Nothing lasts forever, though being a season ticket holder for the past 12 years in San Diego, I can honestly say this much “Thank You Sandy Alderson for everything that you did for San Diego”. I could still remember the day back in 2005 when then Padres majority owner John Moores introduced Sandy Alderson as CEO. I was in Philadelphia on a business trip and took in a couple of games at Citizens Ballpark as the Phillies hosted Colorado Rockies and New York Mets on back to back nights. The very next day I caught a flight back to San Diego just in time to attend the Padres versus Dodgers on a Thursday night. There was excitement around Petco Park, due to the fact from 1999-2004 the Padres were floundering. Horrible personnel moves, awful drafts, inadequate farm system despite having high draft selections for 5 straight seasons. Let’s face it, when former Padres CEO Larry Lucchino left, the entire Padres Baseball Operations went down the manhole and out to the Pacific Ocean. Yeah Kevin Towers was around the entire time and Towers did hire Grady Fuson just before Sandy Alderson arrived on scene. Though, what did Sandy Alderson do when he arrived in San Diego? What was Alderson’s impact on baseball operations? What were the results of Alderson’s philosophy ?
The very first thing Alderson did was to leave the entire baseball operations in tact, including the manager. Sandy stepped back, dissected the baseball operations. Alderson began to provide a roadmap, institute processes to achieve goals and place accountability on the entire baseball operations. Before this, it was purely evident no accountability was being held by the Padres organization. In 2006, Sandy hired Paul Depodosta as special assistant to the baseball operations. The trio of Sandy Alderson, Grady Fuson, and Paul Depodosta had an enormous impact on the current Padres roster and farm system. Though, here in City of San Diego where the majority of the Fans have this sense of entitlement, continues to show their displeasure towards Sandy Alderson. Why? because Sandy is a man of integrity and shoots right from the hip, these days people love to be sugar-coated and can’t stand to hear the truth. Just think of it, San Diego had A.J. Smith and Sandy Alderson here at the same time, both very austere and direct with their philosophies on how to conduct and execute their business plans. You have to give them credit, both men have done well in San Diego despite the public outcry which continues to this very day. As you can see, Sandy re-organized the entire baseball organization, built and unified a strong analytical baseball operations.
So, enough with the talk, let’s see if the walk backs up the talk. By that, I mean what were the results of Sandy Alderson’s philosophy and baseball operations plan in comparison to former in this case Kevin Towers. From 1999 to 2004, under the direction of Kevin Towers and his baseball operations the Padres draft picks consisted of the following:
- 1999, with the 20th overall pick, the Padres selected OF Vince Fasion. Not only did Fasion never made it to the big show, this selection never made it past AAA. Though, Towers and his gang were fortunate that some little fella named Jake Peavy taken in the 15th round came through. Realistically, there should have been atleast 3-4 players coming out from this draft to help the Padres.
- 2000, with the 9th overall pick, Padres selected P Mark Phillips. Another wasted 1st round pick that never made it to the big show. Once again, luck was behind Towers as the 2nd round pick Xavier Nady and 13th round pick P Justin Germano had come through and made it to the Padres. Yet, another miserable showing and 3-4 players should have come out of this draft as well.
- 2001, with the 14th overall pick, Padres selected 2B Jake Gautreau. Oh for heavens sake ! Yet another 1st pick that flamed out in AA. But in the 4th, 13th round,and 22nd round, 2B Josh Barfield, SS Jason Bartlett, OF Drew Macias made it to the big show. Though, the Padres lost Bartlett in a horrible trade to the Twins for OF Brian Buchanon, which never panned out. Later on, in 2006 Barfield was traded to the Indians for Kevin Kouzmanoff.
- 2002, with the 13th overall pick, SS Khalil Greene was selected. Perhaps the number was a precursor to the short-lived baseball career of Greene. This pick actually turned out well from 2003-2008, as Greene really made an impact on the Padres being one of the best SS in the game. Since then, we all knew what had transpired during that awful season of 2008, when Khalil broke his hand and ended his career with the Padres. The only other pick that came up to the big show was taken in the 12th round, 1B Paul McAnulty. Paul has bounced from Padres, Red Sox, A’s and the Angels.
- 2003, with the 4th overall pick, P Tim Stauffer was chosen. Stauffer has finally come around after several injuries and made a huge impact on the Padres this year. Unfortunately, this was the only pick that came through from the entire 2003 draft excluding a deal that sent 20th round pick P Leo Rosales to D’Backs for Scott Hairston.
- 2004, with the 1st overall pick, P Matt Bush was chosen. This local high school kid never made it past rookie ball with the Padres. In the 5th round, SS Sean Kazmar was selected, but had minimal productivity in the minor leagues. Basically, this truly exemplifies Kevin Towers “Gunsligner” draft mentality. Atleast, Towers was consistent, his drafts never produced more than 3-5 players per year. Thus, why Kevin Towers always had to make deals with what I used to label as ‘Pick-N-Save’, grab some players coming off bad production years and hopefully they turn around while in San Diego to provide market worth.
Hmmm, let’s see from 1999 through 2004, the Padres missed on 4 out of 6 1st round draft picks. Let’s take a deeper look, 1st, 9th, 14th, and 20th picks flamed out on the Padres. That is plain unacceptable ! To add fuel to the fire, a grand total of FIVE players had an impact with the Padres from all of those drafts, covering SIX years.
Now, let’s investigate the results from Sandy Alderson’s regime from 2005 through 20o8 drafts.
