Padres third baseman Chase Headley hit .286/.376/.498 with 31 home runs, 31 doubles and 115 RBI in 699 plate appearances last season, blowing away all of his previous career-bests. And he’s pretty certain he can keep that pace going forward.
Via Corey Brock, beat writer for MLB.com:
“I expect a lot out of myself. And I do think that the norm of my career will be much closer to last season than the years before that,” Headley said. “I feel like I’m closer to being that type of player … having that success I had last year, gives me a lot of confidence going forward. … I care about what I want to do. I want to be the best I can be.”
The 28-year-old batted just .289/.374/.399 with four homers and 44 RBI in 439 plate appearances for the Padres in 2011, but he was dealing with shoulder, calf and pinkie injuries. Good health and newfound power helped him reach a new level of stardom last summer, and he’s ready to build on that here in 2013.
The fences are being moved a bit closer at San Diego’s Petco Park, which should help matters.
On Monday, Baseball America reported that MLB is prepared to expand to Portland and Montreal. We talked about that at length yesterday. One of the most common responses to that piece has been “Portland? Really?”
There’s good reason for that response. Baseball-to-Portland has been talked about for years, but there has never been any real traction. Past initiatives have failed, significant public funding for a stadium seems to be a political impossibility and, heck, Portland wasn’t even interested in keeping its Triple-A team, turning its stadium into a much more successful soccer venue and not missing the Beavers all that much.
It would seem, however, that the reports are not mere speculation and there is a genuine baseball-to-Portland initiative afoot once again. From the Oregonian:
On Tuesday, former Trail Blazers broadcaster Mike Barrett confirmed to The Oregonian/OregonLive that he is part of the Portland group.
“I am officially involved with a campaign to bring Major League Baseball and a stadium development to Portland,” Barrett said. “There is also a formally organized, sophisticated and seasoned management group running this initiative. We will keep you fully apprised of any/all developments as this project progresses.”
One guy — a broadcaster no less — saying he’s part of a group is not exactly a major needle-mover, of course. But it does contrast with past Portland initiatives that have been well-publicized grassroots affairs. While those may have been more broad-based and while their public nature may have provided some refreshing transparency, the simple fact of professional sports ownership in the 21st century is that well-monied groups who play things close to the vest are more likely to make waves. We’re in an age when technocratic hedge fund-type guys make things happen in this arena, not in an age when flamboyant public personalities do.
None of which is to say that baseball in Portland is a lock or that expansion anywhere is a short term proposition. It’s just to note that, yeah, there is a bit more going on, it seems, than just pointing at a map and saying “yeah, a team would make sense here.”