Friday, July 18, 2014

Obligatory Mid Season Padres Review

It is pretty standard fare for a baseball blog to recap their teams' first half during the All Star break, and despite not being recognized by Sports Illustrated along with the #cliqueblogs in this week's Padres article, Padres Jagoff is soldiering on.  So here we are.  13 games under .500, one of the worst hitting performance team-wide maybe in history, wasting great pitching effort after great pitching effort, firing our at the very least adequate GM, firing our longtime PA announcer for a hokey and little understood publicity stunt, etc.  It is maybe the worst Padres season EVAR.  But to be objective, let's go to the tape and look at every team category:

3B: I've long been in favor of trading Chase Headley. I've put that on the record. Josh Byrnes' biggest folly was not trading him after the 2012 season, and failure to do so will set this team back substantially.  At this point, I don't think we're even in qualifying offer territory with him for fear of him accepting.  In short, he's sucked.  He had a little bit of a "hot" streak, relatively speaking, at the end of the 1st half, but he is sitting on a putrid OPS+ of 87. I think, best case, we are looking at a B level prospect for him at the trade deadline.

SS: Everth Cabrera, what happened to our 2013 All-Star?  His fielding sucks, his hitting sucks, he's not stealing bases like last season.  I've found it to be very selfish of him to go off the 'roids when the team needs him on them more than ever.  I think we can no longer count on him as SS of the future and need to figure out something long term.  Chris Gomez lives down the street from me, I'll try and ask him if he wants to come back. 

2B: So I think Wayne Partello and Mike Dee did some market surveys and saw that San Diego fans grew frustrated never having any continuity with our "star" players.  They saw a glimmer of possibility that Jedd Gyorko would fill that role and thought, hey marketing win and baseball win to sign him long term.  The thing is, there was no reason to.  2B don't drastically escalate their salaries in arbitration, and they didn't get that huge a discount anyways.  At this point, after his OPS+ of 39, he is looking at one of the worst offensive seasons in history.  Sure, he had plantar fascitis.  Great.  That's the thing with this team, every under-performance gets blamed on a lingering injury and never declining skills.  Chase Headley swooned at the plate last year - knee injury that he "heroically" played through.  Carlos Quentin - bad knee, not geriatric skills, etc.  We have no choice but to just keep hoping Jedd plays through it and improves.  I believe he will.  With Byrnes gone, the team, if needed can send him to AAA to work on his swing.  I don't think Byrnes could have done that politically after signing him to that extension.  Also we have no other options at 2B. Like none.

1B: I know everyone wants to point at Yonder Alonso's 2013 and say, look!  105 OPS+!  Above average!  But he has totally blown this year.  I don't think there's much debate that Yonder is going to be a no hit, decent fielder.  Maybe Casey Kotchman if everything works out. For me, that doesn't cut it, and 1B needs to be an area of improvement.  I was a big fan of signing Mike Morse last season but think he will be overpriced this offseason, so I'm not really sure what our options are. 

C: I think if there's one thing to be happy about, it's been the catcher position.  Grandal and Rivera have been great pitch framers.  Rivera is hitting better than we could have ever expected, and Grandal isn't hitting great but is at least flashing decent power.  It almost makes me think Austin Hedges is totally expendable while his value is high.  I swoon for Hedges' defense, but his hitting is not that great.  I heard a comp for Hedges saying he was a Brad Ausmus in the making.  That's great, but that's not a franchise player.  Fangraphs just did their Top 50 Trade Value and the Padres had no one on it.  We have no one to trade to get real value in the majors, meaning to get upgrades in other places, we need to think seriously about trading a guy like Hedges.  I worry that his average at best offensive skills will take its toll on his prospect rankings and sink his trade value by next Spring Training.

OF: For the past couple years, I have repeatedly heard the phrase "Carlos Quentin is a beast when healthy".  For whatever reason, this is taken as gospel.  That if we just get lucky with his health, Quentin will be great again.  Here is a chart of Carlos Quentin's health:
As you can see in this scientific diagram, "when healthy" is a status for Quentin that needs to be taken with a grain of salt.  A healthy Quentin is roughly equivalent to the health of a leper.  At this point, the Padres can't even trade him.  His OPS+ is 77 and he is a risk to literally have a leg fall off at any time, all while making big bucks (for the Padres).  I'd be fine with the Padres DFA'ing him and running Rymer Liriano or Reymond Fuentes out there next season.  As for the rest of the outfield, I have nothing to say about them.  They are that vanilla.  The only real plus is that Amarista has had to play infield to fill in for injuries, meaning he hasn't been in CF much at all. 

