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Padres Chairman is asked about Mike Dee and AJ Preller

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MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at San Diego Padres Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The Mighty 1090’s Kevin Acee interviewed Padres Chairman Ron Fowler on Friday afternoon. I believe it was Fowler’s first interview since former club president Mike Dee was “departed” from the organization.

Fowler says that since A.J. Preller’s 30 day suspension that some weaknesses in the organization have come to light. They hope to promote and hire new employees to improve in those areas.

I think AJ has learned a lot and I think he will be a better GM because of it. The organization has learned where we have some weaknesses. We have hired or have promoted and will make some hires to accomplish what we need to and to make sure we are better in some areas.

Acee asked about the firing of Mike Dee and Fowler responded that he couldn’t comment but he bares some responsibility for hiring him and putting all of his trust in him.

I really can’t comment on it. It’s a private personnel matter. Let’s just say it didn’t work out. You’re absolutely right, he was my guy, so I own part of that. We need to move on and we will.

I’m still dying to learn the real reasons that Dee was let go, but the rumors have gone cold, but yes, he didn’t work out and part of it was Fowler’s fault.

Asked about how the Padres will improve, some possible hints about Dee’s departure can be gleaned.

I think we’ll be more collegial. I think Mike was a very strong personality that provided very strong leadership. What I think you have to do it get all the people involved if you have such a dominant individual. I think we have a lot good players [staff members] in the respective roles and you just allow them to do what they can do.

So we can surmise that Dee didn’t share responsibility during his reign. He was given and took complete control. He was likely micromanaging his employees and not letting them do their jobs properly. Saying Dee’s personality is very strong, is like politely saying someone’s breath is very strong.

Eric Gruepner who we’ve named COO has a lot of growth capability, he’s a far different personality than Mike, more structured and not as much as a marketing sales person.

I like this Eric Grupner fellow already. The less he has in common with Mike Dee, the better.

We will see what we have in terms of the marketing and sales side of it. Hopefully the people can step up and fill the void left by Mike’s leaving and if that happens then that’s the best case. If not then we’ll have to take a step back and find the people to do that, but I’m hoping that the people that are there now can take on additional responsibility and show us the way to even more strong programs in ‘17 and beyond.

When Fowler says “people” he must be talking about the Chief Marketing Officer Wayne Partello and his team. Partello was Mike Dee’s right-hand man and from what I’ve heard some are surprised he’s still around but doubt he will be much longer. He followed Dee from the Miami Dolphins and the two were inseparable. Without mentioning any names, this sounds like a not so veiled threat from Fowler that the marketing and sales team needs to step up and if they don’t they’ll be replaced.

Fowler was then asked about his opinions of GM AJ Preller since his 30 day suspension for not being forthright with player’s medical information.

A.J. is, I think, is the best evaluator of talent in Major League Baseball. If he’s not the best then he’s in the top 5. I think AJ is one of the best at player development and those are the reasons we hired him.

Whether AJ is the best talent scout in baseball is debatable. He certainly has that reputation but the proof is in the pudding. As a fan it’s tough to judge his skills in player development.

AJ is not as broad as a lot of the other people are in terms of how he looks a things. He’s a very angular individual. He’s scary talented in the areas he has an interest in and probably not as developed in some of the other areas because he’s so focused. I mean AJ is almost a savant in the way he looks at baseball, you’ve been with him, he has all the stuff in his mind, he doesn’t have 500 notebooks, he has 3 or 4 pages in his mind so he’s really angular in that sense.

It sounds like Mike Dee took a big risk hiring Preller who could scout talent but didn’t necessarily know how to or want to be involved with all the other tasks associated with being a General Manager. I wonder if that’s the reason Dee got himself so involved in baseball operations or if that was Dee’s plan all along when he hired him.

He [Preller] just works some days 24 hours a day. What we’re trying to do to help AJ is to broaden him in terms of experience. We’ve got some people working with him that I think help broaden him. I think the suspension, if there is anything good that came from it, is that he understands that he has to be better in areas than he was and to be more focused in those areas than he was and I think he has taken that to heart.

Fowler goes on for a while but basically the idea will be to let AJ continue to focus on his strengths and hire other people to do everything else. “He’s really not that well schooled in the other aspects of being a GM. We are going to surround him with people that can help him in those areas”. It’s strange to think that we have the only MLB GM who has tutors.

An interesting tidbit also came up that Preller and Fowler both talked to commissioner and Fowler basically checked up on Preller to make sure there was an understanding.

I know that he and the commissioner have direct conversation and they both understood it because they both basically repeated that conversation was to me verbatim.

All that being said, Fowler still clearly believes in Preller. He thinks Preller is going to take the Padres where they need to be in 3-5 years. Others in baseball tell Fowler that the team has great young talent in the minor leagues.

That’s where Andy Green and the coaches come in. Fowler says that Green is one of the best young managers in the game and that’s good because the players coming up will not be ready for the Major Leagues and Green will have to “coach them up”.

My confidence level can best be described as shaky at best