Padres interim chairman needs to feel uncomfortable in 2024

2024 San Diego Padres Spring Training
2024 San Diego Padres Spring Training / Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/GettyImages

San Diego Padres interim chairman Eric Kutsenda came out of hibernation to give the State of the Padres briefing before the official start of spring training.

He wanted to reassure everyone that the franchise has a vision for 2024 despite the lack of player movement in the offseason. Kutsenda looked uncomfortable answering questions about the current makeup of the roster. It confirmed there is no leader to provide a concrete plan for the front office staff to act upon.

Is Eric Kutsenda the cause of Padres' quiet offseason?

Since the unfortunate death of Peter Seidler, Kutsenda has been in charge of the Padres organization. But he has remained in the background and allowed Padres CEO Erik Greupner and president of baseball operations and general manager AJ Preller to run the day-to-day operations. In his brief press gathering, he reiterated that the Friars are open for business.

Oh sure, the Padres traded Juan Soto and Matt Carpenter this winter, but that came after Kutsenda mandated the payroll be reduced by $50 million. So, why has Seidler's vision been ignored? He used every resource available to improve the Padres roster. Instead, Kutsenda tied Preller's hands in terms of acquiring talent to upgrade the roster.

The pros and cons of the Padres offseason heading into 2024

The Friars traded Soto because he was entering his free agency season. Adding another contract extension over $400 million became too pricey for Kutsenda's taste. The approach might be fiscally responsible for the corporate world, but not in professional sports. Team profits are generated from ticket sales as they market their new acquisitions in the offseason. You cannot create enthusiasm after dealing a generational talent to recoup your losses.

Preller did upgrade the bullpen with low-risk free-agent signings. All the moves complied with the budget parameters, but the failure to address roster deficiencies has shaken the confidence in the front office to build a competitive team.

Addition by subtraction is a great recipe to remain status quo year after year.

What's next for the Padres in 2024 and beyond?

Also, Kutsenda announced that Robert Seidler will become the permanent chairman of the franchise at some point this season. We know the Seidler name is synonymous with the O'Malley family, who owned the Los Angeles Dodgers for 47 years.

But he needs to answer several pertinent questions: What is his passion level for baseball? Is he committed to building a winning franchise like his brother? What does the future hold for the Padres?

Seidler cannot come to San Diego and take on a caretaker's role until identifying a new owner. The Friar Faithful needs answers before the conclusion of the season.

Like it or not, the Padres are not as relevant within the baseball universe. The roster has star players (Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove, Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr., and Xander Bogaerts) and the majority of them are in their 30s as the postseason window is rapidly closing.

The emergence of the Arizona Diamondbacks has added another obstacle for the Padres in the National League West -- the same division the Dodgers have dominated for the last decade.

The Padres are searching for the winning formula that produces a postseason contender. The plan for 2024 is to keep salaries under the luxury tax threshold. The roster has enough talent to finish with an 85-90 win season, which could allow them to sneak into October baseball. But it leaves little room to make a bold move at the trade deadline.

The Friar Faithful cannot get enthused if a frugal ownership group continually handcuffs Preller's attempts to add a difference-maker to the roster.

Action speaks louder than words.