It's officially February, which means Spring Training is just around the corner. So let's jump into another Inbox to answer questions from fans about the moves first-year GM Jed Hoyer has made and what might be next before Padres pitchers and catchers report to camp on Feb. 18.
Do you see Everth Cabrera as a long-term fit and the next Jose Reyes-type guy at shortstop for the Padres? Or is he just "the next" shortstop?
-- Alex B., Reno, Nev.
Well, I'm not sure Cabrera will become a "Jose Reyes-type guy," but that doesn't mean that he won't be a very good shortstop for the Padres for years to come. I imagine that Cabrera will be here a long time. The Padres loved the promise, aptitude and, of course, the improvement that he showed in 2009. Remember, this is a guy who hadn't played a single inning about low-Class A before the Padres picked him in the Rule 5 Draft. He showed some good things with the bat that should eventually allow him to hit at or near the top of the order. He made 23 errors, but he saved a lot of runs as well and made, if you watched him enough, more spectacular plays than we have seen in a long time -- and that's no knock on Khalil Greene, who was good in his own right. Cabrera is here to stay. Shortstops and catchers are the toughest positions to develop. The Padres should send the Rockies (his original club) a thank-you note for the development part.
Do you think that after the signing of pitcher Jon Garland the offseason is now over or do you believe the Padres will make more moves or trades?
-- Dan Z., Clairemont, Calif.
That's tough to say. I still think there might be a piece or two the Padres might want to add before the regular season. This could happen before Spring Training or, more likely, during it, when there's more player movement as teams start to set their rosters. For the most part, though, this is it. The Padres added their right-handed-hitting outfielder (Scott Hairston), utilityman (Jerry Hairston Jr.) and beefed up the rotation (Garland). A busy and very productive three weeks for Hoyer.
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In a previous Inbox, you answered a question about the backup-catcher position by suggesting names like Mike Redmond and Brad Ausmus. Since then, they (and others) have signed elsewhere. I haven't heard much talk about acquiring anyone else. Are the Padres going to go with Dusty Ryan as the backup or are they still considering some veterans?
-- Paul T., San Diego
Paul, you're right. Redmond and Ausmus are off the board now, as are a handful more catchers who peg as backups for 2010. I don't think the Padres are too broken up over this, because I think they feel they can add a backup catcher before the season starts. Also, I think they're comfortable with Ryan being their primary backup catcher this season. Remember, on the priority scale, adding a backup catcher ranked behind a need for a right-handed-hitting outfielder, utilityman and starting pitcher. With what the team had to work with financially, I think it allotted those funds pretty well.
So what is the likelihood that Kevin Correia gets the Opening Day start? Because I hear that Chris Young will likely get the start. I would reward Correia for doing the job for us last year being the temporary ace.
-- Michael P., San Diego
I still think that Young, if completely healthy -- and he said he was last week -- gets the nod for Opening Day. That's no knock on Correia. Young is former All-Star who has been a member of the team since 2006 and has a 31-25 record in that span with a 3.70 ERA. If he's going good, he's the ace of this staff. And, honestly, I don't know how much stock these players put in starting on Opening Day. I'm sure it's an honor of some sorts but, after all, someone has to start that game, and the next one and the next one.
I like the fact the Padres got Jerry Hairston Jr. I think he is a great player, but would the Padres have been better off signing Khalil Greene for $750.000 and using some more money for bullpen help?
-- Guillermo M., San Diego
I think you're way off here, Guillermo. Hairston could end up being the Padres' best acquisition of the offseason. He's far more versatile than Greene, which is what the Padres wanted. And he offers average to above-average defense in several areas, which is very important. I think you'll see him in the lineup a lot, bouncing around, giving players a rest. As for help for the bullpen, I think that group is pretty well set heading into Spring Training. With Luke Gregerson, Mike Adams and Heath Bell, you might have the best 1-2-3 back-end combination of relievers in the league.
What do you think of the Kevin Kouzmanoff trade?
-- Chris M., San Diego
I think it was a good trade. The Padres were dealing from a position of strength and this allows them to slide Chase Headley back to his natural position. Of course, Kouzmanoff put up some nice offensive statistics with the Padres, though he didn't walk much and there was a concern internally that he had reached his ceiling. Hairston is the right-handed hitter the Padres wanted, someone who can hit left-handed pitching well and offers good defense in the outfield. Adding a young outfielder, Aaron Cunningham, only makes this a better deal, as he could develop into an everyday outfielder in a year, if not sooner. To get something, you have to give up something. People are always looking for "who won" a trade. In this case, it appears to have helped both teams. I like Cunningham's upside and there were a handful of people in the organization who didn't mind parting with the other player who went to the A's, infielder Eric Sogard.