San Diego Padres – a left fielder

To say left field was a revolving door for the Friars last season would be generous. It was more like there was no door at all, and anyone could just walk through and play. After trying all manner of flotsam there last year, including castoffs like Jose Cruz, Jr., Paul McAnulty, Russ Branyan, Terrmel Sledge, Rob Mackowiak, the Padres have still not found a solution.

scott-hairston.jpgAlthough Scott Hairston did hit like a man on fire after coming over from the D-Backs in a late season trade (.981 OPS in 87 AB), and is the putative starter if the season were to start today, before coming to the Pads he had an awful .659 OPS in 176 at-bats with the Snakes, so it’s hard to have any confidence in him.

Another reason it would be useful for the Padres to add at least one more capable player to their outfield mix is that their starting centerfielder is the aging and injury prone Jim Edmonds, who is highly unlikely to make it through a whole season without several trips to the DL.

Arizona Diamondbacks – a fourth outfielder

justinupton.jpgAfter an offseason in which they did just about everything right, the team’s only discernable hole is in the outfield. The Snakes seem committed to going with youngster Justin Upton as their everyday rightfielder, despite his unsightly .221/.283/.364 line last season. But now that Arizona has traded away its two best outfield prospects in Carlos Quentin and Carlos Gonzalez, if Upton falters or if either of the other two guys go down for any extended period, the D-Backs’ only replacement option off the bench is some 28-year-old 4-A dude named Jeff Salazar, a guy who nobody would want to see playing in the outfield every day.

Colorado Rockies – a left-handed reliever

Like the Diamondbacks, the Rockies are another team with very few holes left, having fulfilled their promise to the fans to return last year’s World Series squad virtually intact. They did “lose” Kazuo Matsui to the Astros, but that may well be a blessing, as it opens up a spot for top infield prospect and purported defensive wizard jaysonnix.jpgJayson Nix, and even if Nix falters, the Rocks still have several other options to choose from at the keystone, including prospects Omar Quintanilla, Jeff Baker, and Ian Stewart, and former Braves star Marcus Giles, whom they just inked to a minor-league deal.

The Rockies are set to turn over half their bullpen, however, with LaTroy Hawkins having already bolted for the Yankees and free agents Jorge Julio and Jeremy Affeldt set to depart as well. Although the Rockies were able to sign Luis Vizcaino to fill Hawkins’ shoes, they probably need to sign at least one more reliever, especially a left-hander to fill the situational lefty role Affeldt handled last season, as they have no particularly appealing internal options to replace him.

Los Angeles Dodgers – continue resisting the temptation to trade away their young guns

A good argument could be made that the Dodgers could have improved their team dramatically by making no moves whatsoever this offseason, and just letting their highly touted, major-league ready prospects have a chance to show what they can do.

Of course, Ned Colletti being Ned Colletti, he had to go out and sign at least a few big names, giving fairly outrageous contracts to outfielder Andrew Jones and Japanese import Hiroki Kuroda. But so far he has resisted the deluge of trade offers for coveted young players like Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw, and James Loney, and if he can keep on resisting those offers, as well as the temptation to block them any further with free agent signings, the Dodgers should be in pretty good shape to make a run at the playoffs this season.

San Francisco Giants – EVERYTHING

Here is a short list of the things the Giants need: a first baseman, a second baseman, a third baseman, a starting pitcher, a closer, and three other relievers of any ability. Outside of the outfield (Rowand, Roberts, Randy Winn), and the young arms in the rotation (Cain, Lowry, Lincecum), this team is going to be absolutely terrible, and they have no promising prospects of any real note on the way either. The Giants are well nigh a stone cold lock to have the worst offense in the National League this year.

9 Responses to “What They Still Need: NL West”

  1. I’m part of the “legalize it” camp, but I believe my reasoning is much more rational. If you’re interested in reading my takes on it:

    Your article was well-written and I disagree with it, obviously, but more than that, I believe you are making some small leaps in logic that misconstrues the situation.

    If you’d like to discuss this further, let me know. I don’t know how you feel about having long-winded retorts on your blog, ha ha. I’m very wordy.

  2. Sarah Green says:

    We don’t mind long-winded rebuttals, as long as YOU don’t mind getting a long-winded counter-rebuttal in return!

