Nady, others meant for more

Xavier Nady has a lot going on these days. He is priming himself for the 2005 season and that includes a hefty offseason. <br><br>Then there is Steve Finley -- not a Padre but he could be lining himself up for a place at Petco.

Xavier Nady is playing some defense in the Arizona Instructional League -- at third base. He played the position in college but was shifted away after arm problems and surgery. Nady might be starting in right next year if the Padres are able to trade Klesko or Nevin. But if that fails, the Padres would like to turn him into a "super utility" player.

"The most positions he can play the better," said GM Kevin Towers, who added, "I see 'X' being a regular in some capacity with us."

Nady (.247, 3 HR, 9 RBI) spent much of the season at Class AAA Portland after hitting .267 with nine homers and 39 RBI in 110 games for the Padres as a rookie in 2003.

Jake Peavy (15-6, 2.27 ERA) won the National League ERA title at the age of 23, the youngest pitcher to win the award since 20-year-old Dwight Gooden of the Mets in 1984. He was 7-3 at home and 8-3 on the road. One of the most competitive players in the Padres' clubhouse despite his young age. He reduced the number of homers allowed from 33 in 2003 to 13 in 2004. Padres won his first nine starts coming out of the All-Star break. Padres will try to reward him with long-term contract this winter.

Brian Lawrence (15-14, 5.12) was among the first NL pitchers to 10 wins and was 10-5 on the road this season with a 3.86 ERA. Sinkerballer led the Padres with 203 innings pitched. Ten road wins was second in the league to Florida's Carl Pavano. Rebounded from a horrible spring. Signed through 2006.

Adam Eaton (11-14, 4.61) is something of a mystery. At times, has the best stuff of any Padres starter. But he blows hot and cold ... 0-5 with an 8.16 ERA in May, 3-1 with a 1.67 ERA in June ... 3-8 with a 4.99 ERA at home in pitcher-friendly Petco Park, 8-6 with a 4.21 ERA on the road. Still hurt by the long ball (28 homers allowed) and big innings.

David Wells (12-8, 3.73) was everything the Padres could have asked for -- on and off the field -- with the exception of the home accident in May that resulted in two cut hands and three missed starts. Although he will be 41 next Opening Day, the Padres want to sign him for at least one more season. Was 9-2 on the road with a 3.31 ERA. Padres believed he was an excellent influence on their three younger starters.

Tim Stauffer (6-3, 3.54 in 14 starts with Class AAA Portland) will have the No. 5 job next year if he performs in the spring. Moved up from Class AA to Class AAA in 2004. Great curve and spots fastball well.

Trevor Hoffman (3-3, 2.30, 41 saves) came back strong after his 2003 season was all but wiped out by two rounds of shoulder surgery. Fastball no longer burns, but the difference in speed between the 89-mph fastball and his fierce change still makes him one of the best. Blew only four saves (all when David Wells was in line for a win) all season and now ranks third on the all-time list of saves leaders.

Akinori Otsuka (7-3, 1.75) came over from Japan to become one of the league's top setup men thanks to his slider. Struck out 87 in 77 1/3 innings working immediately ahead of Hoffman. Signed through 2006. Very popular player in clubhouse.

Scott Linebrink (7-3, 2.14) was a power pitcher who developed into a top setup reliever after the Padres signed him off waivers from Houston early in the 2003 season. With no left-handers in the bullpen, Linebrink got that difficult assignment -- and lefties hit only .178 against him. Like Otsuka, appeared in 73 games.

Antonio Osuna (2-1, 2.45) had a 0.53 ERA after Sept. 1. Eligible for free agency. Padres would like to retain him, although he was twice on the disabled list (May 12-31 with groin strain, June 11-Sept. 1 with elbow tendinitis). Had 0.53 ERA in 13 appearances in September.

Blaine Neal (1-1, 4.07) was acquired from Florida on April 3 in a trade for RHP Ben Howard. Called up from Class AAA Portland in June. Tailed off at the end of the season; rival batters hit .417 against him in September.

Ramon Hernandez (.276, 18 HR, 63 RBI) had strong numbers despite missing 30 games because of a knee strain. But his key was the respect he earned from Padres pitchers. His homer totals were the highest by a Padres catcher since 1987, and his RBI were the most by a Padres catcher since Benito Santiago had 87 in 1991.

Miguel Ojeda (.256, 8 HR, 26 RBI) hit a homer once every team-best 19 at-bats. Good fastball hitter.

Humberto Quintero (.250, 2 HR, 10 RBI) was the Padres' regular starting catcher when Hernandez was injured. Good defensive skills and an excellent throwing arm. Quintero, 25, might interest some teams in offseason trade talks.

