Posted on: January 12, 2012 8:30 pm
Easy to see why John Moores' anger flashed quickly at the owners' meetings on Thursday. He wants his money and he wants out of baseball.
But the riveting question now after fellow owners pushed the pause button on the impending transfer of the Padres from Moores to Jeff Moorad is, will it happen?
Or will Moorad be left standing in the on deck circle?
Commissioner Bud Selig cited "economic concerns" as the reason for the delay. Meanwhile, ownership sources with multiple clubs hesitated to predict where this thing will go next.
"Usually, when you get to this point, it's teed up," one person said. "The fact that it did not get voted on shows significant financial questions."
Translation: When a person is allowed to begin running a club, as Moorad was the Padres beginning in the spring of 2009, approval by other owners usually is just a formality.
The fact that there were enough "red flags" to leave the owners' executive committee asking for more answers, however, at best slows the process and keeps the Padres' finances flat and, at worst, could torpedo the entire sale. That would leave Moores, who had intended to divest the 51 percent he still owns in the club once the money owed by Moorad was deposited in December, back at the starting point.
Few want that, and though Moorad has made several enemies among owners from his days as an agent, those with knowledge of this snag say reasons are purely financial, not personal.
Selig promised Moores and Moorad that the process will move "expeditiously." The next quarterly owners' meeting is in May, though one person suggested Thursday that Selig could convene a vote via conference call in 60 or 90 days if the financial questions are answered.
Moores, who will receive about $530 million total for the Padres, a club he purchased in 1995, was angry enough at the delay that he refused to vote in favor of the two-year extension Selig received, which went 29-1 in the commissioner's favor.
Posted on: September 22, 2010 3:12 pm
Edited on: September 22, 2010 5:37 pm
Welcome to the start of Frontier Days in the NL West.
Everything is set but a Duel from 50 paces.
Arizona has hired Kevin Towers to fill the job for which it turned him down for five years ago.
And as the Diamondbacks general manager, Towers now will take direct aim at the man who fired him in San Diego last October ... and the man who was running the Diamondbacks back in 2005 and declined to hire Towers then: Jeff Moorad.
Let's see some network reality show beat this.
Nothing fuels rivalries more than when they're personal. And if guys privately wanting to gouge out other guys' eyeballs qualifies as personal, well, this has become the NL Wild, Wild West and the next couple of years could be incredibly bloody, er, juicy.
Start with Towers, who is still stung by the sudden end of his 14-year run in San Diego as the most successful GM in Padres history. And as this year's club of overachieving Padres built largely by Towers has contended for the NL West title, the wound remains raw.
Move next to Moorad who, as vice-chairman and chief executive officer of the Padres since January, 2009, continues to own a share of the Diamondbacks.
Sound funny, a guy who will be majority owner of the Padres who still owns a piece of the Diamondbacks? It should. Baseball rules preclude it, which is why Moorad has been working toward divesting his shares of the Arizona club.
Except, privately, according to sources, Moorad and the Diamondbacks have been unable to agree on a price for his shares. Moorad values his piece of the Diamondbacks much higher than Arizona owner Ken Kendrick and Co. think it is worth. The dispute has moved to the Commissioner's Office, and the stalemate continues.
Given the antipathy between Kendrick and Towers and Moorad, we probably won't even have to wait for the 2011 season to start before the two sides go at it. Do not be surprised if Towers raids the Padres and recruits some of his former colleagues as he builds his staff in the desert.
While the Diamondbacks and Padres now have all the ingredients for a classic shoot-'em-up, don't discount the other angle in what has become an incredibly incestuous viper pit of a division.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy essentially was told by the Padres to go look for greener pastures when Sandy Alderson was the CEO following the 2006 season. Bochy worked under Towers in San Diego for 11 of his 12 years as Padres manager before, with a year left on his contract, Alderson made Bochy feel like he'd better go explore other options.
Time was, before Padres owner John Moores' marriage hit the skids and he became an absentee (and broke) owner, Moores told Towers and Bochy they would be in place as long as he owned the team.