    The points you make on crashburnalley are good ones, and I agree with your general sentiments about the pharmaceutical industry. I have to disagree, however, with your use of the slippery slope argument (ie, do you draw the line at amphetamines or at coffee? Do you draw the line at steroids or cortisone shots? Glasses or Lasik?). For me, an “unfair advantage” in baseball is sort of like Potter Stewart’s old definition of porn: “I know it when I see it.” In other words, if it feels like cheating, it probably is. Somehow, a protein shake doesn’t feel like cheating, but injecting anabolic steroids into one’s ass does. And if getting steroids out of the game means getting rid of cortisone shots, too? That’s fine with me. Never liked the stuff. One thing that confused me is that you seem to switch back and forth between saying steroids are healthy, and thus they should be legalized, and saying that the legal drug cortisone is unhealthy, which somehow proves that other steroids should be legal too. First, admitting that cortisone is unhealthy seems to contradict your earlier statements about steroids being healthy, and second, if that’s the case, wouldn’t it make more sense, for both cortisone and other PEDs to all be banned, instead of all legalized?

  3. I think what makes this a weird call for me is that steroids do have some role in rehab training and recovery processes from all kinds of injuries. Its how their managed that can go bad.

    Are we looking at the wrong problem by looking at what substances should be outlawed rather than the method or provider? What if there was a dosing limit, or only certain persons could provide it (and therefore monitor), or the use had to be recorded?

    I would say the biggest problem I have with the whole thing is the fact that these chemicals were so easily available, and that the team physicians sat around bickering with each other about it rather than taking action to protect the health and well-being of the athletes.

    I also don’t think the slippery-slope argument works well here–I’m generally opposed to it just because its not useful at all. It’s like people saying gay marriage will lead down a slippery slope to people marrying animals. It’s absurd, and there’s no actual evidence backing up the claim, it’s just shifting categories around.

    That being said, this is a topic that asks us to constantly re-evaluate our stance. This is true for all of medicine–all the technological advances require constant reassessment of ethical boundaries and humanitarian considerations.

    The use of PEDs without medical causes is cheating, in my opinion. Period. But neither ban-it-all and legalize-it policies will do what we want them to. We need to:
    1) clarify and standardize treatment guidelines that include steroids if not other substances as well (i.e., painkillers) and prioritize the health of the players and the professional discretion of medical providers;
    2) empower MLB’s physicians and trainers to both self-regulate on the use of PEDs and intervene effectively and with discretion with players seen as possible users, including lots and lots of education and training on their part;
    3) deal with aging. Look, in spite of popular consensus, aging is not optional, athlete or not. Athletes will need to retire at a younger age than they may be comfortable with. There needs to be some kind of acknowledgment and response to an age-related decline in performance. Why do these guys so desperately need to keep playing? Is there any way to support them at the end of their career that will keep them from reaching a critical point where they turn to PEDs?
    4) Make more people accountable. Should Theo be reprimanded for knowingly trading for guys on juice? (Hate the thought, but I’m also pissed at him). As it is, the players and players alone take the hit. Let’s make the coaches, GMs, trainers, and MDs responsible for staying on top of this stuff.

    Most importantly, however, we need to:
    5) change our attitude. We are so focused on whether or how to punish people who did use we’re overlooking the fact that the problem appears to be generational, and we have an opportunity to keep the younger players from using as they get older. Let’s think prevention. Drug abuse of any kind is best handled by preventing it happening in the first place–another reason to restrict therapeutic steroid use–no need to show everyone how well steroids really work. But seriously.

    Obviously, these are tall orders. But if a fuss is being raised, let’s at least make it worth it in the end. They’re not going to change the way business is done, players are bought and sold or how they’re priced and paid. But I honestly think we can do something without actually regulating the substances themselves.

  4. This may actually be the most intelligent conversation we’ve had here on UmpBump. Yes, even more so than who deserves a Douchie award. So that’s saying something.

    I’m not going to try and inject my own opinions here because I’m not quite sure I can do any better than what’s already been said. But I do have some questions:

    1. Why is it that after all this time and all these news stories that I STILL don’t have a great grasp on to what extent things like anabolics and HGHs have a negative effect on the human body? Sure, we can point to guys like Caminiti, but that guy did just about everything wrong to himself.

    2. Why do we continue to lump together steroids and HGH? They’re two different things that serve two different purposes and have two different effects to two different degrees.

    3. If MLB began running paid ads explaining the negative effects of the use of such drugs, would it have any effect? Would it just seem hypocritical? Why should MLB do this if the other sports organizations don’t do their share?

    I honestly don’t know how we should proceed as fans and I haven’t the faintest idea as to how MLB can proceed. There are a lot of factors at play here that us as outsiders may never get to consider. But Margaret is absolutely right when she says that if we’re going to make such a big deal out of this, something needs to come of it.