Starting Pitching: The true bright spot for this team.  Son of Troy Ian Kennedy has rediscovered how to strike people out.  Tyson Ross has learned how not to walk 6 people a game.  Odrisamer Despaigne has made himself Padres Jagoff's new favorite pitcher with his arsenal of tenacious junk pitches.  Jesse Hahn has a curveball I'd like to get pregnant.  Oddly enough, the only disappointment is Andrew Cashner, who as usual, can't stay healthy.  I know this is an unpopular opinion (like my Austin Hedges opinion), but I'd trade Cashner this offseason if you can get a good package for him.  We've got Luebke, Erlin, Wieland, Kelly all coming back from surgery.  You've got Wisler in AAA also.  He's sucking, but Despaigne had an ERA over 7 there and now he's basically Randy Jones in 1976.  Eric Stults is still breathing, so he's got that going for him.  Which is nice.

Relief Pitching: Another bright spot.  Huston Street did well enough to net 4 good prospects from the Angels.  Joaquin Benoit is doing well enough to hopefully garner a handful of other prospects.  Blaine Boyer and Alex Torres have been decent out of the pen.  Basically, in the grand scheme of all of the Padres suckitude, the bullpen has not contributed to the sucking.  Grand words for a team this bad.

Manager: I'm of the belief that manager doesn't do that much.  Bud Black changes the lineups and all, and I guess I get annoyed when I see Amarista in CF, but it seems like he's doing the best he can with the sack of crap that got handed to him.  The players seem to like playing for him and I think that's really all you can ask.  I've got even money odds that he stays here next season, regardless of GM hire.

Front Office: I've made it no secret that I'm not a fan of this front office.  I will never understand the logic that went into setting up an organizational structure where the head of baseball operations, Josh Byrnes, is reporting directly to Mike Dee, a marketing executive who was completely out of baseball for four years prior.  Organizationally, a marketing guy had the last word on player personnel decisions.  We saw this play out with the drafting of Manziel, which clearly, was not Josh Byrnes' idea.  Dee, being a marketing guy, is slick with his public statements, to the point where you need to really read between the lines.  He's like an attorney, carefully crafting his words to be technically truthful, but deceiving to the untrained ear.  This played out with the Street statements he made to the fans on Padres Social Hour/season ticketholder telecon.  Ballpark operations did a great job improving the stadium experience, at least at the start of the season.  Beer was improved, food was improved, people were talking positively about the changes.  And then they totally blew it with #beergate, hiking the prices of beer months ago by changing the craft beer quantity, charging the same price, and not updating the signs until a couple weeks ago.  Most people, including the legal community, would consider this outright fraud.  The Padres just write it off as an "honest mistake" [that netted them and their contractor DNC roughly 20% more in revenue for months of beer sales through the stealth price hike].  The elimination of free Western Metal Supply porch standing room only in favor of $40 stools was an abortion of a move from the fan's standpoint.  Wayne Partello, for a guy that was a mobile DJ only 4 years ago, has had a real upward career trajectory.  Unfortunately, the initiative to fire a perfectly good PA announcer for a three ring circus of a PA internet voting promotion landed with a thud.  The "cross-promotion" with FSSD pushing the thousands of dollar on-deck suite was patronizing and annoying to their fans.  The National University eyesore in LF is hated by pretty much every fan.  I get that they're trying to maximize revenue generation, but at least be tasteful about it.

So that's that.  Things really can't get any worse this season.  I'm in favor of blowing 2015 up as well, running youth out there, and maybe getting a spark from high effort youthful play.  We'll see if the new GM will be allowed to do that.  For now, we'll always have beer and pals to get us through the rest of this season.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Padres Jagoff Hits the Big Time with Beergate Exposure

So I went to the Monday night game expecting to throw some Mat Latos fat jokes around and hopefully not see the Padres get shut off.  But even more unexpected than the hot streak that started that Monday night with a victory was how my tweets about the Padres reducing the San Diego craft beer quantities from 24 ounces to 20 ounces took hold.  As I tweeted that night, I was a little perplexed about whether SD craft beers had always been 20 ounces, or if my mind was playing tricks on me, because I distinctly remembered them being 24 ounces a few weeks prior.  As I found out, I was right, the Padres snuck a reduction in quantity in during the Dodgers homestand a couple weeks before.  Jay Posner from the U-T started asking questions via Twitter, which led to Matthew T. Hall from the U-T getting involved.  And boy did he.  It all culminated in an article that documented everything, got Padres comment, and hopefully incited the public (it even sat atop for a day).  My life's dream to start a Lobshots-esque viral controversy had come true (except this was about something that kind of really mattered, not an umpire throwing gum).

