sent right-hander Edinson Volquez and three of its top 10 prospects to the Padres for right-hander Mat Latos.
Along with Volquez, the Padres acquired right-hander Brad Boxberger, infielder Yonder Alonso and catcher Yasmani Grandal. All were recently named among Cincinnati’s top 10 prospects by MLB.com (Alonso second, Grandal fifth and Boxberger sixth).
System In 20 Words Or Less: Not star-studded but loaded with depth, as you could jumble numbers one-to-seven in any order and not get a big argument.
1. Rymer Liriano, OF
2. Robbie Erlin, LHP
3. Jedd Gyorko, 3B
4. Cory Spangenberg, 2B
5. Joe Wieland, RHP
6. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
7. Casey Kelly, RHP
8. Austin Hedges, C
9. Joe Ross, RHP
10. Keyvius Sampson, RHP
11. Donavan Tate, OF
12. Jaff Decker, OF: Outfielder with power, walks and the athleticism of a beer-league softball player.
13. Reymond Fuentes, OF: Outstanding defender in center with speed; big questions about bat and power.
14. James Darnell, OF: Great year at Double-A, but it was a level repeat and he’s no longer an infielder.
15. Blake Tekotte, OF: Hard not to love for effort; good fourth-outfielder skills.
16. Edinson Rincon, OF: Scouts like the bat, but power is debatable and defense is ugly.
17. Jonathan Galvez, 2B: Gap power and speed, but bad approach and poor defense.
18. Matt Lollis, RHP: Right-handed has the size of a defensive end, but needs to harness his stuff.
19. Adys Portillo, RHP: Progress is disturbingly slow, but upside is still there.
20. Simon Castro, RHP: Has gone backwards from big prospect days, as fastball is only dependable pitch.
UPDATE: Thomas Harding of MLB.com reports that it’s a done deal, with the Padres assuming “most” of Street’s contract and sending the Rockies a player to be named later in exchange….
Olney describes the talks as “ongoing” and Street has been linked to several other teams at various points this month, with the Rockies now preferring Rafael Betancourt in the ninth inning.
He’s pricey at $7.5 million with a $9 million option or $500,000 buyout for 2013, but Street is still just 28 years old with a 3.11 career ERA that includes a 3.50 ERA and outstanding 170/33 K/BB ratio in 167 innings for the Rockies. Toss in the fact that going from Coors Field to Petco Park would solve his issues keeping the ball in the ballpark and Street could really thrive in San Diego as Heath Bell‘s replacement.
A year after seeing his five-year stint as Mets general manager end with a thud, Omar Minaya is back in the baseball biz after being hired by the San Diego Padres to an undisclosed front office position.
The move, first reported by SI.com, will most likely see Minaya in an advisory role to Padres GM Josh Byrnes and deal with scouting – particularly in Latin America – and trades.
Minaya, 53, who was fired by the Mets in October 2010, was the Amazins GM from 2005 through the 2010 season and saw his share of ups and downs in Queens.
The Padres have strengthened their catching situation with the acquisition of John Baker from the Miami Marlins on Tuesday in exchange for pitcher Wade LeBlanc.
Baker is two-plus years removed from reconstructive elbow surgery and was limited to 31 games between the majors and minors last season. He hit .154 with one RBI for the Marlins in 13 at-bats.
But the left-handed hitting catcher averaged seven homers and 41 RBIs with a .281 average in 2008-09.
“There’s some risk because of the injury, but we examined him and we’re convinced the elbow is sound,” Padres general manager Josh Byrnes said. “We now have three catchers and (Baker and Luis Martinez) have options.”
The Padres like Martinez, who hit .203 with 10 RBIs in 59 at-bats last season. But Baker has a stronger resume and the team feels it has good depth to back up starter Nick Hundley.
LeBlanc, a second-round pick in the 2006 amateur baseball draft, won a career-high eight games in 2010. He is 17-22 with a 4.54 ERA in 54 career games, including 52 starts.