Twelve Thoughts: Rockies' Dynamic Hitting Duo, Next Dodgers Owner?
Yeah, he isn't hitting much on the road, but Gonzalez, a five-tool talent, is having a home season for the ages. And on the road, he's an asset defensively and on the basepaths. He's batting .316 against the rival Padres in San Diego as well.
"He's got everything," said the Padres' Adrian Gonzalez. "Great player, no doubt about it."
• When he tweaked the talented but raw Gonzalez, Rockies hitting coach Don Baylor boosted baseball's entertainment value. Gonzalez has become the West's most entertaining baseball player, since Baylor fixed his batting grip.
"I used to hold the bat like it was a football," Gonzalez said. "Now I have a better handle, so I can have more whip, and hit the ball hard."
Here's what the paying customers in Denver saw from Gonzalez in 60 home games: a .394 batting average, 25 home runs, 66 RBI, 60 runs and 10 stolen bases.
• Goofy though it sounds, Troy Tulowitzki's hitting approach was bettered by a fractured wrist.
"I became a better hitter with using the whole field," said the Rockies' cleanup man.
Since his return, Tulowitzki has batted .347 with eight home runs and 34 RBI in 38 games. "Next year," said the 25-year-old shortstop, "if the power comes, hopefully I become the full player that I am."
Funny, Tulowitzki has slugged nearly .600 since his return, so if that's a loss of power, other hitters wouldn't mind taking a fastball to the wrist.
• Without leaving Milwaukee, Bud Selig may have a chance to assist West Coast baseball.
Heard this from a major league executive: Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio has interest in becoming owner of the Dodgers, who could end up on the market after the McCourt ownership dispute is resolved. I was unable to reach Attanasio at his Los Angeles office, and I know Attanasio is still energetic about building the Brewers. But if commissioner Selig placed Attanasio in Los Angeles, advantage, Dodgers. It would also be a measure of redemption for Selig, who steered the McKooks into ownership of the Dodgers in 2004 The Brewers became relevant after Attanasio bought them from the Selig family for $180 million in late 2004.
• Robotic consistency is Mat Latos' No. 1 selling point for Cy Young votes.
The Tattoed One has given the Padres 15 consecutive starts with at least five innings and two runs or fewer allowed. Over the last 22 starts, his ERA is 1.64 and his batting average allowed is .175. Padres general manager Jed Hoyer said he's dazzled by the 22-year-old's consistent excellence, "especially given various rest periods during the season."
• Clemson's bearish football schedule is making for nervous Saturdays among Rockies officials.
The Rockies signed Clemson quarterback Kyle Parker this summer knowing that Parker soon will face bruisers from Auburn, Miami and North Carolina. "We just hope everyone on the defense stays away from him," cracked Billy Geivett, Colorado's assistant GM. A veteran American League scout gushed about Parker to West Coast Bias, telling me that he hit 20 home runs last season despite "not knowing what he's doing." Parker isn't large, but he routinely hit 420-foot shots in batting practice at Coors Field this summer.
• I'm surprised the Rockies didn't pursue quarterback Matt Leinart after the NFL Cardinals released him.
The Rockies drafted two quarterbacks in June, and their active roster includes a former backup to Peyton Manning (Todd Helton at Tennessee) and a former backup to Eli Manning (Seth Smith at Ole Miss). "One, it's a position of leadership," Geivett said. "Two, it takes intelligence to understand the schemes in football, and we hope that would translate to baseball."
• The most famous quarterback drafted by the Rockies wisely chose football.
Michael Vick opted against baseball after the Rockies selected him 887th in the 2000 draft. A year later, the Atlanta Falcons drafted Vick first overall. The urban legend is, the Rockies still have a signed contract from Vick, but Geivett said he doesn't know of one. Fair to say, he added, the Rockies drafted Vick on a whim.
• The San Diego Chargers owe me a motivational fee, for the quote below regarding Antonio Gates' Hall of Fame candidacy.
"He has to get in line," one voter told FanHouse, "and Shannon Sharpe is ahead of him, and Tony Gonzalez will be next. First, tight end isn't a position that typically draws Hall of Fame interest. Second, this isn't about big numbers, which he puts up. Is this guy such a force that he changes games? I don't think that's the case. He's not someone I look at as Hall of Fame-worthy."
• For a San Francisco Giants prospect drafted sixth overall, one statistic bodes well.
Zack Wheeler has too many walks (38) in 58 2/3 innings, but no South Atlantic League hitter can boast a home run against the 20-year-old. Home run prevention is a nifty indicator of future success. Wheeler's healthy groundball rate could pay off later, too, if coupled with the right infield defense.
• The pink slip with rival Arizona could land A.J. Hinch in San Diego .
The Padres have talked to Hinch about hiring him as their director of pro scouting. Only three months ago, Hinch was managing the rival Diamondbacks. Hinch may have other options, but if he joins the Padres, which I expect to happen, he'll be reunited with CEO Jeff Moorad, formerly of the Diamondbacks. Hinch and GM Josh Byrnes were fired on July 1 with Arizona 34 games under .500.
• When Southern California's NFL team opens its season Monday night, watch the quarterback's feet.
"I've been working on pocket management," said the Chargers' Philip Rivers, who led the AFC in passer rating last year. "Now, I'm trying to put more of an emphasis on whether I should move three yards, or whether I need to move three feet. Sometimes I move a little too much."