Dog Hunting

The hounds of free agency have been released by Major League Baseball and are now running through the streets looking for new homes. Top dogs like Roger Clemens, David Wells and Greg Maddux have all been set free and are actively looking for new hydrants to mark. For us Padre Faithful, any of the above would be a welcome addition even if applesauce feedings are required in between the collection of their Social Security checks.

Pitching should be priority number one for the Padres and along with the fans; management seems to be aware of this. Signing Trevor "The Last Man Who Gets Pumped Up by Hells Bells" Hoffman through 2004 and continuing talks with Rod Beck proves that Kevin Towers is looking to give opposing bats only 7 innings to score. Beck is only 14 saves away from the prized 300 mark and deserves a chance to earn it. It's possible this could happen as a Friar but there is a better chance as an Astro, where "The Shooter" states he wouldn't mind ending up.

So, if Beck jumps to Houston who will we see in the relief spot?

LA's Paul Quantrill finished off last year with a 1.75 ERA and already knows how to pitch in the NL West. Former Padre Tim Worrell might also be worth checking out. He ended 2003 with a 2.87 ERA and 38 saves. Either one of these guys could leave the bases empty when Trevor Time strikes.

Greg Maddux is in search of a mound nearer to his Las Vegas home and if chosen, could be a Padre when he collects his 300th win. But like tons of other free agents he will soon be getting his city bus pass at the senior rate.

If the Padre owners decide to go old, then they might as well get nasty and sign a 2-3 year deal with San Diegan David Wells. Petco needs to see some attitude on its turf and Wells is the guy to bring it. Besides a 200 win record he can show the young bucs on the pitching staff a thing or two about batter intimidation. Heck, he can even show the puberty challenged Peavy how to grow some facial hair.

Next there is the catcher issue. San Diego born - Pirate owned Jason Kendall has made many comments regarding a return to his birthplace. He isn't a free agent but wants to move and Pittsburgh wants to see him go. Kendall's old man wore the Padre colors for 10 years and was even the team catcher during the inaugural season. Maybe destiny will veto all of Kevin Tower's powers and force Jason Kendall to catch when Petco is introduced to the world. Jason did bat .325 last season and has made 3 all-star appearances. One big problem with the Pirate revolves around purchasing the rest of his 60 million dollar contract.

Free to roam catcher and ex-Padre Brad Ausmus has also spoke about a SD reunion. Word in the bar is that Padre management wants to do some talking and we could see Ausmus squatting behind home plate come new uniform day. I think either catcher would fit nicely in the line-up. Financially speaking, Ausmus is the better buy.

With all the money hungry, free agent coyotes out there the Padre staff should be kept busy this off-season. It's hard to believe that America's past time has turned into a multi-million dollar cash crop and its farmers have forgotten that the best part about baseball is, well … playing it. Hopefully our teams managing crew can find a group of ball players and not a pack of greedy canines looking to make Petco the world's nicest dog house.

Kevin H. Blakeley can be praised and ridiculed at

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