Now seems like a great time to assess what the Padres should and can do before the July 31 trade deadline. But before we target players or determine who should be put on the next bus out of town, I think it is very important to see exactly what we have. So in Part 1 I want to look at what position players we have for this year and beyond. In the next part we will look at our pitching — starters and relievers — before we talk about who is/should be expendable and what type of return we should look to get in a trade in Part 3.

Catcher: We have an entire system of younger catchers but even guys like Josh Bard aren’t necessarily full-time starting material. Nick Hundley, Luke Carlin, Colt Morton all seem like capable backups but we lack a true No. 1 starter. There seems to be no difference between the young group and Michael Barrett so Barrett probably doesn’t figure into future plans. The only in-house option that could become an undisputed full-time player could be Mitch Canham, but he probably won’t be ready until 2010.

Verdict: Needs an upgrade.

First Base: Even if Adrian Gonzalez wasn’t entrenched at first for the long haul, this is one of the few positions where we can afford to trade a guy or two and still have plenty of depth. Obviously Gonzalez is staying but backup Tony Clark seems to be a hot name as mentioned by Paul DePodesta. Bryan Myrow seems to have been brought up to get acclimated but he is older than Gonzalez so he is not a permanent solution. Kyle Blanks has been doing a good job in the minors and first round pick Allan Dykstra provide even more depth.

Verdict: Future is bright.

Second Base: Our second baseman of the future has struggled in his move to Triple A but Matt Antonelli will be the guy and if things go right, he should do it next year. Tadahito Iguchi was a good idea for this year but he went down injured before Antonelli was ready and has left a hole in the lineup. However, Edgar Gonzalez has been given a chance to prove himself and he has become this year’s version of Geoff Blum, a guy who can fill in as a sub in multiple positions and can start for a short period of time if need be. We missed Blum early on but not as much once Gonzalez was called up.

Verdict: If we were contending we would rent a player for postseason.

Third Base: Before 2007 we traded an up-and-coming second baseman for an up-and-coming third baseman. Kevin Towers gave the reason that a solid 3B is harder to find than a solid 2B. We still haven’t really filled the hole at 2B but we filled the hole at 3B with Kevin Kouzmanoff. We have to put up with slow Aprils and Mays from the kid but he is a good hitter and better than many of the guys who came before him. He was good enough to force our top prospect to move to left field. We drafted a couple of young 3B’s in the early rounds this year as well.

Verdict: Another stacked position.

Short stop: We have one of the better defensive short stops in the league right now in Khalil Greene, and if you can put up with all of the strikeouts, he provides some power as well. But one of the things we have seen this year is that there really is no one behind Greene, in the majors or minors. If Greene were to go down – which has happened in the past – we have no idea who would come to the rescue. Luis Rodriguez may be serviceable but he is not a regular at this point.

Verdict: Desperately need some depth.

Outfield: I am lumping this all together because there is some need here. Chase Headley has the highest ceiling of any of the outfielders but he has only played the position this year. Scott Hairston and Jody Gerut project more as fourth/fifth outfielders with Hairston probably working best in a platoon. Both can man center which is a plus and would have been nice to know before we brought (and subsequently cut) Jim Edmonds to town. Brian Giles is still a solid hitter but he is on the downside of his career and may not be in SD for much longer. There is quite a bit of talent in the minors but most of it seems to be at least one year away.

Verdict: Would also upgrade if we were contending, but we could use a future starter or two.

Agree? Disagree? What are your thoughts on the roster? It needs work but where do we focus? Let me know below, I am interested in all thoughts on this subject.

JIM HIGGINS

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