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Peavy a Padres bright spot ... but for how long?

Updated: April 3, 2009, 5:06 PM ET
By Buster Olney
The Cubs were on the cusp of a deal for Jake Peavy in the winter, much closer than anybody realized at the time. They were so close, in fact, that Peavy's side had begun the process of negotiating how much of his salary would be deferred. I's were being dotted, t's were being crossed.

But with the Cubs' ownership in a state of flux, the conversations were put on hold -- perhaps to be resumed this summer, or maybe not.

Right now, however, Padres general manager Kevin Towers is glad to have Peavy, who picked up a little weapon at the World Baseball Classic and is throwing the ball as well as he ever has, in Towers' opinion.

And as far as Towers is concerned, trading Peavy is not something he's worried about now, on the eve of the season, as the Padres' ownership shifts from John Moores to Jeff Moorad.

"My hope is that he [Peavy] gets off to a good start, and we get off to a good start," Towers said Thursday evening as he drove home from spring training, passing through Yuma. "My hope is that we're winning and we need him."

"If we fall out of contention, we'll take a look at everything. But we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. I don't even want to think about that."

The Padres have holes at the back end of their rotation. Walter Silva, San Diego's No. 3 starter, has never thrown a pitch in a regular-season game in the big leagues, and even the No. 2 starter, Chris Young, will come into the season amid questions because of his uneven command in the Cactus League.

But Peavy looks tremendous right now. The other day, after Peavy dominated five innings of an exhibition, a longtime scout for Towers turned to him and said, "That's the best I've ever seen him look."

There have been complaints that players don't benefit from the WBC. That is not the case with Peavy, who picked up a tip from U.S. pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre on how to grip his cut fastball (and keep in mind that Stottlemyre was the pitching coach for Mariano Rivera at the time that the Yankees' closer refined his cutter).

"His cutter has been wicked," said Towers. "The other day, he used it against left-handed hitters. He was facing Jack Cust and Jason Giambi and he threw back-door cutters, and they had no chance. It moves so much that left-handed hitters just have to guess against it."

In 14 scoreless innings for the Padres this spring, Peavy struck out 10 batters, walked zero and allowed just seven hits.

The season will play out for at least a couple of months before the Padres and other teams begin the process of determining whether they will be buyers or sellers. It may be that San Diego will surprise others and contend.

But there already is an assumption among some rival general managers that at some point this summer, the Padres will trade Peavy and walk away with a big haul.

Elsewhere in San Diego, Mark Prior is on the road to recovery, writes Dan Hayes. Pitching remains a concern for the team, writes Tom Krasovic.

The Padres might ultimately benefit from Sandy Alderson's time on the job, writes Tim Sullivan. Within this piece, Alderson says he absolutely wants to remain in baseball.

What follows is pure speculation: If the Giants don't play well this year and changes are made in their baseball operations, you do wonder if Alderson might pop up in San Francisco, given his ties to that area.

The rest of Buster's blog -- stories on which players are fighting for jobs, news on the latest moves and deals and which pitchers are rounding into form, among tons more -- is available exclusively to ESPN Insiders. Insider

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