Loretta, Nady, Barfield and first base

We caught up with Jeff Kingston, the Padres Director of Baseball Operations, for the long delayed Part II of our off-season chat. We get insight into the Mark Loretta and Xavier Nady trades, the Josh Barfield situation, and the logjam at first base at the major league level and in Portland.

John Conniff: Was the main reason behind the trade of Mark Loretta to clear room for Josh Barfield?

Jeff Kingston: No, I wouldn't say that is totally accurate. One, we needed to solidify the catching situation, and felt Doug Mirabelli could do that for us. We think Mirabelli was underrated and we weren't going to be able get a catcher in the free agent market this year. (That has since changed when the Padres found out Mike Piazza would sign for $2 million)

Mark Loretta had slowed down a little this past year and we thought he was a valuable trade chip. We saved some money on the deal, especially after we spent a little more than we thought we were going to spend on Hoffman and Giles. There were other factors as well, such as the development of Josh Barfield.

John Conniff: Recent reports state that Mark Bellhorn, not Barfield, has the leading edge to start the season as the Padres second baseman.

Jeff Kingston: Its still an open competition, and Barfield is certainly in the mix, but if Bellhorn shows that he is the guy from 2004, not 2005, he will probably be the guy. The opinion in the organization is divided, there are some who think Barfield could use a little more time in the minors.

John Conniff: Why did the Padres give up on Nady? The team spent a lot of money to sign him, he was pretty successful in the minors. Is it tough to spend that type of money and not get a return?

Jeff Kingston: It was tough to move Nady, especially for someone like Kevin Towers. To go through that process was tough and frustrating. To invest all that money and time and not really get that six-year window where you control the player is tough.

However, Nady hadn't progressed with some adjustments at the major league level and there was some question if he would be able to produce enough to play the corner positions.

We are in a division that is wide open, and last year outfield defense was our biggest weakness. We had a chance to acquire Cameron, a talent that wasn't out there in the free agent market for the price, so we took it.

John Conniff: The Padres have a lot of first basemen after Ryan Klesko, with Adrian Gonzalez, Jack Cust, Walter Young and holdovers Paul McAnulty, Tagg Bozied and Jon Knott, how do you plan to sort that out?

Jeff Kingston: Right now I really can't answer that. We've had some great reports on Walter Young and Adrian Gonzalez, and they along with McAnulty, Bozied and Knott are all going to get a chance to compete in spring training. For the backup behind Klesko, how they play defense as well as their offense is going to be a big determinant to who stays on the big club. It's really whoever steps up.

Bozied is going to have to prove that he is all the way back from his injury, and Knott is going to have to rebound from a down season. We may have to move a few guys at the end of spring training.

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