After the Padres had committed their three outs at the plate during a 2001 game at Qualcomm Stadium, my dad and I decided it would be a good time to head for the concession stands. However, we never did make it there as we were halted and mesmerized by the organization’s “Down on the Farm” feature on Jake Peavy.
A buzz that typically accompanied a Tony Gwynn at-bat started to consume our section as everyone realized that Peavy was going to be a superstar (of course, many Padres fans, including myself, thought the same thing about Sean Burroughs). He had already been hyped up in the press, but as an impressionable 12 year old, that experience confirmed Peavy’s mystic presence in my mind.
Blessed with a no-holds-barred attitude, wicked slider, and a first-class fastball, Peavy has become the face of the franchise and one of the most feared starters in the game since his arrival in 2002. With a contract that has him tied up to the club through 2012, and the fact that he performs in an extreme pitcher’s park, would make it seem that Peavy and the Padres go to together better than George Bush and a mispronounced syllable.
However, their partnership is on the verge of disintegration, as espn.com has reported that Peavy is on the trade block.
Trading a 27-year-old ace like Peavy would seem like the last thing a team that lost 99 games this year should do, but General Manager Kevin Towers really has no choice in the matter. Due to owner John Moores’ ongoing divorce settlement with his wife, Becky, the club is looking to cut payroll, and Peavy has the largest contract.
It is no secret that Moores has held the Padres back from more success by not opening up his wallet for top-tier free agents. Dealing Peavy, though, would do nothing to solve this image problem among Padres fans and would be an atrocious mistake, especially when the Padres are still considering bringing back Brian Giles for $9 million next year.
It makes no sense to have Giles if they are going to go into a rebuilding mode. Sure, he fits into the organizational philosophy of being patient at the plate, but his best days are long behind him.
Since moving into Petco Park, the Padres have been built around pitching. From 2004-2007, they succeeded because their pitching carried them. This year, they had constant injury problems within the starting rotation and a terrible bullpen. As a result, they finished last in the N.L. West. Getting rid of Peavy is not the answer to solving those problems.
If Towers is commanded to deal him, then he needs to make sure he gets a proven big leaguer and high-ceiling prospects in return. If teams like the Yankees and Cardinals are serious about acquiring Peavy, who is just as good as and cheaper than free agents CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets, then they have to be willing to part with a Philip Hughes or Chris Perez.
Under no circumstances should the Padres deal him to the Dodgers. It would be an unforgivable slap in the face to the fans. Peavy owns the Dodgers (13-1, 2.32 ERA), and the Padres would be bailing out their biggest rival, financially. The Dodgers are rumored to be a bit cash-strapped, so make them spend the $100 million on Sabathia or $50 million needed to re-sign Derek Lowe if they want to improve their pitching.
As a diehard Padres fan, it would be devastating to see Peavy go. “Sweet Home Alabama” certainly would have a less prominent place on my iTunes playlist. It is not inconceivable that Peavy will be starting for the Padres on opening day against the Dodgers, but the odds do not look good right now.
All I know is if Peavy is gone, they better have some spectacular “Down on the Farm” segments to keep Padres from losing anymore “faith” in Moores’ ownership.