"Wait til next year"… for the last time?

Well, the season finished up and for the first time in a long time, we can say the old cliché, " Wait til next year! " and actually mean it. It should be interesting to see whom we get for next year. We have all heard the rumors about who could come here and who isn't and what's likely and what's not bloody likely…

On the not likely list includes Vladimir Guerrero, Miguel Tejada, and Bartolo Colon amongst others. These were all names that we heard throughout the season that were possibilities. Vladimir Guerrero, as good as he is, probably will not settle for the San Diego discount and probably will be looking for astronomical figures for next season. A lot of people seem to think he will end up with the Yankees but others say that he doesn't like New York and may not end up there. I'm guessing that money can change just about anyone. Especially that kind of money. With the recent addition of Giles to our outfield, I don't think the Padres are looking for anyone in the outfield.

Miguel Tejada seems to be interested in playing for the Anaheim Angels, as he was spotted in Anaheim last week at a popular restraunt talking with Angels owner Arturo Moreno. It could have just been dinner but it seems he likes Arturo and will most likely end up there or with the Mets.

"I'll listen to everyone who wants me, but it would be great for me to play for (New York Mets Manager) Art Howe," Tejada told the San Francisco Chronicle. "He's the one who gave me the opportunity and pushed me every day to make me a great player."

I think the Padres are willing to let Greene play at short next year, and if he falters, then fall back on Ramon Vasquez.

Bartolo Colon was recently offered a multi year contract with the White Sox and has told Chicago reporters that there was, "A very good chance" he would return.

Here's what is likely…

Greg Maddux has been the biggest and most often heard rumor since Ben and Jen broke up…or got together…or broke up…. Anyhow, it has been no secret that he would not mind playing here. He has a home being built in Dana Point and I think he would love to play close to home. I wonder if he will take the vaunted San Diego discount. I think he would make an excellent addition to the team. While he has not had his best pitching season, he has still been very effective this season. 23 of his 35 starts were quality starts. His WHIP was a very effective 1.19, which was good enough for 8th in the league. Also he most likely will win another Gold Glove for his position. I think where Maddux may help the most will be his knowledge and preparation and leadership for the Padres. We have some young arms on our team that will be good pitchers. Not just throwers but pitchers.

Brad Ausmus looks to be headed here. It has been overheard that he will either play with the Padres or the Astros or retire. The Astros have a young up and comer at the catching position and will most likely not ask Brad back, leaving the Padres.

Kevin Towers is known to be enamored with Ausmus and his ability to handle pitchers. Astro pitchers have also sung Brad's praise. I am not sure if Brad is an upgrade over Gary Bennett as both had effectively the same batting average this season and both handle pitchers very well. Bennett's release, of course, does not bode well for his future here.

I would rather see the Padres go after another hitter of the Ivan Rodriguez or Javy Lopez mold. I really would like to see Ivan Rodriguez here as he has proven that he can work with young starters as he did in Florida. It would be nice to add his bat to the lineup. I would hate to see two spots in the lineup that would be real question marks.

Jason Kendall could come here instead. Don't you just get the feeling that there was more to that Giles deal than was let on? Sort of like there was a wink while shaking hands on the original deal? I wouldn't be surprised if KT had something up his sleeve when he pulled this trade off. Kendall has said before that he would love to play in San Diego. Kendall has always been solid with the bat but his problem has been his inability to throw runners out. This is where they may try to go after Ausmus at a discounted rate for defensive purposes.

Here is a nice spot to remind you: Wiki Gonzalez is under contract for the Padres next year to the tune of $1.3 million.

It would be nice to get…

Javier Vasquez is young and very talented. He is actually entering what should be his prime. He is a power pitcher and I think would fit in nicely with this group of pitchers. A one–two combination of Vasquez and Maddux would be very nice. Throw in our other 3 (most likely Peavy, Lawrence, and Eaton) and you got yourself a formidable rotation. I would put that rotation against any in the NL West. The only problem is that Vasquez would have to come here via trade because currently he is only up for arbitration and I don't see anyway that the Expos pay him nearly what he will be eligible for.

Ben Weber is an interesting name to keep an eye out on. He is currently under contract for the Anaheim Angels but is up for arbitration. The Angels in the past have let some of their middle inning relief guys (Shigetoshi Hasegawa, Mark Petkovsek, and Al Levine) go when they have gotten a bit pricey for their role. Weber could be that guy. His numbers this year…80.1 IP 5 wins 1 loss and a nice ERA of 2.69. This on a down year for the Angels. The guy is also someone who has the rare ability as a righty to get lefties out, as he has held them to a nice .244 average over the last 3 years. Hopefully, KT has his eyes and ears o this situation, as one area that clearly needs attention is the bullpen.

If the Padres were to land some of these guys, 2004 should be a very intriguing and very exciting season. As it is now, the off season already is exciting.

Lauren Arfman II can be reached at lauren3919@yahoo.com

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