Padres make three moves at deadline
Ensberg, Mackowiak, Ledezma offer team plenty of options
SAN DIEGO -- It wasn't like Padres general manager Kevin Towers sat down 10 days ago, skimmed over the team's 25-man roster and suddenly came to the conclusion that wholesale changes were in order.
It probably only appears that way.
"Going in," Towers said. "I was pretty pleased with the guys we had in this clubhouse."
But obviously not contented, which is why over a span of seven dizzying days, Towers signed off on five trades that brought eight players to the organization, several of whom figure to impact the Major League roster over the next two months.
"I felt we needed it," Towers said Tuesday, the day the Padres beat the non-waiver trade deadline with three separate deals. "The areas we wanted to hit, I think we hit.
"What we liked about these deals is we didn't have to take away from the core of our club here. We added a couple of experienced bench players, as well as two, what we think, are very good left-handed arms."
The Padres were certainly busy Tuesday, adding four players, including former All-Star third baseman Morgan Ensberg, in separate deals with the Astros, White Sox and Braves.
San Diego picked up infielder/outfielder Rob Mackowiak from the White Sox and a pair of left-handed pitchers from the Braves, Wilfredo Ledezma and Will Startup.
These trades, of course, come on the heels of the blockbuster trade that Towers made last week, when he shipped reliever Scott Linebrink to Milwaukee, in addition to the trade that landed outfielder Scott Hairston from the Diamondbacks.
Get all that?
"It's just been a crazy, crazy trade week," Padres pitcher Jake Peavy said. "We are going to have all kinds of moves here after the game tonight to make spots for all these guys. In a playoff run, you trust management. It's not our decision, and I'm glad it's not."
The Padres -- who entered play Tuesday a half-game behind Los Angeles and Arizona in the National League West -- were hands-down the most active team among their divisional brethren.
While Towers wasn't singularly focused on one specific area of need, he did want to give manager Bud Black more late-inning options off the bench to work with in the final two months of the season.
"That's always been an area of strength -- our bench -- but as the season went along we felt the bench wasn't as strong as it could be," Towers said. "We wanted to have a few more weapons for Buddy to go to in the seventh, eighth inning. We think our bench is much stronger than it was yesterday."
And best of all, Towers said, the Padres didn't have to part with much to land those four players.
Reliever Royce Ring, who has split time this season between Triple-A Portland, was sent to the Braves for Ledezma and Startup. The White Sox received a Minor League pitcher (Jon Link), while the Astros receive cash considerations and player to be named later for Ensberg.
Ensberg, Mackowiak and Ledezma figure to be in uniform Wednesday when the Padres play the second of three games at PETCO Park against the Diamondbacks.
Landing the 32-year-old Ensberg, who makes his offseason home in San Diego, was the most surprising move on Tuesday, though he's a player Towers tried to get as far back as last season after Vinny Castilla didn't work out at third base.
It was Sunday when Ensberg -- who was hitting .232 with eight home runs this season -- was designated for assignment by the Astros after they acquired Ty Wigginton from the Devil Rays to play third base.
"[He has] tremendous power, can play third base, wouldn't be surprised if he played first base as well," Towers said. "He's a professional hitter. ... He is not going to take Kevin Kouzmanoff's place at third base. We see him as a role player for us."
Which suited Ensberg just fine, considering he was two days into professional limbo. But now, he has a chance to essentially play in his back yard for the Padres.
"I'm just so excited and really am kind of blown away by the whole situation," Ensberg said via cell phone. "[General manager] Tim [Purpura] gave me a call and said I was traded, and my heart dropped. Shoot, I could have gone anywhere.
"He said San Diego. I said, 'You're kidding me.' He said, 'No.'"
In 2005, Ensberg finished fourth in the National League MVP voting after hitting .283 with 36 home runs and 101 RBIs. He also made his first All-Star Game appearance that season.
"I really don't know what happened in Houston. I don't know what the situation was or why he was spending time on the bench," Towers said. "I hated to see him come to the plate. He's always done a lot of damage against our ballclub. We certainly think he will add to this ballclub and make it better."
The Padres are equally excited about landing the 31-year-old Mackowiak, who can play first base, second base, third base and the outfield.
The left-handed-hitting Mackowiak, 31, was hitting .278 with the White Sox with six home runs and 36 RBIs in 237 at-bats this season.
"A very, very, very good hitter. He knows his role coming off the bench. He's someone who will give you a professional at-bat late in the ballgame. He's been on contending clubs, as well, and can play just about everywhere but shortstop," Towers said.
Mackowiak spoke with Towers and Black briefly on Tuesday and was essentially told to be ready for anything.
"He [Black] didn't really say. He said, 'Bring all your gloves and be ready,'" Mackowiak said. "That's been my job every year, to be ready for every position, so I'll take the assumption that being in the National League that that's kind of what you'll be used for. I'm probably more valuable in the National League than I am here because of all the double switches and pitchers hitting."
As for the 26-year-old Ledezma, who is a combined 3-3 with a 5.40 ERA with Detroit and Atlanta, the Padres get a hard-throwing left-hander with a good curveball who can throw in long relief and might be a rotation candidate in 2008.
Toss in the June additions of catcher Michael Barrett and outfielder Milton Bradley -- two players who have already had positive impacts on the offense -- and San Diego was more active leading up to the trading deadline than any other team in the Major Leagues.
Of course, Towers understands that all of the moves he's made will ring hollow if San Diego isn't able to get back to the postseason for the third consecutive season.
"To me, it's about winning games and winning the division. Hopefully these guys will help us accomplish that," Towers said.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.