All is quiet on New Years Day

Scanning any source of news for talk of the San Diego Padres is an exercise in futility. There are no talks with free agents or big trades about to be consummated. The team that they have is pretty much locked in as the team they will field in 2005.

The hope is several players will bounce back from substandard performances in the coming year as the Padres chase down a pennant.

The Padres tried the tactic of taking on bad contracts last year to get rid of other bad contracts and the ploy didn't work. They will instead stay the course over the next two years with guys like Ryan Klesko and Phil Nevin in hopes that Klesko returns to the form that made him such enviable signing and Nevin stays healthy.

Those two contracts have the Padres handcuffed as both contain no-trade clauses of some form or fashion. General Manager Kevin Towers sees them as the cornerstone of the offense but if the right move came along he would move them both.

"Nobody's untradeable," Towers said. "But I have a hard time replacing (Nevin's) bat."

It is tough to argue with his logic. Nevin may have whined about the field and got into it with Towers but he was the only member of the team to drive in a hundred runs He was also fourth on the team with a .386 on base percentage (OBP).

Klesko, for all his power woes, led the team with a .399 OBP and his 32 doubles ranked third with the squad.

Neither is easily replaceable and Klesko should be fully healed and regain some of the power that saw him hit twenty or more homers in eight of the last nine seasons.

With some lineup shuffling and the addition of a leadoff hitter with speed in Dave Roberts, the Padres should be able to maximize the potential of the lineup.

Their bench is deeper with Xavier Nady being the fourth outfielder – meaning their will not be a significant dropoff in production when he is on the field.

The bullpen looks solid as Scott Linebrink, Akinori Otsuka and Trevor Hoffman return as the anchors.

The rotation, however, may have suffered a blow by letting David Wells go to Boston. Woody Williams was a nice pickup but he is not the big game pitcher that Wells happened to be. Williams may only have one thing on Wells, he is a better batter.

Jake Peavy slides into the number one role and the ERA champ is deserving. He could be the best pitcher to ever wear a San Diego uniform. How will he handle his new role is the ultimate question.

Brian Lawrence remains an enigma. His velocity is down but he finds a way to win. He allowed hitters to swat .287 against him but somehow wound up on the winning side of the ledger, albeit barely at 15-14.

Adam Eaton has the power arm to dazzle and the stuff to electrify, but he has not put it all together. He gave up 60 more runs than Peavy in 33 more innings. The long ball tormented him and when he misses it is up in the zone. If he puts it together, Eaton could challenge as a 20-game winner.

Petco Park's pitcher-friendliness compares only slightly favorable to Kauffman Stadium. Darrell May is in the mold of Lawrence, relying on location and experience to make his mark. A lefthander, May has given up 97 homers over the last three years. Asking that number to come down "may" be a little bold. As the number five in the rotation, May holds the key. The Padres woes down the stretch directly related to the team not having a go-to guy every fifth day.

Although the fans are eager for another move, if for nothing more than something to talk about, the Padres seem content to remain with the status quo as they head into 2005. A season where the team will probably be the same on June 5 as it was on January 1.

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