10/07/09 5:10 PM EST
New GM will have work ahead
Right-handed bat, starting pitcher among likely needs
By Corey Brock / MLB.com
Before he was dismissed at general manager on Saturday, Kevin Towers had a wish list for the offseason and thoughts on how he wanted to improve a team that won 12 more games in 2009 than it did the previous season.
First and foremost, Towers wanted to find a right-handed bat for the lineup, preferably someone who could play center field and complement the left-handed Tony Gwynn in 2010.
Last season, the Padres were left-handed heavy at times and hit .236 as a team against left-handed pitching, with a .313 on-base percentage.
And with left-handed pitchers like Clayton Kershaw and Randy Wolf (Dodgers), Barry Zito and Jonathan Sanchez (Giants) and Jorge De La Rosa (Rockies) in the NL West, adding another right-handed bat makes sense.
Towers also wanted to add a starting pitcher, even though San Diego appears to have a stable of arms capable of winning jobs in the rotation in Spring Training. The team will head to Arizona in February with Mat Latos, Clayton Richard, Aaron Poreda, Tim Stauffer, Wade LeBlanc, Chris Young, Kevin Correia and Cesar Ramos competing for five jobs.
The Padres also figured to look to upgrade their bench, adding a player who could both back up David Eckstein at second base and Everth Cabrera at shortstop.
Among the other items on Towers' wish list were adding another left-handed reliever to the bullpen and coming to a decision on if the team needed to pursue another catcher or push ahead with Nick Hundley as the starter and have veteran Henry Blanco return to San Diego.
What we do know is that the Padres figure to have an operating payroll in the range of $40 million. San Diego CEO Jeff Moorad said last week that the payroll would likely start with a "four."
Pitchers Kevin Correia, Mike Adams, Heath Bell and third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff are arbitration eligible and due raises and, in Bell's case, likely a hefty one considering he led the National League in saves (42) in his first season as a closer.
Moorad has said he would like to have a new general manager hired in a "couple of weeks." Names thought to be of interest to the Padres, Oakland assistant GM David Forst and Pat Gillick, a special advisor for the Phillies, are not likely in the mix for the job. Forst told the Associated Press on Wednesday he had yet to be contacted by the Padres.
Two names remain linked to the Padres, Red Sox assistant GM Jed Hoyer and Yankees director of pro scouting Billy Eppler.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.