Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Theo Epstein Domino Effect

When a team loses 90-plus games in a season, it has to look for some silver linings. Some glimmer of hope that let's the fan base know that, while this season was difficult and trying, brighter days are on the horizon.

In San Diego, that silver lining was Jed Hoyer. In Jed, the franchise had taken a clear direction that appeared, from the outside anyway, to be the right direction. Organizationally, the Padres won two Minor League championships. Now, maybe you don't put a ton of stock in that. But as one of Jed Hoyer's main goals when coming to San DIego was to strengthening the farm system, two Minor League championships would seem to be the first signs of progress.

Organizationally, the team has improved. Per Keith Law, the Adrian Gonzalez trade alone moved the Padres farm system up half a dozen spots in his organizational rankings, a list that doesn't account for the Padres 2011 draft in which the Padres were graded very highly (realizing of course that the "grades" for any draft are both subjective and premature). This is all credit to Jed Hoyer, among others, but as Jed is the GM Jed gets the credit (and blame).

That silver lining no longer exists. Per ESPN Chicago, the Theo Epstein deal to the Cubs is all but done which will make Theo Epstein the President of the Cubs. More pertinent, however, is who Epstein will be bringing with him to Chicago to work as his GM.

"Two other sources confirmed ESPNChicago.com's report that San Diego Padres general manager Jed Hoyer will be named Cubs GM a few days after Epstein's news conference. But Padres owner Jeff Moorad emailed ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes late Wednesday night that the Cubs had not asked for official permission to interview Hoyer."

While nothing is 100% at this point, that seems to be only a matter of semantics and not reality. The lack of a denial of these rumors from the San Diego Padres, Jeff Moorad and Jed Hoyer tells you everything you need to know. If reports are to be believed, Josh Byrnes (formerly the Arizona Diamondbacks GM) will ascend to the GM spot in San Diego, a result that Jeff Moorad likely wanted from the day he got here.

Losing Jed Hoyer is a blow, and I'm not sure how any Padres fan can think otherwise. He was here just long enough to trade away the best player this franchise has had in a decade and now will not be here to carry that plan through to fruition, be it good or bad. Theo Epstein is getting the band back together for one last tour. A World Series title in Chicago will supplant Epstein's place in Major League history.

But what of us? It has become clear that the Padres is merely a stepping stone for a bigger job in a bigger city with a bigger payroll. What San Diego needs is someone with a desire to come here and stay here. I don't believe for a second that Jed Hoyer didn't put his every effort into his tenure of the Padres. But the issues in San Diego are not fixable in a year or two and Jed's plans were designed for long-term success not short-term gains. But ultimately, this was a job for Jed. A job that would lead to a better job in his mind. Could he, or anyone, have foreseen the collapse of the Red Sox and the subsequent housecleaning that their front office went through? No. But his decision to leave, and Jeff Moorad's decision to let him leave (keep in mind, it is entirely within Moorad's control to stop this, but he has chosen not to because he gets the GM he likely wanted from the start in Byrnes) clearly is an end result desired by all parties.

Jeff Moorad is now letting the architect of the Padres organization over the last two years walk out the door. He brings in Josh Byrnes who, admittedly, I know very little of. His tenure in Arizona was not marred by any moves that would particularly blow you away, though one could argue the NL West championship team of this year was a direct by-product of Brynes. And this is not meant to slight Josh Byrnes at all. I'm simply upset that the team is left virtually rudder-less for the moment and that Byrnes lives with the aftermath of the Adrian Gonzalez trade and the 2011 draft.

But hey, at least the Padres will get compensation, right?

"There will be no compensation for Hoyer, a source said. Moorad and Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts have become friends since the Ricketts family bought the Cubs in October 2009."



Well, that escalated quickly. I mean that really got out of hand.

The deal that will make Theo Epstein the President of the Cubs and Jed Hoyer his GM apparently will also include Padres Assistant General Manager Jason McLeod.

What. The. F.

The man credited with drafting Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury, and the person who, if my Twitter feed is to be believed, made the jagged pill of losing Hoyer go down smoother (hey, at least we'll have McLeod!) will become the...oh who cares what he'll become in Chicago. The point is he won't be here.

So now, Moorad is letting McLeod and Hoyer walk out of the door for little more than a handshake. This, my friends, does not organizational stability make.

This story is made even more ridiculous by reports that Hoyer asked Moorad for a 5-year extension to stay in San Diego. Now, I'm not sure a GM, or any front office member is deserving of a 5-year extension after a 90 loss season, but it does indicate to me that Hoyer had every intention of staying, provided he was confident he would be here long enough to see his vision through.

Not that any of that matters now. I read somewhere today that it feels like Hoyer was merely brought in here to be a consultant for the Adrian Gonzalez trade. Tongue in cheek, but it now feels closer to the truth than it was intended.

Did Hoyer really get everything the Padres could for Adrian Gonzalez? Would Josh Byrnes had looked beyond Boston for a trading partner? Would any of these questions even be in the back of your mind if Hoyer was staying?

I don't know the answers to those questions. But I know this. This appears to have all begun with fried chicken and beer in the clubhouse in Boston. That chain reaction has lead us here.

Who needs a drink?


Per the NCTimes.com the Padres will receive compensation for Hoyer:

Assistant GM Jason McLeod is expected to join Hoyer in Chicago and a source said the Padres will receive compensation from the Cubs in return for freeing both men from their contracts.

So we got that going for us, which is nice.