Reading the U-T account in Nic Canepa's column made me rethink the PR campaign in Jed Hoyer's 1090 interview and Paul DePodesta's blog. While the franchise is obviously do a lot right with Buddy Black's teaching and Hoyer's acquisitions, this was a definite strikeout. It is clear from Canepa's column that Moorad was personally involved and seemed to want to teach this "young" agent, Troy Caradonna from SFX, a lesson since he was an agent too and he and Jason McLeod had done deals way bigger than this in Hoyer's words. The Padres say that they had a pre-draft agreement with Whitson and Hoyer from his interview had notes that his father said, "There's no way we're turning down $2 million." I guess that's enough to put it in the bank.
Taking at face value the words from a teenager about to fulfill his lifelong dream shouldn't really be how a professional sports franchise bases its operation, especially if in this case, the Padres have flubbed on every first round pick in the last 20 years back to the #1 pick in Andy Benes (who was mildly successful). Hoyer reciting what Whitson said sounds eerily like Bill Gayton discussing how Mission Bay's Matt Bush had called the Padres after reading about a U-T story on signability and saying how much he wanted to be a Padre. So the Padres said okay great! The rest of course is infamous history wasting the #1 pick in the draft on a undersized shortstop with a great arm who couldn't hit instead of Justin Verlander, Stephen Drew or the rest.
While I like the way Tim Stauffer is pitching now, you could almost go back to his draft #4 overall in 2003 and say that every pick since has had a preexisting medical conditions that was underdiagnosed and led to significant time recovering that hampered their development. Stauffer himself showed tremendous character accepting less money and telling the Padres about his injury post-draft since they themselves were clueless.
So after actually talking to a professional, the kid decides he wants $600,000 more not to go play baseball at one of the top schools and baseball programs in the country where both his parents are alumni. No on principle? The Padres refused to budge above slot proudly saying they offered at the upper end of the 8 slot instead of the 10th because the kid had agreed to $1.9 M. $600,000, that doesn't even buy you Matt Stairs and his .197 these days!
Padres had expected a quick sign according to Jed and Paul. But it didn't happen.
So even without talking to the player and knowing they might be as much as $2 M apart (which is double the salary), they are still confident that it will get done in interviews last week and on Thursday and day of. So after two months of doing nothing and hoping for the best, they try to work something out in the last 30 minutes. Huh? Who is playing chicken and being macho? I'm not sure how any of this is a mystery? The player went down from maybe $4 to $2.7 and the Padres didn't move any more. That is not negotiating that is playing hard ball, A.J. Smith style. - How's that working with Marcus McNeil and Vincent Jackson?
Since Moorad and McLeod had more experience negotiating than Caradonna, they decided not to on principle even though they offered, according to Paul DePodesta, over $2 M (way, way overslot) for 7th rounder AJ Vanegas and 15th rounder Sean Dwyer. Padres seem to have a selective interpretation of strictly slotting when it is not to f#@# some young agent.
From Canepa's column, Moorad, "It was a badly orchestrated agent’s game. The kid was bawling his eyes out on the other end. Whitson got caught up in a dangerous game of chicken played by his agent. You get the feeling, with him bawling, he got taken, too. There’s a right way and a wrong way to do things, and it was not handled well on the player’s side. We feel were misled by the agent, and it’s something we won’t forget. Lesson learned. We had a draft-day commitment to sign the player at roughly $2 million. They stalled for two months and 15 minutes before the deadline upped it to $2.7 million. We said no. It’s the principle of the thing — and $600,000, to be truthful. I told Jed we were not going to play their game.”
As the new poster franchise for sabrematricians (how is WAR working out for you Brian Sabean?), Hoyer, Josh Hill (I mean Paul D.), and McLeod know that draft picks are a tremendous return on investment as ChickenFriars and Fangraphs have pointed out, Kevin Correia's 2009 season should have been worth $10.9 M. Imagine how much Matt Latos' 2010 is worth and we pay him $407,000 as possibly the very last "draft and follow" before the new 2 month deadline to sign. If you believe in the player and you're not drafting him just because he will sign at slot, then in the immortal words of Deion Sanders, "pay the man." This move reeks of Troy Glaus and Todd Helton who went on to their all-star careers on other teams because a few hundred thousand dollars. In this day and age, a mid market team cannot afford not to sign its #1 pick and the Padres sabrematricians know this. Yet they did it anyway, so that their owner could puff out his chest?
Moorad seems to imply that Troy Caradonna is on some black list - dead to world. That has worked really well with Scott Boras. Boras will sign the best talent available and clubs have the option of either dealing with him or not getting the best talent. Boras 182, Owners 0.
It disgusts me that Moorad would mention how Whiston was "balling" after the phone call where the non-deal never materialized. Way to go Dan Gilbert on this one Jeff, start low and aim lower. Wow, you really showed Troy Caradonna and a 18-year kid with mid 90s gas and the best secondary pitch in the draft who really wanted to be a Padre who was boss! Meanwhile, the Padres will either get a high signability, low talent pick or get railed by their next agent since whoever they sign at 11 next year has them by the balls since they will get nothing if they don't sign him. Stay classy Jeff Moorad, stay classy.