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February 24, 2000

Prospectus Roundtable

Al Martin to the Padres

by Baseball Prospectus

Wednesday, the San Diego Padres acquired left fielder Al Martin from the Pittsburgh Pirates for pinch-hitter John Vander Wal and two pitching prospects, Geraldo Padua and Jim Sak. This received a surprising amount of attention from our staff.

Chris Kahrl: Looks like time for another round of condolences. Al Martin? How does he help the Pad people do anything to get good by the time they head to their new park?

Joe Sheehan: I don't agree. First, they gave up nothing. Vander Wal is a pinch-hitter, the other two guys fishing expeditions. It will cost them, what, a million bucks? ((Martin - Vanderwal) + cash they got in the deal).

Keith Law: Padua looks promising, if unyoung, and pitching prospects are wildly overvalued in the trade market, so Towers could have gotten more mileage out of him in a trade for something useful.

JS: Second, the NL West sucks. I'm not convinced the Padres can't get to 85 wins, which will put them in the mix. This deal should also keep Eric Owens out of left field, a big bonus.

CK: Sure, but Owens could have lost the job to Mike Darr or Gary Matthews or Kory DeHaan. Oh well...at least DeHaan or Matthews might unseat Rivera.

KL: If Sterling Hitchcock goes, the rotation is Matt Clement, Happy, Dopey, Sneezy and Horny, and the bullpen will blow out by the All-Star break. Add to that the subpar performers at second base, shortstop, center field, catcher and, potentially, left field, third base and right field, and weak defense at first, third, left and right. I'm a big scrub optimist, but this one I don't see.

JS: Even if I'm wrong about the Pads or the NL West, they can probably move Martin in July for talent comparable to what they gave up here. The Padres upgrade left field for a million bucks. I don't think this is a bad deal.

CK: Iffy. You're talking about a low-end LF who shouldn't be worth all that much to start off with.

KL: Bonifay was unable to move him for anything worthwhile for three years. If Martin goes back to his 1998 form, they get stuck.

Rany Jazayerli: I agree with Joe here. Martin was somebody the Pirates really needed to move, and the Padres don't have Chad Hermansen lying around. Actually, they don't have any real outfielders lying around. There is a very good chance that Martin could have the best OPS in the Padres' outfield, and a very, very good chance that he'll be in their top two, unless Tony Gwynn keeps going at 40 and Ruben Rivera learns how to hit at age 26.

Jeff Bower: The Pads may have picked him to create some goodwill with the community as they jump through the various pre-stadium-construction hoops. Wasn't Martin one of the Pittsburgh players who really took to meeting the public, shaking hands and yakking it up before games when the Bucs were pushing for their new stadium?

Another benefit for those of us in Seattle is that it keeps him the hell off the Mariners' roster. He has been one of the names kicked around to man an outfield position, along with Johnny Damon and Jim Edmonds.

KL: There are other negatives for San Diego. Martin blocks Darr and Matthews. Are they any great shakes? Not now, although I haven't given up on Darr. But they cost $250,000 a year and are not likely to miss Martin's numbers by much. Martin needs a platoon mate, and they could have used Sak in the pen this year.

CK: I guess one of the neat features of making Martin a Padre is that the Pad People now have somebody Ryan Klesko could almost be a D-rep for in left field.

KL: Martin is an absolute scream on the field. "Welcome to Almartinville, where every fly ball is a whole new adventure!" He moves with all the grace and agility of a drunken woolly mammoth. In a tar pit.

Greg Spira: I'm interested in Al Martin--and Bernard Gilkey--because I'm real curious whether their eye surgeries contributed to their resurgences. After godawful 1998s, both had the surgery and both were significantly better in 1999. For analytical reasons, I'd really like to see both of them get lots of playing time. I'm curious how future analysis will take this kind of thing into account.

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