ONE NASTY DIVISION
Padres general manager Kevin Towers plans to speak on Friday with Greg Clifton, the agent for free-agent left-hander David Wells.
If the Padres sign Wells, the NL West will feature:
- Three starting pitchers with 230 or more victories — Padres right-hander Greg Maddux (333), Diamondbacks left-hander Randy Johnson (280) and Wells (230);
- The two free-agent starters who commanded the highest average annual salaries this winter, Giants left-hander Barry Zito ($18 million) and Dodgers righty Jason Schmidt ($15.67 million);
- The reigning NL Cy Young award winner, Diamondbacks right-hander Brandon Webb.
And that's not all.
The division's top young pitchers include Giants righty Matt Cain, 22; Dodgers righty Chad Billingsley, 22; and Rockies lefty Jeff Francis, 26. The Diamondbacks, meanwhile, will audition several highly regarded prospects to be their fifth starter.
One thing to look for from the D-Backs: Improved outfield defense with Carlos Quentin in right, Chris Young in center and Eric Byrnes in left, which in turn should bolster the pitching staff.