Wells only part of Padres' upgrade

Updated: January 7, 2004, 9:12 AM ET
By Jerry Crasnick | ESPN Insider
Padres general manager Kevin Towers is a big believer in doing nice things for old people around the holidays. In 1995 he reached agreement with Rickey Henderson on a contract on Christmas Eve. This year he signed David Wells for a year and $1.25 million -- plus incentives -- on New Year's Eve. As if Boomer needed another reason to stay up late and party.

Wells, a San Diego native, is looking forward to returning home for a final fling at 40, but that was only part of the attraction. If he had re-signed with the Yankees, it would have been as back-of-the-rotation insurance for Jose Contreras or a surgically-repaired Jon Lieber. In San Diego, Wells will either start the season opener in Los Angeles or christen Petco Park on April 8 against the Giants.

Wells generated countless headlines in New York by acting like a spoiled child and wearing out his teammates. But the Padres weren't scared off by his capacity for self-absorption, or his flair for controversy. The more Wells hogs the attention, the easier it will be for Adam Eaton, Jake Peavy and Brian Lawrence to progress at a comfortable pace.

Jerry Crasnick

ESPN Senior Writer