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New Padres owners long on vague, short on promises

By Scott Miller | Senior Baseball Columnist

The new Padres ownership group accomplished the near impossible Wednesday. Those attending its first press conference after taking control of the team emerged knowing less than they did before.

The group, led by local businessman Ron Fowler and the O'Malley heirs:

-- Declined to discuss specifics regarding player payroll.

-- Declined to specify who owns what percentage of the team.

-- Did not offer any hope that a television dispute in the club's games is not available to up to 42 percent of San Diego County will be resolved anytime soon.

-- Became suddenly vague about whether golfer Phil Mickelson will be involved with the group after appearances were that he would be an involved partner.

Mickelson's name was noticeably absent from club releases Wednesday that listed 13 different men in the ownership group, most notably Fowler, Peter O'Malley's sons Kevin and Brian and nephews Peter and Tom Seidler.

"We oversubscribed," Fowler said. "More people want to be in [the ownership group] than are in."

Peter Seidler made a commitment to Mickelson, Fowler said, and "if he wants in, he's in."

Though Seidler said he is scheduled to meet with Mickelson in "a couple of weeks", nobody was making any promises regarding the golfer.

Nor were they on the payroll. The Padres' $55 million ranked last in the majors entering this season.

"We are not going to discuss payroll in the press," Fowler said, declining to throw the starved Padres' fan base a bone. "However, I will say that we're looking forward to a payroll increase. Talking specifics doesn't accomplish anything. All it does is tell our competitors what we're doing."

Not that the Dodgers, who just added a quarter of a billion dollars worth of contracts in acquiring Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford, will be pausing their business to pay much attention to whether the Padres will hold their payroll to $60 million or less or add a couple of bucks to it.

Regarding the new beasts of the NL West, the franchise Peter O'Malley, and Peter's father Walter, owned, Peter Seidler said this: "What I will tell you is, the Padres' franchise is on very, very sound financial footing. What other franchises to -- Los Angeles, Kansas City, Boston, you name it -- you will see our franchise, going forward, the Padres will be on very strong financial footing."

Fowler did confirm that outgoing owner John Moores took $200 million off the top of the club's new television contract, which boosted the $600 million selling price to $800 million.

"It is an all cash deal," Fowler said. "We're not taking on any debt."

The owners will retain club president Tom Garfinkel and general manager Josh Byrnes.

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