Sunday, May 27, 2012

Desert fever

The practice is an old one in baseball's front offices. Executives who go from one club to another eventually bring some of their former players with them. Unfortunately for the Padres, the approach has backfired of late. Negative returns have flowed from the nearly $19 million invested by Jeff Moorad's front office in three former Arizona Diamondbacks players: Orlando Hudson, Carlos Quentin and Micah Owings. (UPDATED)
Moorad became CEO of the Padres three years ago, after holding the same job with the Diamondbacks. In time he brought to San Diego several of his former executives. No doubt the Arizona Gang had fond memories of Hudson, Quentin and Owings. In 2007 all three contributed to Arizona winning a division title and reaching the League Championship Series.

Moorad alone may not have made the ill-fated decision to sign Hudson two offseasons ago for $11.5 million. The general manager was Jed Hoyer, a former Red Sox assistant GM, but Moorad had say-so about a player he'd represented as an agent and one whose previous three contracts were one-year deals. Four former Diamondbacks executives worked in San Diego's front office when Hudson, Quentin and Owings came aboard. Quentin, set back by a knee injury one week into spring training, hasn't played since the Padres agreed to pay him $6.25 million last December after trading two fringe prospects to get him. UDPATE: Quentin's Padres debut is to come today in the 50th game with the team in last place. Guaranteed $1 million late in the past offseason, while some other clubs balked at giving him a major league contract, Owings took an 0-2 record and 2.79 ERA to the disabled list in April. He worked 9.2 innings.

National League West executive Ned Colletti, too, knows firsthand that familiarity doesn't always bring content when acquiring a former player. Contempt was more like it from Dodgers fans after Colletti, a former assistant GM of the Giants, guaranteed $77 million to ex-Giants Jason Schmidt, Juan Uribe and Bill Mueller only to see them all fail miserably.

When Kevin Towers became GM of the Diamondbacks, Padres names from his past such as Burroughs, Blum and Blanco soon followed him to Phoenix, to little benefit for the team.

Mets execs Sandy Alderson and Paul DePodesta worked from baseball's recycling handbook, too, when they acquired Allan Dykstra, a failed first-round draft choice of the Padres during Alderson's time here as CEO. Insider information may have paid off, however, with their acquisition of outfielder and former Padres draftee Mike Baxter. He is batting .345 for the Mets, with 10 doubles in 58 at-bats.

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