Monday, August 31, 2009

Monday's notes

* In their first season together, Padres CEO Jeff Moorad and General Manager Kevin Towers are off to a promising start, although the Padres still might finish last for the second year in a row.

* Moorad is talking like he'll retain Towers, who has the longest tenure among active GMs. Towers, described by A's GM Billy Beane as unusually likeable, could teach a business seminar on how to survive in corporate cultures. In his 14 years as GM, Towers has reported to no fewer than seven different bosses, including club chairman John Moores and several CEOs of vastly different personalities and backgrounds, such as Larry Lucchino, Bob Vizas, Dick Freeman and Sandy Alderson. Along the way, Towers has shown a willingness to replace Padres staffers at several levels. More so than many GMs, he's a presence in the clubhouse, and with both the local and national media.

* Moorad likes how Towers and Padres scouts overhauled the bullpen in spring training. The trade in May for Tony Gwynn Jr. is already a winner on several levels, including the $1 million saved on Jody Gerut's salary. As for the Jake Peavy trade, even Peavy's agent, Barry Axelrod, said he was shocked that the Padres were able to deal Peavy this summer, because the ace was on the disabled list and due about $56 million. The Padres, who basically paid Peavy $1.5 million to OK the trade, were looking to invest more than $10 million in their farm system when they brokered the Peavy deal, which also brought four pitchers from the White Sox. The Scott Hairston trade opened up playing time for Kyle Blanks, who, like Hairston, has home run power that plays in Petco Park. Because he's eligible for abitration, Hairston could command nearly $4 million in salary next season, while Blanks and Chase Headley will each get about $400,000. The three pitchers acquired for Hairston get to work in Petco Park, which has benefited several other pitchers obtained by the Padres in recent years. Beane also showed interest in Hairston when the outfielder and Moorad were with the Diamondbacks.

* Here's Moorad's response when asked about his plans for Towers, whose contract runs through 2010: "Kevin is certainly one of the more respected GMs of the game. I saw his involvement here in San Diego as being a positive from the moment we first looked at the franchise. That having been said, Kevin as well as everyone in the organization knows that 2009 was going to be a season of evaluation. I would say that evaluation is continuing. Kevin has been great to work with and has lived up to expectations as it relates to improving the roster in real time."

* Moorad said Towers has final say-so on the baseball operations staff going forward -- another sign that the GM's standing is strong. Moorad added: "I think we have a number of people on the 'baseball ops' side that have excelled over time, and 2009 was no exception."

* The Padres aren't likely to make any changes to Petco Park in 2010, but they've discussed eventually replacing the out-of-town scoreboard that fronts the right-field wall. Among the discussed options include an old-time scoreboard, where the numbers are changed by hand.

* Moorad and his club president, Tom Garfinkel, plan to increase revenues in several ways, including the obvious one of improving the team. One move that worked for them with the Diamondbacks was to "declutter" corporate signage, a less-is-more approach that brought a cleaner look and more money.

* Moorad reiterated that future Padres major league payrolls will be linked strongly to club revenues, but he softened the impression that season-ticket sales will set the payroll levels.

* I asked Moorad why fans should put money into the club until the new regime puts a better team on the field. "The onus isn't on the fans, to be sure," he said. "The onus is on us to generate the amount of revenue required to responsibly run the franchise, and we look at that as our responsibility. Our goal is to continue driving revenue on all sides of the organization, so that we will be able to invest more liberally on the player payroll side of the business, whether it be ticket sales or sponsorship or other new and creative means of garnering revenue. That's exactly what we did in Arizona for four straight years. I'm confident that the market is there."


  1. Thanks for the Blog Tom, nice to get a intelligent non "homer" article. Point I'd like to make is in reference to the signage. I found that there was so much light distraction inside the park that it made me uncomfortable. I'd love to see that toned down along with the loud music.

  2. Great blog Tom, many thanks for the interesting information.

  3. No offense, Ralsmack, but this is a pure "homer" piece. The Hairston trade was a horrible one, baseball wise. We traded the team's top hitter off a ridiculously bad hitting team for pitchers that do nothing for us this year, or maybe ever (we are pitcher heavy already). Without Hairston, who was having a breakout year, the team has been no hit for nine innings twice! He was a big part of our future.

  4. You need to change your name, Padresfanbutnofool. It's inaccurate.

    Anyone who doesn't take into account what Petco does to hitting stats has no business commenting on the team at all. They're an average NL offensive team (94 OPS+, same as the league average). They're a terrible pitching team (81 ERA+, NL average 101).

    Hairston is a platoon player who was having a good year. That's when you trade players like him. You don't wait until he gets hurt/cold/ineffective, like he has been in Oakland.

  5. Readers, I am not the Tom who commented above. TK

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  7. Padresfanbutnofool

    Had Hairston not been traded, the Padres and fans would have no idea whether or not Blanks and Venable are pieces of the future puzzle. We now know the answer is yes on both counts.

    Who cares if the A's power arms can't help us this year...we were out of it when the trade was made.

    A 29 year old who is just now showing some promise can hardly be described as a big part of the future. How's he doing in Oakland (.658 OPS)?

    I liked Hairston but it was a GREAT move because it opened up playing time for younger players who ARE a big part of the club's future.