Monday, March 2, 2009

Deep-dish with Paul DePodesta, Asst. GM of the San Diego Padres

For most baseball fans, Paul DePodesta isn't really a household name like Brian Cashman, Theo Epstein or Andrew Friedman. However, those who read "Moneyball" were introduced to probably the first sabermetrically-inclined baseball executives that were in Oakland's Front Office. Years have past since then, but Paul DePodesta has still made his mark on the baseball world. A little over a year ago, Paul did what no other baseball exec has ever done and started blogging over at It may be go first, where fans get a bit of a behind-the-scenes look at what he does on a day-by-day basis.
Jake Larsen: For those who aren't familiar with you, who are you and how did you
get to where you are right now?

Paul DePodesta: Plenty of luck. I started out in the Canadian Football League, worked nights in the American Hockey League, and then got my big break as the minor league van driver in spring training for the Cleveland Indians. After three years in Cleveland, I spent about 5 1/2 years in Oakland, 1 1/2 in Los Angeles, and now I'm nearing three years here in San Diego.

JL: I'll try to keep the "Moneyball" questions to a minimum, but what are
your thoughts on Michael Lewis' book that gave the common fan a new look
at baseball and how things were starting to change? Any misconceptions that you feel that came about from that?

PD: There were plenty of misconceptions, but that's probably what made it an
engaging story. At the end of the day, it's not really a baseball book. Rather, it's a book that uses baseball to tell a much more common story.
Some of the passages probably shouldn't be read too literally.

JL: Do you still have the laptop computer that Lewis made it sound like was glued to your body?

PD:I think the A's have it stored in Fort Knox.

JL: This offseason has been an unusual one, with the amount of rumors and the slowness of signings. Do you think that the country's economy is
causing this or do you feel that teams are starting to rely on their own farm system and assets to acquire the players that they want?

PD: I can only speak to our situation, but there is no question that the economy is having a major impact.

JL: Living in the Chicagoland area, the Peavy-to-Chicago rumors were abundant and often laughable. Without going into much detail, was this deal as close to happening as Chicago newspapers made it out to be?

PD: I've often said that most deals that are discussed never happen. In this case, the rumors all winter were obviously out ahead of the
reality. After having a season like we did in '08 we felt it was important for us to explore every opportunity that might put us in a
better position to compete in '09 and beyond. Cleary, no potential Peavy deal satisfied that requirement.

JL: Greg Maddux is a legend in his own right, being vocal with his statistics rather than being a huge talker. Do you see him filling any
managerial roles or administrative roles in the future?

PD: We had Greg in spring training last week as a guest instructor, and it was great having him here. We definitely believe he can add a lot of value to the organization even when he's not on the mound.

JL: Chris Young is one of those players that catches your eyes, for obvious and non-obvious reasons. Many people aren't sure how he's gonna be the same, after being nailed by a line-drive. What are your thoughts on him for the upcoming season?

PD: Chris actually had a 3.35 ERA after the All-Star Break last year (missed part of May, all of June, and most of July after being hit) and had a
2.38 ERA in his five September starts. At this point he's fully recovered and we're looking forward to 30 starts from him in '09. He's a key to our Club, both on and off the field.

JL: This offseason seen the Padres and Trevor Hoffman parting ways, plus the trading of Khalil Greene. I know that you can't talk about the players on other teams, but what are your thoughts on these transactions?

PD: Every team has tough decisions to make, and we had a few this off-season. It's always emotionally difficult for fans and us to part with players who have been a part of your fabric for a period of time. Their departures, however, have created great opportunities for some of our younger players, and hopefully those players will take advantage of it.

JL: Heath Bell was a tremendous pick-up a few years ago and is primed to
take over as closer this year. What are your thoughts on Bell? What did you think when you heard about his Wii Fit workouts this offseason and do you think that this workout program should be in every players regimen?

PD: I've actually never played the Wii, so I can't vouch for it, and I'm waiting for my kids to get a little older before we let them indulge. Until then, I'm stuck being a SEGA hockey guy.

JL: Matt Antonelli is a personal fave of mine since his college days. Where do you see him fitting in the Padres plans this year?

PD: Matt will likely begin the season in AAA Portland but who knows after that. He has looked terrific so far in camp, and I think the fresh start this year will help him.

JL: Everth Cabrera was the Rule 5 pick of the Padres this year. He lead the Minor Leagues with 70+ stolen bases last year, do you think he will continue to be a speedburner like he has shown to be? Could you give us fans a short scouting report on him?

PD: Everth is a talented young player with good defensive actions and well above average speed. Some time in the future he could be a true leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position (SS). As the any prospect, the trick is to see if he can fulfill the potential that we envision, but there is no doubt that his tools are exciting.

JL: Mat Latos is one of baseball's best pitching prospects. He was one of the last draft-and-follows, if I recall correctly. Does he have any shot of making the opening day roster or is this camp a learning experience for him?

PD: Major League camp is really meant to be a learning experience for Mat. He has tremendous stuff - #1 or #2 starter type stuff - but he has yet to make it through the rigors of a full season and hasn't pitched at all in the upper levels of the minors yet. We're all excited to see what he does this year, and he's certainly a guy who could move through the minors quickly once he gets rolling.

JL: Have the Padres started scouting any for the 2009 draft? Are there any players that you've pinpointed as possibles at the #3 spot or is it way, way too early to tell?

PD: As with any team, we had already identified guys late last summer, as amateur scouting is almost a year-round task these days. That said it's still early in this season to have a definitive list. My guess is that there will be at least five or ten guys who are worthy of discussion for that slot.

JL: Who do you see being a sleeper for the Padres in camp and fans should start paying attention to?

PD: We have a lot of competition on our pitching staff this spring, and I'm anxious to see who is going to step up and claim some of the key roles. I won't mention names at this point, especially because it's so early, but I think there will be at least a couple of guys who may surprise.

JL: Thank you for your time and the opportunity to pick your mind. Any final thoughts that you'd like to pass along to bloggers like me or
baseball fans alike?

PD: I can't wait for the season to start.

1 comment:

  1. Good read. I dumped Antonelli in my league. May be his will surprise. But, with Eckstein slotted for 2B, seems like Antonelli headed to AAA again.