Sunday, August 7, 2011

Part of the core?

At some point, the Padres will have to decide whether Chase Headley is part of their long-term plan. Headley, for his part, tells this blog he wants to be a player the Padres can count on, year after year, both in terms of production and leadership. He admired how veterans such as Adrian Gonzalez, David Eckstein and Matt Stairs comported themselves. The 27-year-old, a former high school valedictorian, wants to set a similar example for many years to come in San Diego.

"I sure hope I get the opporutnity," Headley said last month. "I take a lot of pride in this organization; one, because I was drafted here; two, I was part of a team when I first got called up that lost close to 100 games, but then we turned it around.

"We aren't where we want to be this year," he said, "but I think we have an identity, an understanding of what type of team we want to be. Perfect world, I'd love to be part of that for a long time. Obviously there are a lot of things that have to happen to make that happen."

There's no rush to make a long-term decision on Headley, who is under the team's control for the next three seasons. His salary is on the rise, however, more so than the Padres expected a year ago. Because Headley qualified for "Super Two" arbitration last winter, he had extra leverage at the negotiating table and will so again this offseason. He'll command a big raise on this year's salary of $2.325 million.

With four home runs this year, Headley isn't yet the power hitter the Padres and he expected him to become, but he's on-basing at a .380 clip and has made himself him into a good basestealer. He's better than average defensively. He's come to grips with the realities of Petco National Park, which some hitters never do. He said he expects to show better power in seasons ahead. Yet, he said he's glad that he went less for home runs. (Broken pinky notwithstanding, he's on pace to set a career-high in doubles).

"In a general sense, even baseball has kind of maybe swung back that way a little bit, away from just the straight Monster Ball mentalities," he said. "There's more of a premium on defense. There's more of premium on baserunning and doing the little things to win."

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