Maybin Haunts Former Team, Chicago Supports Current Team, Blanks and Rizzo Switch Places

I paid a visit to Chicago last week for three reasons:

  1. To escape the lack of extreme heat and humidity prevalent in San Diego this time of year; it was becoming downright comfortable back home
  2. To avoid hearing any mention whatsoever of the Padres, who are actually a figment of San Diegans’ collective imagination; I’ve been thinking the team should change its name to Snuffleupagi
  3. To watch the Cubs and Astros play at Wrigley Field, one of baseball’s great temples, and to be reminded that there are at least two teams even worse than the Padres; there is nothing quite so liberating as witnessing awful baseball while not caring one bit about the outcome

Speaking of which, while I was away, the Padres traveled to Miami and swept the Marlins. The Padres, who generally have trouble scoring runs, broke out in a big way. They outscored the Fish, 23-6, during the three-game series.

Padres center fielder Cameron Maybin, acquired from Florida this past winter for a couple of relievers, led the charge. Maybin went 9-for-15 with a double and five stolen bases. He also robbed former teammate Logan Morrison of a home run on Thursday.

Meanwhile, I met up with a few former colleagues at Hardball Times — Chris Jaffe, Harry Pavlidis, and Dave Studeman — to watch the Cubs and Astros play on Friday afternoon. I had been warned of triple-digits heat (temperature, not velocity), but it never materialized.

Game time temperature was 77 degrees, with some cloud cover. It was more humid than back home but very pleasant. Our seats, upper tank on the third-base side of home plate, couldn’t have been better.

The Cubs won, 4-2. As if to make me feel more at home, Houston loaded the bases with one out in the second and third innings, and managed to score a total of one run. I chuckled.

Beyond the history of Wrigley Field and its beautiful view of the Chicago skyline, what struck me most was the size of the crowd, listed at 39,855. Two teams “battling” for last place in the National League Central, weekday afternoon game, heat wave, threat of thundershowers?

I was amazed at the turnout and said as much to Harry, who expressed disappointment at the empty seats. According to the team’s official web site, Wrigley Field holds 41,160.

Petco Park holds 42,445, but as I told Harry, it almost never gets that full. Maybe on Opening Day, or when the Yankees or Red Sox come to town every few seasons.

In fact, the Padres have broken 40,000 at home five times in 50 dates this year — three against the Giants, one against the Dodgers, and one against the Phillies. As we lamented when the Giants came to town last week, several teams draw more of their own fans to Petco Park than do the Padres.

“Because they’re having a bad year?”

No, that’s just how it is in San Diego. I always get strange looks when explaining this to people from cities that support their home team. It’s like we’re speaking different languages.

After the final out was recorded, most of the fans (less than the number announced, which represents tickets sold) stood around for a few minutes and sang “Go, Cubs, Go.” People wore Cubs gear and didn’t seem to be in a hurry to get home. They acted like they were glad to be out at the ballpark, supporting their team despite its poor showing this season.

I am pleased and saddened to see a city embrace its team in such manner. Pleased because this is as it should be… saddened because San Diego doesn’t have that relationship with its teams and probably never will.

When I told Harry about the current season ticket numbers (10,300 as of March 2011), he again couldn’t believe it and wondered why. Then I explained that the new ownership group has worked hard to expand the fan base and that this actually represents an improvement over 2010, when the team sold 9,100 season tickets.

Different languages…

Whenever I broach the subject with San Diegans, I am met with defensive assurances that if the Padres spent more money (how much?) and won more games (how many?), folks would support the team. This is usually where the argument ends because they have proven my point without even realizing it, and no amount of further discussion benefits anyone.

On the bright side, because nobody really cares, the pressure on a young player like Anthony Rizzo isn’t as great as it would be in many other markets. Replacing a team’s franchise player isn’t an easy task for anyone, let alone for a 21-year-old with 50 or so games above Double-A.

