Potential Fire Sale FAQ

Nothing has happened yet, but all indications are that life is about to get real interesting around these parts. With that in mind, here’s a little something to help you through as we move forward into the unknown…

Q: What the heck is going on with the Padres?
A: Principle owners John and Becky Moores have filed for divorce. Custody of the team will be a part of the proceedings, although as of early October, “no decision regarding the Padres has been made.” Some reports suggest that total payroll could plummet to as low as $40 million in 2009. This may or may not be the result of a desire to make the franchise more palatable to potential buyers.

Q: Why did the Padres pick up Brian Giles’ option?
A: Because he’s real good and he comes at a reasonable price; the team doesn’t have a lot of players who fit that description.

Q: What’s the deal with Trevor Hoffman? Is he leaving?
A: Looks like it. As for what’s going on, it depends on who you ask. Hoffman’s camp has their side of the story, the Padres have theirs. I imagine — as does Melvin Nieves at Sacrifice Bunt — that both contain elements of truth; have fun looking for them.

Q: Where is Jake Peavy going?
A: I don’t know, but it sounds like the Braves and Cubs are primary targets.

Q: What might the Padres get in return for Peavy?
A: They might get just about anything. Rumors are rampant, but the situation is so fluid that it’s hard to know which to heed and which to ignore. I’m operating under the assumption that all publicly available information at this stage is unreliable, so I won’t offer any names. If you’re curious, though, you can always try Google.

Q: When will Peavy be traded?
A: Very soon. Or not soon at all. Less facetiously, most folks seem to expect movement before the Winter Meetings scheduled to be held in Las Vegas December 8 – 11. With my luck, a trade will happen while I’m off the grid in Hawai’i over Thanksgiving and you will have to wait a while for my scintillating analysis. ;-)

Q: This sucks.
A: That’s not a question, but yeah.

Q: If the Padres conduct a full-on Fire Sale, will they be really bad in 2009?
A: Possibly, although they were really bad in 2008 without benefit of a Fire Sale, so I’m not sure how much difference a shedding of payroll will make. Then again, I’m not one to use lack of funds as an excuse for not competing. It wouldn’t shock me at all to see the Padres move Peavy and improve their record next year. That apparent incongruity may cause a few heads to explode. Cleanup on Aisle 4.

Q: Should I panic?
A: Only if you think it will help.

Q: Should I abandon the Padres?
A: If you are serious in asking the question, then yes, you probably should leave.

Q: Okay, where should I go?
A: Try the Red Sox. I hear they’ve got a pretty big bandwagon.

Q: Can I come back when the Padres are good again?
A: Sure. We’re easy that way. We’ll give you a little bit of grief, but it’ll pass.

Q: How long should I stay away?
A: Let’s see, the Padres’ last Fire Sale came in ’93. They reached the playoffs in ’96 and the World Series in ’98. So, what’s that, 3-5 years? Of course, this assumes that any potential new owner is as good as Moores was when he rescued the team from Tom Werner and that the current braintrust remains in place. You may have a different crystal ball.

Q: Doesn’t this all piss you off a little?
A: Yeah, the situation stinks and I wish it didn’t exist. But it does, and my opinion has no bearing on its resolution, so I don’t stress. Here’s hoping the folks in charge do as well as Randy Smith did in ’93 and get the team back to the World Series so everyone can jump back on the bandwagon and be happy again.

* * *
That’s the situation right now, but it may change at a moment’s notice. Chasing rumors in the hope of gaining insight is like chasing gnats in the hope of gaining sustenance. It could happen, but I wouldn’t want to count on it.

If you value your sanity and don’t want to be taken for a ride by various media wags who may or may not have a clue, my advice is to keep your head down until the decision makers announce something. Then we’ll have actual news to dissect instead of a giant, steaming load of crap that sells copy and satisfies nobody but the advertisers.

Tagged as: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

24 Responses »

  1. I’ll be at the Winter Meetings in Vegas this year (for the Minor League job fair). Do I need to track down KT and demand a straight answer?

  2. Is this a conspiracy theory or fact: Moores wants to retain the ballclub, but wants to pay minimum value to compensate for his wife’s half. Therefore, he drops the payroll, thereby lowering the assets on the books and decreasing the value of the club. Is that what is going on here?

