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Byrnes Can’t Be Serious About Benoit, Can He? 

Assuming the rumors of the Padres interest in UFA reliever Joaquin Benoit are accurate and the reports of their willingness to offer him two years at approximately $7MM per are true, consider me amongst the most befuddled Friar fans out there. I have never been one to buy into the idea of teams paying big money for relief pitchers. I defended the Luke Gregerson trade on its surface simply because I believed the Padres could adequately replace his production with cheaper options and at least they acquired a decent (emphasis on the word decent) bat in return (and they needed a quality LH bat). However it is indefensible for Byrnes to consider committing that much of his limited payroll to a pitcher likely to throw no more than 70 – 75 innings this year.

First off, Byrnes already has his big money bullpen piece in Huston Street, whom the Padres GM thought enough of to reward with a multiyear deal guaranteeing the team’s closer $7MM per through the 2014 season with an option on 2015. Presumably Street will again be the Padres primary 9th inning option this season. That means Benoit would be in line to be the 8th inning guy, replacing Gregerson for all intents and purposes, and get a handful of save opportunities along the way.

The thought was that the roughly $5MM Gregerson was projected to make through arbitration would be better spent on a bat; and I agreed with that. In that case, how does it make sense for them to pay out more money while committing to an additional year for a reliever who may or may not be any better than they guy they already had? It doesn’t.

holidayWhat would have made sense was the Padres keeping Gregerson and spending $7MM (or even more) on a better bat than Seth Smith. Again, I think Smith will be a useful player but the Padres could have signed Nate McLouth, who is versatile enough to play CF, for less than $7MM annually (he signed a two-year deal with Washington for $11MM). If not McLouth then David DeJesus (signed with Tampa for two years, $10.5MM guaranteed) or David Murphy (two years, $12MM with Cleveland) would have been options. The point is that there had to be a better way to allocate the team’s resources than trading a young, proven reliever for a limited bat and signing an older reliever.

I want to believe in this front office. I think they have done a pretty good job of drafting young talent to the organization and even though it hasn’t worked out well, extending good young players early on in their careers is typically a good strategy for a small to mid-market club. But moves like these are head-scratchers. While you could argue the Padres will be a better team with Benoit in the bullpen and Smith’s decent LH bat in the lineup against righties, the Friars failed to efficiently allocate their limited financial resources.



About the author: Glen Miller

Life-long baseball and Padres fan who attended his first Friar games way back in 1983. I've been a contributor on Friarhood for more than two years and enjoy talking baseball with the knowledgeable fans that frequent the site. Prior to my beginning here I owned and operated my own San Diego sports site while writing for several other sites focusing specifically on hockey. When not watching, reading or writing about sports I might be sleeping or perhaps spending time with my family since I have few other hobbies. I did recently try my hand at golf and am a pretty good pool player to boot.

  • Alex G.

    I agree with your main argument – the current Huston Street deal is Exhibit A.

    That said, I like this potential deal more than the Street one. Fewer years and a chance to oust Street as closer. At least the Padres would be more watchable with Benoit closing considering how brutal Street was in the first half of ’13.

    • ballybunion

      But the Padres are close to or at their projected $80-$82 million payroll. Where are they going to get the extra $5-$7 million? I think it’s a false rumor. Thayer-Vincent-Street looks good enough, even without stashing Stults/Erlin/Smith/Luebke in the bullpen.

  • Beersy

    All this team needs to do is somehow stay healthy and they could contend. With that in mind, I personally think a backend of Benoit and Street would be better than Gregerson and Street. Nothing against Gregerson, but when his slider wasn’t “sliding” he was very hittable and in all fairness the slider was “on” more than it wasn’t. But you also have to take into consideration the inevitable injury Street is going to suffer. After the season Benoit had closing for Detroit in the heat of a playoff race, the Padres would be much better suited with him stepping into the closer role than they would if Gregerson were too. The trade of Gregerson and the hopeful signing of Benoit are moves that are made by a team that thinks they have a shot at the playoffs, which as I said earlier I believe they do if they can just stay healthy. This team is now much more suited, and could be even more if they sign Benoit, to calm the storm when injuries do hit. As we can all see from the Cardinals you don’t need superstars to win games, you need pitching which the Padres have and a bunch of solid bats which the Padres also have. This could be a very interesting season for Padre fans. Go Padres!