Thursday, April 28, 2011


Everyone has them. Here are several from me:

* There's seldom reason to look up Anthony Rizzo's stats or track his games, because the Rizzo-ites supply the updates so quickly. They keep us all up to speed. Warp speed. Between outs by Padres hitters, reports of "Rizzo hit another home run" or "another double for Rizzo" are easily heard in the pressbox. I get text and Tweet updates from Padres fans who would gladly drive Rizzo here from Tucson. By the time he gets to San Diego, Rizzo will be Savior Two. Chase Headley was Savior One.

* A scout who doesn't work for the Padres told me this about Rizzo last week: "I like him. He'll be a big leaguer. He should be average. An average first baseman." Other scouts were more glowing about Rizzo in the Pink Pony Scouts Chat here last month. Don't think of "average" as not valuable, though. It's no small thing being an average regular in the big leagues.

* Blinds were put up at Petco Park's press level, obscuring the Strategic Thinkers from the scribes. Many more homestands like this last one and I'll want blinds to block our view of the field.
* Brad Hawpe was OK at first base until lately. Not pretty, but OK. he's moving in quicksand.

* I will enjoy casting a vote for Chipper Jones on my Hall of Fame ballot when the time comes. Did you see Chipper take Aaron Harang onto Petco's beach Tuesday? He still has that easy power, although Chipper said there was nothing easy about that one. "That's as hard of a ball as I've hit in a long, long time," he told me, "and I'm running down to first not knowing whether it's going out. In my ballpark, that's 10 rows deep."  Chipper didn't go all Nevin on the subject. "I love hitting here, I really do," he said. "I like this ballpark. It's a fast infield. And it's fair. Granted, you've got to more than crush something to get it out to right-center. But there's nothing wrong with that."

* Last year, the Strategic Thinkers, aided by the Adrian Gonzalez and Heath Bell contracts they inherited, stretched player payroll dollars further than any ballclub in the majors. Lately, lots of shrinkage. In the offseason we learned the Alderson Gang hadn't made certain that Headley would be ineligible for arbitration when they delayed his promotion, so he got a big raise this year as a Super Two player. Ryan Ludwick was brought back for $6.775 million, which eventually may mesh with his valuation but is 15 percent of San Diego's payroll. Hawpe's guarantee is for $3 million, including the $1 million buyout. Excessive buyout notwithstanding on a player cut by two clubs last year, the salary is a tiny bet at first base for many clubs.

* The Padres employ 18 vice-presidents. I guess that makes them the Vice Squad.

* Petco's performance-enhancement powers for pitchers should no longer surprise me, but Channel 4's Chyron Bob froze me with another of his statistical gems. Among all Padres starters past and present who pitched at least 100 innings at Petco, who has the best ERA? None other than Wade LeBlanc. At 2.72 he is ahead of Jake Peavy (2.74), Clayton Richard (2.74), Chris Young (2.85) and Jon Garland (3.00). LeBlanc's career road ERA? 6.26.

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