Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Iguchi To Padres; Fukudome To Somewhere Else.

Tonight's annual meeting of the San Diego Padres season ticket holders brought good news and bad. Groans from the crowd greeted General Manager Kevin Towers' announcement that "let's just say Mr. Fukudome will not be playing on the West Coast." Towers announced the good news a few minutes later when he said that the Padres "reached an agreement with Tadahito Iguchi tonight."

We'll return to the bad news later. As for the good news, Towers did not state details of the Iguchi deal except to say it is for one year. He sees the one-year deal as providing a bridge to give prospect Matt Antonelli another year in the minor leagues before coming to the big leagues as the Padres second baseman.

The signing of second baseman Iguchi rounds out a very solid infield for the Padres with Kevin Kouzmanoff at third, Khalil Greene at short, and Adrian Gonzalez at first. Each of these players possesses superior offensive and defensive skills that will go a long way to helping the Padres maintain their competitive edge in the very difficult Western Division.

The rest of the team looks pretty solid as well with a strong pitching rotation of Jake Peavy, Chris Young, Greg Maddux, and Randy Wolf, who was on hand tonight and said would be ready for spring training. The bullpen has always been a Towers strength and next year should be no different with most of the staff returning.

Behind the plate Josh Bard and Michael Barrett, assuming no trades, will return for another season. Bard has performed consistently for the Padres, and although Barrett struggled in San Diego, his career stats are good.

Outfield remains a problem and it's a big one. Kosuke Fukudome's decision not to play for the Padres only makes matters worse. The Padres were hoping to sign him to fill their huge gap in center field where Mike Cameron has played. With a gift for understatement, Towers said "I gotta get to work tonight."

Apparently Cameron is still a possibility for next year. Towers said he had just had a very good conversation with Cameron's representative tonight. There is a lot of upside to Cameron as he is a premier center fielder who plays great defense and provides significant offense. The problem with Cameron, of course, is that he will miss all of spring training and the first month of the season while he serves a suspension for testing positive under Major League Baseball's drug testing program. Even if Cameron returns the team will need another player to stick in center field. Towers said that the Psdres had put some trades on the back burner while waiting for Fukudome to make a decision and those will move back to the front burner.

Towers did not say who is on the trading block and who the team is pursuing. He did say that he does not want to trade away hot prospects to fill the center field position. He specifically mentioned Chase Headley and Matt Antonelli as prospects he would not trade.

As for the corner outfield positions, Towers said Brian Giles will be back and Scott Hairston should see "a lot more playing time in left field." Towers also talked about the possibility of playing Headley in left to platoon with Hairston. He also floated the possibility of trying out second base super prospect Antonelli in center field. We should hope that something comes the Padres' way in a trade instead.

-tdr

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