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
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
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
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.
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