Bochy still maintains a home in San Diego in the off-season. And though time has eased some of the rawness of his Padres departure -- he's in his fourth season managing the Giants -- no question that as San Diego, San Francisco and Colorado sprint down the stretch this September, beating the Padres is personal with Bochy (and his third-base coach Tim Flannery, who both played and coached for the Padres before being let go).
As for Towers taking over the Diamondbacks, the hiring is a coup. Working mostly with underfunded budgets during his 14 seasons in San Diego, Towers still managed to build four NL West winners, and one NL pennant winner (1998).
Known especially for his adroit work in building a pitching staff, it was Towers who acquired key members of a Padres bullpen that has been the most airtight in the majors this summer. The Padres' majors-leading 2.85 bullpen ERA and has been one key reason for the club's contending status.
If he can work that kind of magic with what has been a historically bad Arizona bullpen in 2010 -- the Diamondbacks relievers rank last in the majors with a 5.82 ERA -- then changing fortunes for the beleaguered Snakes could come sooner rather than later.
Already, well-respected interim GM Jerry DiPoto -- who will leave the organization after not being named to the permanent post -- has helped re-stock the rotation with a couple of July acquisitions, most notably that of young Daniel Hudson.
Among the details awaiting Towers is the fate of interim manager Kirk Gibson, who is expected to be retained for the 2011 season while the new GM gets the lay of the land. The two men met Wednesday morning in what was originally scheduled to be a 30-minute session. Two hours later, they were still gabbing.
"He's an intense guy," Towers said. "I like him."
Towers' nickname? Gunslinger.
Posted on: October 3, 2009 5:41 pm
It's always amateur hour in San Diego, from Fire Sales to Roseanne Barr's crotch-grabbing national anthem to owner John Moores' extramarital affair and subsequent ugly divorce turning beautiful Petco Park into a tawdry parlor housing a cheap team.
Nobody in the game is more adept at turning good fortune into an unsightly mess than the Padres. CEO Jeff Moorad's firing of longtime general manager Kevin Towers sends every indication that it's happening again.
One step forward, three steps back.
"This year, Kevin did what I've gotten used to seeing over the years," Moorad said Saturday at a news briefing to formally announce the sacking in San Diego. "Pulling a rabbit out of the hat. He's done a terrific job of molding the team and doing it on the fly."
So, he's being fired, why?
"We got to a point where we felt the appropriate thing was to either extend his contract or cut ties," Moorad said.
At the time of Towers' firing, the Padres, since July 28, were 36-23, the fourth-best record in the majors and the second-best in the National League. Not that the next step was the World Series. Towers a couple of weeks ago excitedly spoke of possibly even contending in 2010 which, I thought, was overly optimistic -- but a heck of an advancement from where the club was a year ago.
Which was, frankly, wretched. The Padres lost 99 games in 2008 but, worse than that, were unwatchable even on their good days. They were slow, unathletic and boring.
It was the result of payroll slashing -- something that figures into the Padres' history Moores more than World Series -- and a dysfunctional front office split by philosophical differences.
When a group led by Moorad agreed this spring to purchase the Padres from Moores, president Sandy Alderson quietly left and, judging by the personnel moves that followed, the handcuffs were removed from Towers. He was back to operating at a greater degree of autonomy than he had at anytime in '08.
The results have been evident over these past six weeks. In removing this club from the sewer, cleaning it up and making it presentable, Towers has performed some of his best work yet.
He added athleticism, acquiring outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. (from Milwaukee) and promoting Will Venable. Now the Padres actually have outfielders who can cover ground in their own home park. (And a cat-quick Rule V shortstop, Everth Cabrera, who at times is electric).
He fixed a terrible bullpen in short order acquiring, among others, Luke Gregerson (St. Louis) and Edward Mujica (Cleveland). He obtained three young pitchers from Oakland for journeyman Scott Hairston.
And in trading Peavy to the White Sox, he not only induced the Sox to pay every penny of the remaining $52 million owed the pitcher over the next few years, he also got four pitchers back in the deal.
