Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Holy crap there's been a ton of rumors around the league lately. Manny Ramirez could go anywhere, and teams are lining up to throw gobs of money for crappy starters like Gil Meche, Ted Lilly and Jeff Suppan. J.D. Drew and Julio Lugo appear to be headed to Boston, but you never know. Maddux is a Padre. Jason Jennings, Adam LaRoche, Pat Burrell, Kevin Mench, Jon Leiber, Jorge Cantu, Craig Monroe and Mike Gonzalez are being tossed around in trade speculation. And there are still free agents like Barry Zito, Jason Schmidt and a guy named Bonds.

The Astros, meanwhile, are likely caught (again) waiting for a pitcher. It's a tough situation — we cannot make any significant signings because we know Andy Pettitte will require more than $10 million a year. If he ends up signing with us, great. But if he goes to the Yankees — and there are rumors to that effect — we've wasted a lot of time.

The big news in Astros deals have been incredibly intriguing but unfortunately unlikely (yeah, alliteration). The Chronicle reports that we've inquired about Jake Peavy. That's great, but he's not going anywhere. I don't consider him Oswalt-quality, but he's close. And for the Padres to give away one of the most valuable players in baseball would be foolish.

What say we? Not that the Padres would even consider it, but some combination of Ensberg, Burke/Pence/Lane, and Hirsh/Nieve/Buchholz/Patton would have to be the starting point. Honestly, I would do a lot to get Peavy. He good. I would trade Ensberg, Lane and Buchholz but not Ensberg, Pence and Hirsh. Funny... I wonder if the Padres know as much our prospects as we do. I'm sure they do. (By the way, I just want to comment about the guy who posted on AstrosDaily who said he didn't want Peavy because his windup would lead to arm problems. This guy then suggested we pursue Dontrelle Willis, who's got the funkiest wind-up since Satchel Paige.)

The Padres don't really need Ensberg, since they traded for Kevin Kouzmanoff already. He's a rookie, though, so it's conceivable they could keep both on the roster. But if by some miracle we pulled off a trade, giving up, say, Ensberg, Burke and Buchholz, we could slide Mike Lamb over to third base, and pray he doesn't go .284 OBP on us again. We *might* have enough left in the bank to resign Pettitte (since we'd essentially be trading Ensberg's salary for Peavy's). That'd give us Oswalt-Pettitte-Peavy-Williams-Hirsh. That's the shit.

Quick note: I absolutely do not comprehend our third-base "problem." There shouldn't be a problem here. Ensberg is awesome, and he's our starter. What's the problem? He was crushing the ball, until he started slumping. Then he hurt his shoulder, but didn't want to stop playing, so he stayed in and his stats suffered. He got benched down the stretch, but still posted a .396 OBP and hit 23 homers. Here's the comparison between Ensberg and Lamb:

ME: .235/.396/.463, 23 HRs, 58 RBI, 101 BB, 96 Ks, 387 ABs
ML: .307/.361/.475, 12 HRs, 45 RBI, 35 BB, 55 K, 381 ABs

Don't know about you, but I'd say Morgan was better. Over their careers:

ME: .270/.372/.486, 97 HRs, 304 RBI, 288 BB, 347 Ks, 1848 ABs
ML: .280/.335/.423, 57 HRs, 273 RBI, 171 BB, 325 Ks, 2110 ABs

Yep. Morgan is still better by a long shot. He'll probably cost $2 million to $3 million more, but factor in defense, and he is worth the price. I just cannot understand the reasoning behind trading Ensberg. I guarantee he'll rebound in 2007. Perhaps not to his 2005 levels, but damn near.

Houston has also been linked with the Padres' catcher, Josh Bard, who had a pretty remarkable year, hitting .338/.406/.537 in 231 ABs last year. Not bad. He's definitely the kind of platoonmate (I hesitate to call him a back-up) we could use at catcher. He's not expensive, and we would have control of him for a few years (3?). I wonder what the cost would be for just Bard. I'd think about trading Lane or Buchholz for Bard straight-up. And maybe Ensberg/Burke/Buchholz for Peavy/Bard. Man, there is no way in hell the Padres do that.

Jason Jennings has been the topic of trade rumors to several teams, including the Cubs and Twins. Jennings is good, durable and a Texan, but he would be a free agent after 2007. The Rockies need a centerfielder, and they seem to like Chris Burke for some reason. I would do this trade straight-up right now. It's really a no-brainer. Trade a back-up whose at-bats are going to plummet for an above-average starting pitcher. We could still sign Pettitte for a rotation of Oswalt-Pettitte-Jennings-Williams-Hirsh. Not bad. I think, however, the Rockies would want more. Brad Hawpe is a good player, but the pieces don't appear to fit, not with the Astros holding onto Luke Scott for the forseeable future.

If I had to make a wager, I'd bet we make two more major moves this offseason: Signing Andy Pettitte and signing another lefty reliever. There's actually quite a few free agents out there: Alan Embree, Kent Merker, Darren Oliver, Arthur Rhodes, J.C. Romero, Scott Schoeneweis, Ron Villone. But it's cool to speculate. And it's also cool to surf baseball rumor Web sites all day instead of working.

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