What the Padres Gave Up: Left-hander Ring, a former 2002 first round draft pick of the Chicago White Sox out of San Diego State, has never really lived up to expectations. Ring had pitched very well in Portland with 44 strikeouts in 31.2 innings against 11 walks, but a K/BB ratio of 17/14 in 15 innings wasn't going to cut it in San Diego.
Link was having a nice year in Lake Elsinore since taking over the role from Jon Madden midway through the year, converting 13 out of 15 save opportunities. The right-handed pitcher can got a lot more movement out of his fastball this year and has some nice numbers, 45/11 K/BB ratio and has only allowed 32 hits in 41 innings.
Rosales, a 40-man roster addition in the off-season, was the closer for the Portland Beavers until he broke his hand punching a brick wall after a blown save. He saved 14 games for the Beavers before he got hurt, but didn't have great peripheral statistics that you look for in relief pitchers with a 27/10 K/BB ratio and 23 hits in 24.2 innings. After the trade, Rosales had season ending surgery on his hand.
What the Padres Got: Mackowiak is the most important player for this season, how the overall trades will play out is yet to be determined. The left-handed hitting Mackowiak is an ideal player to come off of the bench with MLB experience at every position except catcher. Additionally, Mackowiak also posses a patient approach, a .365 OBP last year and a .356 OBP this year, which right now is better than everyone on the Padres' roster with the exception of Milton Bradley and Brian Giles.
Ensberg is someone who had a big year as recently as 2005 [.283/.388/.557, with 38 home runs and 101 RBIs] but his production has taken a big dip this year [.232/.323/.384]. Ensberg, and there is a theme here, has a career .367 OBP.
Ledezma is a pure projection pick-up, a left-hander with a big fastball that can touch 95 MPH and sits consistently in the low-90s. He has a very good minor league K/BB ratio of 361/138 in 370 innings, but it's his control on the MLB level that is a problem; 178/130 in which he allowed 325 hits in 292.1 innings. He's out of options so he will have to stay on the major league roster and will occupy the role Kevin Cameron had for most of the season, long man out of the pen.
Startup is the classic type of relief pitcher that the Padres target, a strike-thrower that averages nearly a strikeout per inning, 147 in 155.1 innings pitched, without many walks, 41 or hits 133. He's not known for having particularly great stuff, but has put up some very good numbers in Triple-A Richmond this year with a 3-2 record and a 2.19 ERA and a 49/18 K/BB ratio.
Hairston had some dazzling minor league career numbers, .322/.401/.571, and at one time was thought off as being the best prospect in the minor leagues at second base. The problem was he couldn't play second defensively and really doesn't hit with enough power to be a major league regular in the outfield.
Why the Padres Made the Deals: The Padres minor league system is being built primarily on the concept of OPS [one-base-percentage + slugging percentage] or patience and power. Unfortunately the major league club is not following the same philosophy. The Padres team OPS average is .701, with a team OBP of .312, not much patience, not much power and was probably one the main reasons why hitting coach Merv Rettemund was let go.
Both Mackowiak and Ensberg are patient hitters, and although they are not the "big bats" so many in San Diego crave, they are not the wild free-swingers either which is causing the Padres brass to pull their hair out. They are going to provide much better options off of the bench than Jose Cruz and Russell Banyan had.
The Padres simply believed that Startup is every bit the pitcher Ring is or better and the inclusion of Ledezma in the deal, regardless of control problems, has more potential upside than all of the players involved in all four trades.
Hairston is a long shot, but this is a minor deal. Simply put he could become a better fit into the Padres' plans than Rosales.
Conclusion: General manager Kevin Towers improved his team and the organization without subtracting any significant parts. Mackowiak is better than anyone the Padres have on their bench, Ensberg was free and Towers replaced Ring with what the Padres believe are two better pitchers.
I have never been a big fan of Rosales, his best pitch is a changeup and there was always the question if he had enough of a fastball for the major leagues. The cynic in me remembers other minor league relief changeup specialist such as Jeremy Fikac, J.J. Trujillo and Brad Baker who all flamed out at higher levels because of a lack of a fastball. Admittedly, I'm not sure how Hairston is a better option than Hiram Bocachica or a few others in Portland, but two homers on Friday has a funny way of changing opinions.
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