Notes: Cy Young for Hoffman?

Notes: Cy Young for Hoffman?

SAN FRANCISCO -- He is not totally objective, of course, but Padres general manager Kevin Towers thinks he can make a reasonable and persuasive case for Trevor Hoffman as a serious candidate for the National League's 2006 Cy Young Award.

"The Cy Young is for what a guy does for his ballclub," Towers said, "and who's done more for his ballclub in the National League than Trevor? Where are we without him?"

With Hoffman and his league-leading 37 saves and 1.87 ERA in 55 games, the Padres came into a weekend series with the Giants a half-game behind Los Angeles in the NL West while leading the Wild Card chase by 2 1/2 games over a deep field.

"You never hear his name mentioned nationally with the Cy Young candidates," Towers said. "What does Trevor have to do?

"There aren't any starters having huge seasons. I don't see any dominant candidates there. Why not consider a closer? Not only is he having a great season -- he's on his way to breaking the all-time saves record. Wouldn't it be kind of fitting to see him win the Cy Young and get that record in that same season?"

Through Thursday, Los Angeles' Brad Penny was leading the league with 15 wins, and 2005 Cy Young winner Chris Carpenter of St. Louis had a league-leading 2.97 ERA and 13 wins. Arizona's Brandon Webb has 14 wins and a 3.14 ERA. The Mets' Billy Wagner is second to Hoffman in saves with 35.

Hoffman, with 473 career saves, trails Lee Smith by five. His .902 save percentage is slightly better than the .895 he brought into the season. He endured one rough two-week stretch ending July 27 when he blew a save at Colorado. Since then, he has been flawless across 14 outings, giving up nine hits and two walks while striking out 12 in 13 1/3 innings.

Hoffman's best finish in a Cy Young race was 1998 when he ran second to Atlanta's Tom Glavine. In his finest season statistically, Hoffman saved a career-high 53 games to lead the league and placed seventh in the Most Valuable Player balloting.

"I don't get a lot of national attention," Hoffman said, "but that probably works to my favor. I don't worry much about awards, that kind of thing."

"Trevor keeps showing why he's a Hall of Fame-caliber pitcher," manager Bruce Bochy said.

A Cy Young would brighten that Cooperstown resume.

Knott arrives: The Padres added a right-handed bat with power to the bench with the arrival of outfielder Jon Knott from Triple-A Portland, where he led the Pacific Coast League with 32 homers and 113 RBIs while batting .280 in 136 games.

To make room for Knott on the 40-man roster, veteran Ryan Klesko was transferred to the 60-day disabled list. Klesko had attempted to come back from shoulder surgery in August but sustained a back ailment while playing first base at Class A Lake Elsinore and has not been able to play.

"When Ryan's ready to play, we'll find a spot for him," Towers said. "It's probably going to be hard this late in the season to get him enough at-bats to tell where he's at. I don't know if anyone will know where he's at 'til Spring Training. If he didn't have an injury, I'd like to have him, a veteran player who's a threat."

Knott, Towers said, could factor in off the bench against clubs such as Cincinnati and Pittsburgh with lefties to spare.

Knott, who joins former Portland teammate Ben Johnson as right-handed options, had 14 at-bats for the 2004 Padres, delivering two doubles, a single and one RBI for a .214 average.

"I was excited when I found out," Knott said. "They're in a playoff race, and I hope I can contribute. I pinch-hit when I was here the first time, and early this season, and I'll try to take that same approach."

Branyan thriving: Third baseman Russell Branyan has made such a strong impression through eight games with his bat (.423 average, .769 slugging percentage) and defense that the club is leaning toward exercising his $1 million option for 2007, Towers said.

"I'd love to come back here," Branyan said. "I've only been here two weeks or so, and I don't know what options they have at third base, but I'd love the opportunity.

"I played third all the way through the Minor Leagues, then I got to the big leagues and started moving around. Teams I was on already had established third basemen -- Matt Williams in Cleveland, Aaron Boone in Cincinnati. That's my natural position, and I'd love the chance to play every day there."

A powerful left-handed hitter trying to overcome his history of striking out frequently, Branyan is 3-for-7 against southpaws with one of his three homers in his first 26 at-bats as a Padre.

"In the Minor Leagues, I hit lefties as well as righties," Branyan said. "I like facing left-handers. It keeps me in there, squared to the plate. I think that helps me when I face right-handers."

Coming up: David Wells (2-3, 4.58 ERA) makes his second start with the Padres on Saturday when he faces right-hander Jason Schmidt (11-8, 3.39) at 1:05 p.m. PT.

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.