But Rizzo and his silly numbers at Tucson forced the Padres’ hand. And, as young hitters sometimes will do regardless of their talent, he struggled mightily in his first exposure to big-league pitching.

This was a known risk at the time but one deemed acceptable by the front office. If either of the two imported veteran stopgap options — Brad Hawpe or Jorge Cantu — had done anything, the temptation to push Rizzo might not have been so great.

As it now stands, Rizzo will be viewed by some as a disappointment, as yet another example of a young hyped player that failed to deliver on his promise (or on the promises made by others on his behalf). This is an unreasonable stance to take, of course. History is littered with players who struggled on first arriving in the big leagues.

Some of them never make the necessary adjustments and see their careers fizzle faster than you can say Shawn Abner. Others, like Ozzie Smith, end up in Cooperstown. In San Diego, we have seen young players who “failed” with other organizations come here and thrive — Phil Nevin and Adrian Gonzalez immediately spring to mind… Maybin looks like another.

The upside to sending Rizzo back to the minors is that now he can try to fix whatever is broken in a less demanding environment than the big leagues. Yes, the pressure to succeed in San Diego is lower than the pressure to succeed in other markets, but it does exist.

The downsides are twofold: First and foremost, Triple-A pitching isn’t big-league pitching. We know that Rizzo can dominate the PCL. There is nothing left for him to prove at that level. And in a hitter’s paradise, such as that found in Tucson, even poor process can lead to favorable outcomes (Dante Bichette sends his regards).

I’m not suggesting that Rizzo has poor process, just that in such an environment, it’s almost impossible to separate the wheat from the chaff simply by examining the numbers. They are not a reliable indicator of future performance elsewhere, particularly when “elsewhere” involves facing the world’s best pitchers in a ballpark that destroys left-handed batters.

A secondary concern is that in shuttling Rizzo back and forth between San Diego and Tucson, the Padres risk eroding the young man’s confidence. Given Rizzo’s background (he has survived Hodgkins Lymphoma), I like his chances to emerge unscathed, but you never know.

In Rizzo’s place, the Padres have recalled Kyle Blanks. He and Jesus Guzman, whose Triple-A success has followed him to the big leagues thus far, will split time at first base.

Blanks started the season rehabbing from last July’s Tommy John surgery at Double-A San Antonio, where he hit .282/.353/.475 in 44 games. He moved up to Tucson when Rizzo came to San Diego and, as hitters will do, abused PCL pitching to the tune of .351/.421/.716 in 35 games.

Blanks has played some outfield, but his future is at first base, although probably not in San Diego. With Rizzo having been drafted by the current Padres front office and acquired for the face of the franchise (“Hey everybody, look at what we got for Gonzalez!”), it’s difficult to imagine Blanks being a part of the long-term plan. The Padres must hope that he plays well enough in the second half that they can move him this coming off-season to address areas of greater need.

Meanwhile, Guzman gets a chance to show what he can do at this level. He is likely too old to become a regular but could be a useful weapon off the bench. Those are handy to have, especially at his price.

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30 Responses »

  1. Going to the Cubs game is an event. Sadly, going to a Padres game is not. A friend of mine who is a native Chicagoan once told me that it’s acceptable in Chi-town to tell the boss you have Cubs tickets and have to leave early (day game obviously).

    Cubs games as “event status” has happened in the last 10-15 years. Even the 1984 team didn’t have that mystique. If they want to bring more fans, they have to figure out the event aspect. Dodger stadium with Manny Ramirez is an event, etc.

    The Angels have figured out how to wake-up their fanbase, maybe the Padres could take a page from their book. Right now, going to Petco is like a visit to the morgue, unless the Giants or Dodgers are in town…

  2. Wrigley and the Cubs are a unique case….an iconic park with a team that is embraced as lovable losers. Only a handful of teams have had that luxury.

    The crosstown White Sox are a better comparison. Always playing second fiddle, they need to win (or at least give the impression of trying to win) in order to draw fans. I remember going to games in the 1980′s when both teams were having awful seasons. Wrigley was packed while (old) Comiskey was a ghost town.


