Well these past couple of weeks have been pretty crazy, haven’t they? Just think about the roller coaster fans have been taken on, starting with the Acee article where ownership cried poor, ending with the team purportedly pursuing the two highest priced free agents in MLB history. We went from the very lows of the owner stating that even after the much vaunted DEBT REDUCTION, they would still be $8M cash flow negative in 2019 with a miniscule $80M payroll. In Marver’s shining moment, he decimated each of ownership’s arguments set out in Acee’s article in a point by point podcast, followed by a whirlwind media tour that found him on the Effectively Wild podcast and Kurt Bevacqua’s Dirty Kurt’s Clubhhouse podcast. I think between Marver’s podcasts, @thechamner‘s ridiculously good post on ownership extracting value from the franchise, and my, uh, tweeting, I think it was made fairly clear that ownership is either lying to the public or grossly undercapitalized. I think a point that doesn’t get hammered home enough is that only one team in the last 15 years has won a World Series without a league average payroll (Houston is the exception and they were only a couple million under league average), which if trends continue, should be a bit over $140M in 2019. You can whine about the unfairness of the economic system, plead for a salary cap, or settle for a $110M salary and say that it’s more “realistic” for a “small market”, but all that is doing is accepting defeat. The data dictates that YOU MUST HAVE A LEAGUE AVERAGE PAYROLL TO WIN A WORLD SERIES. And if we aren’t all in this to see a World Series victory, then I don’t even know what we’re doing here. Fans should not accept any less, half measures will not lead to the ultimate goal.
And that brings us to the current roller coaster: the purported pursuit of Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. In an amazing coincidence, after the fan backlash over debt reduction and finances and spending, the team leaked that they were in hot pursuit of the two most sought after free agents in years, somehow forgetting the dire financial circumstances that they themselves said they were in just two weeks ago. This is high stakes for the Padres because if they don’t come home with one of these two free agents, there will be a fan rebellion. Let’s talk about the pursuit of these free agents for a second, and lay out some situational awareness:
1. Per my article, the Padres have ~$60M between their current payroll and the likely 2019 league average payroll. They have banked nearly $200M in operating profits in the past five years. The Padres’ payroll is less than the revenue they pull in just off of national TV deals, FSSD money, and merchandising revenues, before they sell a single ticket, payroll is covered. The money is there, the Padres have plenty of it.
2. Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are transformational players for the franchise. Not just for the on-field product, where they would immediately be the best position players in a decade, if not more. They transform the franchise from generic, store brand baseball team that is an annual also-ran and entirely irrelevant in the grand scheme of sports to a pinnacle of sports achievement, the team that went against the stream of tightening financial belts to sign the biggest contracts two years in a row.
3. At the point that the Padres state they are interested and setting up meetings, they have acknowledged they have much more money available for 2019 than they have said publicly. You don’t go into these meetings thinking they’ll cost a couple millios, the range of what they get paid is pretty well known.
4. To sign one of the free agents, to win the free agency game they’ve decided to play, the rules are pretty simple: offer the most money. There are always factors like taxes, desire to play in San Diego, etc. Most, if not all, of these other factors can be offset with money. Boras has always seemed to maximize contract value, and reports on Machado are that he is seeking the biggest contract possible as his primary deciding factor.
5. If the Padres fail at signing Machado or Bryce Harper, it is because they didn’t offer the best package to those players, despite having a massive surplus of operating funds, not to mention nearly $200M in operating profits that ownership has always promised will be used in future years.
There is no participation trophy in the game the Padres have decided to play. Either they win or they go home empty handed. Deciding to play the game isn’t worthy of lauding this ownership with compliments. There should be no backpatting for the team “trying”. In this case, “trying” means they lost, something we are all too familiar with here in San Diego.
Let’s put some of this in perspective. We all have talked about contract values we think the team should offer. Is the difference between an 8/$250M and an 8/$275M contract offer really worth walking away? That’s a difference of $3M a year, that’s the breaking point?! My guess is, if the team fails to sign one, some kind of offer will leak out, the team will pat themselves on the back for “offering the largest contract in team history” and hope that fans see that at least they “tried”. This game is binary, either they win or they lose, either they sign one or they don’t. With all of the money this ownership has lit on fire: Ian Kinsler, Phil Hughes, Garrett Richards 2019, Chase Headley, Clayton Richard, etc., all those seat fillers could be the difference in money between the Padres and a winning bid. It’s important that fans don’t tolerate anything less than success here. The era of being happy that the team “tried hard” should be over, it’s time to demand winning.
