Darren Smith had a really good interview with former Padres and current Cubs’ GM Jed Hoyer on Monday. I miss the days of having an articulate GM who could communicate well with the media and the fan base. Darren’s weekly interview with Hoyer back in the day were always informative and entertaining. It seemed like we always had a pretty good idea of the direction of the club.
That to me has been something that has been lacking since the new regime took over. With A.J. Preller you get his mumbling as he rattles off names of minor leaguers and he never answers a question directly. Then on the other end the head of baseball operations is Mike Dee who thinks he’s smarter than his audience and talks down to them like a car salesman. It’s just not quite the same dynamic.
It makes me wish Hoyer was given the opportunity to stay in San Diego long term but even if Moorad had extended his contract this current leadership would have smugly fired him anyway, so there’s probably no point in dreaming about what could have been.
Hoyer started the interview explaining the process of the Cubs’ tank and subsequent rebuild. As the Padres start this process it’s very interesting to hear from a team that found success with it.
The first thing we tried to do was to be transparent. Fans know when you’re making trades for the future. Fans know when you’re positioning yourself for the future. To try and tell people that you’re doing anything else is disingenuous. We were always really honest. We’ll build a team that gives ourselves a “puncher’s chance” if everything goes right we could be in the race. But as I always say, we took hope off the table by mid-April most years and at that point it was about building for the future.
Take note of his use of the term a “puncher’s chance” that will come up again later. Also the Padres have used the term transparency quite a bit but they haven’t put it into practice much. I’m hoping that changes with their rebuild declaration.
To me, looking back on the 3.5 years that we were rebuilding in Chicago, I always felt like the best thing we did, and this was from ownership they let us do it is, we were pretty remorseless about our trades. Every short term asset that we had, that we could convert to a longer term asset that was a good talent, we did it.
We’ve already seen this start to happen with all the winter 2015 acquisitions as they are traded and blamed as they are shoved out the door. For now the last remaining talent of Wil Myers seems to fit the Padres’ competitive window, but if the window gets pushed further to the future, would the Padres be as remorseless and would we the fans be able to stomach it?
I think in order to do it right, you have to be remorseless and have to make the really hard decisions and if you short change that at all and try to do things a little conservative — “let’s not move this guy because fans like him or let’s give this guy an extension even though it doesn’t fit our window” — I think if you do those things you’re never really going to maximize the chance you have.
But the way I look at it, the middle of the draft is No Man’s Land. If you’re not winning you should be losing. I think there’s no joy in winning 75-77 games. I think that’s actually the worst place you could possibly be. I think the more you could either be a rebuilding team that’s struggling or be a winning team, I think that’s what you have to shoot for. I guess you can have your moral victory at .500 but in the end, I think that’s a losing proposition long term.
That part really struck home for me. The arrogance of the Padres leadership refusing to rebuild and insisting that they could be the one team that competed while they built stands in stark contrast to Hoyer’s working model. If a team with the resources of the Cubs won’t even try to compete, what hope would there be for the Padres?
I fear going through the pain of the rebuild years without full commitment to the plan by the Padres and we come out the other side with more 74 win seasons.
Next Hoyer was asked about the Padres blaming his front office for past and current failures due to neglect. It comes from the Padres Town Hall Meeting with season ticket holders.
Always start by blaming everything on past ownership. pic.twitter.com/24B76B1mgS— Gaslamp Ball (@gaslampball) August 4, 2016
Now if you’ll forgive my long transcription here was Hoyer’s response:
I guess my first reaction is— I had those slides forwarded to me by 15 people after that presentation — my first reaction was I almost felt like they were the exact slides we showed to those kinds of groups in Chicago, sort of blaming the past regimes, but more than anything I think they used the phrase “puncher’s chance” in their presentation which I thought was funny because that was always something that we talked about but I guess in general the only part of that I have a hard time with is that when I came over from the Red Sox I brought Jason McCleod with me and we had a great run of young talent in Boston and the number one farm system in 2007.
We came over to San Diego and our whole focus was exactly what they talked about, building the farm system, hiring a ton of scouts and doing more. We did have a limited investment, I think we had a $38 million payroll, but the idea of neglect I feel was probably overstated.
Jason has had the number one farm system in Boston and we were ranked number one by ESPN in 2011 in San Diego, we had the number one farm system in Chicago in 2014, so obviously I think Jason has done an unbelievable job and hired a lot of good scouts, so the idea that we were sort of in the dark ages or neglected scouting and player development, I think that’s just rhetoric that the ownership group felt they needed to use to make their point.
I don’t think the record would show that that was accurate but I also understand that in those settings ultimately your sort of asking for patience and the best way to ask for patience is by talking about the people before you really didn’t know what they were doing.
Darren asks if Jed takes it personally and Hoyer says “Yes, but I also understand it, like I said if you look at the track record of the people involved and what happened before and what’s happened since I think it’s pretty easy to refute.”
So it seems that this is just what baseball teams do, they play the blame game without taking the appropriate accountability for their own mistakes. I like how Jed walks us through the process of dismantling their statement though. Great interview, you should listen to the whole thing.