Yesterday my second post on the Padres for Baseball Digest went live. It was a projection on what off-season moves the Padres would make; because San Diego was among the bottom 5 teams in the league offensively in 2011, it seemed logical they would attempt to improve the club at the plate.
Late yesterday Heath Bell reportedly signed a 3-yr, $27M deal with Miami. Josh Byrnes reportedly stated his priority at the Winter Meetings would be finding someone to pitch the 8th and 9th innings. So much for my powers of prediction.
One other errata to correct. In an earlier post I noted that the Padres would not get compensation picks if Bell signed with someone else before 8 December. In reviewing the rules that is not the case, which makes sense as people who cover baseball for a living say the Padres will get 2 comp picks for Bell.
OK. Enough of the self-flagellation. It surprises me that the Padres would make filling in the holes in the back of their bullpen a priority. They must think they are good to go already offensively. The model they used successfully in 2010 involved shut-down pitching and just enough offense, to be sure, but even in 2010 their wRC+ as a team was 93, in the bottom half of the league. Last year it was 89, fifth-worst in baseball.
It doesn't matter how effective one's pitching staff is. If the team can't score runs they will not win. San Diego was one of 3 teams not to score 600 runs last season. Their final total of 593 was 68 fewer than they scored in 2010. They have to fix that.
San Diego has been stockpiling arms for a couple of seasons now. Brad Brach was the closer in AA last season; while doing that in AA is not the same as doing in in the majors, he's not completely green either. One would think they could find an internal candidate to cover the eighth, or just slide Luke Gregerson into that slot and give the 6th/7th to a less-experienced arm.
I look forward to seeing what Byrnes does next week. The winter meetings just got a whole lot more interesting.