  5. Paul–

    As for #1, the problem is that we aren’t entirely certain what can happen. The research isn’t entirely there. The sexual and reproductive side effects are well known, and not really something to brush aside lightly.

    Chances are, if hormones can cause a problem, steroids will put you at risk: various cancers, mood disorders, that sort of thing. It can interfere with your body’s ability to produce insulin and other good stuff.

    What do know is that it can lead to SERIOUS cardiovascular problems–high blood pressure and cholesterol, for starters, and going all the way into heart failure and a thickening of specific cardiac muscle (as you might expect)… I would say this is where the damage is most pronounced. Your heart is a muscle and if you mess around with muscle tissue production and maintenance… it’s bad.

    Also, because steroids and other hormones are metabolized in the liver. When tons of steroids need to be metabolized over time it causes extensive liver damage. Again, this is very bad news.

    So I’ll be the first to say I can’t prove that there are significant long-term problems from steroid use. BUT, knowing what I do about the human body and about the biochemistry involved, the theoretical picture is pretty serious.

    #2–HGH is weird. I hate even calling it a PED because really, there’s no evidence that it enhances performance whatsoever. It is interesting to point out that HGH is also being marketed to people freaking out about aging as some sort of perpetual youth magic.

    I’m on the fence about HGH. Does it concern me? Yes, very much–I don’t like extraneous medications and supplements as a rule, and to muck around with hormones of all things is a particularly dangerous game–but the damage isn’t clear as it is with steroids.

    Medically, they are in very different categories, but I think what grouping them together does is take the focus away from the technicalities and place them on the ethics of taking these drugs. What matters in these broader terms is that the players intentionally took drugs they believed would put them at an advantage over other players, not that they put themselves at significant risk.

    Whether that categorization is appropriate, I don’t know.

    #3–nope, wouldn’t work. I’ve studied public health marketing like that. Such campaigns don’t work well for what is paid for them. When the tobacco companies made that kind of ad as a requirement for their settlement, it just looked like a pathetic attempt to placate the public while allowing the company to continue doing whatever they please, which, to be fair, was exactly what the whole thing was.

    I’d rather have the MLB do nothing than air a bunch of ads. Really. I don’t want to give them the chance to respond that OF COURSE they care about steroids, just look at the ads they put out! In addition, ads about steroids are still ads for MLB.

    I think change on this issue is going to take pain. Ads are ads, and ads are good for MLB. What MLB needs to do though is bite down and take some hits for what they’ve created and rebuild. It won’t be easy but I think its the only way.

    If you need more info on health effects, btw, let me know and I can provide. There’s a lot of rumors out there about steroids on both sides, so I appreciate it when people admit straight out they don’t know.

  6. Good call saying the Diamondbacks only discernable hole is in the OF and singling out Upton. Well, good except that their starting SS put up a line of .238/.313/.370 and a fielding % below league average and that was at 24 with 59 big league games under his belt. All of a sudden Upton’s line of .221/.283/.364 doesn’t look so bad, especially considering he didn’t turn 20 till the end of the season, with no big league games under his belt. Take a look at A-Rod’s 19 year old stint in the majors and how he followed it up. Not saying, I’m just saying. Also, Upton’s postseason line of .357/.526/.571 bodes well for him going forward. I think both Drew and Upton will have much better numbers in 2008, so I think Arizona will be just fine at SS and RF. Only discernable hole?

  7. Nick Kapur says:

    Brett, I agree with you that both Upton and Drew will be fine next year. You point out that Upton is young, but Drew is also only 24, and can reasonably be expected to do much better next year, given his pre-2007 numbers.

    The reason I picked on Upton more than I picked on Drew is that a team generally expects more offense from its corner outfielders than it does from its shortstop. But even then, you will notice that I identified their need as “fourth outfielder” rather than “right fielder”.

    In other words, I’m not that concerned about Upton, but the team still needs a better option of the bench to play in the outfield if someone gets hurt.

  8. Coley Ward says:

    I can’t figure out what the Giants are doing. The Aaron Rowand signing suggests they plan on being competative sooner, rather than later. But a lack of talent, prospects, trade chips, etc., suggest otherwise.

  9. Coley, I think the Rowand signing was the customary “desperation move by a GM who is about to be fired”. Sabean knows his team is bad. He knows he’s been given more time than his track record warrants. Maybe he’s hoping for a third-place finish or something similar that won’t make their team look abysmal. Of course, even in this scenario, the future doesn’t look any better. But when your job is on the line and you’re trying to milk whatever time is left, this is what happens.

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