In a surprising but totally not surprising move, the Padres fired Mike Dee yesterday.
It’s somewhat incredible that Mike Dee lasted as long as he did, especially when you consider that the Top 10 Stupidest Things of the Mike Dee Era article that we wrote in February 2015 had multiple honorable mentions.
In the end, Mike Dee was just as shitty as his predecessor, just a different flavor of shitty. Instead of looking you straight in the eye and lying, while putting on a nice guy act, he just didn’t really answer your question. Sure, it would always sound like he answered it, but the answer would be covered in a handful of caveats or nuanced in a way that provided him an out in case things went astray.
A great example of that can be heard in this Padres Social Hour exchange. Listen to his answer to season ticket holder “Carol”, who asked a two-pronged question about a) whether Huston Street would be dealt at the trade deadline and b) the multitude of visitor fans at Petco Park and how that affects her ability to bring people to the game.
Dee’s answer is great. If you listened to this, the gist you’d get from it is certainly “no”. As in, they aren’t going to trade Huston Street. Let’s break down the beginning of his response, line by line:
- “Huston is a valuable member of this team.”
Well, duh. This is filler, but the overall sentiment this puts in your brain is “no”. He’s valuable, why would you trade value?
- Huston has an “outstanding clubhouse influence” and is “a real leader”.
The overall sentiment this puts in your brain is also “no”. He’s valuable off-the-field, too, why would we trade that?
- “We anticipate Huston is going to be here.”
The sentiment here is also “no”, but it comes with the operative word ‘anticipate’. Anticipate literally means “regard as probable”, so using it is a caveat that implies there are other outcomes, which may be improbable.
- “That said, there are a lot of discussions that take place this time of year.”
Again, filler. It’s July before the trade deadline. Carol asked about keeping him at the trade deadline. Obviously there are trade discussions around a trade deadline that has prompted people to ask you about trades at the trade deadline.
- There’s “a high level of interest in Huston across the league”.
So this is where Mike really becomes Mike.
He should have just said “we’ve had discussions about Huston Street”, but he doesn’t say that. He says “there are discussions that take place” and then informs us that there is interest Huston Street. This of course implies that they have had discussions regarding Huston Street with other teams.
Had he actually stated that, the sentiment Carol would have received would have been “yes”; they might be trading Huston Street. Instead, he separates the actual response into two separate sentences that together do not display a sentiment of “yes”: the first is a throwaway obvious comment and the second appears to be just another statement about Huston’s value.
This is just one example of Mike’s adept way of phrasing or obfuscating the truth. Recently, he answered questions about the medical scandal by (I’m paraphrasing) stating that the Padres didn’t forge medical records. Of course, no one ever alleged that they forged medical records, just that they you withheld the full one.
What makes it even better is that the Padres know that this is exactly who Mike Dee is. When Carol asked the Huston Street question, look at Ron Fowler go “this one is all you, dude”.
It’s pretty perfect. Fowler taps his foot, thinks “shit, I don’t know how to answer that one very well”, turns his head and puts out his palm as if to say “this is why I pay you money, peon”. Dee raises his eyebrows like “okay, shit, let me see what I can do” and proceeds to go to town with filler and a caveat-littered non-answer that sounds like what Carol wants to hear.
More than anything, this is what I’ll remember about Mike Dee.
But for all of Mike Dee’s shortcoming as team president, CEO, and head of baseball operations, you have to at least give him credit for trying. He wasn’t content to sit idle with 76 wins and pretend it was all just an artifact of luck. He gave Byrnes an offseason and an additional half-season to see if he had anything, but then fired his ass. He went for broke with Preller. He then held onto Tyson Ross as part of a “building” season, and scrapped that plan in favor of stocking the farm system as the beginning of a long-term rebuild. Okay, so that “trying” was more like front office ADHD, but you take what you can as a Padres fan. If every day you attend school a bully kicks you in the nuts and steals your lunch money, you’d be pretty stoked if that bully only kicked you in the nuts going forward.
Maybe next time there won’t be a bully. The Padres could use a good team president.