What a Day!!!!

Just when you thought things were at there worst a fresh breathe of air was breathed into the San Diego Padres lungs this afternoon. After months of speculation the Padres and Pirates finally consummated a deal that sends San Diego native Brian Giles to the Padres for left-handed pitcher Oliver Perez, Jason Bay and a PTBNL (likely to be Corey Stewart).

Giles is the consummate professional hitter with a great glove and a decent arm. He could very well be the missing piece of the puzzle, and when combined with a healthy and hopefully productive, core of Mark Kotsay, Ryan Klesko, and Phil Nevin, represents a very potent offensive line up for the 2004 season.

Good Things from the Deal
- Getting Giles provides the power bat the Padres wanted to acquire this off-season to augment their arrival at PETCO Park. Doing it now and with Giles they avoid the bidding war for the likes of Guerrero, Tejada, and Matsui, and save some money in the process.
- It marries together a very potent and efficient 3-4-5 core of the batting order. Phil Nevin, protected on either side by Klesko and Giles, could have a monster year in 2004.
- The trade sends a sign to perspective FA's that the Padres are committed to winning and should make the signing a front line starting pitcher a little bit easier.
- The Padres were able to acquire Giles without having to pay the harsh salary requirements of adding Jason Kendall in the deal.

Bad Things from the Deal
- Losing a 95+ MPH left handed starter is never an easy thing for a club, but with KT needing to get the Padres turned around, he couldn't really gamble on the three year plan with Ollie.
- If the PTBNL is Corey Stewart it cuts the left handed talent pool in the organization down to virtually nothing. No real left handed starting pitching within 2 years of the majors, all of the left handed relief pitching is a question mark due to injury. Walker, Nunez and Ramsey are trying to work their way back to San Diego and Rusty Tucker was just lost to Tommy John surgery for 14-18 months.
-If Xavier Nady is not the PTBNL, then it leaves the Padres with a difficult situation of trying to move Xavier this off season to help acquire more pitching. He is scheduled to make about 1.5 million in 2005 and with no place to play that is pretty expensive for a bench player.
- Without including Kendall in the deal, the Padres still have Kevin Jarvis under contract for 4.5 million in 2004, and still have no catcher for the 2004 season. We will have to wait and see if the Padres will sign a catcher of Kendall's skill level for less net money then they would have had to spend on Kendall (minus the 20 million offered from Pitt) and with Jarvis' salary.

With this deal the Padres did move a little closer to identifying the major core players for the 2004 season, with only the a catcher, 2 starting pitchers (one front and one back of the rotation guy said Towers) plus the bullpen help to make the Padres competitive in 2004 and beyond. While there is a risk in any trade, this one will most likely not be able to be judged until about 5 years down the road, when we determine what sort of pitcher Oliver Perez turns out to be. However, the Padres will have a good understanding of the value of Brian Giles right away; if his bat and defense leads the Padres to winning record in 2004 and the play-offs in 2005, Oliver might have to be the Next Steve Carlton to make the team look back with longing.

In a related move the padres also sent Rondell White to Kansas City today for two minor league pitchers. Brian Sanches a right-hander from AA Wichita, and left-handed starter Chris Tierney from single A Wilmington. Add to this list the right handed Matt Bruback who the Padres acquired as a waiver wire free agent and the team has three arms at varying levels of the minors who could develop and help the big club some day. Bruback looks the closest; he pitched 5 shut out innings for Portland last night in his first outing since being acquired.

So What Now?
Well I fully expect the Padres to make a run for one of the top tier starting pitchers this off season via free agency. Javier Vasquez, Andy Pettitte and Kevin Millwood immediately come to mind. Kevin Towers mentioned in his radio interview after the draft that the team also will try to bring in a bottom third of the rotation guy as well maybe an old friend like Brett Tomko. Any move along those lines will be determined by what the team does with Kevin Jarvis. They will continue to try and trade him this off-season (maybe even eating put of his 4.5 million 2004 salary), or possibly move him to the bull pen to help there if not.

I think the Padres will be forced to look at trading away Xavier Nady this off season as well. With the Giles trade and the almost un-moveable nature of Nevin, Kelsko and Kotsay, he could be nothing more then a bench and role player here. With his expected salary of 1.5 million in 2004, that could be too much for the Padres. A potential deal that could help the Padres would be to deal Nady to Minnesota for catcher A.J. Pierzinski. The Twins could use Nady back at his college position of third base and A.J. is almost expendable as they have Joe Mauer almost ready to try his hand in the big leagues behind the plate.

After that the team needs a little luck with the health of Kevin Walker and Jose Nunez for the bullpen. They are the only left handed options the team has. If they can't answer the bell, the Padres will need to shop the free agent wires again for lefty bullpen help, like Buddy Groom from Baltimore. Of course Kevin Towers has been pretty good about finding his diamonds in the rough for the bullpen, so maybe he can work his own magic there. Regardless, it should be an exciting off-season and an exciting rest of 2003 as we get to see Giles and Khalil Greene finishing out the season for our Padres.

Greg Olmen can be reached at dgolmen@cox.net

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