As San Diego endures a skid that's reached 11 losses in their last 13 games, the roster moves have started. Some of the movement is because guys are starting to get healthy, but some of it is due to poor play.
The Padres had been carrying 13 pitchers and 12 bench players but decided to shift the mix back in favor of the hitters last Friday. Prized prospect Yasmani Grandal, who it turned out was the main guy San Diego targeted to get back when they sent Mat Latos to Cincinnati (per AJ Hinch's Friday radio interview with Darren Smith), was called up before Friday's game. Grandal, the #2 rated prospect in the San Diego system (which is a bit of a misnomer; Yonder Alonso was ranked #1 but he's spent the entire year playing 1B for the Padres, so he's no longer a prospect) and the #40 ranked prospect by Fangraphs' Mark Hulet, could be the kind of impact bat San Diego so desperately needs.
Well he still could be. We have no idea yet, since he was up for only 2 games. Grandal was sent back down to AAA before Sunday's game in favor of Mark Kotsay. Grandal did get into one game, as we talked about in our last post, so at least his trip to SD wasn't completely for naught. He's got #12 if you keep track of those things.
As Grandal came up, someone had to move out. Turns out that someone was Jeff Suppan. Soup pitched pretty darn well in his first 3 games with the club, throwing 5 shut out innings in his first start and allowing only 1 run in his second. Really he pitched good enough to win in his third, played in that noted band-box of Philadelphia's Citizens Bank park; he might have left the game tied at 2 if not for Chase Headley's throwing error in the third inning.
His last 3 starts, well, they were pretty bad. The Angels hung 4 on him in 5 innings enroute to a 7-2 loss. Staked to a 3-0 lead in the first inning of the last game in STL, he couldn't hold the lead for 3 outs. Beltran's HR in the fifth ultimately chased him before the inning ended. He was staked to 1-0 and 4-3 leads in his final start, in Chicago against the Cubs, but left the game after 5 tied 6-6.
Soup has to keep the ball down to be successful, and has to not only get the low strike, but get those pitches that barely clip the bottom of the knee called strikes too. He never could overwhelm hitters with power, and now at 37 truly has to rely on guile and control to compete. He struggled to do that his last 3 games. Although he didn't walk anyone in Chicago he walked 9 in his two outings before that. Suppan was a stop-gap guy and the gap just simply swallowed him. The upcoming Padres schedule has enough off-days that the club doesn't need a fifth starter until 9 June. By then maybe another former Cardinal - names bandied about recently are Kip Wells and Jason Marquis - will step into the #5 slot.
Suppan still wants to pitch but this might be the end of the line for him in the majors. It's hard to imagine him getting another shot at this level. At least the Padres decided to DFA the man; there's a chance he could return to AAA Tuscon if he clears waivers, but that will play out over the next week or so.
To close the thought on roster moves - Sunday the Padres activated Logan Forsythe as well as Kotsay; to make room they placed Andy Parrino on the 15-day DL. Forsythe was on-track to make the club out of spring training until suffering the broken foot that cost him 2 months.
The roster moves will continue to come. Players will continue to get healthy (we should see the return of Huston Street this week). But also, as San Diego appears to be headed to another All-Star break with one of the three worst records in the NL (third time in the last 4 years), the evaluation period for next may start early. I'm sure there are players in AAA (and maybe AA) the team would like to take a long look at.
Update: Gaslamp Ball is reporting Huston Street will be activated today, with Matt Palmar DFA'd. No official press release yet from the Padres.