San Diego Padres: A Franchise in Search of Stability

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Aug 6, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres president Ron Fowler speaks at the Padres Hall of Fame induction ceremony of former third baseman Ken Caminiti before the game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 6, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres president Ron Fowler speaks at the Padres Hall of Fame induction ceremony of former third baseman Ken Caminiti before the game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /
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Constant turnover has left the San Diego Padres in disarray over most of the past decade. Now, more than anything else, the organization is seeking stability.

Since the birth of the San Diego Padres in 1969, the franchise has lurched from one owner or ownership group to another with predictable results, including a winning percentage of .463. Each new owner brings a change in philosophy and front office faces.

This inevitably sets the organization back even if the guiding philosophy ultimately improves the team on field. By contrast, historically successful franchises like the St. Louis Cardinals stick to a basic guiding philosophy throughout the organization and over time.

Before Mike Dee’s abrupt departure, he, Ron Fowler and Peter Seidler made the key decisions, including the hire of A. J. Preller as general manager. In Preller’s very short tenure, the Padres’ guiding philosophy has already changed radically. First, the front office tried the “buy-a-World-Series” plan. When that failed miserably, ownership committed to the more traditional approach of actually building an organization from the bottom up through the draft.

Unfortunately the failed plan will cost the team more than half the current projected payroll in 2017 in salaries paid to Matt Kemp, Melvin Upton and James Shields. Although no one expects the team to contend next year, that’s a lot of money down the drain.

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Since Kevin Towers left in 2009, the Padres have had three general managers; Jed Hoyer, Josh Byrnes and now Preller. Hoyer and Byrnes each had two short years, giving them little time to do more than unpack their brief cases.

Since 2009, the three team presidents/CEOs (Sandy Alderson, Tom Garfinkel, Mike Dee) have come and gone, each leaving a mess in his wake. In my mind, Alderson will always be associated with filing a grievance against his own player, Khalil Greene, for breaking his hand in an uncharacteristic display of temper. Mike Dee’s cringe-worthy baggage includes the drafting of Johnny Manziel and Bud Selig Plaza.

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Unsurprisingly, the Padres posted a losing record every year but one during that time. Looking ahead, fans can only hope that Seidler sticks around and that Preller’s draft picks and international signings pay dividends. At least the underlying philosophy of building from within makes sense and gives us an opportunity to watch young players rise through the system.

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