Rumblings will continue to filter through as we close in on the offseason, an exciting one in San Diego with the opening of Petco Park next year. ">
Rumblings will continue to filter through as we close in on the offseason, an exciting one in San Diego with the opening of Petco Park next year. ">

Padre Rumblings

The offseason looms near and the speculation in San Diego has the Padres going after Greg Maddux this offseason. Phil Nevin, after San Diego tattooed Maddux last month, said, "We're trying to get Maddux's numbers up so we don't have to pay him as much."<br><br> Rumblings will continue to filter through as we close in on the offseason, an exciting one in San Diego with the opening of Petco Park next year.

One position that is now locked up is shortstop. Khalil Greene is here to stay. The cup of coffee he has this season will bridge the gap into a successful 2004 campaign. In a small sampling this year he is hitting under .200 for the big club. Rookie mistakes aside, he is brimming with talent and will just get better. Much like Jose Reyes in New York, who started off very slowly, Greene, should pick up the pace as he familiarizes himself with the MLB game. He will be given every chance to succeed hitting in the eight hole with little pressure. He won't get the good pitches this year, but as he moves up in the lineup, things will become easier for this talented youngster.

Greg Maddux coming to San Diego sounds simple enough. The problem occurs when you factor in Maddux's agent, Scott Boras. Boras is known to hold out for more money than most are willing to pay and that could put San Diego Padres GM Kevin Towers in a precarious position.

It is known the Padres crave a frontline starter that can mentor the young staff currently in place. Maddux turns 38 in April and is averaging just 83 pitches per start. What is the budget in San Diego and at what point does Towers look elsewhere? Maddux is clearly not the pitcher he was, much like Tom Glavine in New York.

The money would be better served going to a true number one such as Javier Vasquez or Kevin Millwood. Sure it will take more cash to get these No. 1 pitchers, but in a new ballpark, with fans coming in droves, it would enhance the product on the field for many years to come.

The trade market will also be busy, and it appears with the glut of talented Padres outfielders, they will have options to acquire a quality starter. Xavier Nady could be on the way out with Ryan Klesko, Mark Kotsay and Brian Giles already dotting the outfield. He has enough clout, with major league experience, to be the centerpiece of any deal.

Speaking of Giles, he has made it obvious; he would like his former Pittsburgh buddy and teammate Jason Kendall to come home to San Diego.

"I hope it happens; from what I hear, they're still talking about it," Giles told ESPN Radio. "It's just working out the money, and, hopefully, he'll be here."

The Pirates have balked at paying $21 million of the $42 million remaining on Kendall's contract. There are still many stumbling blocks before a deal can happen. The less money the Pirates cover, the weaker the prospect the Padres will have to give up to get him. It is all about biding their time and figuring out what Kendall is worth at the money he is getting.

Brad Ausmus has told friends he would love to return to San Diego if the Astros don't bring him back. Ausmus is not a hitter. The former Padre has never hit more than seven homers in a season and he would need a career year to duplicate that feat. He is, however, a solid presence behind the plate and would be a nice addition to this team

Other possibilities remain. The Twins may be willing to let AJ Pierzynski go as they have Baseball America's Minor League Player of the Year, Joe Mauer waiting in the wings. Pierzynski is hitting over .300, has a career .298 average and has modest power. He would be an ideal young catcher and is really just hitting his prime.

Mike Piazza appears back in New York and Vance Wilson may be available. He is 30 and has never been a true full time starter until this year but has a nice bat with eight homers on 89 games this year. Jason Phillips is playing first, and is a converted catcher that can give Piazza a break behind the plate.

Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez is an intriguing prospect for San Diego. He has a huge bat and is excellent at stopping runners from stealing bases. He can mentor the young staff in San Diego and his defense would be an asset in keeping big innings to a minimum.

Javy Lopez would be one of those players to stay away from, a classic contract year guy who is on the downside of his career. Atlanta will stay away from him for a reason, and the Padres should do the same.

Towers must balance between the need for defense and a catcher that can manage a game with his young staff and a hitter who can change the game in a variety of circumstances. He is currently leaning towards choosing offense and it is why Kendall talks are expected to resume.

Anyway you look at it, the Padres offseason is expected to be among the most exciting ever. A new ballpark in San Diego, new faces to provide optimism and a good nucleus returning.

Denis Savage can be reached at

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