Padres Thankful, Seek another Helping

The San Diego Padres got the first piece of the jigsaw on Wednesday. Ramon Hernandez and Terrence Long joined the Friars in exchange for Mark Kotsay. Grabbing a top notch receiver behind the plate is just the start. Next is relief pitching and could it be the Padres are seeking yet another batter?

The first talk is potentially moving Terrence Long and Kevin Jarvis to the New York Mets for Roger Cedeno. It has been substantiated, but the odds of it happening do not appear good. As much as Art Howe likes Long, the Mets would actually be forced to take on salary. True, Cedeno gets more boos than ghosts at Halloween, but the trade does not make much sense for them. The Padres are willing to do the deal simply to free up cash and make another big splash elsewhere. They would gain a roster spot to go after a true centerfielder, but Cedeno would actually make the outfield defense worse than it is in San Diego.

Speaking of centerfield, the rumors are swirling and Mike Cameron's name has been found on the menu. He would be an ideal candidate to play center, but the team may have to clear an outfielder from the roster to make that happen.

The Padres have made serious requests to Mike Nicotera, the agent for Cameron. Oddly enough, the Oakland Athletics are said to be very interested as well, but that could wane with their acquisition of Kotsay.

Cameron has won two gold gloves playing center for Seattle and would give the Padres defense a huge lift. Don't discount this; the Friars are serious about upgrading the defense.

Padres' players are privately pining for Kenny Lofton to be signed. They think he would compliment the outfield nicely and give them a legit leadoff hitter.

"Lofton would look great between Giles and Kles," said one Padres player.

Phil Nevin agreed with the assessment when he was interviewed by the Mighty 1090 on Wednesday.

If that isn't enough, Jacque Jones is on the radar. He may never have left it to be more precise. Jones worked out with Tony Gwynn in San Diego last season and the Twins are looking to trim some payroll so they can re-sign their own free agents. It would take a trade to get Jones and the teams have been trading ideas for two weeks. With the deal for Hernandez official, talks are once again on the front burner.

"I don't think Jacque will be back next year," said a scout in the Twins organization. "There has been talk with several teams, the Padres being one of them."

Jones would move back to center in San Diego from his left field position in Minnesota. While his defense is not on par with Cameron, he is a native of San Diego and solid in the outfield. He also is a career .291 hitter. Jones, and his $4.35 million, is expected to be traded before the winter meetings and the Padres will be at the forefront of any discussions.

Back to the pitching, Greg Maddux has become the focus of discussion again for Kevin Towers. He has made it known that the Maddux avenue will be explored in its entirety. That will not happen until the winter meetings.

We mentioned Brett Tomko was offered a deal which he has balked at, now the Padres appear set on bringing Chuck Finley back. Friends of his have been urging him to go to San Diego to revitalize and be the fifth starter with no pressure on an upcoming team. A deal is reportedly in the works.

The offseason began slowly for San Diego, much like the rest of the league, and the team took a hit when a quoted payroll of $55 million came out, but the prospects are exciting for a big offseason in paradise. For that alone, Padres fans should be thankful.

Denis Savage can be reached at safage@cox.net

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