The Bar: Reaction to Bill Center article on Padres finances

Last week Scott Miller of CBS asserted that the Padres were “broke”. Actually he asserted that they are “broke”.

After speaking with the Padres during the week, the U-T’s Bill Center wrote an article on Sunday morning about the state of finances for the Padres.

On short notice we rallied together at the Bar to discuss, keeping the following in mind:

What is your reaction to this article? Does the explanation make you feel better or worse about the most recent off-season, or where the team could be headed in the next few years?

Vocal Minority (David)

When speculation is that the starting rotation on opening day will be Richard, Volquez, Marquis, Stults, and (insert arm), I take great issue with Garf’s “We’re not going to do it just to prove something or make a splash.” Especially when the team’s stated objective was to add two pitchers in the off-season. Addressing a need is not “making a splash”, it’s addressing a need.

Vocal Minority (Nate)

After reading this, Scott Miller’s piece, and listening to Miller on Darren Smith’s show, I honestly don’t know if the team is broke or not. Center’s sources, the Padres, haven’t earned any trust, while Miller’s sources are other teams’ front office personnel speculating based on dealings with Josh Byrnes this off-season. I’m not confident in any of them.

I think what this comes down to, whether they are broke or not, is the Padres either not understanding the psychology of what’s happened to the fan base over the last 5 years or not caring. Scott Miller gets it. He thinks the Padres payroll should be ranking in the 15-20 range, right now. He thinks the new ownership has wasted their first impression, and with that their chance to change the culture of the Padres in the community. Bill Center? Just happy to report whatever the Padres tell him. That’s the difference between a national writer who just happens to live in town and a beat writer whose newspaper has a co-dependent relationship with the team.

Are the Padres broke? I don’t know. Should it matter to the fans? I don’t think so. We should be demanding better, without excuses.

RJ’s Fro (Rick)

Like I’ve said all along, either the team is taking a ton of heat for Byrnes’ shortcomings or he’s taking a ton of heat for theirs. Either way, one of them is dropping the ball and making the other look bad.

VM (David)

It is interesting that team brass has been very clear about Byrnes being responsible for the makeup of the club, as the heat from fans and (national) media has increased.

Avenging Jack Murphy

The Center article delivered nothing short of what we should expect as fans — a message that all is fine and well in Padre land. It’s a message delivered straight from the front office, with Center as the conduit, so it didn’t surprise me. What I find irritating is to hear that Josh Byrnes was given the green light to go after Justin Upton. It sounds like the perfect thing to say . . . after you weren’t able to get Justin Upton.

Having said that I don’t think it’s all as dire as Scott Miller made it sound with his “their broke” statement. As Nate pointed out, in the interview with Darren Smith today, Miller’s perception of the Padres financial standing is based on talking to other organizations. How much do they really know?

One thing I took from the Smith/Miller interview today was how big of a joke Jeff Moorad is viewed to be around the league. And he hired Josh Byrnes twice.

Sacrifice Bunt (Melvin)

As I discussed recently, the important question is how valuable wins are to the team in 2013. An optimist would say that the team doesn’t expect to compete and doesn’t see much value in a few extra wins this season. Another view is that the team can’t afford a few extra wins which have increased in price, perhaps predictably, this off-season.

And I agree with Nate’s point as well–having a made-up mind about who you believe at this point is absurd. Sources can provide misleading or incomplete information, while obviously Bill Center’s sources with the Padres aren’t exactly neutral. We all have our biases leading us toward whatever conclusion fits our worldview, none of which offers substantive evidence.

It’s also worth mentioning that former Padres CEO Sandy Alderson made several on-air comments about how much negativity he sees from San Diego fans compared to other cities. I think the current Padres management may have overestimated how much goodwill they can expect from fans. We’ve been through some shit.

Ghost of Ray Kroc

My issue with this article boils down to one quote from Tom Garfinkel:

“Ownership has been nothing but supportive,” Padres CEO and President Tom Garfinkel said this week. “They’ve indicated that they’ll deficit spend beyond the revenues if the right deal is there.”

“Deficit spend?” I don’t want to hear anything that even remotely follows that concept. If they can’t afford to spend, that’s one thing. If they’re spending money they don’t have, that’s another thing entirely. Nothing good can come out of that. That’s how Fire Sales get started. Bad juju.

Son of a Duck

One media outlet reports that the Padres are broke. Another refutes it. Only one of these is right, and we have no way of knowing which. That this has become a topic of conversation speaks to credibility issues facing both the local baseball team and the local media.

The Padres did nothing to address a terrible starting rotation. Dan Haren scares the heck out of me, but I wouldn’t have minded seeing Edwin Jackson come here. And the continuing saga of whether or not they will extend Chase Headley is a sore point for many fans.

The articles I’ve read don’t change my opinion of the Padres’ off-season. They did not improve their short-term prospects (although I’m not sure anything would have improved those enough to make a difference) but also did not jeopardize their long-term position. I’m actually okay with that, except for the part where we have to watch a lot of bad pitching in 2013.

