The news of A.J. Preller’s suspension over a deviation in medical bookkeeping has struck the Padres universe with a multitude of reactions over what will happen to the ‘Rockstar’ GM and possibly Mike Dee. MLB has handed down a suspension of 30 days without pay for lack of medical record transaction during the Drew Pomeranz trade to the Red Sox. It’s been noted that Dave Dombrowski had a large part in asking for retribution for the lack of information regarding the left-hander’s medical history from the Padres camp.
So what now? Let’s take a look at the possibilities:
The End of the A.J. Preller Era
Whoa, wait. You’re saying our ‘Rockstar’ GM is gonna get the boot over this? He didn’t even break an official rule! It was just ethics!
Yes, A.J. (and the Padres as a whole) did not break an MLB rule by withholding medical information in a separate system than the one used by every other team.
How do these systems work? Player personnel are generally required to input data to this system regarding players whenever they require treatment: from an asprin to a massage and all things in between. This data is utilized whenever a player is inquired about during a trade transaction. Some teams are meticulous when it comes to how much data is available for a player. The problem for the Padres is that data was only input into the official system whenever the injury or problem with the player led to a stint on the disabled list. All other treatment data was input into a separate system only for use by the Padres.
This is the likely cause of the Colin Rea tradeback by the Marlins: Colin never went to the disabled list for his arm issue, but any treatment of or for his arm was not made known to the Marlins prior to the trade.
So A.J. could receive walking papers for this? It remains a possibility that MLB could ask for his ouster if they deem this a serious enough violation (or more likely, if more violations pop up). So far, Major League Baseball is only punishing Preller for the lack of information during the Drew Pomeranz trade. There is a worry that there could be more to the story regarding other trades.
Other than this debacle becoming another in the long list of blunders for the Padres this year, the fact that A.J. (or someone under his direction/jurisdiction) hid information or made an attempt to puts another bad light on the Padres organization. The idea of other teams losing trust in the Padres organization has come into question, especially regarding trades. Who would want to trade to a team that may be hiding information on its players? The very idea that teams may not want to trade with the Padres because their GM (or someone on his team) hides information may force the hand of the organization.
UPDATE: Apparently A.J.’s job is safe for now.
This Isn’t Really That Big Of A Deal
I made my opinion known on Twitter earlier today:
So I'm gathering this medical debacle is an unethical attempt at gamesmanship gone wrong that didn't break any official rules but is bad.— Tim Arzaga (@SDHatGuy) September 15, 2016
I honestly don’t think A.J. is going to see a pink slip for this. Was it poor judgement that either he or someone on his staff went against general protocol? Absolutely. Did he get punished for his part in it? Yeah, by MLB.
It’s not hard to say this is somewhat typical of one A.J. Preller: the talented scout turned GM who has run afoul of MLB rules not once, but twice. This is the type of gamer A.J. is: he’s known to skirt the edge of the rules/ethics for his own benefit, and he’s been caught for it. It’s true that A.J. did not break an official rule, and that may be an important distinction in all of this. A month’s suspension without pay is considered a pretty hefty punishment for a GM though he chose a fine month to be suspended when there is very little baseball work to be done.
It remains to be seen whether the Padres will endure more punishment (via loss of draft picks or some other retribution). At the moment, A.J. will endure a month carousing about San Diego and the Padres still have the architect behind their rebuilding process.