Padres News and Notes

The San Diego Padres have until the weekend to offer arbitration to several players. Adam Eaton is the only player who will be offered arbitration should the team not come to a deal by Sunday's deadline.

The Padres are talking to left-handed starting pitcher Chuck Finley, the 200-game winner who sat out the 2003 season. Finley,who recently turned 41, has a career ERA of 3.85.

Said Padres general manager Kevin Towers: "I let his agent know that if Chuck is interested in playing next year, then we would have interest."

The Padres waived outfielder Gary Matthews Jr. rather than go down to the wire with the arbitration-eligible switch-hitter. Matthews was then claimed on waivers. The Padres acquired Matthews on waivers last May 23 from Baltimore.

The Orioles waived Matthews despite signing him for just over $1 million last winter. Matthews hit .271 with four homers and 22 RBI in 103 games (306 at-bats) with the Padres and was a valuable asset in center when Mark Kotsay's back acted up. But, the Padres didn't see Matthews as being more than a fourth outfielder in 2004 and weren't willing to spend $1 million for a s pare.

The loss of both Kotsay and Matthews leaves the Padres with a void in center even though Towers says either Brian Giles or newly acquired Terrence Long can play the position. Towers, however, did mention the names of center fielders Kenny Lofton and Mike Cameron when pressed. Towers believes Lofton might be had for as little as $1 million although Cameron would take much more.

Said Towers: "If we acquired Cameron, we'd probably have to move someone else."

Another possibility for center is Roger Cedeno. No sooner had C Ramon Hernandez and OF Terrence Long officially become Padres that rumors began circulating about Long going to the New York Mets along with right-handed pitcher Kevin Jarvis for Cedeno. Long had his best years in Oakland when present Mets manager Art Howe was the boss of the A's. And Towers is also interested in freeing up money as he turns to the two other items on his winter agenda -- starting and relief pitching.

The Oakland trade added $750,000 to the Padres' 2004 payroll. Freeing themselves of Long and Jarvis will eliminate $7.5 million ... minus the cost of Cedeno.

With Hernandez officially in the fold, Towers has turned to his bullpen. "I'd like to have my bullpen complete before I go to the winter meetings," he said.

The Padres have made an offer to veteran right-hander Rod Beck, who was 20-for-20 in save opportunities with the Padres last year while filling in for the injured Trevor Hoffman. Towers will also soon make an offer to Japan's Akinori Ohtsuka. But Towers said it will be almost impossible to sign Beck if another team offers him a closer's job.

BY THE NUMBERS: 137 -- Average games caught by Ramon Hernandez in Oakland over the past four years. 87 -- Most games started by a Padres catcher over the last three years.

The Padres need at least one starting pitcher and two or three more relievers. They'd like to sign two starting pitchers, but budget considerations could prevent that. Their No. 1 pitching target could be Greg Maddux.

Lefthander Mike Matthews, arbitration eligible, will likely not return to the Padres this season. The Friars signed Kevin Walker on Tuesday and dont figure to go back to the well for Matthews. While lefties often get breaks when they do not perform up to expectations, the Padres will look elsewhere to fill the setup role with another lefty. That does not figure to happen until January when prices have been driven down.

MadFriars Top Stories