Wednesday December 21st, 2011
Sam Evans:On Saturday, the Padres pulled off a blockbuster deal with the Cincinnati Reds for Padres pitcher Mat Latos. One of the players the Padres received was first baseman Yonder Alonso. Prior to the trade, the Padres were heading into the season with Anthony Rizzo as their projected first baseman. Now, the Padres have some big decisions to make that will affect the outcome of their franchise for years to come.
San Diego acquired Anthony Rizzo in the Adrian Gonzalez trade a couple of years ago. In 2011, I watched Rizzo play once in Triple-A, and again in the majors. Rizzo came into the season as a top-fifty prospect, and solidified his stature with a strong start to the season. With the Tucson Padres in 2011, Rizzo batted .331 with a 149 wRC+. Rizzo made his debut on June 9 against the Nationals, and hit his first Major League homer two days later.
Unfortunately, that would be Rizzo’s only homer in the big leagues all year. Despite his dominance of the lower levels, Rizzo batted .141 for the big league team over forty-nine games. Rizzo plays with extreme intensity, and I would not be surprised (given that he is a young player), if he was down on himself after his poor performance in San Diego.
Rizzo struggled in the majors with making solid contact and squaring up the ball. He has a very long swing, which he might consider changing this offseason. If everything works out perfectly for Rizzo, he would project to be a .280/.350/.500 hitter.
Yonder Alonso is a very intriguing prospect. First of all, he is 240 pounds and two years older than Rizzo. He is not as athletic as Rizzo, and not a strong defender. In 2011, Alonso played shaky outfield defense because he was blocked by Votto at first base. From what I have heard, the majority of people think that Alonso can’t stick in the outfield. He lacks speed, and experience at the corner outfield positions.
Offensively, Alonso is an outstanding hitter. A great comparison for Alonso is a right-handed Carlos Lee. In his 69 games with the Reds over the last two years, Alonso has hit .299 with a .354 OBP and .479 SLG. If you add a couple more homers to those numbers, that would give you a good idea of what Alonso is capable of doing.
The San Diego Padres have a problem on their hands. However, some people are forgetting that this is a great issue to have. San Diego has the choice to either trade one of the above named players, or try to find a new position for one of them. If San Diego keeps both players, Rizzo will probably end up moving to the outfield. With his athleticism, he would probably do just fine. The Padres could also trade Rizzo, and they would probably get some decent to excellent players in return.
It will be interesting to see what the Padres do with this situation. They have several different options available to them. Personally, I would move Rizzo to the outfield and keep Alonso at first base. Nevertheless, I am still worried about Rizzo’s ability to hit Major League pitchers given his current swing. There is no doubt that this decision has a strong potential to change the course of the Padres franchise for years to come.
***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Sam Evans. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Sam on Twitter***
Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback. You can follow us on Twitter (@MLBreports) and become a fan on Facebook . To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.