Before I head to Arizona and Florida, a few observations about your favorite baseball team:
* I don't think there was any chance that the Padres would've traded Adrian Gonzalez last summer. Call me gullible, but I believed Padres CEO Jeff Moorad when he told me that there was "no chance" the club would trade Gonzalez by the July 31st trade deadline last year. All the rumored trade scenarios that followed, I believe, were solely about testing Gonzalez's trade value. It behooved the Red Sox, who were targeting Cleveland's Victor Martinez, to play along and create the media-fueled impression that they might trade for Gonzalez. I do believe Boston remains the best trade fit for Gonzalez. Even if the Dodgers were to make a big offer, I doubt that Moorad could stomach putting Gonzalez in a Dodgers uniform.
* I'm curious to see what the trio of Gonzalez, Kyle Blanks and Chase Headley would do in the middle of the lineup over several months, although I know it may not play out that way. More on this later, but both Gonzalez and Blanks have all-fields home run power at Petco Park. I'm not sure the Padres have ever had that in tandem since they moved downtown in 2004. Heck, I doubt that more than a handful of clubs have two hitters with that kind of power -- specifically, the ability to hit the ball out to any part of Petco. Ryan Klesko and Phil Nevin pretty much were incapable of hitting opposite-field homers at Petco, which is why they each wanted to blow the place up (actually, Nevin socked a few out to right but generally was thwarted there, which led to his infamous confrontation with GM Kevin Towers after a game against the Pirates). I don't recall Brian Giles ever hitting an opposite-field homer at Petco. Why should it matter where the home runs go? Because most pitchers don't fear opposite-field homers at Petco. Unless they're facing Gonzalez, who can hit an outside-corner pitch into the left-field seats. Blanks is capable of hitting an outside pitch onto Petco's beach. We'll see. Two of his six homers at Petco went to right-center. Obviously Blanks is far from a sure thing. His all-fields power, for now, is about potential. Some scouts question whether his swing will hold up in the middle of a major league lineup. Headley, too, has a lot of proving to do, but a capable switch-hitter in the No. 5 spot can help offset matchup disadvantages late in the game. Lots of ifs, I know.
* I admit to rooting for outfielder Will Venable. I've written a lot about him over the years. Swayed by two scouts, I ranked him among the club's top five prospects entering 2009. He did some big things last summer. Is he headed toward a good career as a regular? Probably not if you put a lot of stock in his minor league career. But Venable's athletic pedigree argues for a closer look. Among the believers is Grady Fuson. "I told Will Venable: 'You're going to end up being a better big leaguer than you were a minor leaguer,' " said Fuson, who was San Diego's director of scouting and development until last October. "I hardly ever say that (about a player), but I believe it. I do."