The new San Diego Padres' ownership group, headed by former Los Angeles Dodgers' owner Peter O'Malley, were introduced to the public on August 16 during a press conference with MLB Commissioner Bud Selig. As is usually promised with ownership changes, prosperous times seem to be in the near future for the club. I am proposing 10 steps for the O'Malley group to meet in order to deliver success to their recent acquisition and to the city that is hungry for a contending team.
In 2008, former MLB President Bob DuPuy said that fans of MLB teams need to actually reside in the market in which their MLB team plays to expect to view their games on television.
Even though DuPuy resigned in 2010, little has been done in San Diego to ensure that fans can watch Padres games on TV in 2013. The Padres have signed a mega-deal with Fox Sports and still city inhabitants have been told this year to tell their cable provider that they want to watch Padres games on TV. In addition, 42 percent of San Diego county cannot even watch the club on TV next year. The new ownership needs to fix this and needs to fix this fast.
For the Padres to have any long-term success, they must have a steady front office situation.
General managers must always make moves that benefit the club in the present and in the future. Perhaps then the Padres will not have a situation like they did this summer when they passed over the rumored top overall pick, Stanford RHP Mark Appel at the seventh spot in the first round (considered one of the most MLB-ready players in the draft), for high school LHP Max Fried.
Perhaps Josh Byrnes is the guy that will orchestrate the Padres' resurgence as a National League power. He already has a vote of confidence from the new ownership. Byrnes has locked up vital pieces of the team, signing Carlos Quentin and Huston Street to multi-year deals, avoiding a potential fire sale at the trade deadline in July.
Hopefully, Byrnes keeps making shrewd moves that benefit the club in the future.
While examining a team's current major league roster is generally a general manager's job, the new owners would do themselves a great service by learning much about the state of the Padres roster, too. It will help the ownership group when faced with payroll and roster construction dilemmas down the road as they try to plan for upcoming decisions.
Owners must be aware of roster issues such as upcoming free agencies, players' contractual options and arbitration years. The new owners claim they will become "active owners." It remains to be seen how that will affect Byrnes' vision for the club, but the O'Malleys should at least be aware of the contractual commitments of the club that they purchased.
Entering the 2012 season, the Padres had the top-ranked minor league system in all of baseball. So far into the year, none of the major prospects have been promoted to San Diego (Gyorko, Erlin, the Decker "brothers," Belnome, Liriano, Kelly). Meddling with how the front office has developed these players would be a mistake by the owners, but the O'Malley group should at least have a firm grasp on the estimated time of arrivals (ETAs) for the star prospects in order to properly gauge Byrnes' long-term strategy.
It is vital to an organization in transition to have a long-term plan. That is not to say that the GM must operate under a strict watchful eye in order to do business, but keeping the new owners abreast of how the free-agent market is forming would provide them with explanations as to why certain moves were made.
It is no secret that MLB organizations spend money to win games and also to earn their money back. As of Opening Day 2012, the Padres ranked dead last in MLB team salaries. Clearly, if ownership expects to profit at all from the team, then it will continue to build on its basement-dwelling team salary position.
Arguably the team's best player and most valuable trade asset, third baseman Chase Headley has been worth a cool 5.0 WAR this season. Through 124 games, he's accumulated $22.5 million in free-agent value.
Personally, I believe that the club should trade him this offseason, capitalizing on his third-highest major league third baseman WAR. Especially since the Padres' top prospect (Jedd Gyorko) is an MLB-ready hot corner player, the new owners need to set the organization on a mission to define Chase Headley's free-agent market.
In 2013, the Padres pitching staff could be led by Clayton Richard, who might be a No. 4 starter on a playoff-bound club. However, there is much hope for the Padres in terms of pitching. At the top of the farm system are many potential contributing starting pitchers, most notably Robbie Erlin and Keyvius Sampson. It would be very helpful to the front office if the new owners processed the status of the future of the club's pitching staff to set up potential free-agent targets.
Along the same lines that working with the front office to plan the club's pitching rotation for the future would be beneficial to the team, mapping out the hitting depth chart and the lineup a few years in advance could also provide a solid base for long-term strategy. Clearly, the future would not be set in stone, but having continuity in the front office and in ownership would provide grounds for establishing achievable goals with the major league roster.
As it stands now, the Padres are falling quickly behind division opponents who have capitalized on the power of social media. Teams have been reporting major successes in terms of how well their "social media" nights worked for them during the 2012 season. Even MLB got into the action when they had 2012 All-Stars live Tweet to fans during the Home Run Derby.
It would behoove the new Padres' ownership group to mandate a more engaging social media connection with the fans in San Diego. What better way to efficiently engage with Padres fans?