Now Moorad wants a man with more of a "strategic approach."
Maybe this will work out. Maybe Moorad will come out of this looking like a genius.
I will say this: It is close to humanly impossible for him to come out of it looking worse than Moores, a phony whose bait-and-switch tactics to get a sweetheart deal on a new ballpark worked out far better for him than for San Diego fans.
There is a case to be made for sweeping changes in part of the Padres' baseball operations. Both amateur scouting and player development have been poor for much of the past decade and, for that, Towers bears some responsibility.
But given his body of work over the past 14 years -- heck, his body of work over the past eight months -- what Towers deserved was a "thank you" and a contract extension, not a firing.
Instead, Moorad admitted on Saturday that he's already interviewed three potential GM candidates.
Three! While Towers was still working for him.
Yeah. Stay classy, San Diego.
Posted on: October 2, 2009 10:18 pm
Edited on: October 3, 2009 2:48 am
The San Diego Padres have fired Kevin Towers, the game's longest-tenured general manager, and will announce the move on Saturday, CBSSports.com has learned.
Towers, who was informed of the decision before Friday night's Padres-Giants game, was told by Moorad last month that the club "might begin a GM search." That was the first indication to Towers that his future with the club was in jeopardy. By Friday, that future was no more.
There is no indication yet whom Jeff Moorad, Padres chief executive officer, has in mind to replace Towers in what ranks as another jolt to a franchise that had become irrelevant during the waning months of former owner John Moores' administration and was only starting to recover.
One person with knowledge of the situation said he thinks Moorad has someone in mind and will work quickly to fill the void.
Among those who will be prominently linked to the vacancy will be Jerry DiPoto, director of player personnel for the Arizona, a person who worked closely with Moorad when Moorad was CEO in Arizona.
Others who could become candidates include Paul DePodesta, Padres special assistant for baseball operations; Jed Hoyer, Red Sox assistant GM; and Peter Woodfork, Diamondbacks' assistant general manager.
As for Towers, who has been in charge of the Padres since Nov. 17, 1995, if it is possible for a personnel move to be both surprising and not at the same time, this is it.
The decision comes as a Moorad-led ownership group gains control of the club from Moores. Major personnel moves typically are expected during a change in ownership.
Yet Towers, who is signed through 2010 and is due more than $1 million in salary next year, did some of his best work this season in quickly revamping a franchise gutted by a payroll purge into a club with good young players and a modicum of hope for the future.
A Padres' club that lost 99 games a year ago was 74-85 entering Friday's series opener with San Francisco.
Towers has overseen a dramatic player payroll ordered by Moores. The club hacked the payroll to $40 million this summer, from $73 million in 2008, and severed ties with franchise icon closer Trevor Hoffman in the process. Most recently, Towers dealt ace Jake Peavy to the Chicago White Sox at the July 31 trade deadline.
Following last season's crash-and-burn, Towers was given more room to work this spring and summer following club president Sandy Alderson's departure. Towers quickly made a flurry of moves that brought the Padres back to respectability far sooner than expected, acquiring such players as relievers Luke Gregerson (from St. Louis) and Edward Mujica (Cleveland), outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. (Milwaukee) and starters Sean Gallagher (Oakland) and Clayton Richard (White Sox).
With Towers essentially rebuilding the team on the fly, the Padres had gone 36-23 (.610) since July 28, a winning percentage that ranks fourth in the major leagues during that time and second in the NL.
It has been the brightest time since the Padres blew the NL West title in 2007 and lost a one-game playoff to the Colorado Rockies.
Before then, and long before the club's recent internal problems and payroll purge, Towers was the architect of the most successful period in Padres' history.
They won four of their five NL pennants under Towers, including the only back-to-back division titles in franchise history, in 2005 and 2006. They also won the 1998 NL pennant and appeared in only the club's second World Series ever with Towers in charge.
Yet Towers' long-term future under Moorad was never secure. Under Moorad in Arizona, the Diamondbacks interviewed Towers upon Joe Garagiola Jr.'s departure as GM in 2005 but hired Josh Byrnes instead.
