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Padre Actions Not Those of Winning Baseball Club

February 13, 1988

In the past three years, it has become painfully obvious to Padre fans across the country that the interests of the ballclub no longer reflect the philosophy of bringing a winning baseball team to San Diego.

While the Dodgers have solidified their chances of winning the National League West this year by signing Detroit free agent Kirk Gibson, the Padres continue to justify their lack of action in the off-season by stating that available talent would not improve upon the team they fielded last year.

Could this Padre team in question be the same one that finished the 1987 season at 65-97 and last in the Western Division? Maybe this admirable record is good enough for the Padre executive staff, but I assure you it is not good enough for the majority of Padre fans.

The Padres have continually declined to offer suitable contracts to quality free agents such as Tim Raines, Bob Horner, Jack Morris, Jack Clark, Andre Dawson, Dave Righetti and Fred Lynn. They have traded away big talent such as Kevin McReynolds, Dave Dravecky, Craig Lefferts and Ozzie Smith. Meanwhile, they have added Chris Brown, Stanley Jefferson, Storm Davis, Keith Comstock and Rob Nelson.

The Padres were lucky in discovering terrific rookies such as Benito Santiago and John Kruk and did acquire a fine infielder in Randy Ready, but these acquisitions do little to repair the damage of blown opportunities such as the Tim Raines fiasco. But they had an excuse then--Ballard Smith was their president. What excuse does Chub Feeney have?

Even more discouraging is the fact that the Padres seem to be only three players short of fielding a quality team: They need a strong base-stealing threat at the beginning of the lineup; a veteran starting pitcher to anchor a young rotation, and an authentic home-run hitter to bat cleanup.

Granted, filling these holes might not be enough to bring a pennant to San Diego, but surely a team with players such as Tim Raines, Jack Morris and Kirk Gibson wouldn't finish in the cellar of the division that also includes the pathetic Atlanta Braves.

If the Padres are truly committed to fielding the best possible team in 1988, they should attempt in the near future to make acquisitions that accomplish this goal. Unfortunately, their next big move will probably involve sending Tony Gwynn and Benito Santiago to the Dodgers for Mariano Duncan and three players to be named later.

JAMES D. LEVERTON

Escondido

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