Matthew Hall pretty well covered it, and I don't have anything to add to the reporting.  I am left with a few questions and a bit of analysis due to the Padres woefully inadequate and evasive statements.  To recap, here is what Padres vice president Scott Marshall said regarding beergate:

"Marshall apologized in a telephone interview and said the ballpark began selling smaller cups after the team's "first or second home stand" — which were played in April." - U-T

"'It was just an honest mistake on our concessionaire partner's side," Marshall said. "It comes down really to the cost of what it is.... It's a mistake coming from the fact that we introduced so many 'super' crafts, and our concessionaire, for whatever reason, missed it.
"It was just an unfortunate experience and we corrected it, and we hope we didn't affect anybody adversely or give them a poor experience," he said. "We apologize."
"What do you say to the fans who will still complain they're now paying more for beer?" I asked.
"We have a variety of pricing for all our fans from $5 to $15.25 depending on type, size and alcohol content," he said." - U-T

So basically, according to the Padres, they have known about the "mistake" since April, and it is really all Delaware North's fault, who is the Padres' concessions contractor.  

1.  I don't see this as just an "honest mistake".  Fans have been defrauded by the Padres since April.  The team's signage at the stands, corroborated by many including Matthew Hall, had said 24 ounces.  Fans buying a beer would reasonably expect to receive 24 ounces.  In fact, this is the entire basis for weights and measures, as well as labeling, laws.  When you buy gas, you expect that the pump is giving you a gallon when you are charged a gallon.  In this case, the team is legally bound to deliver 24 ounces to the customer, as that is what has been labeled for that product.  The fact that they didn't, is outright fraud in the amount of 17% of the purchase price.  On one beer, that's not much, but when played out to cover 4 homestands' total SD craft beer sales, that's a lot of money that is legally and duly owed to those customers.  An enterprising young lawyer could assemble a nice class action lawsuit on behalf of these defrauded customers, who, yes Scott Marshall, were affected "adversely".

2.  So, in the end, we're talking a couple bucks per beer.  It's not like it'll kill us.  But I think it's an example of a bigger issue with this management team: the gradual erosion and elimination of the things that were good values for the fans in the name of crass revenue maximization.  For years, the first come first serve Western Metal Supply porch was lauded by tour guides and the team.  It was a great value, as even if you had a Park at the Park ticket (more on them later), if you were on the ball, you could land a stool at the porch.  No longer.  The team has monetized those seats into $40/game tickets.  The Park at the Park was $5 not too long ago.  Now you are looking at $10-15, depending on the game.  To sit outside of the stadium and view a jumbotron.  It's no longer a value at all, considering you can get seats in sections 300-305 on Stubhub for $10.  The National University sign, universally hated, is gigantic, blocks the small view of the field you used to be able to get at Proper Gastropub, and blocks the view of the skyline for many seats.  All in the name in a little more marginal revenue.  Which brings us to beer.  The team is awful this season.  The team is boring to watch.  In most cases, other teams CUT prices to beer to keep people coming out to the park.  This management team sees an opening and sneaks in a price hike (a quantity cut IS a price hike) to beer.  At one time, the 24 ounces for $10.75, or even for $11.50, could be justified as a good deal.  I had out of town friends go to the games with me be outraged at the beer price.  I rationalized it as, hey, it's basically two 12 ounce cans of GOOD BEER for $11.50; $5.75 for a can of Calico Ale is not that bad, especially for a ballpark.  Now I can't even use that rationalization.  This is so totally tone-deaf to the sentiment of the fans by Mike Dee and this management team.

3.  Assuming Scott Marshall's statements are true, that reveals that he, the VP of ballpark operations, is so woefully inadequate at his job that it's unbelievable.  Of course, they are more likely not true, but that's besides the point.  You're telling me that the VP of ballpark operations, who walks around the park all the time checking on operations, and that all of his staff under him, never noticed that beers were selling at the "wrong price"?  Beer prices, one of the primary drivers of concessions revenue, was never noticed by anyone in ballpark operations staff??!?!  I find that very difficult to believe.  

