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Fantasy Impact of the Padres trades for Justin Upton, Derek Norris and Will Middlebrooks

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Ray offers his thoughts on the fantasy impact of the Padres recent trades for right-handed power hitters Matt Kemp, Wily Myers, Justin Upton, Derek Norris and Will Middlebrooks.

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Well, San Diego Padres new GM A.J. Preller might be the most aggressive GM in the game right now, as he has changed the Padres from a light-hitting, strong pitching roster to a power-hitting, strong pitching roster. Over the course of the last two weeks, he has traded for Matt Kemp, Wil Myers and former Braves outfielder Justin Upton, former A's catcher Derek Norris and former Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks.

Preller has totally reshaped the Padres lineup into a right-handed, power hitting lineup that will hit for plenty of power, but strike out a ton as well. Here is a quick look at the new, reshaped Padres lineup:

LF - Justin Upton

CF - Wil Myers

RF - Matt Kemp

3B - Will Middlebrooks/Yangervis Solarte

SS - Clint Barmes

2B - Jedd Gyorko

1B - Yonder Alonso

C- Derek Norris

As you can see from this lineup, they have just one left handed hitter in their starting lineup, and that is the weak hitting Yonder Alonso. But, the middle of this lineup is full of potential 25-30 home run hitters, and Gyorko has 20+ home run power as well. These deals leave Preller and the Padres with more outfielders than the Dodgers had before the Kemp trade. Here is a look a the outfielders on their 40 man roster:

Matt Kemp

Justin Upton

Wil Myers

Carlos Quentin

Will Venable

Cameron Maybin

Seth Smith

Abraham Almonte

Rymer Liriano

Liriano appears destined to start in AAA next season, but the rest have to be trade candidates, so Preller still has some work to do. I imagine he will keep one of Almonte or Maybin for defensive purposes, but you have to think the Quentin will be traded to an American League team ( I am looking at you, Orioles) to DH, and Smith will be dealt to a team that needs an outfielder, like the Reds or Giants. Venable is a candidate to be traded as well, so Preller isn't finished reshaping the Padres from an inept run-scoring team to a team that will put fear into their opponents in 2015.

Here is one of my reactions to all of the Padres trades yesterday:

I think that park factors stats are not always due to the actual ball park, but are also impacted by the lineup playing in that ball park 81 times per season. Last season, the Petco Park depressed home runs by 19% (ranking 24th in MLB) and run scoring by 17% (ranking 29th). I have a good feeling that these park factors will creep toward the middle of the pack in 2015 with all of the moves Preller has made, and has yet to make, this offseason.

According to Stat Corner's park factors, it was easier for a left-handed hitter to hit a home run at Petco Park than it was for a right-handed hitter, as Stat Corner assigned a 97 park factor for home runs for left-handed hitters, but an 81 park factor for home runs for right-handed hitters. You will read other fantasy writers on the internet tell you that the fantasy values for Kemp, Upton, Myers and others will be negatively impacted by the move to Petco, but I am keeping an open mind to see if the ball park has THAT much of an impact on the power from these power hitters.

I opined on Twitter last night that the Padres might have a better lineup than the Giants do right now, and that is especially true after the Giants trade for Casey McGehee to replace Pablo Sandoval at third base in 2015. Bsaed on their offseason moves to date, I am confident in saying the the Giants will struggle to make the playoffs in 2015.

I recently wrote about my thoughts on the fantasy impact of the Wil Myers and Matt Kemp trades and you can find links to each below:

Fantasy impact of the Wil Myers three team trade

Dodgers trade Matt Kemp the Padres

Anyhow, here are my thoughts on the fantasy impact of the trades Preller has made over the last two days:

Justin Upton

The Padres traded pitching prospect Max Fried, infield prospect Jace Peterson, third base prospect Dustin Peterson, outfield prospect Mallex Smith and international signing bonus compensation for Upton and pitching prospect Aaron Northcraft.

Fried is most well know prospect in the bunch, but he is coming off Tommy John surgery, so how he returns from that is an unknown at this time. You can read more about Fried and the two Petersons the Padres traded in our prospect team's look at the Padres top fantasy prospects for 2015 in the link below:

San Diego Padres 2015 Top Fantasy Prospects

As stated above, I am keeping an open mind as to how moving to Petco Park will impact Upton, Kemp and Myers, but I have a feeling they will all come close to their power projections. I can see Upton hitting 25+/- home runs and 80 RBI in 2015. Upton is coming off a season where he hit .270-.342-.491 with 29 home runs, 77 runs scored, 102 RBI and 8 stolen bases in Atlanta. Turner Field increased home runs at a 12% rate in 2014, but depressed home runs at a 7% and 13% rate in 2013 and 2012 respectively. Could that have been due to the addition of Upton to the Braves lineup?

