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During the All-Star break I chose to ignore the game and look at what may happen to the Padres during the impending trade deadline. In an effort to answer the question of whether we should begin a rebuild process or reload in hopes that we have better luck in 2009, I have broken this series into parts. On Monday I looked at the strengths and weaknesses of our position players, and Tuesday I looked at the glaring holes in our pitching staff that can’t seem to be covered up by increasing the number of pitchers on our roster.

Before I go into who our value commodities are and what type of return we expect, I want to just make it clear that the approach Kevin Towers took of reloading this year and trying to replace guys like Geoff Blum with Callix Crabbe or Mike Cameron with Jim Edmonds seemed like a reasonable one during spring training and fit within the overall philosophy of the organization — finding cheap talent.

I have no problem with the fact that our team wants to win on a budget, especially since we don’t have the resources of teams in New York or Boston. However, I find myself having to remember that fact in seasons like this because sometimes our investments just go belly up. Keeping in mind that most of our core group of players will be back next season, I say we roll the dice again on trying to plug the holes — they are the same as last offseason for the most part — and maybe in 2009 we will have good luck again.

A perfect time for us to try and start filling those holes is now, when teams trying to make a run will overpay to “rent” a player for a few months. So I want to take a look at the names that make the most sense to deal or have been rumored to be on the market and assess from there.

Greg Maddux: Maddux’s name seems to be at the top of most lists and is probably the most valuable player we have. However, he has previously stated he wants to play for either us, the Braves or the Dodgers and with a full no-trade clause, he can make that a reality. He said he would also consider waiving the clause over the All-Star break if that’s what we really wanted. Considering what pitchers like CC Sabathia and Rich Harden cost to acquire and the relative lack of available pitchers on the market, we might be able to get a decent outfielder or middle infielder that could start as early as 2009 or 2010. We might have to settle for a 2-for-1 with a low-level, low-ceiling talent brought in but this trade could be the quickest way to get some depth into our organization.

Randy Wolf: Wolf seems to be the other guy drawing a lot of interest from clubs looking for pitching but he too wants to stay in SD if he can. The fact that he is healthy at this point of the season is a great boost for us. Wolf can block moves to certain clubs but there are still some clubs not on his list that could use a veteran pitcher for the long haul. Wolf’s value is probably significantly less than Maddux’s, although he may be able to get a similar return to what we got for Scott Linebrink at the deadline last year. (Update: Since the writing of this post, Wolf has been traded to the Houston Astros for a minor-league prospect.)

Tony Clark: Apparently Clark’s old team is missing him something fierce, and with all of the talent Arizona has in its farm system, it seems like we might be able to uncover a prospect that could turn into something with a little more seasoning. We probably wouldn’t get someone who could help right away but we would probably get more than a bag of baseballs. (Update: Clark has been traded to Arizona since the writing of this post.)

Brian Giles: I think Giles has been most rumored out the door by Padres fans and not as much by the organization or the media. This is probably our second most intriguing piece as Giles still continues to hit for average and the occasional home run. If traded to the right place he could experience a home run revival of sorts in that he could add up to 10-15 more if he gets sent to a hitter’s park. Supposedly the team seems content to hold onto Giles, with the thinking being a better replacement won’t be available this winter but you have to believe that with Towers’ track record that if the right deal comes along he will snatch it up.

While names like Kevin Kouzmanoff and Khalil Greene continue to get thrown out there as possible trade deadline casualties, I find it hard to believe that either of them could be traded given our current status. Kouzmanoff is doing a good job filling a position that had been tough to fill for years and there simply is no one else to fill the hole Greene would leave.

Rumors will swirl, teams will get desperate and at some point Towers will take advantage. While this may be a tough season to deal with as it relates to wins and losses, this may actually be a good thing for us in the long run as it will give us a chance to restock our system at the expense of someone else without having to completely enter rebuild mode. I will gladly take one bad year to avoid multiple rebuilding years.

JIM HIGGINS

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