4.  If you really want 24 ounces for $11.50, you still have options.  Inbev/AB beer Goose Island is still available at that price.  Not shocking considering they are a major sponsor.  The same goes for Kona, who sponsors a large group sales area along the left field line.  Still available (FOR NOW) at $11.50/24 ounces.  It's a shame that after all the empty talk of expanding the local craft beer base at Petco, we are now being economically discouraged from buying those beers.  

In the end, I'm not one of those bomb throwers who will say "let's just never go to any games!"  I like going to games because I love the Padres.  I don't necessarily enjoy feeling gouged or cheated, but I like going to Padres games.  I do hope Matthew Hall keeps pushing the Padres for change as he has the pull and readership to actually get something done.  We can only hope Mike Dee, aka the Turtle from Master of Disguise, gets the message.

P.S. The best part of all of this is that yet again, the LAMEstream media is refusing to say Padres Jagoff in print/on the air waves.  I was hilariously pseudonym'd to "one fan" in the post and article.  I feel like I'm missing out on millions in ad revenue due to the choice of names of this blog. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Nuggets Related to the Josh Byrnes Firing

It's no secret that the last week has been a tumultuous one in Padres history.  The firing of Josh Byrnes resets so many things as far as team strategy, player development, and the way forward.  I don't want to get too into the reasons for the firings as pretty much every national baseball writer has written about it, almost universally against the Padres management team/ownership and pro Josh Byrnes.  I think this shows the level of respect that Byrnes has in the baseball community, which was also no secret.  In short, I am in support of the firing but thought Byrnes was doing an OK job.  Good at trades, able to find some useful pieces off the scrap heap, the drafting was OK especially if Hunter Renfroe keeps it up through the season and into next.  I also think this team needed a fresh start.  It made sense that a new ownership group would want to install "their guy" as GM.  I don't think it was politically possible to do this last season without making ownership look bad for blowing up a GM team that had put together a team with potential.  They needed the Padres to tank to give them political cover to fire him and get their guy in there.  Byrnes was always a dead man walking.  There was no bigger Moorad guy than Byrnes, which as we saw with Garfinkel, is a big no-no with this ownership group.  Anyways, the point of this isn't to rehash what has been covered so well by Jonah Keri, Scott Miller, Peter Gammons, Tom Verducci and pretty much every other writer on the entire Earth.  With this much coverage of the Padres, which is so rare and so awesome in a way, you get a lot of interesting nuggets that get overlooked by the larger narrative.  I wanted to examine some of these that I've picked up on.

1.  Future Payroll: In an interview with Darren Smith last week, Mike Dee had a brief mention of payroll in relation to what the ownership's expectations were.  As we've heard Mike Dee say, ownership invested more money in this year's payroll and expected to see an incremental improvement in the team.  And yes, payroll is up and has the Padres at 21st highest in MLB at the start of the season.  Mike Dee said that the target is to be in the "middle" of MLB payrolls and that they are "knocking on the door of this".  While the average person would view that goal as being around 15th in payroll which would put the Padres above the all important $100 mil level of payroll, I don't think this is what he's promising.  By saying they are knocking on the door of this [they're not], it leads me to believe that Dee is promising to be in the middle third of payrolls, i.e. ranked 11-20.  So, with another $1-2 million in payroll and Dee can start preaching that the team is now in the middle of MLB payrolls.  With another $3 million, he can say they are up to 17th in payroll.  Call me cynical, but I've found it valuable to really analyze what a slick marketing guy like Dee says.  I do not see this team adding much more payroll.  I'm not a payroll equals winning guy, and Rick from RJ's Fro wrote a great discussion of how team's that increased payroll by the highest percentage are not on the whole, doing that great.  Some of this is because the teams with very low payrolls get a higher percentage increase when they add payroll (math) than a team that is starting at $150 mil, so bad teams to start with make incremental increases to payroll percentage-wise but are still lower total payrolls.  But some of it is also that smart spending beats more spending. 

