Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Return of Hoffman?

Buster Olney speculated the return of Trevor Hoffman to the Padres in his column this morning. He cites the move as a potential PR balance if Adrian and Heath are traded by next July's trade deadline. He also says a number of baseball executives are certain Trevor will be back at Petco next season.

Now, I did my share of Hoffman-bashing during the '08 season when he seemed incapable of closing out a game. And I didn't mind when Towers lowballed him with an offer that eventually drove him to the Brewers.

But, I'm just gonna go ahead and say it, I want Trevor Hoffman back.

And I want Heath Bell traded before February, not July.

Putting Hoffman back in the closer role for a final, farewell season -- and I only want this deal if Trevor announces it as his last season -- would surely reinvigorate the 43-year-old, right? He gets to go out on good terms with the team whose hat he'll be wearing in Cooperstown. And he'll have a chance at a little revenge with the guys who pushed him out (Towers and Alderson) each time the Padres visit Chase Field and Citi Field.

The best part is now that he's had his fair share of humble pie (I'd say he's pretty stuffed by now) from setting up John Axford on the Brewers for a season, then the transition back to set-up with either Mike Adams or Luke Gregerson stepping up to close is that much easier if Hoffman stumbles throughout April and May.

And if you use Trevor's first name to substitute Bell's place in the infamous nickname, then our bullpen gets a whole lot more ghetto when it's referred to as G.A.T.!

I haven't even got to my favorite part of this idea yet. Which is trading away a full year of Bell -- getting better players in return and saving money. For the chance to close again, Hoffman won't be too worried about his salary, especially after his shitty 2010. The difference between Bell and Hoffman is the difference between about $6M. That can be used for a Jon Garland replacement. Or maybe spend it on a crate of HGH for Ryan Ludwick.

(On that note -- SEAN -- let it be said that the Giants push for the playoffs this year was certainly aided by Jose Guillen's 3 HRs and 15 RBIs in the stretch, all because of Canseco juice. Him receiving a ring this year taints every ring on your team.)*

*I don't believe that, but it felt really good to say.

Trading Heath Bell seems like the best way to add someone to our middle infield, too. If the Red Sox trade Papelbon, then Bell becomes a cheaper one-year stopgap for Daniel Bard, and we can get Jed Lowrie. Or the Rays need someone, and we've already shown interest in Jason Bartlett. How about reuniting Bell with Towers and getting Stephen Drew? Those all seem like potential matches give or take another prospect or two from either side.

The benefits add up. Worst case scenario is Hoffman completely falls apart. But at this point, I think we can assume/hope he'll retire if his ERA climbs near 6 again. Best case scenario of Hell's Bells back at Petco with Hoffman scraping together one, final, quasi-respectable season as a Padre is enough to make it worth it.

And with Bell and Gonzalez entering their final seasons, bringing an old face of the franchise back to replace the new faces might be enough to not totally kill attendance.

Personally, I just want to see Tony Gwynn snap after a game in frustration as the fourth outfielder... with Uncle Trevor pulling him aside and giving him a lecture. (It's the little things when you're rooting for the Padres.)

I apologize to anyone (anyone being Joe) for any whiplash due to my quick change of attitude with Trevor Hoffman. I wouldn't be supporting this idea if I wasn't so confident in Adams and Gregerson. But I am. I am supporting it. I want the all time saves leader back where he belongs.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hindsight is 20/20 or The Joe Morgan School of Analyzing!

So at the beginning of the 2010 MLB season I wrote a predictions column. The specifics were ridiculous but the picks were all legitimate. As Q even pointed out in his own predictions column - mine were hard to argue. I was more right than wrong and sans a Justin Morneau injury I could have looked like a friggin’ genius (by the way, I’m pronouncing it “gene-e-us”.)! Let’s have a look back at where I went right and wrong in a new segment I like to call, “Hindsight is 20/20” or “The Joe Morgan School of Analyzing”

The AL West:

I bought in to the Mariners hype. Why? I don’t know, why do you care - lay off asshole! Oh wait, I remember why: Chone Figgins and Cliff Lee. Yeah…maybe I should have stuck with the first response in this paragraph. In retrospect though they didn’t have much competition in the division. The Angels had the best chance, but also had a very uninspiring lineup and lost their best pitcher. The A’s are a joke. The Rangers had zero pitching, and there is no way anyone knew Colby Lewis was going to be a stud. For God’s sake the guy played for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp last year! You know who also played for the Carp? Alex Ochoa. I rest my case.

My Pick: Mariners.

Actual Winners: Rangers

The AL Central:

As I predicted the Twins took control from pretty much day one. What a lineup! As a baseball fan I sincerely hope they can keep it together.

My Pick: Twins

Actual Winners: Twins

The AL East:

The Rays kept the magic of Dennis Quaid going and won the division. Even though I picked the Yankees you can’t really blame me. I was only off by a game and the Rays were one long losing streak away from trading off Longoria, Price and Crawford. But don’t fret Tampa fans, they’ll all be gone soon enough! Oh and how did I know the Red Sox wouldn’t be a factor this season? They are still paying David Ortiz and Jason Varitek. That’s like the Padres still paying Phil Nevin and Jim Leyritz.