    Also…your comment about being warned of 100-degree heat, when the temperature was 77 degrees made me laugh. Every winter, I receive emails and phone calls from friends back in San Diego telling me about the subzero temps and blizzards they just saw on the news. Meanwhile, it is 40 degrees outside with not an inch of snow in CT.
    When you need to know the weather or forecast for a specific place, without the sensationalism of cable TV or local SD news, go to the NOAA website.

  3. Here are the attendance numbers for 2011 in avg fans per game:
    1 Philadelphia 45,467
    2 NY Yankees 44,467
    3 San Francisco 41,808
    4 Minnesota 39,298
    5 LA Angels 39,089
    6 St. Louis 37,696
    7 Boston 37,597
    8 Chicago Cubs 37,034
    9 Texas 36,990
    10 LA Dodgers 36,629
    11 Colorado 35,762
    12 Milwaukee 35,435
    13 NY Mets 30,965
    14 Detroit 29,826
    15 Atlanta 28,602
    16 Cincinnati 27,815
    17 Houston 26,745
    18 San Diego 25,570
    19 Pittsburgh 24,456
    20 Chicago White Sox 24,376
    21 Arizona 24,036
    22 Washington 23,391
    23 Seattle 23,342
    24 Toronto 23,030
    25 Baltimore 22,344
    26 Cleveland 21,224
    27 Kansas City 20,156
    28 Tampa Bay 19,971
    29 Oakland 19,059
    30 Florida 17,616

    You be the judge on how SD fans stack up. I think this notion that we don’t have real fans is BS compared to the rest of league. The numbers speak for themselves.

  4. Backing up Foster’s statement, I too have heard the “if you have tickets” it was described to me not that they had to ask for permission, they just tell the boss they are going to the game.

    As for fans. Sadly the Padres will have to put up a nice little run of winning for three to four years in a row of constant playoff appearances and win some of those appearances. They’d also have to be better than that 2005-07 run since no one believed in those teams anyway.

    I live in SF and try to get to one Padre game a season here. The fans here are great (I hate them with every fiber of my being). Maybe it’s easier to dress in black and root for your team, but they have to deal with that god awful orange & they embrace it. Maybe the constant uniform changes have something to do with it, the lack of identity when you copy the Brewers god awful uniforms and other constant changes. I personally go to games wearing Brown & Yellow and I see that it appears to be making a push back home. Hopefully that is the possible uniform changes that are supposed to be around the corner.

  5. @FBR: Yeah, Anaheim did a great job. Revamping the ballpark, winning a World Series, and branding the Angels as a Los Angeles team has been an effective combination for generating interest in the team.

    @Parlo: Good point about the White Sox… and I actually got my heat warnings from locals who were concerned for themselves as well as for me.

    @Ford: The numbers do not speak as loudly as Giants fans cheering wildly for their team and taunting Heath Bell at Petco Park. Any attendance is good for the bottom line, but the occasional appearance of Padres fans is better for our collective psyche.

    @Mike: I don’t know that a “nice little run of winning” will do the trick. We tried that before and it didn’t work.

  6. If you think about where you live, or where you work, and the people you see, how many of them grew up in San Diego, and rooted for the Padres as kids? Probably not many. For better or worse, San Diego is a city of transplants, and our teams hurt because of it. 10,000 Giants’ fans did not fly down to San Diego for the game – most of them live and work here. Same with Cubs fans, Yankee fans, Sox fans, and even probably with Dodger fans. That’s the way San DIego works.

    Teams like San Francisco, LA, Philly, New York, etc., have fan bases that stretch back generations, and for the most part, that doesn’t happen here. And let’s face it, fans pick their teams based on who they rooted for when they were kids. Now, as the population gets more and more entrenched (and it is happening), more and more kids will grow up Padres fans, and more will attend Padres games.

