You can argue the merits of San Diego's apparent decision to bid farewell to a closer in the twilight of his career.
You cannot argue that icon Trevor Hoffman's request to meet with owner John Moores was anything but reasonable and should have been granted, and that the Padres are utterly ham-handed in showing the closer the door.
But then, that's the way this amateur-hour mess of a club is doing business these days as an unaccountable, absentee owner hides in the shadows while his messy divorce proceeds.
If the best Moores can do for a franchise icon is remain invisible behind club president Sandy Alderson as a one-year, $4 million contract is yanked from the table and Hoffman's request to meet with the owner is rebuffed, then he should sell the franchise sooner rather than later.
Or turn it over to his wife, Becky, in the divorce settlement.
Hoffman, baseball's all-time saves leader, earned $7 million last year while saving 30 games for a club that won only 63.
Following that 99-loss debacle in '08, the Padres won't contend in '09, either. So it's a reasonable question to ask what the point is in worrying about who's pitching the ninth innings, anyway. Let alone whether Hoffman, at 41, will be worth the multi-millions he'd be paid.
While the one-year, $4-million, incentive-based contract that was pulled wasn't exactly a slap in the face to Hoffman, the salary cut was a clear indication that the Padres weren't exactly viewing him as a must-have commodity.
From a purely baseball perspective, hey, that's show biz.
The problem here, however, is that Hoffman is a civic icon who, along with Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, is one of the two most important Padres in club history.
Beyond that, as the club's marketing department has leaned on him time and time again through both good seasons and bad, Hoffman has never grumbled. He's done whatever's been asked to help promote the club and baseball in San Diego -- hell, in China, too, for that matter. He was one of the most public faces last spring in the Padres-Dodgers promotional trip to that country. He's never been anything less than friendly, courteous, cooperative and stand-up.
Now, should that earn him a lifetime scholarship in Padre-ville?
No. In the end, with all players, you remove emotion and make baseball decisions. And if this is Hoffman's time to go, so be it. Nobody can play forever, no matter if he's still a very young 41. Lord knows, there was enough chirping on postgame radio shows every time he blew a save. Not everybody who follows the Padres will be sorry to see him go.
However. There is a way to do things, and this wasn't it.
It is not an owner's obligation to meet with every player who requests an audience.
But given what Hoffman has meant over the past 16 seasons in San Diego, the least Moores could do was haul his butt out of hiding to meet with Hoffman.
Especially since Hoffman's ascent after San Diego acquired him from Cincinnati during the Padres' Fire Sale of 1993 coincided with the return of the Padres after Moores rescued from the inept clutches of former owner Tom Werner.
If anybody knows Hoffman's importance, it should be Moores.
Now, maybe the conversation doesn't go how Hoffman wants it to go. Maybe the owner's message is simply, "Trevor, look. We're reducing payroll, and our baseball people say that your game has slipped too much and we're just not going to re-sign you. Thanks for everything, and you'll always have a place in this organization."
Maybe that's the message, and if it is, that's fine. Nobody plays forever. Some players, sad as it is, must be told when to go.
But this isn't the way to do it.
And the fact that the club has chosen this path says far more about the deterioration of Moores as an owner and as a human being than it does about the deterioration of Hoffman's skills.