2.  Competitive Team: Mike Dee has repeatedly stated in interviews that his expectation is for this team to compete year in and year out.  By compete, he of course means be somewhat competitive in the Wild Card standings by the end of the season.  Regardless, I think that his insistence on continually "competitive" teams, which is what has been promised to us for years, locks this team in on chasing mediocrity.  I think many of us have reached a consensus that the team needs to be blown up, a la the Astros, and have a competent GM rebuild this club from nothing.  Dee's a marketing guy first, interested in keeping the seats filled.  The team has had some success selling tickets with improved concessions and a team that is JUST competitive enough to incite some hope in the fans.  This rarely leads to a playoff or WS contending team, but it does lead to hope in the offseason and spring training, which sells tickets. 

3.  Johnny Manziel: Peter Gammons put on the record what we all suspected, Mike Dee and his marketing folks forced Josh Byrnes to waste a draft pick on Johnny Manziel.  Gammons reported, "'These are the people who showed disrespect and contempt for their scouts and entire baseball operations people by forcing Josh to draft Johnny Manziel,' said one NL General Manager."  Back when the draft pick was made, Byrnes was a good soldier and covered for upper management, saying it was "fun". 

4.  CEO-like GM: Scott Kaplan reported yesterday that his "inside sources" at the Padres said that upper management saw Josh Byrnes more as a #2 guy.  That he would have been appropriate in the role that AJ Hinch is in.  They saw him as more of a great scouting guy, but not the "CEO" type of manager Dee is looking for.  Obviously, many of the potential GM candidates being reported cut their teeth as great scouts.  Not sure what this means for who they'd hire, but I'd assume great scouting and draft records is not going to be enough.  Dee is looking for a certain panache and corporate style of management to pair with good baseball ops experience.

5.  Minaya/Hinch/Towers: My totally unresearched guess is that Minaya/Hinch/possibly Towers may get interviews, but the team isn't that interested in hiring them as GM.  Courtesy interviews if you will.  I also wouldn't be at all surprised for the team to keep Minaya on in his role as Vice President.  Towers' name is being thrown out there, but I can't possibly see ownership actually hiring him.  It sounds like media fodder to me.

As uninspiring as this team is, it has been a little exciting to see some new names like Goebbert and Despaigne take the field.  In all truth, I wouldn't be opposed to seeing Jeff Francoeur or Brooks Conrad get called up once Chase Headley gets shipped out for a C level prospect.  Let's not forget that I was right on top of what a franchise killer it would have been had the Padres signed Headley long term.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Blow This Team Up

A lot of talk today on the Tweeters about following the Houston model for blowing up this team and starting over.  First things first, I do not want Josh Byrnes handling this rebuild.  He's an incompetent blunderer who shouldn't be trusted with safety scissors, let alone a Major League team.  Second things, what do we really have of value to trade?

Chase Headley: at this point, nearly two years removed from his last good hitting year, we basically have Padres era Joe Randa on our team.  As a short term rental, what do we really think we are going to get for Chase?  He's a defense first 3B who isn't going to turn a pennant race on his own at this point.  Good luck getting any kind of decent return.  This is Byrnes' biggest mistake to date, not trading Headley after the 2012 season at peak value.  It's clear they had no real plans to sign him long term so why hold onto him?  Just incompetent.

Huston Street: really the only thing we have of value.  Past history has shown that closers aren't really attracting crazy returns anymore, but if we luck out with someone desperate due to bullpen implosions (Detroit?), it's possible we could get a couple B level prospects.

Chris Denorfia: trading Norf would suck, but let's face it, he's a fourth outfielder.  If we can get a B level prospect for him, take it. 

Beyond that, what do we really have?  People aren't going to be banging the door down for Eric Stults.  Unlike many, I'm all in favor of trading Austin Hedges for a bonafide impact bat that is Major League ready.  Hedges is swoon worthy for sure, but he's a defense first catcher with maybe OK hitting skills.  He's not Buster Posey or Joe Mauer, he's a solid defensive catcher with great release and arm.  I should reiterate, I do not trust nor want Byrnes dealing Hedges.  But if the right deal comes along, I'd take it.  Of all our prospects, I don't see Hedges as untouchable. 

