Rumors have been floating for two weeks that Theo Epstein will leave Boston and become a Senior VP with the Chicago Cubs. I could not care less about that.
The last few days have seen the start of, and intensifying reporting on, rumors Jed Hoyer or Josh Byrnes are going to Chicago as GM under Theo. Today it seems all but a done deal that Hoyer is gone. I care a little more about that.
The San Diego Padres currently suffer from a lack of offensive talent on the major league roster. The reasons why can be distilled into three parts - the trade of Adrian Gonzalez to Boston, the low team payroll, and a farm system bereft of offensive talent. The Gonzo trade and the low payroll go hand-in-hand IMHO - ownership has artifically restricted the size of the payroll, and decided it did not want to pay Adrian what he was worth.
The other problem is systemic and needed to be fixed anyway for the long-term viability of the franchise. One of Boston's claims to fame has been their ability to identify, develop, and promote prospects into contributing members of the Red Sox. The best two examples of that success are Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury. Since Hoyer worked in the front office that did that drafting, it made a certain amount of sense to hire someone with a strong player development background.
To that end he brought Jason McLeod with him from Boston and significantly expanded the player development department. San Diego still has a bottom-half farm system but is at least working in the right direction. This is a good thing.
Now Hoyer is reportedly leaving to go to Chicago. Maybe he chafed under the small payroll he had to work with in San Diego. Maybe Josh Byrnes' relationship with Moorad made things awkward in the Padre front office. We don't know, and probably won't know. What we should care about is that the Padres continue to aggressively draft premium talent and get them to the major league roster. What we should also care about is that McLeod stays in the San Diego front office. What we should also care about is that Moorad takes the austerity measure handcuffs off the team payroll and allow it to grow. Not to a number that starts with a "5", but something more reasonable, like a "7" or "8".
Hoyer, Byrnes, Kevin Towers, Daffy Duck, Ivan Drago, Optimus Prime, Mel Zeb, me, you ... it doesn't matter who the Padres GM is. It does matter that the payroll budget get bigger. And, it really matters the organization continue to draft good offensive prospects and get those guys to the majors.
I don't care that Hoyer's leaving. I will care if McLeod follows.
UPDATE: This story has gained all sorts of momentum.
Item: The Cubs asked for Josh Byrnes first but Padres said no.
Item: Hoyer offered to stay in San Diego for a 5-year extension and was told no. Honestly this one is funny to me. It would appear Hoyer tried to leverage his impending departure into a pay raise. A little corporate blackmail, perhaps.
Item: Jason McLeod is also almost out the door.
All that can be found in this story at ESPN.
It pisses me off. I appreciate the loyalty Moorad is showing Byrnes, but these developments piss me off. He's letting the architect of the Padres minor league revival walk. He's letting a GM with a plan walk. And for what, in return? Nothing.
I don't care that Ricketts and Moorad are friends. Owning a baseball team is like being a sovereign country. Owners don't have friends - they have INTERESTS. It should be in the INTEREST of Moorad and the Padres ownership to build and bring a championship to San Diego. It is not in the INTEREST of the San Diego Padres to let two bright young minds, who are under contract, leave without compensation.
Moorad traded away the best position player San Diego had since Tony Gwynn retired. Now he allows the core of his front office to walk away. If he's trying to build a fan base that's the wrong way to go about doing it. I feel for the Padres ticket sales staff - how do you sell this product? Related, get ready for hordes of visiting team fans to descend on the ballpark next year - they may be the only ones who go in large numbers.
Assuming, of course, YOU go.