    The one thing that bugs me is that the Padres haven’t marketed in TJ as much as they used to. Sure, TJ is a lot poorer than San Diego, but its the same size as San Diego (population wise), and a good number of its residents have dual citizenship. If every kid in San Diego, TJ, Imperial County and maybe Riverside County grew up wearing a Padres cap, Petco would be a lot more full.

  7. @Mike: I could not agree more with the identity crisis that seems to engulf the Padres. I grew up a Pads fan in San Diego my whole life, and now currently live in Portland. I honestly can’t tell the difference between a Pads game or Brewers game if I am not 10 inches from the TV.

    One example that comes to mind of how valuable a team identity can be are the Portland Timbers (I know, it’s soccer, but still valuable). The fans/Timbers Army were largely responsible for the appearance of their club as well as aspects of the newly revamped stadium (where the Beavers used to play) and are continually asked for their input regarding the team. Games are constantly sold out and you can just see how the city has embraced this team.

    Obviously, it’s comparing apples to oranges, but I still think the new ownership should embrace the fans and the fact that we do have a rich history that extends beyond the occasional throwbacks.

  8. Geoff: How did the run of winning in the mid-2000′s not work? We had per game attendance figures in the mid-30,000′s for 2006 and 2007 if I remember correctly. It fell off slightly in 2008 and much more in 2009. We’ve been under 30,000 every year since, with a slight peak last year.

  9. @ Jim T

    nicely put.

    It wouldn’t hurt if we build a consistent winner. Maybe a team that finished with a winning record 5+ years in a row. Instead of good one year and embarrassingly bad the next.

    @ Geoff

    If the Padres won the world series and the dodgers were horrible I bet we would be very loud at dodger stadium, taunting their players as well. Fans come out of nowhere when you win just one championship. Ex. Boston Red Sox fan.

  10. @ Big Worm

    You’re right. From 04-09 the avg. attendance was 33,948. That’s 80% capacity.

  11. @Jim T
    The SF Giants, LA Dodgers, Angels and Mets are only about a decade older than the Padres. Not sure why their fanbases would span back generations while the Padres would not.
    I think the “everybody in San Diego is from somewhere else” argument gets overplayed. I had plenty of classmates in both San Diego and Encinitas when I was in school in the 1970′s. Lots of them are Chargers fans, why aren’t they Padres fans?

    I don’t think being 12th out of 16 NL teams is proof of a strong fanbase.

    Most of the teams below the Padres attendance average have one or more of these issues:

    -Coming off a dreadful 2010 season (Pirates, Seattle, KC etc)
    -Are the second team in a two team city (Oakland, WhiteSox)
    -Play in an uninviting stadium (Oakland, Tampa, Miami)

    Since a sizable chunk of tickets are sold during the offseason and April, the Padres, coming off a 90-win season in a relatively new stadium, should be faring much better.

  12. @Jim T: The fact that San Diego is a city of transplants is a definite factor. There is very little sense of history here (not just in baseball).

    @BigWorm: How much of the attendance boost was due to New Ballpark Shine?

    @Ford: The Padres reached the World Series in 1998 (not the same as winning, granted, but the closest we’ve seen). The Dodgers sucked the next year but still drew 3M+. I don’t remember ever hearing Padres fans dominate Chavez Ravine.

  13. @ Geoff

    Not only did we not win the World Series we were swept. There is a BIG difference. The Dodgers were 77-85 in 99 and we were 74-88. Hard to start a “Go, Padres, Go” chant when your team was swept in the World Series and was bad the next year.

    The Chargers were terrible for many many years and often outnumbered by opposing fans at home games (I know season tix for 10 years). Now after 5+ years of compeitive/playoff football we have a strong following and a home field edge.

    Agree to disagree

  14. I don’t understand the consensus that Blanks’ future is at first base and on another team. He’s a big guy but he’s no Headley out there, and it’s not as if there are Padres of the Tucson variety banging the outfield doors down. He is also a player with humongous power, the kind that PETCO might not be able to hurt, and that’s the kind of player that the Padres should hang on to.

