Friday, January 20, 2012

Ownership intrigue

Jeff Moorad's attempt to gain "control" ownership of the Padres hit a snag last week when Bud Selig and a cadre of club owners tabled a vote on whether Moorad could increase his group's 49-percent stake in the club. Selig said financial concerns had to be resolved, even though the money is in escrow.

A major league source has told this blog that White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf spoke against Moorad to other owners. Reinsdorf long has had Selig's ear, making him one of baseball's most influential owners.

It's not clear why Reinsdorf is opposed to Moorad replacing John Moores as "controlling" owner of the Padres, although Reinsdorf is known to have viewed him with skepticism when Moorad was a player agent.

Among Reinsdorf's friends is Jerry Colangelo. When Colangelo lost his job as the Diamondbacks' top baseball executive, it was Moorad who replaced him. Among Reinsdorf's top officials with the White Sox is Rick Hahn, who worked for the same sports agency that Moorad and Leigh Steinberg headlined.

Another owner who doesn't send holiday cards to the Moorad residence is the Diamondbacks' Ken Kendrick, as I wrote several months ago.

The sale's holdup, however, may owe to more than a personality clash.

Two major league sources told this blog that MLB doesn't want Moorad's group to pay off Moores with money from the Padres' next TV deal.

No dice, MLB has also said, if Moorad wants his partners to front a short-term loan to complete the purchase, in return for TV money at a later date.

Precedent is on Selig's side. Last year, the commissioner vetoed an attempt by Dodgers owner Frank McCourt to get an advance on a TV deal with Fox and use it to pay off debts.

Generally speaking, MLB views TV money as a valuable resource that is applied to a team's baseball operations, not to buying a club.

For his part, Moores was angry enough with the sale's holdup that he cast the lone vote against ratifying Selig's contract extension.

In the end, Moores likely will get his money (unless the whole sale is scuttled and, absent another buyer, Moores were to remain long term as the majority owner, a bizarre and unlikely result).

It's still unclear, though, whether Moorad, who also is the Padres' CEO and Vice Chairman, will gain ownership control once the team is sold, even if it is to Moorad's 12-person group.

Should MLB look to Moorad's partners for a designee who would meet with other owners' approval and represent the club at the league level, Ron Fowler could emerge as a candidate.

Fowler is the only member of Moorad's 12-person investment group listed on the Padres' board of directors. The San Diego businessman is said to be one of the group's deep-pocket investors.

For what it's worth, Fowler impressed me when he owned the San Diego Sockers during their glory years in the Major Indoor Soccer League. He's a straight shooter. He knows how to lead.

And as far as I know, Jerry Reinsdorf doesn't have him in his crosshairs.

1 comment:

  1. "Two major league sources told this blog that MLB doesn't want Moorad's group to pay off Moores with money from the Padres' next TV deal." If this happened that would have meant that the next decade of Padres baseball would have been as impoverished as the previous decade. Any of the new young players would hit free agency and be gone. Maybin will be setting the example is nothing is done soon!