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.