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The San Diego Padres are not going to be forthcoming with their plans for 2013, they have been tight-lipped about any of their moves and schemes for years now, no matter who you might know on the inside. It leaves you and me and all of sports media to recklessly speculate, which is always fun and mostly proven wrong, but this is what happens.

Like most professional sports organizations, relative silence is almost always the prudent choice since rival clubs take copious notes concerning such matters. Still, it won't stop us at the Reader sports desk from irreverently and irresponsibly stabbing at the dark shadows of the future of the Padres while the team enjoys a day off.

The Padres are at a crossroads in many aspects, and the best place to start is the Rule 5 draft. A primer, for those who need an explanation into the nuances and reasons behind the Rule 5, because it doesn't make much sense unless you're tuned into baseball economics.

First, the amateur draft is known as the Rule 4 draft, that's the draft where clubs select players from high schools or colleges or other places where they have never played professional baseball. The Rule 5 came into existence in the 1960's, to protect minor league players from getting stuck in a particular system for an eternity.

In other words, it really isn't fair for a player to be drafted and then get bogged down in a single organization and never get an opportunity simply because the organization is loaded with other talent and there's no place to go. It is always in a club's best interest to have a bevy of minor league talent in the system; you can never have too much depth in baseball.

So, the Rule 5 protects these players against a club holding onto talent just in case they might need them someday. So, the Rule 5 draft insures that any player with a certain number of minor league seasons under their belts have an opportunity elsewhere if they are desired.

To be eligible to be drafted in the Rule 5, a player cannot be on the 40-man roster. Such players then must qualify by being in the organization for four years if they were 19 years old (or older) when they were drafted, or five years if they were 18 years old or younger.

To protect a player from being drafted in the Rule 5, the club simply adds the player to the 40-man roster. But since you can only have 40 on that roster, you expose players and unless your farm system stinks you don't have a choice in the matter and you're going to lose some important part of your depth.

The Padres once had a pretty crappy farm system, and now suddenly they have a robust group of prospects after a few brilliant trades and some crafty Rule 4 drafts. So, they now have some issues. In other words, they're going to have to expose some prospects in December and make some tough choices concerning who to keep and who to take a chance on losing.

This Rule 5 will likely be the toughest on the Padres in recent memory. This is the current 40-man roster of the San Diego Padres:

# Pitchers
45 Anthony Bass 29 Brad Boxberger 58 Brad Brach 61 Cory Burns 34 Andrew Cashner 65 Jose De Paula (Restricted) 57 Luke Gregerson 49 Casey Kelly 40 Tommy Layne 52 Cory Luebke (Disabled List 60-day DL) 38 Jason Marquis (Disabled List 15-day DL) 39 Miles Mikolas 26 Dustin Moseley (Disabled List 60-day DL) XX Juan Oramas 27 Micah Owings (Disabled List 60-day DL) 33 Clayton Richard 44 Josh Spence 46 Tim Stauffer (Disabled List 60-day DL) 16 Huston Street 53 Eric Stults 54 Joe Thatcher 55 Dale Thayer 50 Nick Vincent 37 Edinson Volquez XX Thad Weber 41 Andrew Werner 43 Joe Wieland (Disabled List 60-day DL)

# Catchers
21 John Baker 12 Yasmani Grandal 4 Nick Hundley (Disabled List 60-day DL) 63 Ali Solis

# Infielders
23 Yonder Alonso 5 Alexi Amarista 2 Everth Cabrera 11 Logan Forsythe 15 Jesus Guzman 7 Chase Headley 3 Andy Parrino 63 Edinson Rincon 60 Jeudy Valdez

# Outfielders 88 Kyle Blanks (Disabled List 60-day DL) 22 James Darnell (Disabled List 60-day DL) 13 Chris Denorfia 14 Mark Kotsay 62 Rymer Liriano 24 Cameron Maybin 18 Carlos Quentin 9 Blake Tekotte 25 Will Venable

Keep in mind that anyone on the 60-day disabled list is not considered as being on the 40-man roster, and that several of the players listed here are not on the active big-league roster (Rymer Liriano, Jeudy Valdez, Blake Tekotte, and so on). There is a ton of talent not on the 40-man, so the Padres are likely going to lose a few in December. Care to speculate who?

Left-handed pitcher Colt Hynes is exposed. So is first baseman Matt Clark and outfielder Sawyer Carroll. And that's just a few from AAA Tucson. These guys are the organizational depth that the Padres have relied on for a few years now.

You can go down to AA San Antonio and find more, and uncover even more underneath if you look hard enough. This will be the first radical change in an organization that is likely to undergo a few radical changes before the start of spring training in 2013.

Speculate away. I'm guessing that a lot of clubs that draft in the Rule 5 have been scouting some of these guys and hoping the Padres can't protect them. And I'm guessing that the minors in the Padres system is going to look a lot different next season.

And the next off-day that we have, we should talk about guys like Chase Headley and Nick Hundley and Everth Cabrera and Will Venable, because there might not be room for all of those guys on next season's opening day roster, either. Speculate, that's about all we can do, but it's obvious that changes are inevitable.


Notes:

Tuesday, the Dodgers come to town and are likely to bring a slew of angry Dodgers fans with them to see their Josh Beckett (6-13, 4.88) face Edinson Volquez (10-11, 4.30) for the Padres. Game time is at 7:05 PM PDST and Fox Sports San Diego will televise or else XX 1090 AM will broadcast over the radio for those of you who insist on keeping around Time Warner or AT&T U-verse, who hate baseball and are probably a bunch of un-American communist bastards. And I don't want to hear how Time Warner suddenly has NFL Red Zone, they didn't have it last year and still charged you the same amount of cash and now you're suddenly grateful? Really?

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