1) Mark Loretta - .314, 13 homers, 72 RBI, 185 hits, 74 runs, 28 doubles, .346 w/ RISP
• The 32-year-old Loretta was signed in December 2002 as a stopgap at second base. No one told Loretta this. Playing like an All-Star all season, Loretta is now going to be at least a three-year stopgap for the Padres. Despite slumping late, the native Southern Californian broke Roberto Alomar's team record for hits. Loretta ended up 9th in the league in batting and will be a centerpiece of the 2004 Padres. Funny how things can change in about 10 months.
2) Jake Peavy – 12-11, 4.11 ERA, 194 2/3 innings, 173 hits, 82 walks, 156 strikeouts
• The 22-year-old was arguably the most consistent Padres' starter in 2003. Despite his tender age, Peavy showed a real knack for making the big pitch when needed. He also did not miss a start and demonstrated a toughness rarely seen from someone his age. To make that next step and become a front-of-the-rotation starter, the Alabama native needs to cut down on his walks and his home runs allowed. Peavy allowed 33 long balls in 2003.
3) Kevin Towers – acquisition of Brian Giles
• Some say that the Twins trade for Shannon Stewart in July was the biggest trade of 2003 and perhaps it was…in the short term. But I believe that when all is said and done and people look back on the moves of 2003, the Padres' acquisition of outfielder Brian Giles will loom as the most important transaction. Giles gave the Padres rebuilding hopes instant credibility and that's going to be extremely important as the team woos free agents this offseason. The addition of the superstar Giles to Sean Burroughs, Mark Loretta, a healthy Phil Nevin, Ryan Klesko and Mark Kotsay makes the Padres' lineup one of the best in the National League.
1) Mark Kotsay – .266, 7 homers, 38 RBI, 28 doubles, 82 strikeouts, .219 w/ RISP
• The 27-year-old Kotsay was looking to build upon his career year in 2002. It didn't happen. A serious back injury forced Kotsay to miss 16 games in late May and even after he returned, Kotsay was never the same although he did play much better down the stretch. If he's healthy in 2004, I expect Kotsay to pick up where he left of in 2002. He may get plenty of RBI opportunities hitting behind Giles, Nevin and Klesko in the #6 hole. It's also possible Kotsay may move to right field with Giles taking over in center.
2) Ryan Klesko – .252, 21 homers, 67 RBI, 65 walks, 83 strikeouts, 121 games played
• Just like Kotsay, the 32-year-old Klesko struggled all season with injuries before being shut down in early September and undergoing shoulder surgery. Klesko will be fully healthy soon and, as long as he accepts his move to left field with an open mind, should have a great bounce-back year in 2004.
3) Oliver Perez– 19 Padres starts, 4-7, 5.38 ERA, 103 2/3 innings, 65 walks
• Perez was my biggest disappointment in 2003. The extremely talented 22-year-old lefty looked like he was a future star in 2002 as he compiled a 3.50 ERA in 16 appearances. I believe every Padres' fan and staffer believed the native Mexican would take another step forward in 2003. Instead, he regressed and was promptly shipped back to the minors after a horrendous April. When he returned, he was better but still didn't appear to fully comprehend what it means to be a pitcher and not a thrower. With the chance to acquire a superstar like Brian Giles, the Padres grudgingly dealt Perez to Pittsburgh in late August. It will be interesting to see if Perez can come close to his vast potential.
Dave Holtzman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Check out Dave's website to find more information on the Friars. The news is always fresh and insightful at:
The Friar Thermometer (season recap)
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