Hello, it's been awhile since we've delved into the Padres Inbox. Feel free to hit me up with some questions and we'll get to them in January. Quite an Inbox this week, friends. One question from France, one from Florida and -- are you ready for this? -- a query from Wichita. Yes, we're spanning the globe. Anyway, happy holidays to everyone.

What do the Padres have in mind for pitcher Aaron Poreda? Do you see him making a contribution to the big league club in 2010 and, if so, in what role?
-- Keith L., Wichita, Kan.

I think Poreda, who was the key piece in the Jake Peavy trade with the White Sox, would like to be considered for a spot in the starting rotation. Granted, there are openings in the rotation but it's going to depend on how he performs in Spring Training and that he can show more command than he did with Triple-A Portland and in his limited innings with the Padres. I think the guy has an upside, and he's left-handed, but he's going to have to earn a spot. If not, he'll be in the bullpen or will begin the season in Triple-A.

The Padres just acquired Dusty Ryan at catcher [from Detroit], a position where they want to add depth and a veteran presence. So what are your thoughts about free agents Yorvit Torrealba, Rod Barajas, Miguel Olivo or David Ross of the Braves? Will they command too many money or is it possible to have one of them?
-- Gras V., Carpentras, France

I don't know if the Padres so much want to or need to add a "veteran presence." It would be nice, but it's not something they can count on -- inventory or financially -- like they did last season with Henry Blanco. That said, Ryan looks like a nice pickup. He's got some good tools -- raw power, plus arm, according to Baseball America -- and could serve as a backup to Nick Hundley and maybe even could be someone who eventually catches more than once or twice a week. This doesn't mean the Padres are done looking for help at the position, but it's highly unlikely they spend much on a veteran like the ones you mentioned. I think that money will go to find their most pressing need, a right-handed-hitting outfielder.

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I can't imagine the Padres wanting to trade Kevin Kouzmanoff when his contract is affordable and he is the best [hitter] we have at this point to back up Adrian Gonzalez. All the talk about wanting to trade Kouz, I don't buy it and I don't see it as an upgrade if we trade such a guy with stability, power and contact with the bat, not to mention his stellar defense at third. Kouz is a guy you build around.
-- Harley G., San Diego

Harley, because you're a loyal reader, I'm going to answer your question even though you really didn't ask one. I think the talks involving Kouzmanoff have certainly cooled since the Winter Meetings ended earlier this month. That doesn't mean the Padres will not move him, but I get the feeling they're less inclined to at this point unless they're blown away by an offer. Or, if they can't sign a free agent for the rotation or the outfield, they might decide the only way to fill such a need is through a trade. But I get the feeling that Kouzmanoff will, at the very least, be in the Opening Day lineup.

Baseball America recently projected James Darnell to be the Padres' second baseman in 2013. Are you aware of any internal discussion to move him from third base or is the new administration gun-shy after seeing how Matt Antonelli reacted so poorly after his identical move?
-- Nick A., Poway, Calif.

Hey Nick, good question. As it stands, there are no plans to move Darnell, who was the Padres' Minor League position player of the year, from third base, even though there's a glut of guys in the organization (Kouzmanoff, Chase Headley and Logan Forsythe). There was talk after Darnell was drafted about moving him to catcher to provide some depth at a position where the Padres have no depth, but that was tabled after internal discussion. I think that would have been an interesting move. Apparently, he had some background at that position. Anyway, there's a chance Darnell could be moved to second base down the road, though there's no current discussion about as much.

I recently watched a special on MLB Network about the '84 Padres. I was watching the way that Dick Williams was managing the team. I was wondering when the Padres are going to get a tough manager like Williams? I like Bud Black but I think maybe they need like a Lou Piniella or something similar.
-- Luis A., San Diego

Well, Luis, it's not 1984. It's 2009, nearly 2010, and Williams' style, I feel, won't work with today's player. Williams was part of an old-school managerial style, one that had merit (certainly more when a team won) and worked depending on the makeup of a team. But players are different now than they were in 1984. They're inquisitive and they want to understand the process they're a part of instead of just following orders. I think there are more "individuals" in the game than there were in 1984. Black, if you're asking me, is the right fit for this team for several reasons. He's authoritative but can get his point across without yelling. He commands the clubhouse. The veterans respect him; the younger players know they can approach him. Remember, you can get a point across without throwing a base.