My Pick: Yankees

Actual Winners: Rays

The Wild Card:

I picked the Tigers because of my deep love for Jim Leyland. And I feel my Tigers joke was the best in that column. But, it wasn’t like I was out of my mind on that pick. Who would be their real competition for the wild card? Yankees, Angels, White Sox and Red Sox. We’ve already explained the Angels and Red Sox; I had already picked the Yankees to win a division and the White Sox are coached by a crazy person. They were also dumping money into Jake Peavy, which is almost a bigger mistake than Peavy’s Collins Family Jewelers ads.

My Pick: Tigers

Actual Winners: Yankees

AL Champs:

Every year there seems to be one team that surprises everyone and this year it was obviously the Rangers. The Yankees somehow didn’t have enough pitching (and somehow we all knew it.) to beat a team with heavy hitters, which is why I had the Twins getting past them. The Twins have a nice mix of power hitters and small ball guys but also rely heavily on team chemistry. When Morneau went down I think everyone (including the Twins themselves) knew it was over. I will also maintain that if the Rangers don’t get Cliff Lee they don’t make it past the Rays. By the way kudos to Nolan Ryan and Co. for swooping in and stealing Lee from the Yankees. Remember when Ryan beat up Robin Ventura? You always should. He’s a badass.

My Pick: Twins

Actual Winners: Rangers

NL West:

Talk about surprises, no one had any idea the Padres would have played as well as they did. The only problem was that the division was wide open from day one and any team could have taken it - all they needed was a hot streak and the Padres lost theirs at the worst time possible. In the end it wasn’t the Giants that beat Padres (the season series was 12-6 Padres), it was the Padres who beat themselves. At the end of the season they lost control against the hapless Cubs and the terribly bad Dodgers. They did all they could to lose the division, which is why the Padres slogan is “Keep The Faith”. The Giants pitching was just too dominant to ignore and Brian Wilson really came into his own (and spent most of his money on beard dye.) while they picked up rejects and veterans with something to prove. It was a perfect combination to challenge the rest of the League and it proved gene-e-us.

My Pick: Giants

Actual Winners: Giants

NL Central:

Looking back this was my worst prediction of the bunch. I have no clue why I picked the Cubs. Nostalgia maybe? Wishing the best for a tormented franchise? Stupidity? I blame Bartman. The Cardinals had the best chance on paper, but sometimes-even baseball gets bored of the same team always winning. At this point watching Albert Pujols hitting a homerun is about as exciting as watching Rip Taylor throw confetti. The Pirates - pitiful, the Astros - hilarious, the Brewers - possible but not reliable and this all leaves the one team I believe in every year, but no one else does- The Reds. How did Dusty finally put it together? A solid lineup and decent pitching can definitely get you through a lackluster division, but it won’t do much in the first round against the Phillies. If Joey Votto could pitch the Reds might have had a chance. It was the NL’s version of the surprise Rangers just without the Cliff Lee pickup.

My Pick: Cubs (Idiot!)

Actual Winners: Reds

NL East:

No shocker here. The Phillies had it the whole time and anyone who thought differently probably picked the Cubs to win the Central. The Braves surged and Heyward is the future, but they didn’t have enough this season to take down the mighty Phils. Don’t kid yourself however the reign of the Phillies is over and they will look about 25-55% different next season. It’s not like the Mets would ever put it together and the Marlins have signed a deal with Major League Baseball to stop winning the World Series. The Nationals are almost comically bad and even if Strasburg won 30 games they would have still lost the other 132. I’ll actually predict the Braves to win this division for the next three years.

My Pick: Phillies

Actual Winners: Phillies


I picked the Cardinals to cover my ass on the terrible Cubs decision. Again, on paper I should have been right. The Braves did what they do best under Bobby Cox and won. I shouldn’t have counted them out, but did not totally buy in to the energy Heyward would bring to the franchise.

My Pick: Cardinals

Actual Winners: Braves

NL Champs:

Why did I have the feeling that no one could beat the Giants this season? I just did. With Bochy actually awake for all nine innings and Lincecum the stud of all 14-yr old boys it seemed impossible to get past them. The Phillies seemed like the safe pick especially with Halladay on board but it just didn’t feel right. Sometimes it just feels good to have a hunch and be totally correct. Thank you.

My Pick: Giants

Actual Winners: Giants

World Series:

Based on my predictions column the Giants would square off against the Twins in the lowest rated World Series of all time in which the Giants would dominate and that all seemed totally plausible. They are very similar teams, similar bullpens, managers and franchises. It would be a battle using real old school baseball fundamentals in which the more old school team would win. According to my predictions the only team coming out of the AL that could have beat the Giants would have been the Yankees. That power heavy lineup would have dismantled the soft and scrappy Gigantes. And remember Bochy is scared shitless of the Yankees. Always has been. I have no actual basis for this theory it just looked that way throughout the entire 1998 World Series. You know that look someone has when they have to poop but have to wait an hour before they’ll get a chance? That was Bochy in ’98. Anyway, aside from my correct Giants pick it also just happened to be the lowest rated World Series in history. Outside of Texas no one cares about the Rangers and the Giants aren’t big enough to draw the whole market themselves. It’s understandable but also incredibly upsetting when ‘Dancing with the Stars’ beats the pants off Game 3.

My Pick: Giants

Actual Winners: Giants

In closing I win. I know it seemed like I was way off with some picks, but in the end I’m pretty sure I was a gene-e-us. Hats off to the Padres for a fantastic season of fun ball. It really doesn’t get much better than the 2010 season and let’s be honest it won’t next season. My 2011 predictions will plop in March! Don’t miss it…or do.