Here is another example where the composition of a team's lineup may have more of an impact on ball park factors that are so often quoted in the baseball and fantasy media. In 2013, Dodger Stadium depressed home runs by almost 4%, but Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez were not healthy for a good part of the 2013 season. Last season, they both played more games, and Dodger Stadium increased home runs by 23%. Another way to saw that is that 23% more home runs were hit at Dodger Stadium than league average. Dodger Stadium is well known as a pitchers park, yet there were 23% more home runs hit there last season.

I can see the same impact on Petco Park in 2015 that we saw in Dodger Stadium in 2014, so don't move Upton or Kemp or Myers down in your rankings as a result of these trades. They will hit home runs at Petco Park next season.

Seth Smith, Cameron Maybin, Will Venable

Well, the Padres are nearly going all-in on the 2015 season with all of these prospects for power hitter trades recently, but as you can see from the Top Fantasy Prospects piece above, they have come away from all of these trades with several of their top prospects remaining in their system.

With that said though, they have restructured their roster, starting lineup and their outfield, so the fantasy values of the following outfielders have dropped, as a result:

Seth Smith

Cameron Maybin

Will Venable

Rymer Liriano

That could change over the next few weeks as a few of these outfielders could be traded by the active Preller, so stay tuned.

Padres pitching staff

A quick note here, but the Padres pitching staff could see their stats drop with the addition of Kemp, Myers and Upton in the outfield and Norris behind the plate, as all are considered bad defensively. Here is an excerpt from Buster Olney's blog post from earlier today:

Kemp alone, or Upton alone, or Myers alone would represent an offensive upgrade for a team that challenged records for futility last year. But the Padres invested heavily and grabbed all three, plus All-Star catcher Derek Norris -- a splurge that must feel good for the San Diego ownership which watched the 2014 Padres lineup stack up zeroes day after day. 

But Myers is viewed by a lot of scouts as a below-average right fielder, and now he needs to play center field. Kemp has generated some of the worst defensive metrics in the majors, and he will be the right fielder. Some evaluators reiterated Friday, after the news of the Upton trade broke, that they see him as subpar defensively. And this trio will inhabit one of the most pitcher-friendly venues in the majors, Petco Park, with its canyon alleys nightly invaded by a marine layer from San Diego's harbor. 

The sport has trended toward run prevention in recent seasons, and the Padres' outfield alignment will run completely counter to that, and against the history of successful teams sprinkling their lineup with at least a couple of high-end defensive players. Oakland pitchers griped privately last season about Norris's catching skills, and evaluators opined Friday that among the Padres' infielders, only first baseman Yonder Alonso can be considered above-average.

Kemp alone, or Upton alone, or Myers alone would represent an offensive upgrade for a team that challenged records for futility last year. But the Padres invested heavily and grabbed all three, plus All-Star catcher Derek Norris -- a splurge that must feel good for the San Diego ownership which watched the 2014 Padres lineup stack up zeroes day after day. 

But Myers is viewed by a lot of scouts as a below-average right fielder, and now he needs to play center field. Kemp has generated some of the worst defensive metrics in the majors, and he will be the right fielder. Some evaluators reiterated Friday, after the news of the Upton trade broke, that they see him as subpar defensively. And this trio will inhabit one of the most pitcher-friendly venues in the majors, Petco Park, with its canyon alleys nightly invaded by a marine layer from San Diego's harbor. 

The sport has trended toward run prevention in recent seasons, and the Padres' outfield alignment will run completely counter to that, and against the history of successful teams sprinkling their lineup with at least a couple of high-end defensive players. Oakland pitchers griped privately last season about Norris's catching skills, and evaluators opined Friday that among the Padres' infielders, only first baseman Yonder Alonso can be considered above-average.

Middlebrooks isn't known for his glove either, so if he gets the majority of starts at third base, the Padres staff ERA and the ERAs of some of their better pitchers, Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross and Ian Kennedy, could suffer in 2015.

Derek Norris

The Padres traded starting pitcher Jesse Hahn and potential future closer R.J. Alvarez to the Athletics for Norris, pitching prospect Seth Streich and an international signing slot.

Niorris' fantasy value stays relatively the same for me as he moves from one pitchers park to another, but he could see a few more at bats in San Diego than he did last year. I wouldn't move him up or down my catcher rankings as a result of this trade.

Will Middlebrooks

The Padres traded catcher Ryan Hanigan, who they received from the Rays in the Wil Myers three team deal, to the Red Sox for third baseman Will Middlebrooks. Middlebrooks was once a top prospect and now he has been traded for a back up catcher. Injuries and poor performance at the plate has led to his value dropping to this level, but he has a chance to improve his fantasy value with this trade to San Diego. The change of scenery to the west coast could be all he needed to show fantasy owners what he can do at the plate, but the move from Fenway to Petco could prove difficult for the young third baseman.

His fantasy value should rise in 2015, as he shouldn't be blocked by Yangervis Solarte, who is nothing more than a one to two time per week start and bat off the bench. Middlebrooks will have to improve his ever rising strike out rate, as it has risen from 24.5% in 2012 to 29.9% last season.

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