Trying to Make Sense of the Carlos Quentin Deal

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 09: Carlos Quentin #20 of the Chicago White Sox hits a home run in the second inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 9, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

On New Year's Eve, the San Diego Padres traded two pitching prospects to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for Carlos Quentin.

This is just the latest in a number of moves by new GM Josh Byrnes to shake up the roster and improve upon the Padres' 71-91 record last year.

On the one hand, the move makes sense in that the Padres are essentially a powerless team. Last year, the Padres ranked dead last in team slugging. Even with Adrian Gonzalez in their lineup in 2010, the team still came in 2nd to last in terms of slugging.

Quentin is a no-doubt power guy, sporting the 12th highest Isolated Power (ISO) score in all of baseball since 2008. So at first glance this deal seemingly fills a big hole for the Pads.

However, the elephant in the room is Petco Park.

Soon after taking the helm as GM, Byrnes went on Clubhouse Confidential and was asked about how he would select hitters given the issues with Petco.

We know things like exit speed off the bat. So a ball hit at 108 mph off the bat, what are the rewards around major league baseball for that quality of contact and how is it affected at Petco.

Petco is in the lower quarter of parks in terms of allowing home runs, and is generally a wasteland when it comes to left handed hitters pulling the ball. According to StatCorner, Petco is 5% harder than other parks on right handed hitters when it comes to home runs, but 41% harder on left handed hitters.

So this plays into Brynes' favor in terms of bringing in Quentin, who hits from the right side. However, Quentin benefited from U.S. Cellular's beneficial split for right handed batters (+38% HR for right handed batters).

What about exit speed?

Since 2008, Quentin has averaged an exit speed of 103.9 mph on his home runs according to ESPN's Home Run Tracker. Last year, Quentin averaged 105.1 mph. And while Quentin was not the at the very top of the leader board for exit speed, he's generally known as one of the stronger hitters in the league. Given this--and whatever else Brynes' analytics team has found regarding Hit f/x type data and Petco--I wonder if the Padres GM saw a power guy that was relatively cheap and obtainable in the short term who would help bolster the team's power. At worst, it provides them with a relatively inexpensive experiment to test their theories.

That being said, this isn't a no-brainer. Quentin doesn't really walk (his OBP is boosted more from HBP's than BB's), is a poor fielder moving to a spacious outfield, and is always a risk to land on the DL. Additionally, he's a free agent next year. A good season at Petco will certainly increase the price tag if they want to keep him long term (unless they manage to sign him to an extension now).

On the flip side, a down year at Petco might decrease his trade value next year as some GM's might not want to take on the risk that a deflation in his power numbers was simply a function of his new home ballpark.

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