After this embarassing series loss to Philadelphia, I think the best we can start hoping for is for the axe to fall on Byrnes and the entire baseball operations staff.  I'm ambivalent on Bud, I don't think this is his fault and I do think in the past, he's gotten his undertalented teams to overperform, but if he gets swept up in the frenzy, so be it.  Let's just get it done so we can have a competent GM handling the rebuild.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Fowler and the Padres Take A Dump on Bringing Back the Brown

I was away last weekend on family business up in Washington.  My best laid plans at the start of the season to go to the Saturday and Sunday games flew out the window and I had to give away my tickets.  I sat on the toilet last night for a hearty dump, checked Twitter, and saw things were afire.  Ron Fowler spoke with AP reporter Bernie Wilson, stating that it was only a "vocal minority" in favor of switching the uniforms to brown.  He of course based this on likely fabricated "research" and "studies", but whatever.  It's a classic case of why you hire a PR or marketing guy to handle comments with the press as Fowler came off sounding like nothing but a doddering old man with little to no grip on reality.  Which could be true.  I don't know.  I can only go off of the quotes.

Anyways, the arguments for going back to brown (building an identity, they look cool, uniqueness, not having a shampoo bottle logo, etc.) have been beaten into the ground.  I'm going to attempt to brainstorm what Fowler/the Padres' motivations are for keeping the blue, despite it alienating the team's most engaged and loyal fans. Wayne Partello, the team's Chief Marketing Officer, went on Padres Social Hour this week to try and do damage control.  Unfortunately, Partello offered nothing other than generalizations, slick marketing commentary, and some inconsistent arguments that didn't make sense once you scratch below the surface.  Specifically, he tried to tell the story that the team was in the process of conducting some brand identity studies (not even studies on the uniform program) and that study was so preliminary that there could be no details shared on it.  This is wildly inconsistent with the comments of Fowler regarding a "vocal minority" that was in favor of brown based on their studies, as well as wildly inconsistent with Partello himself, as Partello cited studies as well stating there was no broad majority supporting brown.  Either there are or aren't studies (there are), I believe moreso, the team just doesn't want to share these results.  I know for a fact that I, as a season ticket holder, have never been polled on which uniforms I prefer.  Partello also stated that the Friday attendance of Bring Back the Brown weekend was lackluster, apparently saying that brown weekends need to be total sellouts to garner any momentum of management, while blue can just putter along at all of the rest of the games with sub 20k attendance.  An unfair standard. 

In general, here is my basic analysis of Fowler and Partello's comments.  Fowler's comments were off the cuff, direct and unrehearsed.  Partello's comments were made by a marketing expert who had ample time to prepare comments, spin, and a narrative, all while being lobbed softballs by fellow Padres employee Jesse Agler.  If you're looking for the truth, I strongly believe Fowler's comments are probably much closer to it than Partello's.

Anyways, onto the analysis:

1. The PCL Uniforms: For several years now, the Padres management has been planting the seeds of the PCL uniforms being personal favorites of ownership.  They like the red, white and blue of them, and for whatever reason, they value the Padres minor league history much more than their Major League history.  Wayne Partello even planted the seed on his Padres Social Hour interview.  In my opinion, every time ownership/membership mentions the PCL uniforms, it is a calculated strategy to bring them into the public discourse.  I also believe this explains their strategy of more often referring to the brown movement as being pro-retro uniforms, rather than pro brown uniforms (whether retro or modernized).  That way, if they announce they are adopting the PCL uniform style, they can applaud themselves for listening to the fans and bringing back retro, all while avoiding a return to brown.  Considering Wayne Partello had a couple days to prepare for his Padres Social Hour interview, I have a hard time believing his mention of the PCLs was not calculated, planned and part of a larger strategy.  For reference, here are the referenced PCL unis (get excited for the team to look like the Washington Nationals instead of the Milwaukee Brewers!):

2.  Dual Jersey Profit Motive: When talk arises about why the Chargers don't just switch to the powder blues, an answer I've often heard has been that they enjoy the dual revenue stream of being able to sell current jerseys along with throwback powder blues.  It's possible that the Padres have done an analysis showing they can continue the current plan to sell current blue uniforms/hats/merch along with the concurrent Cooperstown Collection/retro brown uniforms/hats/merch and maximize their licensing revenue.  This analysis may (speculation) show that switching the current unis to brown would cannibalize the retro revenues, leading to lower total sales/licensing revenue.  I'm not sure how likely this is, but looking at this ownership group (led by private equity partners), I could see profit maximization being a huge priority for them.  In my experience, the most logical reason for business decision-making is often profit maximization, and in the case of continuing an unpopular uniform program, I have to assume that there is some revenue/profit advantage to the current blues.  I believe this is especially true when taking into account ownership/management's attempts to obfuscate the issue with fabricated "studies", deliberately muddling the retro vs modernized brown, and in general, ignoring their most loyal fans' wishes.

