October 17, 2016

ELDEN | Dee’s Firing Is a Win for the Padres

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The Padres have fired their C.E.O. and President of Baseball Operations, Mike Dee. From 1995 to 2002, Dee worked in San Diego under former C.E.O. Larry Lucchino. He moved on from San Diego with Lucchino to work for the Red Sox as their C.O.O. — and eventually to the Miami Dolphins as their C.E.O. Interestingly enough, the Dolphins hired Tom Garfinkel to replace Dee, who was the Padres’ C.E.O. before Dee.

“I’ve known Mike for 18 years, and from the first time I met him, I was impressed with his energy and his creativity,” Fowler said of the hiring in 2013. “Bottom line, from my perspective, Mike Dee is a winner.”

Mike Dee had been responsible for several public relations blunders during his tenure in San Diego. