I Can See Clearly Now…Almost. Part I

San Diego Padres prospect Khalil Greene

While it may seem that a team that could lose 100 games this year couldn't possibly be a contender for next year, I am here to tell you that the San Diego Padres could and should contend next year. I really believe this team is not far away and with a few key acquisitions, could be right in the thick of things. They have some good hitters all around and seem to be setting themselves up nicely for their entrance into the new ballbark, um, excuse me, the ball park.

Position players…

Ryan Klesko seems to be a lock at 1st and I really don't see him going anywhere. He is a 25-30 homerun and 100 RBI threat every year.

At second, we have seen what Mark Loretta can do and he is solid in all aspects of his game. His .990 fielding percentage is 3rd in the league as of right now and is our best clutch hitter. Hopefully, KT can wrap him up.

Sean Burroughs mans third and he is playing better than what most people ever thought he would. This kid sure has some resiliency. Taking a veteran's spot and being called everything but the 2nd coming and not too mention a rocky start this year and yet, here he is, playing gold glove caliber defense and flirting with hitting .300. He has a very good inside out swing to drop the ball into left and with those forearms; it shouldn't be long before he is " dropping " that ball over the fence.

Ramon Vasquez does an adequate job at shortstop. The question is, will he be playing shortstop for us next year? It seems everyone has us targeting Miguel Tejada or the Japanese phenom, Matsui. But with Kahlil Greene in Triple A already, I am of the opinion that Vasquez is still good enough and he certainly will not hurt this team and we can spend our money in other areas of need while we wait for Greene to mature in terms of baseball.

Catching is a huge question mark and I will tackle this in two ways. If we do make the trade for Giles and Kendall, then obviously, Kendall is our catcher and he is not too shabby. He also should help us with his bat, as he is a career .300 hitter. Defensively, he is not the best but he is not Mike Piazza either. I think the Padres will look to keep either Miguel Ojeda or Gary Bennett as a back up.

If the trade does not go through, then, I think the Padres should make a play for either Ivan Rodriguez or Javy Lopez, although I would not want to sign either of them at their current salaries or asking price. If Ivan Rodriguez came here, taking the vaunted San Diego Discount, I think he would flourish here in San Diego.

Moving to the outfield, once again, we tackle the Giles trade issue. If Giles does indeed get traded here, then he is planted in right field, and he will be a big part of the offense next season. Giles numbers speak for themselves and this homecoming, I am sure, would be really exciting for him. You could pencil him in the 3 or 4 spot with his bat.

Now, without him, I am not sure if the Padres will bring back X Nady and put him in right field or will they go after a big free agent, a la Vladimir Guerrero. Personally, I would love it if they could get Vlady but realistically, I think the Yankees have set themselves up to have him in right field and will probably pay him enough money to purchase the Dominican Republic.

So, beyond that, I do not foresee Phil Nevin playing right, and I think the Padres will try him again in left field and tell him to ease up on the diving in Spring Training.

This leaves out Rondell White, barring we can't make any moves and then we bring him back at a fairly discounted rate. Almost through default, it looks like Mark Kotsay will be in centerfield, although rumors have been circulating that KT is looking at Milton Bradley amongst others. Also, he seems awful reluctant to trade Jason Bay, who, like Bradley, plays centerfield too. All this makes me wonder, is Towers tiring of the tease that is Kotsay? Hmmm…

Part 2 will include an assessment of the pitching staff…

Lauren Arfman II can be reached at lauren3919@yahoo.com

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