AJM

I don’t know if we can say only one is right, SOAD. The truth is somewhere in the middle. The Padres aren’t broke but they definitely aren’t in a position to make a deal that could be a long-term loser.

GoRAK

Which is where that Garfinkel quote comes into play for me. Long-term loser is how I see Jackson. No way he’s actually worth what he was asking. I’m actually glad that the Padres wouldn’t give Jackson a 4th year. If Haren scares Geoff, Jackson scares me. Especially at 4 years. The fact that he got 4 years from the Cubs amazes me.

SOAD

Thanks, AJM. That’s a better way of expressing the point I was trying to make about credibility. I’ll amend my original statement of “Only one of these is right, and we have no way of knowing which” to “At most, one of these is right, and we have no way of knowing which (if either).” This is less comforting but probably more accurate.

 Sacrifice Bunt (Ray)

I’ve mentioned this before but I fail to see how Jackson is an enticing option at three-years and a nuclear at four. Is his arm going to fall off at the age of 32? But that’s not really here nor there.

What I find interesting is that Scott Miller is now the second person, after Dave Winfield, to come out and say that the new ownership group doesn’t have anymore money. Their word does not make necessarily it so but at the same time, what do they have to gain from lying? I imagine that it’s lot less than Fowler and the O’Malleys, if they are in fact lying.

AJM

It should also be pointed out that Josh Byrnes wasn’t sure if they could deal for Justin Upton because he would be making over $14 million in 2014 and 2015 which was a bit pricey. Yet ownership is now saying that they gave Byrnes the green light to go after Upton. Which is it?

And I have it upon good authority that Edwin Jackson is targeted for self-destruction on Labor Day of 2015. So technically he falls apart prior to hitting age 32.

As far as the four year contract thing goes, it appears to be a matter of organizational philosophy. It’s a built in excuse to not over-commit. But with a philosophy like this why would any free-agent ever choose San Diego as a destination?

SB (Ray)

The Upton rumor seems like a distraction. He wouldn’t have filled a need and considering what Towers eventually got for him, he probably would’ve cost Headley or Gyorko.

AJM

Don’t think of Upton as Upton. Think of it as player “X” who will command $14M in both 2014 and 2015. Garf says ownership gave the green-light for discussions to take place in the Center article yet Byrnes hedged on the idea a while back on account of dollar commitments. I don’t like the inconsistency.

SB (Ray)

Right. Specifically, Byrnes balked at the idea of paying Upton $14M in a discussion with the talking heads at MLBN.

VM (David)

I agree that Upton is a distraction, which goes to show that this group really doesn’t understand the San Diego fan. At this point, we’ve built up an immunity to “look, we tried.”

SB (Ray)

Which is particularly worthy of note because Fowler has not missed an opportunity to remind us about just how San Diego he is.

GoRAK

WE’RE DRIVING TO FLORIDA!
[passes out]

 

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  • http://twitter.com/ChangeThePadres Change the Padres

    The Upton contradiction isn’t entirely incongruous. Ownership might have given Byrnes the go-ahead to add Upton, but that doesn’t necessarily refute that it would have been tough from a salary standpoint. Perhaps the ownership said: “Sure…add Upton, so long as the payroll doesn’t increase.” Which, of course, would just confirm that the Padres are basically broke. Either way, cue Ron Burgundy.

    • http://twitter.com/AvengingJM Avenging Jack Murphy

      Go for Upton but trade away enough players to offset his contract in ’13, ’14 and ’15! That would sure ingratiate ownership with its fans.

      • http://thesacrificebunt.com RayTSB

        You joke but that’s the sort of outside of the box thinking that the Padres should be employing. Don’t brag about bringing back everyone from a fourth place team when it keeps you from upgrading.

      • http://twitter.com/AvengingJM Avenging Jack Murphy

        But Chase is getting paid the most . . . so that means the love of your life would have been shipped to the desert. You cool with that?

      • http://thesacrificebunt.com RayTSB

        I wasn’t opposed to a Headley-for-Upton swap.

  • http://twitter.com/THEcjackson Chris Jackson

    A couple of thoughts from a guy who reads PP instead of paying attention to law school (Best thing to happen to Padres coverage since Depo’s blog during the draft(R.I.P.))

    1. Discounting Miller’s sources simply because they come from other organizations seems impractical. As many office heels like myself can attest, water cooler talk is still almighty, and other orgs., especially if Miller was talking to executives, probably have a much better idea about the inner workings of the Padres than we do, especially when we are somewhat relying on PR from the club itself (e.g. #SezBill). As someone who worked inside very public entities that didn’t want information getting out to the media, hearing the media talk about that subject like its factual journalism became comical in how far off they were.

    2. I think too many of us are focusing on “broke” or “not broke.” In actuality, the real answer is probably somewhere in between. They had the money to buy the club outright (unlike Jeff “Montel Williams” Moorad) so they wouldn’t tax their liquid assets to the max to do so. And they obviously aren’t the People’s Republic of Dodgers. So I like to think that they are what we always thought they would be… not broke, but living paycheck to paycheck. And on top of that, cheap.

