Inbox: Is Gwynn an everyday player?
Beat reporter Corey Brock answers questions from fans
Do the Padres see Tony Gwynn, Jr. as an everyday center fielder or a fourth outfielder? If they're leaning to the latter, I think it's too soon to give him that label just because the Brewers (who seem to value offense over defense) did. What do you think?
-- Diane C, Encinitas, Calif.
I think at this point Gwynn is a fourth outfielder. That could certainly chance depending on if the team makes a move this offseason, but I would have to think the Opening Day outfield would consist of Chase Headley in left field, Will Venable in center field and Kyle Blanks in right field. I think Gwynn, who in 2009 got 393 at-bats with the Padres (more at-bats than he had received in any other season at the Major League level), gives the Padres a left-handed bat off the bench and a plus defender. I would still imagine he gets a lot of at-bats, though not likely as many as 2009.
Are the Padres looking to replace David Eckstein at second base, maybe with someone who has more speed or power?
-- Matt B, Point Loma, Calif.
The Padres made a move late in the season to re-sign Eckstein to a one-year extension for 2010 worth $1 million. Eckstein gave the Padres stability at a position where they haven't had much and led the National League in fielding percentage for second basemen. Listen, Eckstein is what he is. He's not going to hit for power or steal 40 bases. But he will hit for average, is a pretty good table-setter at the top of the lineup and, for what it's worth, he was very good in the clubhouse, especially with the young players like Everth Cabrera, and helped with Cabrera's adjustment to the Major Leagues.
I think that Miguel Olivo of the Royals would be a great fit for the Padres. I think he would be a big improvement at catcher, while leaving Nick Hundley to back him up and continue to learn at the Major League level. What is the current status if Olivo, and who do you think the Padres would have to part with to make that happen?
-- Alex B, San Diego
Olivo recently filed for free agency after the Royals bought their way out of his 2010 contract for $100,000. Olivo, who played for the Padres in 2005, hit a career-high 23 home runs last season with the Royals. He'll likely command more on the free-agent market than the Padres are willing to spend, especially since catching likely isn't at the top of their offseason priority list. Still, he's an interesting name. I would think the team might look to re-sign Henry Blanco to a one-year deal. He was good as a mentor to Hundley and fared well defensively.
The Padres are blessed with a plethora of Major League third basemen and an array of young starting pitchers. Do you think they could package some of that talent, throw in Hundley, and go get Joe Mauer from the Twins?
-- Bruce C, Murrieta, Calif.
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Mauer? I don't think 2007 Jake Peavy, Hundley and Tony Gwynn -- the dad, not the son -- would be enough to convince the Twins to let go of their homegrown talent. He's that good and isn't going anywhere, not now, at least. You're on the right track when it comes to the third-base conundrum, though. What do you do with Kevin Kouzmanoff and Chase Headley? Do you leave them alone and let Headley stay in the outfield? Or do you move Kouzmanoff in a deal, maybe pick up an outfielder, starting pitcher or a catcher? The Padres weren't what you call flooded with calls of interest on Kouzmanoff at the trading deadline in July. Has that changed? Maybe we'll find out. As for the catching position, see the question above. I could see some movement there, though not likely anything major.
Do you think the Padres will pursue outfielder Mike Cameron this offseason? If I'm not mistaken, he is available and is only 36 years old. Cameron was a vital cog when he was here and I believe it was a mistake to let him walk. He is a high-character veteran that I think would mesh very well with the young guys out there in the outfield. And he would be a solid No. 5 or No. 6 hitter in the lineup.
-- David, Rancho Bernardo, Calif.
David, I think you're on the right track here. Cameron was very popular here and likely never wanted to leave in the first place -- that's a long story we won't get into. But even though he'll be 37 in January, Cameron is in great shape, takes good care of himself and, I think, still has a lot to offer and could be a middle-of-the-order hitter on this team. He had 59 extra-base hits last season, his highest on-base percentage (.342) since 2006, and even took 75 walks. He's always going to strike out, but he would be a nice option on a one-year deal with a club option for a second year. Will this happen? I'm not sure. We'll have to see what management wants to do in regards to free agency, what they want to spend, what they're looking for, etc.
Will the Padres try to get more starting pitchers? The rotation already looks full.
-- Joe K, Seoul, South Korea
You're right in the sense that there are a lot of candidates for the rotation. But I think, as a whole, the Padres will try to procure another starting pitcher during the offseason. I do like the candidates they have thus far, especially a healthy Chris Young, Kevin Correia, Mat Latos and Clayton Richard. There are a lot of other candidates for the rotation, but I think adding another arm -- likely through trade moreso than the high cost of free agency -- makes sense.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.