I was happy for Chase Headley when the Padres held him past the trade deadline.
Headley has told me several times he'd like be part of the team's long-term plans. It means something to him that the Padres drafted, signed and developed him. The team's sour finish to the 2010 season left him with a sense of unfinished business here.
Headley likes being a team leader. Sunday, for example, he checked on several teammates to see who'd go with him to chapel service. If the team has a bad game, Headley takes on the responsibility of answering questions from reporters. He's reliable, both on and off the field. When the Padres staged a BBQ picnic for players and their families after a day game last month, Headley, along with his wife and young child, was among only a few players who showed up. I'm not slighting any of the players who didn't attend. Their personal time is precious in the thick of a season. To me, it was another sign that Headley enjoys being a Padre.
I still think the front office is open to trading Headley this offseason. It's possible that the Padres (along with some in the media and fan base) overestimated his trade value this summer. Hearing and reading some of the trade chatter, I Tweeted that Headley was being puffed up into a hybrid of Schmidt-Brett-Rolen and Brooks Robinson.
Then again, put Headley in the National League Central, and he may put up big numbers -- something like a .280 batting average, 40 doubles, 28 home runs and a .380 on-base percentage. He's told me that, yes, he's imagined what life would be like in a home ballpark that's more suitable to power hitting. Nevertheless, Headley has handled the frustrations of Petco Park better than many other Padres regulars have over the years. He's homered in his last two games at PNP, marking the second time, and first since April 2009, that he's homered in consecutive games in San Diego. The home run he hit on Saturday night was especially impressive, an opposite-field shot to left-center.
Here's another thing to like about Headley: He's in the lineup every day.
He doesn't duck difficult pitchers. That he doesn't require a platoon partner increases Bud Black's tactical flexibility. I also suspect he'd be unhappy about having to sit on the bench. You'll have to trust me on this one: that's not always the case. Some players are happy, even relieved, to be part of a platoon.