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Down The Line

October 04, 2009|Bill Shaikin

Towers falls in San Diego

The contracts of Ned Colletti, Dan O'Dowd and Brian Sabean all expire after the season. Yet the National League West general manager now out of work is the dean of them all.

The San Diego Padres, under the new ownership of a group led by Jeff Moorad, fired Kevin Towers on Saturday. Moorad, who previously ran the Diamondbacks, could import Jerry DiPoto or Peter Woodfork from Arizona.

The two longest-tenured general managers in baseball were Towers, hired by the Padres in 1994, and Sabean, hired by the San Francisco Giants in 1996.

Sabean, who also worked under new management this season, is expected to return.

Colletti is negotiating a new contract with the Dodgers. O'Dowd is expected to return to the Colorado Rockies.

The Giants finally emerged from beneath the wreckage of the "Win One for Barry Bonds" era, posting their first winning season in five years behind the homegrown arms of Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, both first-round draft picks.

Pitcher Madison Bumgarner and catcher Buster Posey, top picks in 2007 and '08 and stars in waiting, arrived in San Francisco in September.

The Padres' financial limitations have extended beyond free agency to the draft, most notably when then-owner John Moores passed on Jered Weaver in 2004 in favor of the more affordable Matt Bush, who washed out of pro ball in three years. Weaver, a fly-ball pitcher, would have dominated in Petco Park.

Towers is an adept trader -- getting Adrian Gonzalez and Chris Young for Adam Eaton and Akinori Otsuka was grand theft -- and no one builds better bullpens on the cheap.

He got seven pitchers this season for Jake Peavy and Scott Hairston, and he made $56 million disappear by trading Peavy while he was on the disabled list.

But none of the Padres' top picks under Towers has developed into an All-Star, and only disappointing infielders Sean Burroughs and Khalil Greene have gotten more than a cup of coffee. Moorad isn't about to spend lavishly in free agency, so the Padres will have to do better in the draft, much better.

Making lemonade out of lemons

The Chicago Cubs have all but vowed to trade Milton Bradley. They still owe him $21 million, and maybe they can trade one bad contract for another.

Bradley might prosper in Toronto, with the designated hitter available and the media focused on hockey. Vernon Wells could plug center field for the Cubs, if they could get the Blue Jays to help pay the $99 million left on Wells' contract.

But, if the Cubs agree to pick up most or all of Bradley's contract, would they have any leverage in trying to acquire a good young player? The Cubs kicked Bradley off their team, and potential trading partners knows the Cubs have to get rid of him.

The Angels kicked Jose Guillen off their team in 2004. Bill Stoneman, then the general manager, traded him to the Washington Nationals for reserves Juan Rivera and Maicer Izturis, a deal that is still paying dividends. Rivera has 25 home runs, more than any teammate except Kendry Morales, and Izturis is batting .300.

Colletti, hired in 2005 with a mandate to trade Bradley, spun his problem into an outfield prospect. Andre Ethier hit 30 home runs and drove in 100 runs this season, the first Dodger to do so since 2004.

-- Bill Shaikin

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