David Eckstein could have been a contender. According to MLB.com's Corey Brock, the Minnesota Twins apparently called Padres' general manager Kevin Towers at the trade deadline and asked about the availability of the Padres' second baseman.
Under normal circumstances, Towers would normally shoot down a deal that involved Eckstein, but Towers made the call to David anyway just to gauge his interest.
"I just wanted to see where his head was," Towers told Padres' beat writer Corey Brock. "I felt as if I owed it to him. If he felt like he wanted to go to a contending club with a chance to win, I would do everything to make that happen."
Whether or not Eckstein took any time to think about the deal is uncertain, but what is known is the fact that Eck decided to stay in San Diego and be a leader to this young team.
"I want to be a guy who can help these young guys out," Eckstein told Brock. "I don't think this club is as far off as some people think. They've got to learn how to play the game the right away, because next year, there's not going to be any excuses. These guys are starting to step up."
This is exactly the reason that Padre fans have taken to Eckstein. He's the consummate professional and a natural leader not only in the clubhouse but on the field as well. Eckstein could have easily told Kevin Towers to trade him, to give him a chance to win another World Series or at least compete for one.
Instead, Eckstein wanted to stick around in San Diego and watch this team rebuild into a team that could be a serious contender in the National League West in the next few years.
He got to see what the veteran players in Anaheim did for the younger players and it led the Angels to a World Series Championship. Eckstein took that and realized that he could be the same kind of leader for this Padres club.
"Watching what Darin Erstad did [in Anaheim], the way he molded the young guys, how he taught them the right way to play this game, I saw how that helped. We've got a bunch of young guys here who want to get better. Playing alongside a guy like Everth, that inspires you."
Why don't we see more of these players, or are we just not hearing about them? Where are the guys that want to be leaders to the younger players and aren't concerned about winning or getting paid first?
This is the kind of player that, if you're a parent, you would love your child to look up to and want to be like. A guy that leaves it all out on the field every single night and gives it 110 percent effort. There's no quit in Eckstein and he showed that by telling Towers that he wants to stay and watch the progress and results of how this team is being built.
I know Padre fans are done with the word "rebuilding," but with the progress of guys like Kyle Blanks, Will Venable, Everth Cabrera, and Mat Latos, this team may not be that far from reaping the benefits of a very talented young team.
San Diego will have a team that they can get excited about, a team that they can come out and root for and an owner who can and should win the respect of Padre fans.
Though San Diego has their concentration set on the San Diego Chargers, who are just a few months away from kicking off their 2009 season, there's a definite feel in the air that 2010 could be a fun ride for the San Diego Padres.