The San Diego Padres have been spinning their wheels lately, and in their efforts to get better they may, in fact, have accomplished the opposite. Two weeks ago, the Pads cut veteran third baseman Vinny Castilla due to a lack of offense. He was hitting .232/.260/.319 with four homers and 23 RBI in 254 at-bats. The team criticized his hitting, and said that they would be better off with Mark Bellhorn and Geoff Blum.
After two weeks of Bellhorn and Blum, who have combined for eight homers and 37 RBI in 320 at-bats, San Diego really got desperate. On Monday, they traded Single-A pitcher Jose Ceda to the Cubs for Todd Walker. Ceda isn't a top prospect, and Walker is a two-month rental. The problem is that he hasn't played third base since 1997, and is expected to solve the Padres' problems at the hot corner. On Wednesday, in his first game as a Padre, Walker went 1-for-3 with a double. And two throwing errors.
San Diego needs to understand two things: team chemistry and defense. Since cutting the very popular Castilla, the Pads are 5-9. He is a legend in his native Mexico, and was a great ambassador for the game in San Diego -- a city less than 10 miles from the Mexican border. He also committed five errors in 69 games at third base, a figure that Walker isn't likely to come anywhere near. Then, as if to add insult to injury, San Diego cut veteran outfielder Eric Young on Tuesday to clear a roster spot for Walker.
Young isn't having a great season (.203/.281/.313 with three homers and 13 RBI in 128 at-bats), but he is a respected member of the clubhouse. So over the last two weeks, San Diego has dumped two popular veterans in the heat of a pennant race and has acquired a second baseman who is playing 100 feet away from his natural position.
The Padres' lead in the N.L. West is down to a half-game over Arizona, and Los Angeles, Colorado and San Francisco are lurking right behind the D-Backs. The Padres will try to hang on to the lead with a disgruntled clubhouse and a third baseman who brings us back to the days of the Y2K bug. Sometimes the best move is to make no move at all.