The other day, reader Steve C posed the following question:
Do you think the team is set with the roster as is or would you like for them to add another few pieces?
I responded that I’d like to see a big-league center fielder and/or a veteran backup for Nick Hundley behind the plate. I’ve since perused the list of available free agents at MLBTradeRumors, and it ain’t pretty. There are a few intriguing names, but they all fall into the “Padres can’t/won’t pay for their services” category (insert small market/competitive balance rant here if that’s your thing).
Names I’ve heard the Padres might be interested in include catchers Brad Ausmus, Bengie Molina, and Yorvit Torrealba; outfielders Reed Johnson, Randy Winn, and Jerry Hairston Jr.; and left-hander Noah Lowry.
Pretty overwhelming, huh?
I’d be okay with whichever of the catchers comes cheapest. That probably won’t be Molina, who despite his inability to tell a strike from a hole in the ground has managed to pound between 15 and 20 homers each of the past five years. Some team will think that’s sexy and overpay for him, which is where having no budget comes in handy (“sorry, we can’t afford that shiny thing”). Molina isn’t a bad ballplayer, but my suspicion is that he still considers himself a starting catcher, and I’m against anything that reduces Hundley’s chances of reaching 400 plate appearances this year.
Ausmus lives in San Diego and has played here before, so he’s a perennial threat to return. Torrealba has the killer name; plus he’ll destroy the Phillies when the Padres meet them in the NLDS. I don’t know; I’ve already thought about this too much. Sign someone (Mike Redmond? Ramon Castro?) who doesn’t cost a lot and who keeps Hundley out on the field most of the time.
As for the outfielders, Winn was good in 2005, Johnson in 2006, Hairston in 2008. They’re all on the wrong side of 30, and if the objective is to have someone spell Tony Gwynn Jr. against southpaws, I don’t see how Winn (.158/.184/.200 in 125 PA vs LHP in ’09; he was better in ’08, but at age 36, skills may be eroding) is an option. I doubt I’ll say this in any other context, but I would rather have Gwynn out there.
Lowry? Sure, why not. Actually, I can think of a few reasons (hasn’t thrown a pitch since August 2007, precipitous decline in SO/BB before injuries), but let’s not bog ourselves down with details. It’d be like signing Mark Prior, only without the upside.
Well, those are some options. I’d better stop with the names now; all this excitement is not good for my heart.