San Diego Padres
Games above the Rockies in 2005: 16
Hot Stove News: With the breaking news of the last two days, you have to at least give the Friars credit for trying. After trading Brian Lawrence for Vinny Castilla already this offseason, a deal is in the works with the Mets which would send Xavier Nady to New York for Mike Cameron.
The article also mentions that the Padres have signed infielder Geoff Blum to a one year deal, probably as a fill for losing Nady. Now it just might be me, but none of these deals seem that certain to help matters in Petco. While Cameron is a definite upgrade in center over Dave Roberts and Vinny may or may not be better than Sean Burroughs at third, the fact remains that if San Diego loses Brian Giles and Ramon Hernandez, their offense is still in a world of hurt. Joe Torre himself has called Giles to recruit him for pinstripes, while Hernandez appears to be number two or three on the list of prime catching targets as most of the early focus has been on Japan's Kenji Jojima. Once Jojima signs with Seattle or the Mets, look for Hernandez to go to the other team. What's the Padres idea of a replacement? At this point it appears to be Miguel Olivo with prospect George Kottaras taking some time later in the year.
Starting pitching - a definite theme in the NL West- also is an imperative to be improved for San Diego as the Padres in 2005 had Jake Peavy and... well, I'll think of somebody else... give me a second... Lawrence pitched a lot of innings, and uhm, didn't they have Pedro Astacio toward the end? Yeah, you get the picture. Anyway, the rumor is that Mick Jagger is campaigning actively to have the Padres bring back David Wells. Why would the Rolling Stones be getting involved? Your guess is as good as mine, but I would trust Mick on this one, even a forty- plus Wells would beat the Pods current other four.
Then there's the Padres' other big name free agent, Trevor Hoffman. The Padres have tendered a two year, ten million dollar contract, but other teams might step beyond that. The Braves, for instance, could be one. The bad news for Rockies fans is that unlike the losses of Giles and Hernandez, which would be somewhat debilitating for SD, losing Hoffman won't affect the Padres stellar pen (scroll down past the Cincinnati catcher article) as much as we could hope.
Rockies chances of passing in 2006: Surprisingly decent at the moment. I don't think it can be understated how big of an impact losing Giles' bat will have on this team. Losing both Hernandez and Giles compounds the problem. It's not so much that the Rockies chances of moving from worst to first are that great, but at this point I think we have to see that the very weak divisional triumph in 2005 lends credence that the Padres can move the other direction, from first to worst, rapidly.