Ryan Klesko: I know he has a no-trade clause. I know he's set to make over $10 million dollars. I know he's coming off of his third consecutive sub par season, but if the team is truly serious about improving, getting rid of Klesko needs to be as big a priority as re-signing Giles or Hoffman.
Klesko is a bad fielder either in left field, first base or anywhere. To bring him back expecting him to "return to form" offensively after three straight bad years is unrealistic.
Despite some major struggles after the all star break, Padres manager Bruce Bochy insisted on inserting Klesko into the lineup on a near daily basis. Klesko responded by hitting .211 in 161 at bats, with a .651 OPS.
As with Nevin, its important that he not continue to take away at bats from players like Xavier Nady or Ben Johnson. The team is not only better without Klesko's glove in the line-up, but his bat as well. To keep him around for another year, when the team would have no intention of bringing him back, is not only pointless, but demonstrates a lack of commitment to winning.
Mark Loretta: This could be an unpopular move, but the Padres either need to trade Loretta or move Barfield. Sending Barfield back to Triple-A accomplishes nothing and how much will Loretta enjoy playing in San Diego in 2006 with the knowledge that if Barfield continues to perform he will not be re-signed for next year?
According to Barfield's manager in Portland, Craig Colbert, Barfield was one of the best defensive second baseman in the Pacific Coast league last year. So if his bat is ready, his glove is ready. It appears that either the Padres are looking to trade Loretta or, worse, are avoiding making a decision.
There were reports that Barfield was upset that he was not given an opportunity to play in the big leagues in September, which may be one of the reasons he declined to play in the Arizona Fall League this year. This situation needs to be resolved, one way or the other, or it could get worse.
Brian Lawrence/Woody Williams: Both of these guys make far too much money for the performances they turned in this year. With the emergence of Clay Hensley and Chan Ho Park's contract anchoring the team for 2006, look for the team to move one or both of them.
As always, Madfriars.com goes into this subject with much greater depth than here, but there are a few players which could help the team in 2006, starting with Cesar Carrillo, the number one pick from this years draft. Carrillo put together solid numbers at Lake Elsinore and Mobile, where he will start in 2006. If he puts together a string of good outings, he will be San Diego before mid-season. Carrillo, like Peavy and Eaton, will probably never see him in Portland.
Paul McAnulty should begin the year in Portland, and look for him to again put up solid numbers. McAnulty, who can hit for power and average, can play the corner outfield positions along with first base and could possibly be called up again in mid-season. Look for McAnulty to compete for a full time starting position in 2007.
Chris Oxspring may have a good chance to make the roster this year, but will probably start the year in Portland depending on how the Padres bullpen shapes up next year. Brad Baker will once again go into the season as the closer for the Beavers. It will be interesting to see if he can rebound from a tough season in Portland, which saw him lose his job. Catcher George Kottaras may begin the year Mobile with a promotion to Portland, and will likely stay in Triple-A for the year. Look for Kottaras to take over full time behind the plate in 2007.
This past year, the everyone's model of how to rebuild a team was the Cleveland Indians. In 2006 and into 2007 the Padres have a chance to replicate their success by playing young talent that they have developed.
The Indians either traded away or let go to free agency quite a few quality veterans, who are still performing well today, Bartolo Colon and Omar Vizquel come to mind, to make room for young talent. Going into this season the team had to make a decision between keeping Omar Vizquel or playing Johny Peralta, the Indians decided to stick with their plan and decided that Peralta had earned the job on the basis of what he's accomplished in their system.
As we've stated the Padres have many similar decisions to make this winter, the most glaring one is at second base between Loretta and Barfield.
Whatever your opinion of John Moores on how much he has or has not profited from the city building PETCO, San Diego is in the bottom third of the media markets for Major League baseball, which is the principal way baseball teams derive revenue. If the Padres are going to have a chance to compete on a regular basis year in and year out, the team must transform itself from a Major League team to a Major League organization. The difference is a Major League organization drafts, develops and most importantly plays its talent. A Major League team doesn't use its minor league system, and the makeup of the team varies from year to year and depends on which free agents it can bring in. That can work for the Yankees and Red Sox, but San Diego simply doesn't have the resources to go down that path.
So far the Padres haven't made the best decisions with its payroll. For example, of this year's $70 million dollar payroll, over $20 million was tied up in an outfielder that can't hit .250 and a pitcher that is fighting to solidify his role as the team's fifth starter. The team cannot continue to afford to make mistakes like these in the future.
In order to do this, the farm director, general manager and most importantly Bruce Bochy have to be on the same page. The team cannot afford to play underachieving veterans such as Ryan Klesko again in the hopes that "they will get hot" at the expense of talented young players like Ben Johnson and Xavier Nady. And perhaps it start in the dugout with Bochy who has an affinity towards playing veterans and sitting the youngsters.
Right now the Padres are at a crossroads, with the biggest choices involving the playing of talent that they have developed as opposed to players on the back ends of their careers. By making these changes, the average the ages of the position players and the starting pitchers at the end of last season compared to the proposed starting line-up for 2006 drops nearly seven years.
What is interesting is most of the biggest choices have nothing to do with what trade to make or which free agent to sign, but with what internal choices the organization needs to make.
The choices to us are obvious. The proposed Padres lineup is not only younger, an average age under 25, cost effective, which would leave the team flexibility at the trading deadline, but a much improved team defensively and offensively.
Changes need to be made. An 82-80 season isn't going to get it done next year.