I was just putting some things together for New Year's Eve, buying absurd amounts of tonic, assembling plastic champagne flutes, etc...and oh hey! Carlos Quentin got traded to the Padres for two minor league pitchers! Awwwww crap, that probably merits a post.
Good luck making a clear conclusion out of this one, though. There's enough gray area to hedge any argument about this action, so my position on it is pretty wobbly. Wobbly like this single plastic champagne flute that keeps shaking every time I type. It clearly was not assembled correctly.
The Return is Not Exciting
RHP Simon Castro is the fixture of the White Sox return. He'll be 24 by next April, was the 2009 minor league player of the year in their organization, and still considered one of the top prospects of the organization heading into 2011.
Then Triple-A kicked his ass. Control problems, home runs galore, 10.17 ERA. Ick.
Castro was bounced back to Double-A, where he mostly normalized, but still had troubles keeping the ball in the yard. He has a big arm that can hit 95 mph while starting, but John Sickels stresses that his mechanics need to be ironed out along with a need to solidify a third pitch. Those are certainly things the White Sox can help him with, and like with Nestor Molina, if he develops into a middle-rotation starter, this trade is an obvious win. But Castro is pretty far removed from a sure bet, and pretty far from the Padres' upper tier of prospects these days. Of course, it might be the deepest system in baseball.
LHP Pedro Hernandez is a year younger, and even farther out. Like Nestor Molina, he didn't seem to be on anyone's radar until the past season where he started in High-A and finished in Triple-A, where he also seemed to hit a wall. His velocity is very average, as is his upside (probable reliever or spot starter).
Of course, they're both Godsends to this farm system, but two guys who have a big shot of ending up in the pen doesn't sell the Pick 14 plans in waves.
Unless Quentin isn't that valuable
The lack of true excitement about either of these pitchers is pretty widespread, which has drawn a lot of ire from a fan base that saw their only consistently above-average hitter under 30 shipped away. While it' easy to remember Quentin as the 2008 would've-been MVP, or as someone who's a top-10 hitter in the league when he's really cooking, Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus brought this bit of gravity.
Carlos Quentin has hit .245/.336/.479 over the last three years while missing on average 46 games a year. 2008 is ancient history.
That, combined with there only being one more year before CQ hits free agency, and the Padres not being the type of team that is really going to look to re-sign him, failing to break the bank seems more forgivable. Kenny certainly didn't clean up, but it might not be a train wreck.
And it's not that certain the Padres will want to re-sign CQ. It's hard to dismiss Quentin on the basis of his home park given the bizarro nature of his home/road splits last season, but a slower-footed outfielder who relies on home runs is probably a lot better suited at U.S. Cellular Field than trying to patrol and clear Petco Park's cavernous wastelands. At least he's going home to California!
But this definitely means they're rebuilding, right?
A lot of the outrage of this trade seems centered around that Kenny Williams refuses to commit to any kind of solitary commitment to either shedding all assets for prospects or loading up for 2012, which he clearly is just not willing to do (we've had over a decade to observe this behavior now). The temptation is to view Quentin as an indication of future intentions, and not just a solitary move to clear up the outfield situation, and trying to build for the future a bit while doing it.
Still, by trading Quentin, Williams ends up rebuilding by default, because an already cruddy offense could get worse. Viciedo is a long shot to equal Quentin's production, and Alex Rios and Adam Dunn both will fail to lose their jobs after some of the worst years ever witnessed. Maybe they're not rebuilding-rebuilding, but they'll lose the games all the same.
"There are some doors that are now open that were not just yesterday because of the savings in dollars (with the Quentin trade)," said Sox general manager Ken Williams.
He's talking about Yoenis Cespedes, if that wasn't readily apparent.
In the same off-season that saw Mark Buehrle walk, Sergio Santos traded for a prospect, and Quentin dumped for embattled Padres pitching prospects, they could be prepared to launch into a bidding war for a Cuban outfielder of fairly uncertain quality. Or maybe of great quality, so good that he hits 50 home runs and they win the division...or spends the year in Triple-A. We don't know.
We don't know. So, uh...