With Towers out, Oakland's Billy Beane becomes the longest-tenured GM in the game.
And, Towers' dismissal is expected to be only the beginning of a housecleaning in the club's baseball operations department. Grady Fuson, vice-president of player development, is expected to be fired, though one source said Friday night he could remain in place until a new GM is named, at which time the GM likely would dismiss him. Bill Gayton, director of scouting, might be re-assigned as well.
Meantime, scout Chris Gwynn, who was a client of Moorad's when Moorad was an agent, is said to be well thought of and in line for a promotion -- possibly at least to the level of farm director.
Posted on: August 6, 2009 10:38 pm
Edited on: August 7, 2009 1:05 am
In a season of upheaval, one thing will remain the same on San Diego's baseball field: The Padres have extended the contract of manager Bud Black through 2010 with a club option for 2011.
Black, in his third season of managing the Padres, is presiding over a club with a drastically cut payroll this season that is buried in last place in the NL West. Chopping from $70-some million down to the $40-million range following the trade of Jake Peavy to the Chicago White Sox on Friday, the Padres entered a series-opener with the New York Mets on Thursday night at 44-65.
Padres general manager Kevin Towers and Jeff Moorad, the Padres' new chief executive officer, first discussed extending the manager a couple of months ago, and they first broached an extension with Black several weeks ago.
"Watching the way he dealt with young players, he's done a real nice job," Towers said. "I personally think he's managed better this year than his first two.
"I knew he'd get better with time. Our record doesn't indicate it, but it's not Buddy's fault we're 20 games under .500."
Black, 52, has a career record of 196-238 during his two-plus seasons in charge in San Diego. The Padres went 89-74 in his first season and were eliminated from the postseason chase in a one-game playoff in Colorado on the Monday after the regular season ended.
"The first year was kind of a whirlwind managing a contending club," Towers said. "Last year we had a lot of injuries. I've said I thought Buddy would be better even with a younger club. He likes young players.
"He's been one of the driving forces here, 'Hey, let's get our young guys up here and see what they're capable of.' I think this is more of the team he's wanted. He can steal some bases, hit-and-run. We've had a station-to-station club the last couple of years."
Towers also has been impressed with Black's calm demeanor, especially as the losses have mounted and the roster has blown up.
"I don't know how he's done it," Towers said. "I've never seen Bud Black have a bad day. A more volatile manager can make things even worse. If anything, he's been a breath of fresh air for all of us. I tend to fall on the negative side, and he helps balance me out a little bit."
Posted on: February 3, 2009 6:58 pm
Ace Jake Peavy's chances of remaining in San Diego for the 2009 season just improved markedly.
So, too, did Team USA's chances of retaining Peavy as part of its rotation for this spring's World Baseball Classic (if Peavy were traded, he's expected to opt out of the WBC out of obligation to a new employer).
And the fortunes of the Padres for '09 and beyond are far brighter today than they were yesterday.
That's the long (term) and short (term) of Jeff Moorad's agreement to purchase the Padres from beleaguered and soon-to-be-divorced owner John Moores, an agreement which was finalized Tuesday.
Call it a win-win-win deal for everyone involved whose name isn't John Moores.
The Padres had reached an untenable situation under Moores, whose cash flow has been reduced to a trickle as a result of the economy and his impending divorce.
In the view of San Diego fans, he never delivered on his pre-Petco Park insinuations (not promises, but definite insinuations) that the team would be financially competitive once it moved into a new ballpark.
Moores has steadfastly denied promising more than he could deliver, but perceptions usually are reality, and once Becky Moores filed for divorce last winter, the squeeze was on her soon-to-be-ex.
Whatever version of the truth you believe, the bottom line is this: Peavy's deal (three years, $52 million from 2010-2012) is just this side of a bargain-basement price for a true ace.
Nobody is expecting Moorad to become George Steinbrenner West. But the way it's been in San Diego, if he'd even become Mark Attanasio (owner of the Milwaukee Brewers), it would be a distinct improvement.