From a baseball standpoint, there is no better acquisition than one of Machado and Harper. Acee already floated the idea of waiting for 2020, not to mention 2022 free agents. The problem with this is there’s already talk about Arenado resigning with the Rockies or winding up with the Yankees, and there’s already an assumption that Rendon will resign with the Nationals. Counting on the unknown that either of them will be available next free agency period is both risky that neither will actually be free agents, and also risky that the team will actually be able to sign them. Machado and Harper are game changers for this franchise on the field. They, unlike a punch and judy 1B like Hosmer, form a backbone to the next good Padres team.
Days Since Marver Has Actually Written Something: 193 days
The release of the Keith Law Top Prospects list is a good chance to revisit whether Marver has written his Keith Law Manifesto yet. I went around and checked with my sources and learned that no, Marver has not done anything on the manifesto, and that it’s really just a figment of our imagination. God Marver blows.
Inheriting Debt From Prior Owners Is Not An Excuse: Chad wrote an incredible article detailing some of the financial underpinnings that Acee looked at in an unsophisticated, surface manner. What Chad has identified is the general methods for how private equity works: transfer company value directly to ownership. In the case of the Padres’ finances, robbing operating revenues that would otherwise wind up funding payroll to increase shareholder equity is classic private equity. And weird, the majority owners literally run a private equity firm! We do a lot of blame shifting as Padres fans. Nothing about 2015 was AJ’s fault, it was all Mike Dee’s fault. The destruction of customer loyalty in 2016 was Mike Dee’s fault, not the ownership that gave him very public statements of support. And in 2019, the finances are all Ron Fowler’s fault, definitely not Peter Seidler’s. It might be time to start holding all of them accountable, especially when everything Chad detailed has Seidler’s fingerprints all over it. Unless they sign Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, then we should line up at Petco Park and offer them up some tug jobs.
Gwynntelligence Podcast – A Line By Line Breadown of Kevin Acee’s Article On The Padres Crying Poor: As I talked about above, Marver did a great job of doing a point by point analysis of Acee’s debt reduction article. I think he made an important point about Acee. For how terrible a writer Acee is, and he is goddamned terrible, and for how compromised he is by his lack of journalistic integrity in blindly complimenting Ron Fowler, and he is goddamned compromised, and for how unethical it is that he offers up collaboration to the team in exchange for special access, and it is goddamned unethical, we should be thankful he wrote his awful article because it gave us our most detailed look at finances and comments that were on the record that we can hold the team accountable for. As much as Acee bungled the analysis of what he was shown, we here in Padres Twitter were given enough information that we could backfill Acee’s many deficiencies with real, quality, educated analysis of the numbers and what they mean.
Gwynntelligence Podcast – A Snippet By Snippet Breakdown of Kevin Acee’s Interview on the Darren Smith Show: Marver also did this podcast to dissect Acee’s Darren Smith interview. My favorite part of Acee’s interviews are when he doesn’t know how to answer something and lets out an awkward laughs to buy himself time while he thinks about what to say next. There are many awkward laughs in his interview.
Gwynntelligence Podcast – La Resistance: In the Week Of Gwynntelligence, we closed it out with an actual, normal Gwynntelligence Podcast, taped at Stumblefoot Brewery in San Marcos, near Marver’s Inland North County home. The gang closed out the debt reduction talk and introduced a new segment: HJ’s Corner, where I just talk about what a terrible human being I was in college during fraternity pledgeships.
Padres Blogosphere Posts:
Gaslamp Ball – A Look Into The Padres Finances Has Opened A Rat’s Nest Of Questions: I’ve thought about phasing this section of #TWIPT out, it seems like the days of blogging might be in the rear view mirror. It may happen, we’ll see. For the time being, Roy wrote a great wrap-up of the entire debt reduction debacle. If you don’t have the time to dig into all of the extended analyses, Roy captured everything you need right here.
Gaslamp Ball – Wiggins4ever: So I was very recently introduced to a long time Gaslamp Ball fanpost contributor, wiggins4ever, who just resurfaced in the past couple weeks. His posts date back ten years before he mysteriously disappeared. I lost an entire night reading the entire back catalog of wiggins posts, just giggling to myself. It’s like the GLB fanpost version of the front flip poop GIF. They are amazing and should immediately be enshrined in the Padres Twitter Hall of Fame.
