Mailbag: Can Maddux reach 400 wins?

Mailbag: Can Maddux reach 400 victories?

I'm a longtime Greg Maddux fan and began following the Padres when he signed. I have enjoyed watching him. I know that his contract runs through 2008. Have the Padres or Maddux mentioned the possibilities of prolonging his stay? He's so efficient that I'm sure his body could handle pitching for a few more years. I know it's a long shot, but if anyone is going to reach 400 victories, my money is on Maddux.
-- Jason T., Elk Grove, Calif.

To recap, the Padres brought Maddux back for 2008 at a cool $10 million. Not bad money for a pitcher who will be 42 in April. But Maddux is certainly no ordinary 42-year-old. He won 14 games last season and could easily have won more if not for poor run support.

He'll enter the 2008 season with 347 career victories, and there's no reason to think he can't reach double-digits again this season in victories. How long can he or will he keep going? That's tough to say, but Maddux did tell management that he had the most fun of his career with the Padres last season.

Playing for the Padres is a great situation for Maddux, who makes his offseason home in Las Vegas. It's a good team playing in a very good pitchers' ballpark, and I think he was invigorated by his experience with San Diego in 2007. So 400 victories? Why not?

I get the distinct feeling the Padres are missing an outfielder. Is this all that's going to happen besides minor things? Scott Hairston's career line is not of a starter, and, just for the record, big hits and clutch hits are not measurable stats for a starting left fielder.
-- Joe S., Lakeland, Fla.

I don't think anyone is handing Hairston the left-field job based on his knack for getting several clutch hits last season, including the big home run against the Rockies in the Wild Card play-in game.

It just shows the guy can hit in the clutch. I think that Hairston has long been viewed as a reserve outfielder, which is a label that can be tough to shake. I'm curious as to what he can do in 400-500 at-bats.

The last time Hairston had over 300 at-bats in one season, he hit .323 with 26 home runs and 81 RBIs with Triple-A Tucson in 2006. I have to think he's a better hitter now than he was in 2004, when he hit .248 in 339 at-bats for Arizona.

Will Hairston get those 400-500 at-bats? We'll see. I think the Padres will find a bat to go with Hairston in left, like Jeff DaVanon or Chase Headley, if he can handle the position switch.

Why did the Padres let Geoff Blum go, anyway? He was an awesome fill-in.
-- Valerie S., El Cajon, Calif.

The Padres felt that Blum was at his best when he was playing on an regular basis, something that happened by accident the last two years because of an injury to Khalil Greene in 2006 and Marcus Giles' struggles last season. The Padres couldn't promise him that in 2008, nor did they envision him as their starting second baseman.

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I think the Padres want a different look to their bench in 2008: some speed, players who are good pinch-hitters and, maybe most importantly, good defensive infielders. Don't feel too bad for Blum. He got himself a nice deal (one year, $1.1 million with an option for 2009) with the Astros.

Was it perhaps a mistake not to pursue Mike Cameron a little harder? I realize he strikes out a lot and has the upcoming suspension, but he saved so many runs at PETCO Park and other spacious places. I think I'm going to roll my eyes a lot next season when our center fielder of the moment can't get to a ball that Mike would've grabbed with ease.
-- Kyra P., Fallbrook, Calif.

Great question, Kyra, though the decision not to bring Cameron back wasn't a result of the team not going after him harder. They wanted him back, and, I believe that to some extent, he wanted to come back. The two sides just couldn't agree on the money, plain and simple.

Like you, I feel that Cameron still has plenty of good baseball left in him even though he turns 35 on Tuesday. I think Jim Edmonds is capable of playing very good defense in center field, even though he's on the downside of his career.

Edmonds said recently that his body feels great and all of the injuries that have plagued him the last two years are behind him. We'll see.

With Kevin Kouzmanoff's numbers for the first three months -- .219 average compared to his terrific output and .318 average the last three months -- where do you think he is going to hit in this year's lineup? Does he have a chance to hit in front of Adrian Gonzalez and Edmonds?
-- John A., San Diego

I think you'll see Kouzmanoff hit No. 3 in the lineup ahead of Gonzalez. I think that he showed himself to be a capable No. 3 hitter after his early-season slump, and he certainly fared well in that spot late in the season, hitting .367 in that spot in 49 at-bats.

With the way Gonzalez hit last season, I think Kouzmanoff will get a lot of good pitches to hit in the No. 3 spot.

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.