    Alternatively, Moores is going to keep the ball club, but because his wife took half of his net worth, he’s now slashing payroll, nicknaming the team the Pobres, moving the team to Miami, and forming a sand-lot league with the Marlins.

    This sux. The RedSox bandwagon is looking pretty appealing….

  3. I understand people being angry about losing 99 games. What I am having a hard time with is the amount of people who see breaking up a 99 loss team as the final straw.

  4. #1@Phantom: Good luck with that. :) KT has finely-honed escape and evasion skills. Plus, he sure seems to be under a gag order.

    Is there a real mystery here? The owner’s personal and financial world is in disarray. That leads to cost-cutting and possibly profit-taking when possible. And the front office is not skilled at presenting their case to the public.

  5. “this assumes that any potential new owner is as good as Moores was when he rescued the team from Tom Werner and that the current braintrust remains in place.”

    I agree with the 2nd part of this sentence, but is Moores really a good owner? By comparison to Tom Werner I guess he is but what has Moores done that’s so great? His strong point was staying out of baseball decisions and letting people that know what they were doing (Towers) run the team. And when he did interject into baseball decisions, the effects were disastrous (the 2004 decision to take Matt Bush over Jared Weaver cost the team a playoff spot in 2007 and potential playoff series wins the 2 previous years).

    Can anyone name anything he’s done that is positive? Granted, he’s not at the Jeffrey Loria level but I don’t think anyone would say he’s one of the better owners in baseball, would they?

  6. #1@Phantom: Yes! Good luck with that though…KT will prob convince you that you are being traded to the Cardinals for a bullpen arm and a Scott Rolen autographed jersey.

  7. 1: I’m not sure I’d do that if I were you. You are talking about KT, right?
    The same Kevin Towers that fleeced the Red Sox by returning that stupid catcher, the same GM that was able to get three pitchers for the almost broken down Andy Ashby (my favorite) and, then, was able to trade one of the pitchers later on to get Adrian Gonzalez. That same KT?

    I’m rooting for you to get a straight answer from him but I’ll settle if you can even get him ‘sat right’. No, I don’t know what that means either.

  8. Hmmm… making the switch to the Red Sox DOES seem like a logical progression for me….

    Butttttttttt… I think I’ll stay with my crappy team.

  9. #1@Phantom:

    Yes, Phantom…you most certainly need to do that. Let me know how it works out.

    Ya know, I’ve rooted for so many crappy Padre and Charger teams in my life, this feels normal.

  10. #3@Field39: It’s like the old joke about the food tasting terrible and the portions being too small. If the food tastes terrible, aren’t small portions a good thing?


    Without Moores: 26 years, 1 playoff appearance
    With Moores: 14 years, 4 playoff appearances

  11. #10@Geoff Young: that says it all.

    Although, Bochy’s track record is similarly good too in that regard…

  12. Good stuff, Geoff. I always enjoy the way you bring a dose of reality and much needed perspective wrapped in your dry wit!

  13. Bottom line, I don’t want my hard-earned/even harder to come by money supporting a team that decides to trade away its top talent to light the flames of yet another fire sale. I’ll always be a Padres fan, but the Pads don’t have that “good ol’ days” feel anymore….

  14. #3@Field39: It’s not that the idea of breaking up a 99 loss team is necessarily a bad one, but it’s the perception that the team is not being entirely forthcoming in its reasoning. I usually don’t give what Nick Canepa has to say much thought but his “Dear John” letter in the paper yesterday was the best thing he has written in years:

    It’s not that the organization is doing everything wrong, it’s how it’s going about it, with a callousness and attitude that never has been the trademark of your administration.


    Lucchino, the marketing and PR whiz, never would have allowed what’s going on to occur, not in this unfeeling, uncaring manner. But you let him go – that’s your business – and what we have now is a franchise that appears desperate to cut and slash.

    I’m not saying it is. Some of what’s going on, from a baseball business standpoint, is hard to argue, and how much the divorce plays into this we don’t know. That’s one of the problems. We don’t know anything but are expected to buy, anyway.

    When even Nick Canepa is calling the organization out on this, you know you have a perception problem. When you take into consideration the Todd Walker arbitration brouhaha, the Allan Dykstra negotiations, the Khalil Greene grievance, the public attempt to shove Giles out the door before the waiver deadline, the very public shopping of Peavy, and now the Hoffman contract pullback, you start to notice a pattern.

