About once every five years, I don’t like my job. (Obviously, that shows you how blessed I am to be doing something I love. I hope you get the same enjoyment out of your job.)
Wednesday was one of those days for me.
I’m so much happier after the move to mornings, yet moments before my nap (yes, I take a nap–I usually work for nine hours and then sleep for three and repeat), I heard the news: Ian Kennedy is a Padre.
It’s now my job to tell you how I think about my favorite team trading my favorite player and do it in an unbiased way, and that stinks. I get paid to tell you how I feel about this trade from a baseball standpoint, and that stinks. The reason why it stinks is because this is a good trade. The Diamondbacks are a better team for trading a great person and I hate that fact.
The Diamondbacks have been struggling to either A) get lefties out late in the game and/or B) match up with only one lefty in the bullpen. Joe Thatcher is perfect to fill that role with only a 1.07 WHiP (if WHiP makes no sense, think of it like this: below 1.15 would a B+ for a grade, below 1.1 would be an A-, and below a 1.05 is an A and less than 1.00 is an A+).
According to Keith Law of ESPN, the second player in the deal, Matt Stites, has a great fastball with great control but nothing else. A breakdown of him then becomes simple. He either barely makes the majors and there is no real return on investment, or he masters a second pitch and becomes an excellent reliever. If he has the mental makeup, you could catch lightening in a bottle and have a future closer. I say this generically and not specifically about Stites because the fastball is what you can’t teach a closer. Learn a splitter, slider or change and you could have something special. I’m not familiar with Stites, but he sounds boom or bust.
The main reason I love the trade is for the third player the D-backs picked up that I’ve never met, never heard of and have never seen play. Arizona now has the last two picks of the second round, or the first two picks of the third round, depending on your point of view (doesn’t make sense? read this).
Although I still disagree with Arizona removing Tom Allison as their draft czar, Ray Montgomery is excellent at his job. Giving him more tools in his belt will do this team well. Yes, the baseball draft is the most difficult draft in all of sports, but before free agent acquisition picks are handed out, the Diamondbacks have four of the first 70 picks, more than any team in baseball. With the right people in place to scout for the draft and the most early picks, the Kennedy trade could work out to be something special.
In a purely baseball sense, this is also a great trade for Ian. He’s from Southern California. He’s a fly ball pitcher throwing in heavy sea air in a spacious ballpark. The Padres’ focus on young speedy outfielders in their system, so Kennedy’s defense should be able to handle the workload in a pitcher-friendly ballpark.
Truth is, if Ian would have shown any ability to recapture what he had in 2011, this wouldn’t have happened. This trade is completely self-inflicted based on results. The Diamondbacks waited as long as they could. They waited this long because Ian is such a great man and teammate. Everyone in that clubhouse and front office selflessly roots for Ian the person as much as they selfishly root for Kennedy the pitcher. This trade doesn’t win anyone championships, but it’s a good trade and should come up with three winners: the Diamondbacks, the Padres and Ian Kennedy the pitcher.
That should be the end of the blog, but it’s not. We so often see players like they are fantasy acquisitions as easy to trade as baseball cards. Obviously, they’re paid well-enough to suck it up. Very few fans even care about the human side of a trade. A friend of mine got traded yesterday and I don’t like it. If you ask me at your local sports bar what I think of the trade, I’m going to answer your question with a question, “How would you like it if a buddy of yours got shipped out?” If you ask me from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekday mornings, I’ll tell you basically everything I wrote in this blog with little emotion.