3.  Owners Just Don't Like Brown: It could be as simple as the team ownership just doesn't like brown.  Fowler is a carpetbagger, but has been in San Diego long enough to link the brown uniforms to an era with a lot of losing.  Or maybe he just hates brown.  Maybe when he was a kid, he'd throw away his brown, burnt sienna, and copper crayons.  Maybe Ron Fowler wants the team to continue using the blue of his alma mater, USD.  Who knows.  In the end, they are the ones who dropped hundreds of millions on this team, mix in a little hubris, and if they don't like brown, they can be petulant children and withhold brown from their loyal fanbase.  Whatever.  It's entirely possible.

4.  Rope A Dope: It's possible the team has been listening to the fanbase, their studies show brown will sell more but they just aren't ready to make an announcement.  They are just stringing us along, making us all pissed at them, and then out of the blue, possibly after a horribly awful season full of no offense and boring games (hey, like this one!), they will make a great fan-friendly announcement that the browns are coming back, making us forget about the terrible on-field performance and horrendous mismanagement coming from the GM's office.  I don't totally discount this.  While Partello is a slick marketing guy with some PR chops, he's not totally blind and deaf to the fan's outcry.  He hears it.  Now whether he has the power to change Ron Fowler and Peter Seidler's (remember, Fowler is a minority partner.  Seidler is the money man and the majority owner) mind, I have no idea. 

In the end, if I were betting, I believe #1 or maybe #2 are the most likely team motivations.  The team has made a concerted argument to make the following arguments: "studies" show the majority favor blue, constant creation of confusion about retro vs modern brown, a higher and extremely difficult bar for attendance to exceed to "prove" that the fans are backing brown (makes it easy to say the support just wasn't there; meanwhile this Tuesday's game in blue will be lucky to draw 10k to the park), and an unwillingness to share any of their research.  I don't think those arguments are made in a vacuum, they are made in a conference room while devising a PR and marketing strategy for a decision that may already have been made (remember, it takes years for a uniform program update to happen with all of the design, approvals, etc.).  Now imagine this.  Season ends, the Padres finished last.  Padres brass calls a press conference to unveil new uniforms.  Twitter goes crazy.  They say the following things: "We listened to the fanbase and heard their call for retro uniforms", "our extensive studies show that a large majority of fans support blue in the uniforms", "we believe we've created uniforms that are the best of both worlds", and hanging behind them are updated PCL unis.  Fowler will have a wide grin on his face.  I can totally see this happening.

P.S. I will also add. Taking an interview strategy from Louis CK, I submitted a #padresSH question to Partello asking "if Ron Fowler is in fact an alien from outer space that eats human flesh".  This question was suspiciously ignored.  Not sure if you're familiar with the idea of silence equaling consent, but this does leave open the possibility that Ron Fowler IS in fact an alien from outer space that eats human flesh.  Send that "now for something completely different" to Aramco to use in their stupid commercials.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Secrets of Petco Park

Totally ignoring the subpar onfield performance of the Padres this season, management has undertaken a few fan unfriendly policies to wring every last dollar out of Petco Park.  The team has proudly pointed out the first come, first serve seating on the Western Metal Supply porch since the park's inception.  It's always pointed out on the ballpark tours.  Unfortunately, in a cash grab move, the Dee regime has turned these into $40 ticketed stool seats, eliminating one of the more fan friendly policies.  Luckily for the educated fan, there are a plethora of secret benefits that still exist in Petco Park to squeeze a little extra value out of your ticket.

The Pier

In the old days, the glory of the Toyota Terrace was only to be seen by terrace ticket holders.  This was changed under the Garfinkel regime for the better, opening it up to all fans.  The Pier is tucked away next to the escalator up from the Gaslamp Gate.  It used to be the sushi bar, now it's a place for tacos and drinks with a decent bar to sit at.  It also features a first come first serve patio with table seating and a nearly identical view as the Western Metal Supply... And it's free.  Fight The Man.


Sure the team has made every effort to improve the concession and beer program and take the focus off the field.  To some degree that works, but as a season ticket holder, I'm at the park too often to blow $20 on a Cardiff crack sammie and a beer.  Luckily, Petco has a permissive outside food policy, and conveniently across the street sits better than half decent taco shop, Lolita's.  It's now a regular maneuver for me to duck out at the Park Ave gate around the 4th inning, walk across the street to Lolita's, and bring a $4 burrito back in time for the next inning.  This maneuver also works with other nearby places, and especially well with The Kebab Shop since you can put your order in online at your seat.  Ditto for calling in an order to The Dragons Den across the street for some Singapore noodles or sushi.

