Kingston on San Diego Padres of 2006

We caught up with Jeff Kingston, the Padres' Director of Baseball Operations, to get insight into the status of Nick Trzesniak as a six-year free agent, Josh Barfield in the shadow of Mark Loretta and not being called up, Loretta changing positions, Ben Johnson starting in the San Diego outfield in 2006, and Sean Burroughs being the starter at third base when spring training opens as opposed to Joe Randa.

John Conniff: Catching is the biggest strength within the organization, is there a chance Nick Trzesniak of Portland could challenging for a big league job next year? He hit .380 for Portland since he was called up

Jeff Kingston: First Trzes is a minor league free agent, and we would really like to keep him in the organization. Nick will probably start at AAA in 2006, then he could be brought up later in the year. He's first and foremost a defensive guy, but he's starting to develop into more of an all around player.

John Conniff: Josh Barfield had a big year this year, but there are reports that he will start the year in the minor leagues again next year. Do they Padres really think he needs another year at Portland and why wasn‘t he called up for September?

Jeff Kingston: It has less to do with how he produced, than what the needs of the team are. We had quite a few guys on the roster who play second base Loretta, DJ and Young, so he just wasn't going to get that many at bats. We wanted him to get some rest and have him pegged to go to the Fall League to continue his development.

We have Loretta signed for next year, so Josh will probably start next year in Portland. Again its more about what the needs of the organization are, as opposed to whether he is or isn't ready.

John Conniff: If Loretta has a good year next year, and Barfield has another great year in AAA, then what happens?

Jeff Kingston: We would consider moving Loretta to another position, the only place that would be viable is third base. We would also consider moving Josh, maybe to left field, but all of that is hypothetical. The players will dictate what happens by their performances, we really like both of them.

John Conniff: There have been reports that the Padres have Ben Johnson penciled in as a starter in the outfield for next year.

Jeff Kingston: We called up Ben because Ryan Klesko has been struggling against left-handed pitching. Going into next year we have a lot of uncertainty in the outfield next year, and we're probably going to move Klesko to first base.

John Conniff: Where does Sean Burroughs fit in for next year? He seems like he tried to readjust the type of player that he was in Portland, hit for more gap power?

Jeff Kingston: He's going to be the most difficult decision of the off-season. He‘s arbitration eligible, so in order for us to pay him the money he could get, he's going to have to play regularly. He got his swing back in AAA. Sean needed to make some adjustments and doing that in the middle of a pennant race wasn't working for him or the team, which is why he got sent down.

He got to the point this year in San Diego where he was either getting jammed, or hitting flares to left. In Portland he was driving the ball, working the count and swinging at good pitches.

John Conniff: Do you think he can get back to his old self and provide similar production to Joe Randa?

Jeff Kingston: Randa has a little more power in PETCO park, with Sean a little bit better defender and on-base guy. We think Sean is a guy that is capable of driving the ball into the gaps, a place like PETCO could really help him. I don‘t know if he‘s going to play winter ball. Last year he was recovering from his knee injury, so he couldn‘t get in all the work he needed to in the off-season. He‘s still only 24 and has time to get much better, while a guy like Randa, 36, is on the back end of his career.


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