The Padres’ much more silent partner

Credit: AP Photo

Credit: AP Photo

Of the two that represent the ownership group of the San Diego Padres, Peter Seidler is the much more silent partner. 

While Ron Fowler regularly voices his strong opinions, usually in colorful terms like “heads will roll” after an “embarrassing” season, lead partner Peter Seidler takes a more judicious approach.  But, as an heir of the famed Los Angeles Dodgers’ O’Malley family, Seidler has baseball in his blood and the same driving desire to win as Fowler.

After a failed attempt to buy the team with a group headed by Jeff Moorad, Fowler (CEO of Liquid Investments Inc., a company that distributes beer in San Diego) joined with four members of the extended O’Malley family to bid on the Padres. Fowler, Kevin and Brian O’Malley (the sons of Peter O’Malley and grandsons of Walter O’Malley) along with Peter and Tom Seidler (the nephews of Walter O’Malley) completed the purchase of the team for $800 million on August 28, 2012.

The O’Malley family helped lead baseball’s migration from the east to the west in 1957 when the team left Ebbets Field in Brooklyn for Dodger Stadium in Chavez Ravine.  Under Walter O’Malley’s leadership, the Dodgers took the massive leap of signing Major League Baseball’s first African American player, Jackie Robinson, and soon added Roy Campanella.

Seidler, the lead investor in the Padres, carries that proud history with him as he adjusts to baseball down the freeway.  He is also the founder and managing partner of Seidler Equity Partners, a private equity firm with a net worth of approximately $3 billion.  He has survived Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and he and his wife Sheel target health and homelessness in their philanthropic efforts.

Seidler’s lineage, as well as his personal history, may help him temper his impatience with the performance of the Padres since the deal was sealed.  The Padres have failed to reach .500 and have finished no higher than third place in the National League West during his tenure.  Despite the past performance, Seidler has high expectations for this franchise.

In an interview with Darren Smith on XTRA 1360, Seidler declared that 2020 would open a decade of success for the San Diego Padres.  With a new manager, Jayce Tingler, taking over and general manager A.J. Preller on notice, both Seidler and Fowler, have laid down the gauntlet.  Rumor has it that raised voices and slammed doors preceded the firing of manager Andy Green just before the end of the season.

This ownership group has put its money where its mouth is, propelling the Padres to the highest payroll in the team’s history.  At approximately $120 million, the payroll has reached heights never imagined in the team’s existence.  The San Diego Padres will never compete dollar-wise with the likes of the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers, but at least the team now ranks in the middle of the pack rather than near the bottom.

Under Seidler and Fowler, the Padres have agreed to the three richest Padre contracts in three consecutive years for Wil Myers, Eric Hosmer, and Manny Machado.  This offseason will indicate just how high the owners will go in the push to become relevant in 2020 and beyond.  Certainly, no one expected the Padres to win a bidding war for Manny Machado during last year’s offseason.

Seidler may have okayed the step back taken by the organization to acquire the prospects deemed necessary to succeed, adding that it took “John Wooden 11 years before he won” (at UCLA in basketball), but even his patience has been tested.  As he told Smith, “fans deserved a better effort” from the team than displayed this year.

Despite the disappointment, Seidler’s faith in Preller remains unshaken.  Smith joked that Seidler “believes in Preller the way Mother Theresa believes in God.”  He values the general manager’s love of the game, his ability to relate to players, his knack for searching out talent.

However, Preller’s time on the road will be much more limited.  The ownership group agreed to the strategy of taking a step backward and believes the team has the core needed to succeed.  Now it’s time for Preller to stick around the team and help usher in the new era of Padres’ baseball on January 1st.

An optimist, Peter Seidler, has high expectations for the Padres going forward.  His so-far unshaken faith in A.J. Preller will be tested these next few months.  The Padres’ general manager has a huge to-do list and limited time to turn this team and this franchise around.

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17 thoughts on “The Padres’ much more silent partner

    1. Thank you very much, Malik,
      It was actually a fun article to write. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  1. Peter Seidler just three years ago was gaunt, battling disease, and obviously left day to day oversight to Ron Fowler. Ron was instrumental in keeping Moorad’s minority group together, with their 49-1/3% ownership, and joining with the O’Malley/Seidler investors who then had only to buy out John Moores’ controlling 50-2/3%. I can see Peter Seidler’s loyalty to Ron when he needed someone to step up during his treatment.

    It should be obvious to him by now that Ron Fowler is a hard-nosed businessman whose management style doesn’t mesh with how major league baseball operates. Fortunately, Peter Seidler is now healthy, and as Managing General Partner has the final word in how the Padres are run. As you pointed out, he’s a member of the Dodgers’ “family” and knows the formula: have a deep farm, hire the best baseball people, give them a consistent budget, and let them do their jobs, with continuous contention the goal.

    If Peter Seidler continues with that philosophy, A.J. Preller should be in no danger for failing to “win now”. Preller’s long term plan of continuous contention, not just a window, meshes perfectly with the transplanted Dodgers philosophy, and it’s not about to be upturned on the basis of one year’s results. If anything, it’ll be Ron Fowler who will be eased out of the chairmanship after 2020, in favor of Tom Seidler, who is already in the Padres front office.

