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Winning teams

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What a day ... a crazy day ... capped off by perhaps the dumbest deal of Jim Bowden's illustrious career. His masterpiece, if you will.

It's easy to be happy for Trevor Hoffman, even though it's a bit sad to think of an all-time great probably not going to the playoffs again as a player. He did the right thing for him and his family. But did the Padres do the right thing for the Padres?

This business about one team having a player for his whole career -- don't get me wrong, it's nice. But in the end, what's it really worth to a team or its fans? If Hoffman played a few years somewhere else, would they really have that much less pride on the day he was inducted into the Hall of Fame -- surely in a Padres cap? And even if they did, is it worth the cost?

They've kept the core of their team together, but these Padres are not good. They won 82 games this season and, by a fluke, stumbled into the privilege of getting swept in the first round of the playoffs. What's more, various sabermetric methods suggest they actually overperformed by three to six games. In other words, they lucked into a 500 record.

Hoffman and Brian Giles are great players, and as a pair, they're costing about the same money as last year. They both had very good seasons in 2005, and it would be unreasonable to expect anything better out of them the rest of their careers. But even as Hoffman was deciding to stay, the Padres swapped one of their best players, Mark Loretta, to the Red Sox for backup catcher Doug Mirabelli, who may now become the Padres' starter at age 35.

The Padres, in other words, have "won" two key free agent battles, yet they almost certainly have gotten worse. I don't know how the Padres can win without Giles and Hoffman. All I know is, the Padres didn't win much with them. And while they did add Mike Cameron, they're downgrading at two key defensive positions, and they're probably still going to lose one of their best relievers. And nobody's getting any younger.

So was it worth it? And when the Padres lose in 2006, will the fans be closing their eyes, thinking about how great that Hoffman induction speech is going to be -- in 2013?