Golden Age of Padres Podcasts:
The 5.5 Podcast – Debt Reduction > Winning: First, it’s important we recognize Eric’s great Hacksaw opening bit. Second, the 5.5 gang does a great job breaking down what the impacts are of the debt reduction article. Eric and Danny have done a great job of breaking out the reality of the situation: that league average payroll is the only acceptable state of affairs for the Padres; anything else is conceding the chance to win a World Series. They also do a good job of showing that, given the revenue that we can back channel numbers for based on Acee’s incomplete figures, revenue is high enough that it should support a league average payroll. Danny also make some great points that I’ve thought about a lot: did the Padres really think releasing their financial data would put the team in a good light? They didn’t have to release anything, in fact, it was fairly unprecedented to even release what he did. They only decide to do that if they think it is advantageous to themselves. It makes you wonder if the Padres just misread the public’s reaction, which really isn’t out of character given the many failures of Wayne Partello through the years.
Los Hijos Podcast – The Long Lost Podcasters: Hey look who popped out their heads! The Los Hijos boys, now geographically dispersed, break down the current affairs of the Padres. They taped this the morning of the Acee article release, and were able to discuss it a bit at the tail end of the episode. At first I thought this was some kind of crossover episode with Bluntly Padres given Robert’s giggling. This also reminds me, I was looking forward to Robert taping a “Building A Business” podcast as he makes a go of it in Tucson, dishing out some major advertising dollars to get a spot in this podcast.
Bluntly Padres – The People’s Podcast: The Bluntly gang offers up some great insight into how the podcast gets made with a photo of the studio where we learn that Matt is a major Nintendo Gamecube fan. The Matt’s break down the roster make-up as it is now, while expressing the point we are all realizing, the 2019 roster needs to be better.
The Kept Faith – Craig Elsten and Nate Abaurrea: This week’s TKF wasn’t Padres related at all, but the hoopla surrounding Landon Donovan being signed by the Padres, in addition to my recent time spent watching Sockers and Seals game has made me think a lot about just what the Padres product is. I’ve been pretty clear that I don’t really care that much if the Seals or Sockers win, I just think it’s fun, affordable entertainment. There is a game going on at the Sports Arena, but winning is completely aside from whether I enjoy the game. This is basically what the Padres have worked very hard to do since Fowler/Seidler bought the team: to offer an entertainment product that excludes the need for a winning product. The current roster is another example of this: a team that won’t win that offers up loud music, videoboard animations, and a food court as an entertainment experience. It’s not for me and I think it’s insulting, but I understand from a purely business sense why they do it. And it worked when the Padres were the only game in town. There is a small segment of the customer base, us basically, that really care about the onfield product, that care about it being a Major League product. The vast majority view Padres games as a commodified generic entertainment experience, which is what the Padres have worked hard to brand their product as. The problem for the Padres is that there are now other sources of generic sports entertainment experiences that are offering arguably more entertainment for less money. So what do the Padres do about this? Sign Harper or Machado which immediately transforms the product from mall food court to real, bonafide, Major League Baseball team with actual, exciting on the field play. It really can’t be stressed enough how transformative signing a Harper or Machado would be for this team and this fanbase.
Friars On The Farm – Lance Brozdowski: I’m going to admit that I have not listened to the most recent episode of Friars On The Farm with an interview with Lance Brozdowski. But I think it’s important to recognize the valuable service that Donovan and Roy have done for all of us: provide constant content during a long dead period in Padres podcasting. The Friars On The Farm boys have been pumping out the content, pumping out the interviews, and have diligently kept all of our podcast thingies filled with great podcasts.
Tweet Of the Week:
Oscar has done a lot of great work lately. After @calvesfordays abhorrent opinions on prime rib, I think it’s safe to assume he’ll never win another Jaggy.
Terrible Marver Tweet Of The Week:
I debated whether this can even be considered a humblebrag. Is it really bragging to say you’re in Arizona? I’d argue it’s something you’d generally want to keep hidden, very embarrassing! And then we tack on the fact that Marver, a kid that couldn’t make it past the first day of rush, is trying to hangwith a bunch of 20 year old ASU kids named Todd.
Nick Canepa Is An Out of Touch Irrelevant Old Timer Or Possibly Doing A Bit:
MAYOR SCHWINN!!! LOL LOL LOL LOL! Can you believe that the dickless wonder that’s currently mayor actually wants to help prevent cyclists from literally dying?! WHAT A DICKHEAD!
I don’t really appreciate your assessment of Kevin Acee that he’s unethical and lacking journalistic integrity. That’s far too kind. It’s been almost 7 years since Tim Sullivan, the only decent sportswriter the U-T possessed, was forced out by Manchester and Lynch. I believe, and always will, that Acee was involved in Tim’s assassination because Acee wanted Sullivan’s Columnist title. A special “Thanks” to Gwynntelligence for this podcast however, because I haven’t read Acee or the U-T since Tim Sullivan left. It’s sad that things haven’t changes since Manchester and Lynch.