Kevin Towers: Thank you everyone for joining this chat. I will try to get through as many questions as I can in the time allotted. Let's get started.
Q: Who was your favorite player growing up as a kid? Who do you enjoy watching now?
Towers: My favorite player growing up was "Tom Terrific" Seaver. He had great pitching mechanics, drop-and-drive delivery, command of the strike zone and overpowered good hitters. As for today, I like watching Albert Pujols. He's a great hitter, has power to all fields, has the ability to drive the ball to the opposite field. He's the type of guy that will give himself up and do the little things to help the ballclub win.
Q: What is the situation with Shawn Estes?
Towers: Shawn is about 16 months post-operation. With Mark Prior still being on the mend come April, Estes is in the mix for that fifth spot in the rotation. He pitched a little last season in Portland. We feel that after the winter he should be strong now that most of his rehab is behind him.
Q: Where would Jim Edmonds be batting in the lineup?
Towers: I usually leave the lineup to Bud Black and the coaching staff. In the discussions we've had this winter when we acquired him, Edmonds will more than likely be a five or six-hole hitter. Edmonds or Khalil Greene will most likely occupy those slots, depending on matchups.
Q: Why are some teams regular trade partners and others never trade? A matter of personalities or division?
Towers: A lot of times, your good trade partners are guys you've established good relationships with over the years. You know how they deal and what type of player they are looking for. Because of strong relationships, it makes it easier to deal with some teams over others. In recent years it's been more difficult with new, young GMs entering the mix. I've done a lot of deals with guys like Billy Beane, Brian Cashman, Theo Epstein who I've developed strong relationships with over the years.
Q: What is going to happen with the outfield situation? Are you looking to bring in another outfielder like Kenny Lofton to take the pressure off of Chase Headley having to perform?
Towers: The one position that we still may be looking at would be a corner outfielder. This would most likely come via a trade, rather than a free agent signing. As of right now, Jeff DaVanon, Scott Hairston, Paul McAnulty, and Headley are all of our in-house candidates at the present time. That's not to say that we might still add a corner outfielder before Spring Training starts, more than likely via trade.
Q: Is Josh Bard the guy behind the plate this year? Is Mike Piazza a possibility?
Towers: Our catching situation will be more of a platoon with Bard and Michael Barrett. Who plays will more than likely depend on the pitching matchup for that particular day. We feel that we have two front-line catchers, which gives us two great options each and every day.
Q: Mr. Towers, thanks so much for holding this chat. Do you see an imbalance between the AL and NL in terms of talent? If so, what will it take to make the two leagues more even (money, expansion/contraction, or is it simply the natural flow of the game right now)?
Towers: The imbalance in the American League seems to come from two teams, Boston and the Yankees. In the National League, there seems to be more balance especially in the NL West, which top to bottom, seems to be one of the strongest divisions in all of baseball.
Q: Kevin, what can realistically be done about the Padres' inability to keep runners from stealing second base, almost at will?
Towers: We certainly need to work with Bard with his mechanics behind the plate. I also believe our pitchers need to work on holding runners, by varying their timing before releasing the ball to home plate. We have two pitchers in Chris Young and Greg Maddux who tend to be slow with their delivery to home plate, which often makes it difficult for our catchers.
Q: How long did it take to forget (or at least put behind you) the playoff game between the Padres and Rockies last season?
Towers: You just turn the page. Just like Trevor Hoffman and other good closers, you have to have that mentality and look ahead.
Q: Kevin, what do you think of Prior's health situation? He might be a real steal if he can pitch like he once could.
Towers: Mark has spent nearly three years in rehab and he has told me he feels as good as he's felt since 2003. We feel that having Mark active on our 25-man roster come June is the equivalent of bringing in an ace starter at the trade deadline, without having to give up prospects.
Q: Are you interested in Josh Fogg or Livan Hernandez?
Towers: We are currently satisfied with the starting pitching depth that we have in-house with guys like Randy Wolf, Prior, Estes, Glendon Rusch, Clay Hensley and Justin Germano.
Q: What teams in the National League do you think will be top contenders?
Towers: Colorado, the Cubs, the Phillies, Milwaukee and of course San Diego are teams that I believe will be the top contenders in the National League this season.
Q: Kevin, thanks for your work all these years. On a personal note, do you follow football at all? Are you a Chargers fan?
Towers: I probably follow college football more than professional football, but I am a big Chargers fan and I predict a victory come Sunday in the Patriot Nation.
Q: With the PETCO Park factor, it seems like we don't really have a hard time signing great (or potentially great) free agent pitchers, but do you think that PETCO is a factor in hitters choosing not to come here?
Towers: I don't think positional players shy away from becoming a Padre because of PETCO Park. I feel we have one of the most attractive cities for a professional athlete. Most players want to come to San Diego, regardless of PETCO Park's dimensions. It's a great city, with a competitive ballclub and a great place to raise a family.
Q: How will Jake Peavy react this season after winning the Cy Young Award?
Towers: I think we haven't seen the tip of the iceberg with Jake Peavy. I can see him winning more than one Cy Young award in his career. He is a fierce competitor and I don't feel that this Cy Young award will affect his performance going forward.
Towers: We will take one last question before the end of this chat.
Q: How is Young working on staying healthy this year because I know he has had problems in the past?
Towers: Chris is currently down at PETCO Park working out every day. After talking to Chris, he spent some time in Las Vegas with a personal trainer of Greg Maddux that talked to him about the benefits of strengthening his core section. I know Chris is also doing a lot of pilates, and it is hard to believe that there is a reformer large enough to hold a 6-10 frame. I know he is already realizing the benefits of the pilates work that he's been doing, and is hopeful that the oblique issues he had in 2007 are behind him.
Towers: That is all the time that I have for this chat today. I now need to go find a corner outfielder for you all. Thank you for participating and I look forward to the next time that we chat.