Family Restrooms

When the aforementioned Lolita's catches up to your digestive system a few innings later, no need to use the regular bathrooms to drop the kids off like a peasant.  Hidden in the stairwells are the xanadus for dumping.  Clean, spacious and private.

Mothers Nursing Room

For those with little humans that need nursing, no need to do it in your seat.  There's a mothers nursing room on the field level concourse at guest services next to the Mercado.  It's got a bottle warmer, a couch, wipes and privacy.  It's critical to ensure a good time with a baby.

The Seat Upgrade Arbitrage

I'm not sure how widely known the MLB At The Park app is, but it's got its own hidden secret.  Buried within is the Upgrade feature.  Basically, if you have a ticket into the park, even a Park at the Park ticket (which I found out now cost more than just getting a ticket from Stubhub as another example of new fan unfriendly policies), you can go on the app and upgrade your seat.  And it's a great deal, like so good it doesn't make sense to buy a field level ticket anymore.  Just upgrade.  On a recent weeknight game, a field level seat behind home plate was going for under $20.  Omni Premier Club was $17.  It's capacity controlled, so it makes sense to do it early - upgrades open 4 hours before first pitch.  At that point you are looking at roughly $30 for field level behind home plate.  That is a steal.

Value in Seats

In general, I find the Toyota Terrace to be drastically overpriced.  Same with the outfield seats.  For my money, the best value is in the upper deck, Section 300-306. These seats are above home plate and provide an outstanding view of the action.  Not only are there no obstructions to your straight on view, you can actually see the pitches, and this season the Stone Tasting Room is right across the concourse.

These are a few of my accumulated secrets of Petco.  As long as the team is imposing new fan unfriendly policies, it's your duty as a capitalist American to wring all the value you can out of your ticket.  Now, back to MS Paint Padres related dongs.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Padres to Beat Marlins? Maybe? Just a smidge of a chance possibly? Depressing state of affairs.

So Padres nation seems to be pretty beaten down lately.  And can you blame them?  This team is abysmal to watch.  Yeah, the pitching is good, and yeah, real baseball fans should like close, well pitched games.  But 2-1 games aren't quite as fun a) when your team is the one that scored 1, and b) when you seriously question your team's ability to ever score more than 1.  @bcline760 has helpfully been translating the lineup card the past couple games into a stats lineup card:

 That line up is horrendous.  The first week or so, I saw the so-called sensible bloggers and Tweeters pulling out the #SSS and the continuous snarky "it's a little early to get worried about the audience #snark #firstweek".  Well the whole #SSS thing is now a pretty big sample size.  Some would even say that we have a statistically significant sample to start making longer term judgements.  And that judgement is this is not a major league lineup.  I remember the media pointing out that last season's Marlins lineup sans Stanton during his injury was one of the worst major league lineups they've seen (Greg Dobbs at 1B anyone?).  This lineup is worse (and Yonder is worse than Greg Dobbs).  It is hard to win when your team is starting 4 players with sub .200 averages and your team has pretty much no power. 

The bigger issues are related to how long they can keep pushing those guys out there.  I mean, at this point, would the team be that much worse trying out Francoeur in RF?  To some degree, the team put it's money behind Venable and Gyorko with extensions, and it's biggest trade to date was to acquire Grandal and putrid Yonder Alonso, so it's tough for Byrnes to admit that he totally screwed up and is sending them down to the minors/benching them/releasing them/sending them to Abu Dhabi in an adorable box with Nermal.  Him acknowledging his errors is akin to him getting shoved out the door here, so don't expect to hear him on 1090 admitting them. 

I'm not sure where this team can go at this point.  The TV team and radio team keep hyping Carlos Quentin's return like he's Roger Maris in 1961.  He's not.  He's an above average hitter with a little pop, but he's no Jose Abreu, and doesn't have the skills to carry this team on his shoulders (especially considering he only plays 2 out of 3 games when healthy). 

Get used to more 2-1, 3-1 games that go to extra innings, this team's offense is not going to light it up.  And playing Jose Fernandez tonight won't help.  But hey, at least they cut the price on the Cardiff Crack sandwich, right?  And beer!  That's where this team's management focus is, and likely will continue to be the focus in the near future.