Are the Padres Better Off Without Jeff Moorad?


We’ve already discussed Jeff Moorad’s decision to back off his pursuit of controlling interest in the team in order to ensure the Fox Sports deal goes through, and I’ve shared my opinion that this is nothing more than a momentary delay in Moorad eventually getting control of the team. Yet, with the move, there has been wide-ranging speculation and rumor. Many are taking this as a sign that Moorad will not gain approval to complete his purchase of the team. But how likely is that?

Major League Baseball has had two major ownership disasters recently. Until Nolan Ryan’s group purchased the Rangers in 2010, the team was bankrupt and under MLB control. The same has now happened with the Dodgers. The team has multiple interested parties all vying for a chance to own a piece of baseball history and prestige, but the sale is being held up by Frank McCourt’s bankruptcy hearings. The situation has been a disaster in Los Angeles, and there is no way Bud Selig wants anything even remotely similar happening with another team. This isn’t to say the Padres situation parallels the Dodgers, but if Moorad doesn’t get approved as the team’s owner, there’s nothing stopping him from selling off his minority share and sending the club spiraling into chaos. Bud Selig certainly doesn’t want this, but the flip side of course is the possibility of Moorad getting approved without the necessary financial stability to run a major league club.*

*This is one of the prevailing theories in the saga surrounding Moorad’s inability to get the approval of the other owners in baseball. However, it seems more likely the problem is due to a personality conflict.

Setting aside what will actually happen with Jeff Moorad, the question becomes are the Padres better with Moorad as the owner or would they benefit from someone else?

Judging by Moorad’s tenure, he doesn’t have much trouble luring the people he wants to front office positions. He grabbed Jed Hoyer, a Theo Epstein product, quickly after firing the gunslinger Kevin Towers. The Padres then marched on to 90 wins. Moorad, after finding out Hoyer wanted to go to Chicago with Epstein, made the decision to bring his friend, Josh Byrnes, in as the new GM. It was a questionable move at the time considering Byrnes had just recently been fired by the Diamondbacks. Yet, so far, it looks like Byrnes is fitting in nicely and embracing small-market baseball. Finally, Moorad helped negotiate a deal with Fox Sports that gets the Padres more national exposure and should help pull in around a billion dollars once the contract runs its course.

These are the moves that show he’s an owner who cares. Add to that the fact that Moorad seems to be honoring his commitment to raising payroll, and it’s clear that Moorad wants not only to own a team, but to own a competitive team.  Are the ownership issues a headache for a team that can ill-afford any headaches?  Absolutely.  However, the team seems to being taking things in stride.  According to the San Diego Union Tribune, Luke Gregerson and others are not bothered by Moorad withdrawing his control application.

"Just do your own job. Take care of the job you’re doing."

Bud Black added:

"From what we do, it affects us very little. Pitchers just want to get people out. (Prospects) want to keep hitting so they can get to the big leagues. When we go through bunt defenses or rundowns or pickoff plays, our guys aren’t thinking about the ownership situation."

So it’s clear the Padres aren’t worse off with Moorad, but are they better off if he and his attempt to buy the team weren’t hanging over them?  It probably doesn’t matter.  As long as the team can make the moves necessary to continue down the road of competition, none of the rest matters much.  Yet, that very necessity is in question.  People are already questioning whether the Padres will even consider extending Carlos Quentin‘s contract now.  If Jeff Moorad, Vice President and CEO, continues to make the right moves for the team, and Jeff Moorad, the prospective owner, doesn’t get in the way of success, the team will be just fine.

The team is not better off without Moorad.  They are on the right path.  This is a speed bump in Moorad’s personal plans for the future, but for now, the Padres have not been affected.  Once that changes, the whole dynamic of the attempted purchase of the team changes as well.