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No on Jojima. Kottaras in 2007, but probably 2006.

On MLB.Com's latest Padres mailbag, Lyle Spencer answers a variety of questions. The first one on the catchers situation caught my eye.

Do you think the Padres will sign Brad Ausmus or that catcher from Japan, Kenji Jojima? What about Jacque Jones? And, finally, do you think the Padres would trade Adam Eaton for Laynce Nix or Kevin Mench? -- Jimmy G., San Diego

Ausmus would be a fine fit sharing the catching job with Miguel Olivo at less expense than Jojima, a proven talent in Japan. I don't see them getting into a bidding war for Jojima, given their concerns over how he'd be able to assimilate so much material on an entire league of hitters. . .
Is that really the concern that the Padres have? That Jojima wouldn't be able to learn the hitting tendencies of the entire National League? You'll have to forgive my ignorance, but how do rookie catchers learn the league? How did Ramon Hernandez learn the hitters when he came to the Padres? Couldn't Jojima just do the same thing?

Couple that strange excuse with the fact that they haven't even approached Ramon Hernandez at all. Their strategy at catcher is becoming more and more clear to me. Get Kottaras up as quick as possible so that he spends most of his initial six year deal in the majors. But, not even asking Ramon how much he wants? The Padres are the ultimate example of budget shoppers. If you have to ask how much it costs, then you probably can't afford it.

More in the Ramon question:
Olivo's talent and work ethic should not be discounted, however. He'll be a solid replacement if Hernandez departs. Talk of Ausmus coming over for a year or two until George Kottaras is ready makes good sense. Ausmus could share the job fairly equally with Olivo, keeping both men fresh.
If this is the Padres thinking, then the writing's on the wall. Ausmus and Olivo in early 2006. Kottaras with the big league club before the All-Star Break.

My first prediction of 2006. I'll start keeping track.