- 2005, with the 18th overall draft pick, P Cesar Carrillo was chosen. Carrillo had a major elbow surgery and is attempting to resurrect his career in AAA. But, the following picks came through, 35th overall pick P Cesar Ramos (in AAA), 66th Pick 3B Chase Headley (Padres 3b), 76th pick C Nick Hundley (Padres C), 98th pick P Josh Greer (Started for the Padres in 2009 and is in AAA), 128th pick 1B Mike Baxter (Late season call up in 2010 with the Padres), 218th pick OF Will Venable (Padres RF), 1148th pick P Jeremy McBride (A). Whoa ! FIVE players made an impact from this initial draft of Alderson’s regime.
- 2006, with the 17th overall draft pick, 2b Matt Antonelli was chosen. Antonelli started off with a bang in his 1st year in the minors. Since then, Matt has struggled and broke his hand in 2010, missed the entire year. Though, Antonelli remains in AAA and could be a solution at 2B this year. Also in the 1st round OF/1b Kyle Burke (Padres LF) was taken. Kyle had tommy john surgery to his elbow this year and figures to be back in the Padres plans in 2011. In the 2nd round, LF Chad Huffman (Yankees OF) and P Wade LeBlanc (Padres P) were selected. Huffman was claimed by the Yankees when the Padres had to make a roster move just before the start of the 2010 season. LeBlanc, started for the Padres this year and did well considering the circumstances and burned out towards the tail end of the season. 3rd round pick, OF Cedric Hunter (AAA) and 4th round pick P Nathan Culp (AA) are still in the Padres plans. 7th round pick 1B/OF Craig Cooper (AA), 9th round pick 3b David Freese (Cardinals 3b), 11th round pick P Matt Latos (Padres P) were selected. Freese was traded to Cardinals for OF Jim Edmunds, oh don’t remind me. Another Kevin Towers gunslinger deal. Latos, we all know what Matt did for the Padres in 2010, enough said. In the 12th and 14th rounds, Stephen Faris (AA ) and Matt Buschmann (AA) were taken. Both players are still highly regarded in the Padres minor leagues. Another FIVE players had an impact with the Padres or other baseball clubs.
- 2007, in the 1st round the Padres took P Nick Schmidt (A),and compensation picks OF Kelly Kulbacki (AA ), SS Andrew Cumberland (AA), C Mitch Cantham (AA ), P Corey Luebke (Padres P), and OF Daniel Payne (Fort Wayne Rookie League). Schmidt suffered elbow injury and is making progress in the minor league. Corey Luebke made three starts with the Padres and is in the team’s plans for 2011. In the 2nd round 2b Eric Sogard (A’s) was traded to Oakland for OF’s Scott Hairston and Aaron Cunningham. Also, selected in the 2nd round was OF Brad Chalk (A). In the 4th, 5th, 9th and 17th rounds, Padres selected: SS Lance Zawadzki (Royals), P Jeremy Hefner (AA ), P Wynn Pelzer (Orioles), and P Brandon Gomes (AA ). Zawadzki made a couple of starts with the Padres at SS and 2B, but was just recently claimed by the Royals. Pelzer was traded to the Orioles for SS/3B Miguel Tejeda. In this particular draft, FOUR players made an impact on the Padres either by participating or used as trade bait.
- 2008, in the 1st round the Padres took, 1B Allan Dykstra (A). Okay, the Padres probably missed on this one, though we will see as Dykstra is still in the organization. Can not fault the organization for selecting Dykstra as they had a clue that Gonzalez might be leaving as a free agent in the near term. Also, taken in 1st round (compensation picks) OF Jaff Decker (A ) and 2b John Forsythe (AA ). Decker can plain out hit the ball and Forsythe has been converted from 3b to 2b, has power too. In the 2nd round, Padres drafted 3B James Darnell (AA) who has a power bat. In the 3rd, Compensation B, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 12th, and 19th rounds, Padres selected: OF Blake Tekotte (AA), OF Sawyer Carroll (AA), P Anthony Bass (A), SS Stephen Figueroa (A), C Adam Zornes (A), SS William Weems (AA), 1B Matt Clark (AA), and C Robert Lara (A). As you can see, the AA and A minor league teams are stocked with Alderson’s picks. Forsythe, Darnell, Tekotte, Bass, Figueroa, Clark figure to push through the minors and eventually make it to the big show. So here, we have a potential of FIVE players of reaching the show.
As it turns out, the Sandy Alderson’s Regime produced a grand total of 14 players and potential of another FIVE to make it 19 players in FOUR years worth of drafts. Compare this with Kevin Towers FIVE players in SIX years. Come on folks you tell me… Who should we be frighten now ? And is now our new opponent in the league. Surely not D’backs but rather New York Mets, where Sandy has begun to lay down the philosophy. With that being said, Paul Depodesta has accepted a job with the Mets and this was expected, since Depodesta and Alderson have strong ties since the days back to Oakland. The final door has closed shut and the entire Alderson regime have left San Diego for bigger and better things. I would like to take time out now, and offer my congratulations to both Sandy Alderson and Paul Depodesta for accomplishing a lot in such a short time frame in San Diego. They both, re-vitalized baseball in San Diego and let’s face it, the facts do not lie. I just hope the Padres baseball operations does not take another step back and flounder as it did when Larry Lucchino left town for Boston. Once again, Thank You Sandy Alderson, I wish you the very best in New York and hopefully the fans in NY will accept you more than the Diegans.
As with all my posts, I am going to dedicated a blues tune from the late great Texan Bluesman Steve Ray Vaughn. It’s called Six Stings Down featuring BB King, Jimmy Vaughn and Eric Clapton. As Six key people have left the Padres since 2009: Sandy Alderson, Grady Fuson, Paul Depodesta, Kevin Towers, Bill Bryk, and Ryan Issac. All six men worked together under Sandy Alderson.