The hot stove is pouring smoke: Jayson Stark’s got an interesting breakdown of the new Phillies starting rotation after Cliff Lee signed late last night. On paper, this looks to be as dominant of a rotation as we’ll probably see this decade. I enjoyed Leo Mazzone’s take on how this rotation might fare in comparison to the 1993 Braves rotation of Maddux, Smoltz, Glavine, and Avery. Only a couple more months before pitchers and catchers report…
This is depressing. The Padres have withdrawn their contract offer to Trevor Hoffman, effectively ending his time in San Diego and apparently on very lousy terms.
This isn’t the way it was supposed to happen, not in the slightest — Hoffy was supposed to end his career as a Padre, in triumph, with the blare of Angus Young and Brian Johnson mixing into the soundscape — but sadly, owner John Moores’ divorce proceedings and a breakdown in the front office has trumped all that.
So, in 2009, there won’t be any more Hells Bells. No more opposing batters flailing at Hoffman’s bedazzling changeup. No more Trevor Time.
With the likely trade of Jake Peavy and probably several other players in what is shaping up to be Fire Sale II, 2009 promises to be a very lousy year for San Diego baseball. It will be especially hard without Hoffman, especially knowing the circumstances of his departure.
Will the 41-year-old Hoffman play again? Probably. His agent will shop him around, and there’s no shortage of teams that need a proven closer. He would have to be a closer, too — statistically, he’s proven to not be as effective in middle relief or non-save situations. Also, at 41, his stuff isn’t what it used to be. The few times I’ve seen him, I’ve seen that his fastball is low even for Hoffman’s standards; he’s only throwing 84, 85 now. The changeup helps offset for that, but he’s simply being figured out more. I’m sure a team in desperate need will pick him up for a year, but you know, there’s something really disheartening about Hoffman being a stopgap solution for another team in what will likely be his final season.
Mark Prior agrees to terms with the Padres. I hope they don’t pay him $1 million to sit on the DL. For a small-market team like the Padres, they can’t afford that.
I realize that you have had a ton more experience than I have as a major league general manager — in fact, I never have been, so perhaps you know something I don’t. However, I can’t help but be dismayed at the flurry of reports that the Padres are talking rather sweetly to the Yankees about acquiring Randy Johnson to be a third or fourth starter in the rotation behind Peavy, Young, and (possibly) Greg Maddux. Yes, I can understand the lure of the Unit — a physically imposing and, though less frequently, a dominating pitcher with decent stuff left in the tank. I’m finding the Yankees’ asking price, namely your closer-in-waiting Scott Linebrink, to be far too steep for someone who’s 43, coming off a second back surgery, and whose production has been declining at a rather marked pace in the last two years. It just seems ridiculous that you’d think Johnson would further improve the rotation when in fact he’s lucky to give you six these days. You’ve already got one guy in Maddux who is a six-inning pitcher at best, so why risk the bullpen further?
Perhaps the second surgery and a one-way ticket out of New York will be the cure for what ails him, but I’m quite the skeptic on this matter, especially when a guy of Linebrink’s caliber is involved. Trevor Hoffman won’t be around forever — his velocity the last three years has been 89, 87, and now rarely rises above 85, which is bad considering he makes his money entirely changing speeds — and you know how hard/expensive it is to bring in good closer help. Linebrink is a natural fit for the closer role. It’d be a real “Moneyball” move if you made the Johnson trade not happen. To adapt a quote from the Yankees — this trade does not make good baseball sense for your team.
Jared W. Smith
Lead (Only) Blogger/Wannabe Sports Pundit/Armchair QB