Christmas presents are questionable

It's Christmas and the Padre's have certainly been quite busy shopping this holiday season. Since no one else seems to be pointing out the obvious, I don't think the Padre fans are getting many good presents under the tree during the Padre's shopping spree.

They are making a lot of risky moves, trying to save money, trying to make moves that have the outward appearance that things are getting better but reality is only a few months away. Face it, they are trying to rebuild but even though the wrapping paper looks nice, the presents aren't very impressive overall. Remember, cubic zirconia looks like a diamond but...

The Padres are continuing to get older, slower and overall a much worse team for 2006. I differ in opinion from other sources about the trades and what the results are of the trades and signings. There is some good news though, too, but first let's look at the trades and what has and hasn't happened in the last few weeks:

Sean Burroughs, 25 was a .282 hitter last year and was traded for a pitcher, Dewon Brazelton (same age but with 1-8 record and a 7.60 ERA), went missing for a few weeks once for being demoted, showing that he needs some maturing. I know whom I'd rather have on my roster and it's not a pitcher who only had one win. Now, who knows if the Padres will even get Brazelton at all? Strange move but maybe the Padres just wanted Burroughs out of town and wanted to make it look like they got something in return.

Mark Loretta, 34, is a .301 lifetime hitter for Doug Mirabelli, 35, who is a .241 lifetime hitter and didn't hit as many home runs as Loretta did last year. This does open the door for Barfield but he's unproven. Why did Boston want Loretta as a backup until their up and coming second baseman is ready? Because Loretta is a quality player and will probably start while the up-and-comer learns.

The Padres, on the other hand, are willing to risk that Barfield can handle the job. Um, seems as if that was the theory with Burroughs at third base and now he's gone too. Live and learn but the Padres continue to bet that "a change in scenery" will improve a player. Now the Padres get Mark Bellhorn (a .236 hitter, 31 years old; what difference does a 75 point batting average make?) and he's the "insurance" against Barfield not doing well. That's probably a good move to have a backup but I would have preferred to keep Loretta and bring Barfield up. They didn't do that at the end of last season so that wasn't going to happen. Another risky, money saving move.

Getting Kenny Baugh for Ricky Steik looks like a good trade. A bit old (26 years) for a Triple-A pitcher but he has a good ERA and it will interesting to see if he actually makes the club. Steik had a bad record (especially as a reliever at 0-8) but a very good ERA and walk to strikeout ratio. I suspect this trade was based on Steik's future potential as opposed to Baugh's potential and immediate usefulness.

The good news! Trevor Hoffman and Brian Giles stay with the Padres. While they also contribute to the aging process they are proven winners. I had predicted Hoffman would be back but didn't think Giles would. I'm pleasantly surprised and elated. The Padres made a good move here.

Trading Adam Eaton, an obvious money saving move, gets the Padres some more potential players and some uncertainty. What the Pads did here was trade off a net one loss (records of each pitcher) for money. Age isn't a factor. Fair enough deal if the Padres use the money for something else. The other players actually help in the age department, which I like. Having brought in Doug Brocail and Brian Sikorski, Akinori Otsuka was expendable. Again, Sikorski is another shot in the dark but he's got the tools. Can he do here what he did in Japan? Certainly Otsuka made the move, so I'm hopeful that the Padres scouts have made a good move here.

What they are doing at the catching position is curious. Miguel Olivio wanted more money and of course he didn't deserve a guaranteed contract but his numbers are better than what we have back there now.

The Padres are signing a lot of players but I feel like it's more a crapshoot at this point. They are throwing money out there in small amounts hoping something will stick. We'll see but I think I'll stick to my own presents since the Padres are still shopping.

Have a safe and Happy Holiday season and keep the faith. It's all I've got since I'm displaced up here.

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