Padres get Their Man, Finally

The long anticipated deal that sends Mark Kotsay from the San Diego Padres to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for Ramon Hernandez and Terrence Long has finally transpired. The deal had been held up on a number of fronts, ranging from MRI results to a physical exam of Kotsay.

The Padres' doctors consulted by phone with the A's medical staff about the condition of Hernandez and Long rather than flying in both for physicals.

The deal has taken well over a week to consummate. Wind of the deal was first announced by Peter Gammons of ESPN last Tuesday.
,br> Ramon Hernandez gives the Friars a catcher that possesses the ability to call a game with confidence and is known as a calming influence to young pitchers. He has worked with Oakland's aces for four years and the results have been phenomenal. He will instantly command respect for his work and with the young pitchers in San Diego that is yet another plus. Not to mention the pop he has in his bat.

Hernandez batted .273 last year, with 21 homers and 78 RBI's. He was a better batter with men on as opposed to no one gracing the base paths. That is a big positive in a lineup that did not produce well with runners in scoring position. He is expected to jump into the number six or seven slot in the lineup. If he bats seventh, it could help Khalil Greene, who will bat behind him, see better pitches.

Hernandez will make about $2.9 million next season in the third year of a four-year, $9.5 million contract.

Terrence Long, a talented, but enigmatic, outfielder accompanies Hernandez. Long batted .245 with 14 homers and 61 RBI's. After two seasons where he batted over .280, Long has slumped the past two seasons in Oakland and fell out of favor with management. The Padres are hoping Long hits as well as he did in Oakland last season. He hit .277 at home, but just .218 on the road.

Ironically, when Long batted seventh in the lineup he hit over .300. Expect Long to bat seventh when he is in the lineup. Long will fight for at bats with Xavier Nady and both will play corner outfield positions. Long plays his best defense in left, but his arm is below average. He has some speed to make plays, but his decisiveness in reacting will sometimes come into question. Long would also play center when Brian Giles needs a rest.

Long is due to make $3.7 million in 2004.

Long is also considered a candidate to be moved in a trade. There has been talk of reuniting Long with Art Howe, the manager of the New York Mets. The Padres would have to take on Roger Cedeno to make the deal happen.

One of the main reasons the deal was made from the Padres point of view was the void at catcher. Talking with Padres staff, they felt it is easier to get a high quality outfielder should the need arise, now or in the future, than it is to fill the catcher's position.

With the deal done, the Padres can now move forward with their offseason plans.

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