Eric Kutsenda has big shoes to fill with Padres

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Few San Diego Padres fans have heard of Eric Kutsenda.

Kutsinda will become well-known in the next few weeks. He ascended to the position held by Peter Seidler until he passed away on November 14. However, no one can fill Seidler’s shoes.

Aside from being a generous team owner, he cared about the less fortunate among us, especially homeless humans. But Seilder didn’t just send a check; he sent himself.

“With a heavy heart, I humbly accept this appointment in honor of my dear friend, Peter Seidler, who I had the privilege of working with for almost 30 years,” Kutsenda told the media.

“I am excited to partner with Erik Greupner and A.J Preller to help guide the Padres forward in fulfillment of Peter’s version. That includes the Padres remaining as a family asset for generations to come and is anchored in Peter’s dedication to the fans and community of San Diego. Our north star remains the same: to win a World Series Championship for the city of San Diego.”

Of course, that championship would be a gift to Padre fans. Now, however, the loss of Seidler, at just 63 years of age, reverberates through the community. He was much more than a rich guy who owned a sports team. Peter Seidler was a kind human, and he cared about his team’s fans. He beat cancer twice but, sadly, not a third time.

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While grieving the loss of his friend and partner, Kutsenda will likely have to deal with a cut in payroll. Shortly after the disappointing season ended, it was assumed the San Diego Padres would slash payroll from $250 million (third highest in baseball) to around $ 200 million (still a healthy sum).

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The salaries of Manny Machado at $350 million, Fernando Tatis Jr. at $340 million, Xander Bogaerts at $280 million, Yu Darvish at $108 million, and Joe Musgrove at $100 million make his need to cut payroll especially challenging. Despite the huge payroll and pricy contracts, the Padres failed to make the playoffs. The record of 82-80 (behind the Los Angeles Dodgers (100-62) and Arizona Diamondbacks (84-78), does not inspire confidence.

The 51-year-old Kutsenda, who is a certified public accountant, has the tools for that task, but it will still be daunting. He joined Peter and Robert Seidler in founding Seidler Equity Partners in 1992. Late this year, he joined the front office to advise team CEO Eric Greupner.

Sadly, though, no one can replace Peter Seidler. He had a heart as large as his bank account. He cared about the forgotten people, especially the homeless. He didn’t just send a check; he sent it himself.

Eric Kutsenda faces a huge challenge. Although he’s familiar with the organization, he will oversee a team with a new manager, a general manager who loves to spend money, a need to cut payroll substantially, and a team that has not lived up to its promise (or payroll).

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