Jeff Smith 4 p.m., Dec. 20
So far as the state of Padres ownership goes right now, we know that John Moores has been and remains the owner of the club with a 51% stake. We know that in January Jeff Moorad, CEO and managing partner of the minority owners of the 49% stake, applied to purchase the balance of the team from John Moores and Bud Selig would not permit it citing financial information not available to MLB at the time. We know that a few weeks later, Jeff Moorad sent Bug Selig the information he asked for.
We know that two weeks ago, Jeff Moorad withdrew his application for the minority ownership group to complete the purchase of the Padres from John Moores. We know that yesterday, Jeff Moorad resigned as CEO of the Padres, and COO Tom Garfinkel temporarily assumed the title of CEO. This is all we know about Padres ownership at the moment, those are facts at hand.
Everything else concerning the state of Padres ownership is complete speculation. Knowing what happened fails to explain why it happened. Most explanations given for one event in the chain have made little or no sense when considering the next event in the chain. Occam's razor appears to be very dull indeed.
Working backwards, if Jeff Moorad stepped down as CEO today solely to concentrate on a pending media deal, why didn't that happen two weeks ago when he withdrew the application citing the same exact reason? If Jeff Moorad withdrew the application two weeks ago in the interest of getting the media deal done, why was financial information provided to Bud Selig? If all Bud Selig needed to see was some particular financial information from the minority ownership group, why wasn't the application then approved? If Bud Selig and MLB owners tabled the January vote on the application of purchase by the minority ownership group, then why wasn't Selig involved in 2009 when the purchase began with a $100 million down payment?
So, we are all left to speculate, because what we've been told makes no sense. MLB owners hate Jeff Moorad for whatever variety of reasons, none of them confirmed. Moorad's stake in the minority ownership group isn't enough, not confirmed. John Moores has changed his mind and doesn't want to sell after all, which Moores repeatedly denies being true.
The list is far longer, involving often simple and sometimes complex theories.
It certainly appears that the media contract approval with Fox Sports San Diego that is pending MLB approval has everything to do it. What isn't known is why. That media contract approval could be leverage used by MLB owners to force Moorad out. For reasons unknown.
It also appears that Moorad's duties with the organization at this point will be minimal, if not nonexistent. Multiple sources indicate that his office has been cleaned out. There is speculation that in the end, John Moores himself pried Moorad loose. For reasons unknown.
Tom Garfinkel has taken the helm in the interim, he now reports directly to John Moores. For the last six years - between the Diamondbacks organization and the Padres - Garfinkel has reported to Moorad. Some sources suggest that meanwhile, Moores will seek a new buyer. What happens within the minority ownership group is unknown.
Seems there are a lot of unknowns for Padres fans to chew on right now.
If we sharpen Occam's razor, or at least certain parts of it, then there are some events that could be explained ignoring some of the explanations given that don't quite fit. Rather than break down Jeff Moorad the man, examining Moorad the CEO, every promise he made concerning player payroll was met. Not that the payroll has been acceptable, certainly not. But as CEO, Moorad's responsibility ends where he plans and executes, because John Moores was still the majority owner all along.
Either credit Moorad or the staff hired by Moorad, but the Padres farm system is now in excellent shape, whereas three years earlier, at the time he became CEO, the system was in disrepair other than the Padres Dominican Academy. The front office was reorganized and tightened. The scouting system was much improved, including the use of an advance scout (like all of the other teams do) in order to provide valuable information about the competition. The recent contract extensions to center fielder Cameron Maybin and catcher Nick Hundley were brilliant in many respects, and cement two positions if nothing else.
So from empirical observations, the performance of Jeff Moorad, as Padres CEO, seems to have been more than satisfactory.
Then why is Moorad no longer CEO if he performed his functions as CEO satisfactorily? Options, on the edge of the razor, would be that either the financial status of the minority owner's group were not satisfactory in some way, or that MLB owners have personal issues with Moorad. The idea behind Occam's razor is to go with the most obvious explanation, so we're left to examine the two and shave off the one that makes the least amount of sense.
Say, as some have postulated, that the money that may still be sitting in escrow for purchase of the team is intended to be paid back to the investment group using an advance from the pending media contract. And say this makes Bud Selig and MLB owners unhappy for some reason. If you examine the media contracts of most major league teams and combine that income with other profit, it's obvious that there is net income for almost all teams. What's the difference where it came from?
This is hypocritical. It is made even more hypocritical by Moorad's track record as CEO of the Padres. Player payroll has increased, draft picks are well-selected and paid accordingly. And if a recent article in Forbes magazine is correct and the Padres profited $25 million last season, then the majority of that profit will have gone into an increase in payroll for 2012. And if there was an issue with the investment group paying for the purchase over five years, no one voiced a concern in 2009.
The other notion is that Jeff Moorad is simply disliked by enough MLB owners (or even perhaps by Bud Selig) to not get the required votes to buy out John Moores. That could be true, there are a few owners where it is well-known they have a dislike for Moorad. It's possible. It seems inconceivable that the backroom politics of baseball ownership could possibly get in the way of something that seems to be in the best interest of baseball.
Of course, the steroid scandal seemed inconceivable, too. So did the strike. So do a lot of things that Bud Selig and MLB owners decide or ignore.
So, if you decide to apply Occam's razor to figure out what just happened, then you probably have to figure out which explanation to shave away. All we know for certain is that Jeff Moorad is out, Tom Garfinkel is temporarily running the show, and John Moores is still the owner. Everything else is pure speculation.
Thursday afternoon, the split squads split a win and a loss. In Peoria, the Cleveland Indians beat the Padres, 9-4. Corey Luebke had another great outing, pitching five innings while giving up only 1 run on 4 hits and striking out six. Everth Cabrera hit his first home run in the Cactus League this season, while Chase Headley and Jesus Guzman each hit their 2nd, all solo shots. Notably, Will Venable is having a great spring. He went 1 for 3 and stole his 6th base in Cactus League play.
Meanwhile in Tucson, Yasmani Grandal continues to impress, going 3 for 3 with a home run and 5 runs batted in as the Padres beat the Colorado Rockies, 11-6. Prospect Sawyer Carroll went 2 for 3 and threw a runner out at home from right field, while third baseman Jedd Gyorko went 4 for 5. Gyorko started a little slowly but has raised his average to .323 in spring. Casey Kelly got in four innings of work for the win, giving up 2 runs on 6 hits and a walk while striking out 4 Rockies batters.
On the injury front, according to Corey Brock from mlb.com Kyle Blanks was treated to alleviate pain and swelling in his shoulder and is feeling better, though no word on his return. Orlando Hudson (strained groin) is still day-to-day. Carlos Quentin, who recently underwent surgery is back in camp but will still open the season on the DL and begin rehab shortly. Nick Hundley expects to be back in the line-up on Saturday.
Friday, the Padres will host the Cincinnati Reds in a night game. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM. Edinson Volquez is scheduled to pitch for five innings, pitch count excepted. The game will be carried on radio, XX 1090-AM, and on Fox Sports San Diego, but apparently only if you are a Cox Cable subscriber or have DirecTV. Customers of other cable or dish providers might wish to express their outrage while listening on radio.
(Image: San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders and San Diego Padres COO and interim CEO Tom Garfinkel)