Padres Executive Chairman Ron Fowler did not mince his words when talking about the Padres recent performance, including a blow-out loss to the Mariners Tuesday where the Padres resorted to using position players to finish out the game. He is right to do so.
The Padres over the years have built a culture of mediocrity, and Fowler early on in his ownership group took the team to task to play better. He backed up his words with more payroll last season, then fired his under performing manager only to see the team play worse.
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Now, he apparently has hit another breaking point. His harsh words came before the Padres coughed up a 12-2 loss Thursday night to the Mariners. What will he say about that one?
Here is what he said on Tuesday, singling out pitcher James Shields who allowed 10 runs in the game. To be fair, prior to that game Shields had been pitching pretty well despite a poor record to show for it.
"“It’s been embarrassing. I don’t know how else to put it. Our performance on the road trip, 1-7, was pathetic… To have a starter like [James] Shields perform as poorly as he did yesterday is an embarrassment to the team, an embarrassment to him. It’s about as frustrating as it can get… In a normal environment, if you had performed as well as we have over the last three years, you’d probably be unemployed. But it’s baseball, with guaranteed contracts. We’ve got to get beyond it.”"
Baseball owners have a storied history of getting involved in their teams, often when they don’t actually pay attention most of the time and make snap judgements.
Fowler also showed his appreciation for the Padres own history in referencing Ray Kroc. In 1974, Kroc had just bought the Padres and the first home game of the season saw how bad this new team of his was. He went into the PA booth and expressed his frustration and empathy with the fans:
“Ladies and gentlemen, I suffer with you. I have good news and bad news. The good news is that the Dodgers drew 31,000 for their opener and we’ve drawn 39,000 for ours. The bad news is that this is the most stupid baseball playing I’ve ever seen.”
Kroc expressed his frustration about being the owner of a bad baseball team at the end of the year: “I bought the team to have some fun. But it is proving to be about as enjoyable as a wake – your own.”
While Fowler isn’t the sole owner like Kroc was, he has shown to be a spokesperson along with President Mike Dee concerning the state of the Padres. What will he do though to remedy the situation? Cut James Shields? Fire A.J. Preller?
The Padres have had so much change in their ownership and General Manager’s over the last 10 years doing either of these or other rash decisions would be in poor form and continue to hurt the Padres. We don’t know the dynamic at last year’s trade deadline: did Fowler not let Preller trade away Justin Upton and others in a poor effort to stay in the race?
Fowler said his new goal for the team has downgraded to just have a .400 winning percentage. Even that isn’t easy for him, “It’s very frustrating, some days you want to stay in bed and pull the covers over your head, but that doesn’t get it done.”
While the Padres busted out the sticks Wednesday, it was back to business as usual on Thursday as even the usually reliable Ryan Buchter allowed 4 runs in the 7th inning debacle. For a team that is hosting the All Star Game this July in what was supposed to be a celebration, it will be a welcome respite from the Padres playing this season at Petco Park.