The third #SDSocialSummit was this past Sunday (9-18-15), and I was lucky enough to attend this face to face with some of the San Diego Padres front office. The overall feeling of the event was remaining positive and the Padres personnel echoed that mantra over and over again.
President & CEO of the Padres Mike Dee was on hand and he had some very interesting things to say to the group of about 50 Padres fans. His immediate topic was to discuss the teams struggles this season and why it happened the way it did. He referred to the team’s defense and the pitching staffs inability to get lead-off outs in the inning. There are many factors in the Padres demise, and the team is well aware of its issues.
The discussion then went into team philosophy and having a consistent one to develop. This is something I have been preaching for a long time. In order for this team to take the next step (in its maturity) it must develop a successful organizational philosophy. It was very refreshing to realize Mr. Dee is aware of those deficiencies and is working on fixing them.
The next topic, was something that a lot of Padres fans might not like to hear. Mike Dee spoke about the payroll being at an all time high and remarked that there is a slight possibility of rebuilding and aiming for the 2017 season. He did not say that will be the teams fate, but he did speculate that the team’s future is still not decided. A scary thought and a hard pill to swallow from Padres fans that were energized by this past off-season. There is no guarantee of a slashed payroll and the team could in fact boost payroll. Dee spoke about A.J. Preller and indicated that anything is possible with the future of this team.
Dee even went as far as to have the group vote by show of hands whether they would be opposed to the payroll being slashed to say $80 million with extra funds going towards development of international players. Everyone in the group agreed that if money from Major League payroll was needed to develop a better farm system, then so be it. With that being said, the recruitment of young foreign players must be improved by the Padres greatly. He spoke of the teams horrible track record in the Dominican Republic and that other teams were ahead of the Padres in that regard.
He opened up questions to the group in which he was given the usual topics to discuss. The Padres Hall Of Fame is scheduled to open on the first weekend of July. That is a three game series versus the New York Yankees (July 1-3) and a little over one week from the All-Star Game in which the Padres will be hosting at Petco Park. No other details were announced by Dee, but he did say details will emerge little by little.
Another topic of huge discussions among fans is the Padres uniform color in 2016 and the fact the Padres logo has yellow on it. Dee laughed off the question but did not give an answer either way. He left the topic with very few words and his last remark was stay tuned… That in itself leads me to believe there will be some change to the uniforms next year. To what degree, that remains to be seen. But like the CEO said… stay tuned.
Someone asked Mr. Dee about Jedd Gyorko at shortstop and if that was in the plans for 2016. The ability to play the position is something Gyorko has displayed and Dee endorsed that fact. He said it is a possibility, but the team will explore every option during the off-season.
The last pressing issue Dee answered was regarding Pat Murphy‘s tenure as the Padres manager. He told us that Murphy will be evaluated and that no decision is set in stone at the moment. While he did not mention specifics, he did speak about the team needing a manager who teaches. He referred to the ability to develop talent as the #1 trait the Padres are looking for in a manager going forward. That will obviously be a characteristic the teams looks for in a new manager, its unclear if Murphy brings that trait to the team.
We were also given the opportunity to speak with broadcasters Mark Grant and Jesse Agler. Both were very approachable and Grant entertained us with numerous baseball stories. It’s very nice to get a chance to see the voices you hear at every Padres game. Both answered a few questions and Jesse Agler invited us to the Padres Social Hour set when we were all done.
A special treat as assistant General Manager Josh Stein and scout Don Welke spoke with us next. It was very interesting to hear them speak of the fine line while evaluating talent. They spoke about the importance of character and the want to play baseball versus the analytical spectrum of the game. It is refreshing that the Padres are holding on to the old school ideals while evaluating talent and at the same time embracing the new concepts within the game.
Cody Decker made an appearance and was his usual entertaining self. He answered a few questions and then as a group we escorted him down to the Padres Social Hour set through the inner works of Petco Park. Cody took a group photo with us and had a few private words for a couple of fans. A great experience as the group was then escorted to our private suites just in time for the first pitch.
The Padres #SDSocialSummit was a very nice gesture by the Padres to allow the general public to speak to front office personnel and get a chance to enjoy a ball game. The overall experience was positive and with promotions like this the Padres will only become a better Major League franchise. Kudos to the team for their hospitality and please continue to develop new ways in which to grow the support of the franchise. The 2016 season should be very eventful for the Padres.