November 8, 2012
Thursday, November 8
If Yasmani Grandal’s 50-game suspension for a positive testosterone test had been announced on Tuesday, it might have gone unnoticed amid the hubbub of the election. Instead, the Wednesday afternoon bombshell sent the Padres catcher soaring to the top of the Twitter Trends list and left general manager Josh Byrnes scrambling to reshape San Diego’s plans behind the plate for the first third of the 2013 season.
Padres will stay in-house to supplant Grandal
One of the most talented young backstops in the league, Grandal hit .297/.394/.469 in his first tour of the majors, amassing 1.8 WARP in just 60 games, a pace that would have landed between Miguel Montero's 3.9 WARP and Yadier Molina’s 5.8 WARP outputs had he maintained it over a full season. Losing the 23-year-old—who headlined Byrnes’ return package for Mat Latos last winter—deals a significant blow to the Padres, who are a trendy sleeper team for 2013, following a 42-33 showing in the second half of last season.
Fortunately, with Baker and Hundley in tow, manager Bud Black has enviable depth at his disposal. If Hundley rediscovers his 2011 form, which produced 30 extra-base hits in 281 at-bats, the Padres may not miss a beat in Grandal’s stead. And even if the Baker-Hundley platoon merely serves to hold down the fort, the setback—likely capped at two wins—shouldn’t pose an insurmountable obstacle to San Diego’s hopes of reasserting itself in the National League West.
B.J. is a free agent, but could Justin Upton be on the move, too?
Upton, who turned 25 in August and should be entering the prime of his career, has not yet lived up to the star-level expectations associated with being the first-overall pick in the 2005 draft and bolstered by his 31-homer output in 2011. He hit only seven home runs, struck out 74 times, and went just 10-for-18 on steal attempts in 79 games before the 2012 All-Star break, and a better second-half showing only brought Upton’s overall value up to 2.6 WARP. Upton’s WARP totals from the past four seasons—4.6, 1.9, 4.5, and 2.6, in that order—have frustrated both fans and the Arizona front office, but his contract, a six-year, $51 million deal with three years and $38.5 million remaining, is hardly an albatross, and Towers would risk selling too low on a potentially elite asset if he shipped Upton out of the desert this winter.