  15. @ Geoff

    Sure, the new park had something to do with it – but I would think MOST of that boost would be seen in 2004. And it was – I’m pretty sure attendance that year was the highest it has ever been (37k / game). But I think the “new park” angle gets overplayed. If the Padres were losing in 2005, 2006 and 2007, would they have averaged 30k+ / game? I’m guessing no.

    But it is impossible to say which had the greater impact, the winning or the new stadium. When the Padres sucked and were still at Qualcomm, they would average about 25k / game. Which is right around where they are now. When they were good and were still at Qualcomm (very rare, not many data points), they were just over 30k.

    I actually ran a regression on baseball attendance as part of a project I worked on while in business school, and the ONLY thing that correlated with increased attendance on an annual basis was winning percentage both during that year and the year before. I know smarter people than me have done similar studies and I’ve seen different conclusions so take that for what it’s worth.

    I will support the lack of a consistent winner angle until the Padres win the NL West three years in a row or make the World Series again. With the exception of that mid-2000′s period we have never had sustained success. And even in that period, only the 2007 team really appeared to be any sort of threat to win the whole thing. That 2005 team was incredibly average.

    I like the FO and think they are on the right track. I think attendance will pop as the prospects mature and we win more games. We will always have an issue with fans of other teams because San Diego is full of transplants and it is a nice vacation spot. And probably a whole host of other reasons.

  16. @Ford: There will always be an excuse for not supporting the home team.

    @Ray: Blanks is a good athlete and a decent outfielder, but I worry about the pounding his body will take out there.

    Eh, I’ll give the attendance thing a rest for now. If San Diego wants to be a second home for other teams and their fans, why should I care anyway?

  17. There are plenty of true die hard Padres fans out there… but, I do see that SD is a bandwagon type of town. Playoff games sell out at Petco.

    When the new ballpark opened it was the place to be, so die hards went and so did all those folks who didn’t want to get stuck in a conversation about this great new park and not be able to participate.

    I see two concurrent paths here and both have been mentioned. Length of a teams history drives the “die hard” fan attendance and as noted it will take another generation or two to continue to develop that attendance path. Being “the place to be” is what drives the “casual/bandwagon” fan. The factors influencing this attendance driver are team success, ballpark location, “shiny new ballpark factor”, and fan experience(the angels have excelled at this one). Of course the overall size of the market drives attendance for both types of fans.

    When you look to the attendance figures Big Worm provided you will notice 4 factors – market size, length of franchise existence, location, and winningness. When I say location I am referring to franchises like the Rays where many fans from inland florida won’t trek to see them due to ridiculous commutes to that particular ball park location.

    If you really think about it and score the four factors from 1-5, you can see why the Padres are where they are…. medium to low market size – 2.5(for the sake of argument), length of franchise – 2, location – 4, winningness – 3(although I expect some will debate this). When you apply the same to the other franchises it becomes obvious why teams have the attendance they have.

  18. @ Geoff:

    You care because they are your team, and it’s frustrating as hell to sit at Petco with 15,000 fans that are wearing orange. It’s also embarrassing.

    Frankly, San Diego just has a weird dynamic to it that you don’t find in many other cities. It’s a vacation destination, yet it’s a major metropolitan area that houses over 1 million people. There is a good UC school that cranks out scientists, yet there is a serious lack of compelling companies to work for and an even more serious lack of start up companies. The sports teams are all relatively young and have had limited success until recently. The down town area has been redeveloped and has seen a reawakening of sorts, yet 2/3 of the population lives 30 minutes north of down town.

    On top of all that, we have an owner who is buying our team on an instalment plan and we have one of the worst records with first round draft picks in MLB.

    I have no idea how this contributes to attendance, but I think it all has a part. But I am convinced that if the Padres string together some winning seasons, make the playoffs several times, build the farm system so that it is cranking out regulars, and maybe even get back to the World Series, the crowds will come.