    1. Hi Larry,
      Of course, Seidler has loyalty to Fowler. I doubt, he’ll be eased out this year, but I’ve heard that Fowler will back off in a couple of years.
      I disagree about the mandate to win. Seidler has said repeatedly that the window of contention opens in 2020. If the Padres don’t show marked improvement I think Preller’s job may very well be in jeopardy.
      We shall see… I know the MLB season is long, but the offseason always seems longer to me…
      Thanks for your very thoughtful comments,

  2. It’s hard to hold a positive opinion of Seidler. His partner is a blowhard and a fool. He presumably signed off on the hiring of Preller, who has been a failure. Big contracts given Myers and Hosmer have made the Padres a laughingstock.
    The least he could have done is to have educated himself on the industry. He has been part owner since 2012, yet the 2013-2019 seasons have been total crap. Not one .500 team in 7 years.
    Maybe, instead of hoping Seidler takes over as general partner, we should hope that they sell the team to someone who knows just a little bit about baseball, and then they can drag their sorry asses out of town.

    1. Hi Tom,
      I understand your utter frustration and sometimes think my own head will explode. Obviously I can only surmise from my research Peter Seidler’s motives, judgments, etc. However, I have a feeling his life experiences (especially surviving cancer and being from a baseball family) give him a little more patience than the rest of us.
      He is obviously a true believer about Preller, which I find totally baffling, but he’s made it very clear that the grace period is up.
      After the horrible experiences after Moore’s divorce and Moorad’s pretend ownership, I fear what would happen if the team again goes on the market.
      Thanks as always for your comments,

  3. Nailed it again, Diane. However, it was Branch Rickey that signed Jackie Robinson. O’Malley can most be remembered for bringing the Dodgers to L. A. from Brooklyn. My father was a detective RHD, LAPD metro at the time. He once told the most amazing story about disputed land that was part of the LAPD police academy, and wanted by O’Malley for Chavez Ravine/Dodger Stadium. Fun fact…O’Malley once played an uncredited cameo on the Wild Wild West as a cigar smoking Dr. who removed a bullet from James West.

    1. Hi there Tempe,
      You are absolutely right that Branch Rickey was the driving force behind signing Jackie Robinson, but the O’Malley family certainly was on board.
      Your father’s history is really interesting. The whole story behind the building of Dodger Stadium is pretty shameful…
      I never heard that story about O’Malley in the Wild Wild West. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Note to Seidler… Why is everyone drinking the kool-aid that The Padres can’t afford Strasburg? They can and they owe it to the LONG suffering fans of San Diego!

    1. Hi Bill
      The long-suffering San Diego fans do need a huge boost. Since the Padres under this ownership group have raised payroll to heights never before seen, we’re all wondering just how much of an investment they are collectively willing to make.
      What galls me is the thought that the contracts for Myers and Hosmer will prevent acquiring a front line starting pitcher. To invest that much in first base was, to me, total folly.
      I really appreciate your passion and feel your pain.

  5. Thank you to Mr. Siedler for purchasing “my Pads”! My husband and I have been to Spring Training every year for 27 years! Now that we are retired and up in NorCal, we spend two weeks every year watching our team in Arizona and purchase MLB Prime Ticket so we may watch the Pads all season long! The teams future looks bright! It is clear Mr. Preller and his team know talent and have traded and drafted well (even though the trade of Franmil broke my heart). PLEASE, the team needs an ace to help the young guns ( Paddack, Gore, Patino and Lamet) that are coming to deliver great pitching for years! Your investment in Hosmer and Machado were bold and we are very appreciative of your winning attitude. But baseball is about pitching! Please don’t waste this investment by not giving them an ACE! If Strasburg decides to stay in DC, then sign Ryu and Wheeler! Love my Pads! And THANK YOU very much!

    1. Welcome, NorCalPadsFan,
      Good for you for sticking with the Padres (although I’d be tempted by the Oakland A’s). These playoffs taught us once again that a successful team can never have enough pitching. Adding an ace or almost ace should be the biggest priority this offseason.
      Thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment.

  6. Note to AJ: Start making moves before the right moves are made by others. Time for the Padres stop being on the “Late Show”.

    1. Hi Jerry,
      Amen to that thought. Preller can’t sit around and wait as other teams will be very active this offseason. Obviously he has a lot of work to do in order to make this team competitive.
      I appreciate your taking the time to comment.

  7. I wish that Seidler would take the lead of the Padres. Listening to Fowler shoot from the hip with his many comments over the last couple of years is hard for me to take. An owner should be passionate, but being professional should also be a prerequisite. I am glad to hear that Seidler still has faith in Preller as these rebuilds take time and now that the Padres have a few players to build around, they can now start to deal from their vast collection of prospects to bring in some Major League talent.

    1. Hello Dustin,
      I agree that Seidler should take the lead, especially in commenting for public consumption. But both he and Fowler need to hold Preller et. al. responsible for the Major League team.
      Preller can no longer hoard his prospects.
      Thanks for reading and commenting,

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