So, Padres Executive Chairman Ron Fowler went all Ray Kroc and stuff this week. Good. Glad. Needed to be said.
What Padres fan hasn’t been “embarrassed” by the franchise this year? Or almost any year? Fowler put a face to those frustrations. As signer of the checks — how about $600K per James Shields start in 2016? — let’s assume he feels it more acutely than the rest of us.
But over the next few months, Fowler has the opportunity to back up those words. He can figuratively put his money where his mouth is.
The players get their chances on the field. (Hey, just a double-digit win streak from .500!) They stink. They’ve been properly called out.
A.J. Preller (the hardest-working GM in the business) is presumably burning up phones lines as this is being written. Some of his moves have worked (Goodbye, Craig Kimbrel). Some haven’t (Can we have Joe Ross and Trea Turner back, pretty please?). As Padres history has proven, turning over the front office every few years is a bad idea. Let’s give Preller some time. (Same with the field staff).
Fowler and Co., then, need to empower their GM. When the time comes — soon? hopefully? — to deal off the expensive parts (Shields, Matt Kemp, Melvin Upton Jr.), Fowler needs to break out the checkbook. Time to eat some cash, Ron.
Presumably, the self-professed successful beer businessman knows a sunk cost when he sees one. Hell, it’s even paid off for the Friars. The Atlanta trade for Kimbrel doesn’t work without Upton’s contract included; the Padres were able to deal off Kimbrel to the Red Sox for better prospects than were shipped to the ATL; Upton has actually rebounded. Yeah for buying contracts!
Common sense dictates that the more money the Padres are willing to eat in those contracts, the better the prospects S.D. gets in return. If the Padres decide to pay for much of Shields’ deal through 2016, the better the minor leaguer(s) in return (listening, White Sox?).
The real key will be Kemp. (He’s paid $21M per season through 2019, with $3.5M taken care of by L.A. each year). At a cost of $18.5M per year to the Padres, that’s only $2.7M more than last year’s qualifying offer ($15.8M, which figures to increase annually).
Hot take: If you can’t eat the qualifying offer, or a bit over it, you shouldn’t own a baseball team. Hey, Fowler: Your division rival, the Dodgers, paid his salary for you last year; if Preller could pry away a few decent prospects for him, at the cost of two years’ salary, will you OK it?
During his radio diatribe, Fowler mentioned the upcoming draft and international signing period. The third prong to that forward-looking future is deadline trading this summer. Dump contracts, you get crap back. Eat contracts, you may get something useful. Which ownership group are you, Fowler and Co.?
(As an aside: An outfield next year with Manuel Margot, Hunter Renfroe and Alex Dickerson will be cheap anyway, so why not spend that cash this summer to shoot for prospects down the pipeline?)
So step up to the plate, Fowler (clever, huh?). You say you want to win. You’ll go on the radio to point the finger at players. Will you utilize the only skill you bring to the table (dollars)? Or will you go cheaply into that good night, just like all the other loser owners before you?