Monday, March 17, 2008

Jack Cronin - Executive Producer XX Sports Radio

Jack and I go back a LONG ways. He's come a long way since the both of us grew up in Fresno, CA. Being the Executive Producer at XX Sports Radio, I thought I'd get his opinion on the 2008 San Diego Padres.

Jack Cronin: First of all, Todd Kaufmann is a guy I have known since 1st grade, going all the way back to Fresno, California. Todd was always the best athlete we had in grade school so there was never a question as to who was going to be the quarterback or the point guard and run our team. I know what a huge Padre fan Todd has become since moving here to Southern California and it is great to see him now get into the business of covering sports. I just got back yesterday from my trip to Spring Training, so I will try my best to shed some light on these topics.

Todd Kaufmann: I'm flattered J.C., it's been a long road for us both since those days, but I think we're going down the paths neither one of us imagined. Let's get started with the Padres.

Padre fans have heard so much about Chase Headley, but a couple of names that have seemed to go unnoticed are Jody Gerut and Callix Crabbe. Are these 2 players that will be a big impact for the San Diego Padres in 2008?

Jack Cronin: We will have to wait and see if they make the 25-Man roster to begin the year for the Padres. Callix Crabbe is a Rule-5 guy which means a team must keep that player on their Major League Roster for the entire season or he would be offered back to his original team. I think Crabbe has a great chance of making the team based on that and that fact that he can play almost every position. San Diego is going to carry 12 pitchers for the first part of the season, if not the whole year, so they need versatile guys like Calix Crabbe.

Jody Gerut signed a minor league deal with the Padres, so he is going to have to work very hard to break through to the 25-Man roster. With guys like Paul McAnulty, Chase Headley & Scott Hairston all in front of him, I think it is going to be hard for him to break into that rotation.

As far as Paul McAnulty is concerned, he has impressed here in the Spring with the bat, and is out of options, so Kevin Towers told us that it is almost guaranteed that McAnulty will begin with year with the big league club because if they want to send him back down, they must pass him through waivers, and other teams would jump at the chance to pick him up.

Todd Kaufmann: Brian Giles is at the end of his contract, but the Padres hold a team option on him. In your opinion, is he back for the 2009 season?

Jack Cronin: The Padres hold a 9-Million Dollar Club Option on Brian Giles for 2009 (with a 3-Million Dollar Buyout), and they have made really no mention of how they are going handle that situation. My guess is that he will not be back at 9 Million Dollars. The Padres have embraced the Moneyball philosophy and have taken that even further by making a commitment to developing their farm system and using their own guys. That being said, if they can get Brian Giles back at a much lower rate, I think they would jump on it. I talked to a lot of people at Spring Training, and asked them about the knee injury to Giles, and nobody was surprised that he came back so soon from such a major surgical procedure. He is the type of ballplayer that coaches and teammate love and I am sure they would want him back. Plus he has proved effective at the leadoff position in his short time in that role.

Todd Kaufmann: Assuming Peavy, CY, Maddux and Wolf will occupy the first 4 spots in the rotation, who do you see winning the #5 spot?

Jack Cronin: Kevin Towers joined Darryl Sykes & I while we were broadcasting live from Peoria, and he told us that until Mark Prior is ready around June 1st, Justin Germano has by far the best shot at that 5th spot in the rotation. Germano had another good outing in China and it is almost a guarantee that he will be starting the season in the rotation.

Todd Kaufmann: When Edmonds went down with an injury, rumors started that the Padres were looking to make a trade for a center fielder. Was there any indication from the Padres that they were going to go that route, or were they always inclined to let guys like Gerut, Crabbe and Hairston battle for it?

Jack Cronin: The plan right now is to have Scott Hairston play in Center, with Paul McAnulty or Chase Headley in Left (And Brian Giles in Right). The Padres have the luxury of being able to send Chase Headley down to AAA-Portland because he has options and needs time to take reps in the outfield.

Offensively, he is ready to play in the majors, but they are still evaluating him defensively. Headley could start the season as the opening day Left fielder, but he will not start the year with the big league team as a bench player, he needs the time to develop and won’t do that as a Pinch Hitter.

I would like to see the friars stay with their guys, Headley, Hairston, Edmonds, Giles, McAnulty & Crabbe instead of a trade, but you never can rule out a late offer at the end of Spring Training.

Todd Kaufmann: What's your prediction for this team in 2008?

Jack Cronin: The National League West will be a dogfight, but with the arms the Padres have, they will be right in it. I don’t see why the Padres can’t get back to the Playoffs as the Champions of the National League West.

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