  19. There are some interesting stats in this article regarding the TB Rays and their ability, or inability, to support a MLB franchise. Included as a relevant stat are the number of Fortune 1,000 companies located in a metropolitan area. San Diego ranks dead last in this category. Additional stats are population density near the stadium, franchise tenure, etc.

    The whole “this team has better fans than that team” argument is tired, particularly because nobody ever attempts to normalize the potential factors. San Diego might not sell out games consistently but that doesn’t mean those Padres fans who do follow the team aren’t great and/or loyal. Or that good teams with strong attendance somehow have better fans. I agree with Big Worm that there is a correlation between winning and fan attendance but there is also a correlation between large payroll and winning (obviously not 100%, yay Mets!). For what it’s worth, the Padres are one of the few teams where MLB attendance ranking consistently exceeds MLB payroll ranking.

    Regarding the new stadium effect, it is real but also temporary. Remember when the Indians had that amazing, multi-year sell out streak? For that matter, can any of us remember when the Orioles were players coming off the opening of Camden Yards? The Padres (and A’s) had higher attendance than the Giants in the 1990s, when the latter team played in what had to be the worst baseball venue in history. Now those 10k Giants fans that showed up for meaningless Sept games in 25 degree wind chill were hard core even though there weren’t many of them. The Angels deservedly get a lot of credit for having improved their franchise but has any team done a better job than the Giants since opening up their new (privately funded!) stadium? No team has managed to prolong the attendance boost as well, even during losing seasons (thanks to Barry Bonds and his personal trainer). Now they are firmly entrenched as the Red Sox of the West Coast, although the Dodgers couldn’t be farther away from their role as the Yankees.

    So winning matters, payroll matters, a good stadium experience matters, population density matters, large corporate sponsorship matters, and so on. The primary point is that there are a lot of factors so let’s not simplify things with blanket statements that some fans are better or more loyal than others. The infestation of rabid fans for opposing teams will always be a part of baseball (and for the most part football) in San Diego. In a silver lining kind of way that is a good thing, at least if you consider life outside of baseball. Let’s at least hope that Giants fans get infected with the same ennui that caught up with Braves fans (not even selling out playoff games!) so we don’t have to add them to the list of teams (Dodgers, Cubs, etc.) that periodically create that terribly annoying atmosphere Petco.

  20. I believe you need to attract the casual fans along with the hard cores, which in time will create more hard core fans. One reason that attracting casual fans to Petco is difficult is the run supressing enviorment that is Petco. It is not just the extreme number of low scoring games, it is the perception that those games create. Casual fans do not look at home / road splits and ballpark factors. They see an anemic offense and don’t bother looking any furthur.

  21. When it comes to San Diego fans you have to remember there hasn’t been much consistency with the organization. It doesn’t come down to just wins and losses, but putting the best product on the field and whenever a big name player is traded fans take that as a sign they aren’t putting the best product on the field.

    After winning 90 last year what did the front office do? Not bring back most of the players that helped them get to 90 wins. Would keeping them have mattered? Minus Adrian and maybe Torrealba, probably not, but still the perception is they set themselves up for failure this year.

  22. Re: Blanks, the crowd that is willing to say his future is at 1b, while admiting that he’s a good athlete and decent outfielder (15 GM’s in OF before major league debut), while having no chance of sticking there for the next 3-5 years is a little beyond me. To me he has illustrated that he has the desire to succeed by losing the weight two off-seasons ago and keeping it off.

    Some things need to go right, Blanks has to keep his legs and arms healthy, but you can imagine the Padres aren’t going to be starting him out there 150 times a year. He’ll get his share of days off as well as starts at 1b & DH in interleague play. If those things happen I see no reason he can’t stay in the OF thru his 20′s. If he ends up having a long career, there is no doubt he’ll end up at 1b in the second half of it or as a DH if he ends up in the AL on a club with a better defensive 1b.