Phil Nevin (.289, 26 HR, 105 RBI) is better in the field than most realize. Led the Padres in homers and RBI. Didn't help his cause that he engaged in season-long nit-picking about the dimensions of Petco Park, angering both ownership and management. Temper can get the best of him. Still, he delivers the numbers. Could be offseason trade bait as no-trade clause expires on all but 10 teams. Padres have tried to trade him twice before. Should be in Colorado. Daylight batting average was .390, and career spread between day and night average is 67 points.

Mark Loretta (.335, 16 HR, 76 RBI, 108 runs) represents one of the greatest free-agent signings in Kevin Towers' decade-long run as the Padres' general manager. Signed through 2006. Became first Padre other than Tony Gwynn to have 200 hits in a season. Set career highs for his (207), average, homers, RBI. Led league with 16 sacrifice flies. Hit .368 on the road and .295 at home. Has highest combined on-base and slugging percentages (.886) among all NL second basemen.

Khalil Greene (.273, 15 HR, 63 RBI) got better with the bat as his rookie season progressed, until it ended suddenly Sept. 13 thanks to a broken index finger. Glove work and arm makes him special. Became a regular on the late night highlight shows. Set Padres records for a shortstop in homers and extra-base hits (50). Could become a superstar.

The double-play combination of the Padres' Rookie of the Year candidate, Greene, and Loretta almost matched the starting outfield for offensive production in addition to making the Padres as strong as they've been up the middle over the last two decades.

Sean Burroughs (.298, 2 HR, 47 RBI) had season-ending surgery to repair torn cartilage in his right knee on Sept. 16. He is expected to be 100 percent by spring training. But the 24-year-old's future with the Padres is not as bright as it once was. Slugging percentage (.365) was the lowest in the league among third basemen. Didn't walk as a leadoff man, only showed signs of driving the ball in the No. 6 spot. Padres need more production here.

Ramon Vazquez (.235, 1 HR, 13 RBI) has found transition to utility man difficult, but he hit .364 in September when he was forced to play regularly in the absence of Greene and Burroughs. Made only one error in 100 chances while playing all four infield positions.

Rich Aurilia (.254, 2 HR, 16 RBI) becomes a free agent at the end of the World Series and has told the Padres he wants to sign with a team that still views him as a regular. Padres likely do not.

Ryan Klesko (.291, 9 HR, 66 RBI, .399 on-base) showed little of his old power in 2004 after coming off shoulder surgery that ended his 2003 season early. Still battled to get on base. Numbers would also probably improve if he were back at his favored first base position, but Phil Nevin has that spot blocked. Did finish strong in September. Signed through 2006.

Jay Payton (.260, 8 HR, 55 RBI) didn't hit a homer at Petco Park and actually lost his job in July thanks to a post-All-Star Game plunge. Had a strong September to raise his final average 21 points. Going into the 2004 season, the concern was whether Payton could cover the spacious pasture at Petco Park. He did that but didn't come close to offensive expectations. Said personal problems affected his offense for much of the season.

Brian Giles (.284, 23 HR, 94 RBI, 97 runs scored) had a good year, but not the year the Padres expected when they traded promising LHP Oliver Perez and 2004 Rookie of the Year candidate OF Jason Bay to the Pirates to acquire his services. Made up for some of his dip in numbers with a hustling attitude that served him well with the fans and in the clubhouse. Signed for 2005.

Terrence Long (.295, 3 HR, 28 RBI) found himself in a sticky situation all season. Not quick (or sure-handed) enough to start in center at Petco Park and swings from the same side as Ryan Klesko, so he couldn't be used in a platoon in left. He did develop into the Padres' best (by far) pinch-hitter, with a .356 average. But is owed $4.7 million next year, a sum the Padres would love to move via a trade.

Jay Witasick was given $250,000 as the buyout on his 2005 option, and fellow right-handed relievers Ricky Stone and Steve Watkins were outrighted to Class AAA Portland. "We made great strides in the bullpen last winter and are looking to make gains there again," said GM Kevin Towers. Witasick, whom the Padres signed in December 2002 with the idea he would become the main setup man in front of closer Hoffman, was easily the biggest name in the reductions. The start of his 2003 season was delayed by 2 1/2 months after he strained his flexor tendon during spring training by toss a heavy bag of trash into a dumpster. And with the emergence of Linebrink and Otsuka as the setup relievers this season, Witasick became a middle and long reliever. He finished with a 3.21 earned run average in 44 games this season although his ERA in outings against the Dodgers and Giants was 7.71 over 11 2/3 innings.

Rumor Mill:

CF Steve Finley has said he would be willing to listen to the Diamondbacks if they choose to pursue him as a free agent, but the Dodgers aren't likely to let him get away that easily. Finley, who spent six seasons with the Diamondbacks, is also expected to be courted by another of his former teams, the San Diego Padres.

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