    There’s a better way to handle this, but the team hasn’t been direct with its fan base at all. Since Moores is seemingly reluctant to comment on his situation, it has fallen on Sandy Alderson to be the public face of the organization and the perception is that he is the one calling the shots, and his is a face that is not going over too well at the moment. It’s nice to imagine the Padres receiving a nice return on a Jake Peavy, but nothing so far would seem to indicate that they are going to make the best baseball deal.

  15. #14@Bruce: Yeah, the PR problems are very real — to the extent that four years of solid work have been completely undermined in the public eye by one down season and a little bit of turmoil. This administration is good at developing and executing a plan, but not so good at selling the stakeholders on that plan. Both components are necessary to succeed, and it’s going to take a lot of work to regain the fans’ trust. Marketing isn’t my strong point, so I don’t know how they go about fixing the problem. I hope they do, though, because the current FO is littered with talent, and it would be a shame to see them ridden out of town essentially because they are unable to adequately communicate their vision to the folks that make it possible for them to pay the bills, i.e., you and me.

  16. #3@Field39: Agree with Bruce and others that what makes these moves particularly distasteful is the front office talking out of all sides of its mouth. And if we’re looking for the root cause of the 99 loss season, it can be found in the front office (where they handed out promotions like Halloween candy) moreso than in the clubhouse.

  17. #15@Geoff Young: I know it was just a one liner, but the most concerning thing I have ever heard come out of Sandy Alderson’s mouth was when he said over the summer that he “wasn’t in the business of selling anything.” Alderson is very intelligent and a good baseball man, but he doesn’t appear to be such a good businessman. And since he is running the show with an absentee owner, that concerns me. Contrasting him with Lucchino shows just how much the Padres are lacking.

    This is not to say that Alderson has not done a good job bringing structure and process to the organization, but you still have to sell a vision to the fans.

  18. #17@Bruce: Agreed. Habitual inability or unwillingness to engage fans in a meaningful way remains the single greatest failing of the current regime. When the community responds to success (’04-’07) with indifference, something is broken. When the community responds to subsequent setbacks in the wake of that success with anger, something is broken.

  19. #18@Geoff Young: I would suggest one thing is certain. Sandy needs to step away from the microphone. His inability to suffer fools makes him the wrong person to go on the radio every week, and talk about the state of the club.

  20. #10@Geoff Young: I guess that Moores was smart enough to hire Kevin Towers to be his GM (was that his decision or the team president’s?). I’m not sure whether the Padres made it to the playoff those seasons because of, or despite, Moores.

    It’s unfortunate that the Hoffman situation has overshadowed this off-season. The funny thing about the whole thing is that if the Padres were not trying to compete at all next season they would be more likely to bring Trevor back. If they had any aspirations of making the playoffs, they couldn’t have Hoffman as their closer. Kind of odd that a decision to make the team more competitive is the one that they are getting really hammered for.

  21. Is breaking up a 99 loss team a bad thing? Well it depends…in 2007 the Rays had 96 loses and they kept a lot of the core players in tact and well we all know what happened in 08…

    Here’s the problem that I have with the Padres breaking up their 99 loss team…They are trading their CY Young Award Winning Pitcher! And treating their face of the franchise and sure fire hall-of-fame closer like he was well…Josh Bard. Sure they may get a killer package for Jake but has anyone really been happy with the names that have been bantered back and forth? It’s a good sign that KT has not caved in to the Braves offer but who knows if this is financially driven (which it seems to be because this org does not have much as far as #1 starters coming up from the farm) then who knows what the Pads will get for him especially if Peavy hand picks the team.

  22. It looks like MLB won’t let Mark Cuban buy the Cubs…but maybe they’ll let him buy the poor Padres that no one pays attention to.

  23. #19@Field39: If I were in Alderson’s position, I don’t think I’d even listen to the radio. Have someone give me condensed summaries that cut through all the crap and leave only useful information. Should fit on a single page, take two minutes a day to read.

    #21@Steve C:

    Sure they may get a killer package for Jake but has anyone really been happy with the names that have been bantered back and forth?

    No, and this is why I’m not following the “story” all that closely until something actually happens. People are reacting to speculation, not to reality. Maybe they enjoy doing that, but I find it a bit silly.

  24. #14@Bruce:

    If the Pads were less concerned about making a good baseball deal why didn’t they trade Peavy this past week to the Braves (at least have a deal in place) for 3 or 4 of those familiar names?