    Am I ready to jump to the conclusion that Blanks is going to fall to pieces with 120-130 games in the OF? No. That seems to be the common consensus about the naysayer’s on Blanks being an OF with the club for more then the next season. Way too soon IMO to say that’s how its going to play out.

  23. I just ran some simple numbers. If you look at the DMA populations of where a team is vs. average attendance for 2010 (combining the attendance for teams that share a DMA: NY, LA, CHI, SF/Bay Area) you get a correlation of .885. So, big cities/regions get high average attendance, smaller ones less so. If you run a polynomial trend line (rather than linear with .783) you get an r-squared of .85, an implied correlation of .929. So that explains most of it. You can nudge up or down with winning and loyalty, but just where you are seems to explain most of it.

    DMA is designated market area by the census, which is used in TV market calculations.

  24. @jay – you need to run the numbers for more than 1 season. Too many possible circumstances that could influence a 1 year attendance. Although I don’t suspect any significant difference, it would still be prudent to include say 10 years worth of attendance.

  25. Hmmm….. says me. I wonder what the attendance elasticty relative to DMA is for a given team is? For example: How far would the NY DMA have to fall to start having an impact on attendance for the Yankees? What is the tipping point where less DMA(or whaveter you want to use to measure that markets size) starts to decrease attendance? Me thinks that would be difficult to measure but potentially telling on how important factors other than market size are to a given teams attendance.

    I don’t think anyone would argue that a larger market size has a correlation to attendance, for obvious reasons. The real questions are why do 2 teams with similar market sizes have vastly different attendance figures? Yankees vs Mets? Cubs and Whitesox? Baltimore or Washington vs Atlanta Braves? or different market sizes- Atlanta Braves vs St Louis Cardinals? Detroit vs Milwaukee or Colorado?

  26. @Jay,
    DMA is not a census designation, but instead a measurement developed by Nielson to measure the number of televisions in a particular broadcasting market. With cable-TV, DMA’s can extend hundreds of miles and often overlap other DMAs.

    Television certainly plays a big role in building a fanbase, (and also very lucrative) but viewers who live hours away don’t play a big role in ballpark attendance. Sure, some make a road trip (or bus charter) for a random weekend game, but they are not filling the seats for weeknight games.
    DMAs, along with Statistical Metropolitan Areas are often much too large a geographical area as a guage for baseball attendance
    The population within a 30- 40 mile radius is where the large bulk of attendance comes from.

  27. @Chase: Not sure what other’s reasoning may be on Blanks, but one of the biggest factors for me is the sheer absence of comps. I may be missing some guys, but I go all the way back to Frank Howard in the 60′s before I come across a guy of that size who played the OF for any appreciable length of time. And before that? I’m not sure if there was anyone before Frank. Now this may be caused by teams looking at a guy that size and putting him at 1B without ever giving him a shot in the OF, but I think it’s also possible a guy of that size is not suited to playing the OF 150 times a year.

    Also, there’s the Petco factor which applies in this case. You simply have to have OF with plus range, and I’m not sure how well Blanks fills that bill.

  28. @Pat – with Maybin and Venable I don’t see Blanks as needing to have plus range.

  29. @PadresFuture That’s assuming Venable plays and Black is trying his hardest to make sure that doesn’t happen.

    I think the thing that San Diego fans want that will draw them to games is exciting players. Last year they were winning but they had a Blanks Bobble Head day and he wasn’t even in the majors. If you look at years with Caminiti, Gwynn, Hoffman, the team had excitement to it, women wanted to go to the games because of those guys (not really Gwynn but you get my point). The Padres have lacked that the last couple of years, there is no excitement at the games and it has nothing to do with payroll.

  30. @PF: It’s less important in LF than in RF (talking Petco here) and it certainly helps when you have an exceptional CF to take some of the pressure off. It’s certainly possible his bat could offset any defensive shortcomings. Would be an interesting experiment, no doubt!