Padres - Rangers trade analysis

The Padres and Rangers continued to exchange rosters yesterday with the trade of two high profile prospects that no longer appeared to fit into either teams' plans. Grady Fuson believes he got two players that will help the system.

The Padres traded outfielder Freddy Guzman, 25, once considered their centerfielder and leadoff hitter of the future along with right-handed pitcher Cesar Rojas, 19, who pitched for the Arizona League Padres (Rookie League) last year. In return, San Diego acquired outfielder/first baseman Vince Sinisi, 25, the best hitter on Rice's 2003 national championship team, whom the Rangers lavished a $2.07 million dollar bonus, and right-handed pitcher John Hudgins,25, another college star from Stanford.

What the Padres got: Sinisi was simply caught up in a numbers game with the Rangers. Below average speed limits him to first base or left field, and with Mark Teixeira, Kevin Mench, Brad Wilkerson on the big team and Jason Botts and John Mayberry in the minors, there just wasn't much room for him.

Sinisi put up good numbers in his first full professional season in 2004, .310/.383/.472, but broke his left forearm in a collision late in the year. The break was so severe he couldn't begin his season until mid-May of 2005 due to a lingering bacterial infection from a metal plate inserted into and later removed from the forearm.

"In ‘03 he was doing great and that was his first year. He collided with shortstop Joaquin Arias and Arias' head hit him in the arm and broke his arm in half," Grady Fuson, the Padres vice president of scouting and player development, confirmed. "They had to put a plate in his arm. It got infected a couple of times and had to go in their surgery wise to clean it out. Kept him out of the weight room for a year and a half."

He started 2005 strong, tearing up the California League, but the injury caused him to lose a lot of weight and he never seemed to fully regain his strength showing little in the Texas League (AA).

This year he was hitting .309 in Frisco, the Ranger's AA affiliate, but had only three extra base hits in 68 at-bats. He still may not be fully healed and was playing for the Oklahoma City RedHawks at the time of the trade.

Ranked as the #18 prospect in the Rangers organization by Baseball America, Sinisi at his best is a similar player to Adrian Gonzalez. He will play first base in the immediate future but will probably also see substantial time in the outfield as well. Both have smooth left-handed swings with good strike zone judgment with an ability to hit the ball to all fields. The big questions are is he fully healed and will he hit for power?

"This guy is a hitter," Fuson added. "He put on 15 pounds from a year ago.

Hudgins, the #19 prospect in the Rangers organization according to Baseball America, was a star pitcher at Stanford who profiles as the prototypical college pitcher, good command - a "strike thrower", a phrase the Padres front office loves, fastball curve and change, with the fastball sitting in the high eighties, low-nineties. At best, a potential #4 or #5 starter.

"A plus, plus changeup and good curveball," Fuson said. "87-92 is where he pitches the best."

Both Sinisi and Hudgins will begin their careers with the Padres in Mobile.

What the Rangers got: Freddy Guzman underwent arm surgery to repair an injured elbow after spring training in 2005 and sat out all of last season. Despite the layoff, Guzman was still the best leadoff prospect in the organization because of his outstanding speed and good base running instincts. In three full years in the minors, Guzman stole 229 bases and was only caught 40 times. Throw in a .361 career minor league on-base percentage with a surprising .379 slugging percentage in 2004, in Portland, and he attracted a lot of attention.

So far this season, Guzman has shown he's healthy offensively hitting, .274/.348/.411, with 11 stolen bases in 14 attempts, but surprisingly was only hitting .204 leading off. The problem Guzman was facing with the Padres was twofold, where he was going to play and a questionable work ethic which led some in the organization to wonder if his desire would ever match his potential.

Rojas was more of a throw in and struggled in his sole year in the organization going 2-4 with a 6.75 ERA.

Analysis: In the long run, the trade could help both clubs, but right now it is much more of a sure thing for the Rangers. Texas tried to make the best out of what has turned out to be an expensive mistake. It was unlikely Sinisi would have the ability to contribute in Texas with so many people ahead of him. In Guzman they have a potential centerfielder that can fly and who may be a better option this year than Lance Nix, who is hitting .094.

Guzman seemed to have worn out his welcome in San Diego with the Padres' development staff. No one in the minors currently has the ability of Guzman, but he was far behind Dave Roberts, Mike Cameron and Ben Johnson as centerfield options on the major league club this year and in 2007.

The Padres have very few corner outfielders that can hit with power and Fuson, who held the same post with the Rangers, obviously believes that Sinisi has a chance to fill that void, and right now it is a pretty cheap gamble.

Hudgins is also a nice addition to the BayBears staff in need of a fifth starter and could also be a productive pitcher for an organization that is thin in its depth of starting pitching.


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