A-Gon gone, but Padres excited about future

BY foxsports • February 13, 2011

Padres manager Bud Black said Sunday he's excited about his team's roster, even after an offseason in which the team traded star slugger Adrian Gonzalez to Boston.

Gonzalez is one of several key departures from a surprising team that was in first place in the NL West for 131 games last season and finished with 90 victories.

The Padres ultimately missed out on the postseason after finishing two games behind the World Series champion San Francisco Giants, but Black was named NL manager of the year for keeping a team that started with a $38 million payroll in contention until the final day.

Working with a group that will feature a maximum of nine holdovers from last season's 25-man roster from opening day, Black knows there's plenty of work to do during spring training.

''We like the group that is assembled,'' Black said. ''We're excited about some of the new guys we brought in. It's a group that, especially on the position players' side, will look a little different than last year's group. That is the nature of this day and age.''

The Padres added center fielder Cameron Maybin and shortstop Jason Bartlett in separate trades this offseason, and also signed free agents that include pitcher Aaron Harang, second baseman Orlando Hudson, first baseman Brad Hawpe and infielder Jorge Cantu.

''That's part of managing and coaching is making all the pieces to the puzzle fit,'' Black said. ''We feel as though the guys we have will mesh and that's what spring training is for.''

The Padres' roster is mostly set, though club officials knew they had no way of replacing Gonzalez, who played five seasons in San Diego and was the team's most valuable player in each of the last four.

Hawpe is expected to be the team's starting first baseman though Cantu will also see time there. The Padres' competitions are primarily for the fifth spot in the starting rotation, the final spot in the bullpen and for several backup jobs.