    3. Because lets be honest here… the Padres are still cheap. Very convenient to namedrop paying Upton 12-14M after the fact, when every Headley mention balks at the idea of that same price at a more valuable position. Not going to 4 years on a contract? Cheap. No high level player will settle for 3 years, period. And that includes homegrown guys. Agents won’t let them, and the MLBPA will push back too. Like it was pointed out RE: Haren, the price was high but not eyebrow raising. And SD probably dropped out of the talks after it past 8M

    4. As to my favorite question: Does the ownership not know about fan discontent, or do they just not care? I think we here (I refer to the “we” in regards to the fine gentlemen of PP like we all do with the Padres) tend to look at our relationship with the team through sand-colored glasses. We are quite literally the vocal minority. The vast majority of Padre fans don’t pay attention to baseball until April, can’t name the top 3 prospects, and probably have never heard of how Jaff Decker got his name. I would put money down on the fact that some high level muckymuck in the front office reads this blog (super-blog?) every single day… but they know the writhing masses don’t feel the same way. Basically I’m saying I’m positive they know WE feel this way, but in the big picture they just don’t stinking care.

    Now someone beef me up on closely-held corporations.

    • Melvin

      RIP It Might Be Dangerous… You Go First. Never forget.

      • http://twitter.com/THEcjackson Chris Jackson

        I learned more from that blog about 40th rounders than any man should ever know

    • http://twitter.com/The_NV Nathan Veale

      Great comment.

    • http://twitter.com/AvengingJM Avenging Jack Murphy

      Great comment, Chris. And I can’t read Jaff Decker without saying Jaff Decker in my head. I will never be able to stop doing this.

      • http://twitter.com/THEcjackson Chris Jackson

        I spent like 4 years saying jAff, and since he was the first highly drafted HS player that the Pads took in what seemed like an eternity (Seriously though… do you guys remember how for like 5 years straight, you KNEW that with their first 4 rounds the team was gonna select some guy with NO measurable and a ceiling as high as death valley? For you Moneyball types, after the Carrillos and Stauffers and Dykstras I was expecting a 300 lb catcher with a propensity for walks every year in the first round. But I digress.) So I had a rather unnatural affection for jAff Decker because he had more upside than pretty much everyone simply because he was a high schooler. So even though I know how to pronounce his name, I can’t bring myself to do it.

    • http://www.ghostofrak.com/ GhostofRAK

      How dare you bring reason into this conversation! Harumph!

    • SDPads1

      Great comment! Wow, you hit it right on the head.

  • http://twitter.com/LybargerBrewery Billy Lybarger

    AJM’s point about Moorad being a joke as seen around the league struck me. But the joke is on Padres fans as both Byrnes and Garfinkle were both hired twice by him. And both are still employed by the Padres.

  • shaynes41

    Another interesting thing from Miller’s interview with Smith was his confidence that this current “broke” condition was temporary and due mainly to the sale and the extra $200M they effectively paid due to Moores/Moorad taking the top off the TV deal. So while the current condition probably means 2013 is going to end up somewhere between 2011 and 2012, I don’t think it necessarily is an indicator of things to come.

    Besides, the long term plan for the Padres has to look like like what the Rays and A’s do, right? We may be able to pull in a Vet on a 1 or 2 year contract, but we are never going to go out and get a guy like Upton (big money via trade) or a $15M/year type FA. That is just not what the Padres are going to do if we want to be successful long term.

    So while this off-season doesn’t bode well for 2013, I think we can temper our skepticism a bit since they Padres seem to be doing what they should be doing (or at least they are not doing what they should not be doing)

    (PS: IMO, the whole “first impression” thing is overrated. Build a winner and fans will come back. Build a loser and no amount of initial “good will” will save you.)

    • http://thesacrificebunt.com RayTSB

      The Rays signed their third baseman to a long-term contract. Let’s wait and see if the Padres do the same before we start that discussion.

  • http://twitter.com/MrDanielXSD D.A.N.

    I am going to add some speculation to this conversation based on what I know.

    1) I think Byrnes did have a green light, and that he did have some money to spend to “splash” if he wanted to.

    2) I think he is taking a conservative route because he is best known for making some brash trades with the Diamondbacks that ultimately didn’t work out.

    3) His first mega trade with the Padres led to low-power 1B, a suspended catcher, and an average starter who has problems with the strike zone at times.

    4) He is not extending Headley until he knows the #’s were not a fluke, if he gave him a 4 year extension for Market value money, and he reverts back to: 10 HR, .275/.360./.390 sort of player, there would be rage and gnashing of teeth.

    5) He was waiting for a “Hoyer/Towers-esque” 1 year rebuild player. Haren may have been that sort of guy but he ended up commanding more that reasonable. What ended up frustrating me was how the Padres ended up getting tied to every FA pitcher, and didn’t end up with any. Wiff on Haren, ok. But wiff on Haren, Jackson, Sanchez, Kuroda, Marcum, etc etc etc… and it starts to feel like you are not trying.

    Overall, I think Byrnes is trying so hard to not look bad, he is looking bad.

    • SDPads1

      “Overall, I think Byrnes is trying so hard to not look bad, he is looking bad.”

      That sounds about right to me.