Padres can close the deal with a shortstop

Starlin Castro

It’s the rubber game tonight for the Padres and Dodgers series. But did you catch the guy toeing the rubber Tuesday night? Welcome to the jungle as we welcome Craig Kimbrel to San Diego.

Kimbrel is a difference-maker and if he has a chicken wing sticking out before every pitch, so be it. It worked just fine for Rod Beck, back in the day.

Padres GM A.J. Preller swiped Kimbrel from the Braves, even if the Melvin Upton’s huge contract was part of the deal. With Kimbrel joining Matt Kemp and all, it’s clear the Padres are pushing all their chips toward the middle of the table. Which means a shortstop should be heading for Petco Park soon, right?

Joaquin Benoit to the Cubs for Starlin Castro has a ring to it. With Kimbrel, the Padres not only have the game’s best closer, but a surplus of late-inning, power-arms. The Cubs have a shortage of that — and Wrigley Field restrooms — so why not do business with Chicago GM Jed Hoyer? …

Pads skipper Bud Black and pitching coach Darren Balsley have forgotten more about the game than I’ll ever know. Still, just a tip from someone with not as many baseball stripes: don’t pitch to Adrian Gonzalez! …

Speaking of Black, he’s listed in some Las Vegas books as the third-most likely manager to be canned this season. As hot seats go, that temperature is inflated a bit. But with what the front office is doing, being average is no longer an option…

Duke wins the national title which means San Diego State has lost to the eventual NCAA champion in two of its past five tournament visits. That’s a nice note but what would be better is if Winston Shepard and Malik Pope rebuff the NBA and stay on Montezuma Mesa one more year…

Rolling Stones tickets go on sale Wednesday morning for the ageless wonders’ concert on Memorial Day weekend at Petco. Mick Jagger doesn’t strike me as a baseball operations guy, but the last time here he urged the Padres to sign free-agent pitcher David Wells. Maybe a roadie will slide Jagger a note about giving Preller a shout out regarding Starlin?

And if Preller attends the show, will that just be one more rock star in the house? …

You get a load of the survey for Chargers season-tickets holders? Among the questions were if they would be willing to pay $25,000 on a personal seat license. After finishing out of the playoffs three of the past four years, that answer is pretty clear…

All quiet on the Chargers’ front as the stadium issue plods along. NFL financial guru Eric Grubman spoke with the mayor’s stadium folks on Tuesday, and that should be a plus.
Grubman will be in town next week to evaluate the city’s bid to keep the Chargers in town as well. But don’t fall for all the happy talk, as this conversation remains about leverage. Right now, most of it resides on the Bolts’ sidelines…

Don’t be idle come Thursday afternoon If unable to score a ducat to the Padres’ home opener against the world champion Giants, head for East Village and its annual free block party. You may not be able to tell the players without a scorecard, but you can still have fun without a game ticket. And with Petco’s new gigantic scoreboard, you can probably see the contest from Santee.

Among the new bells and whistles at Petco is a party deck under the big screen and bar stools placed atop the left-field fence, aka Green Monster. That’s all groovy, but a shortstop would be the cherry on top of the Padres’ makeover.

+ Contact Jay Paris at



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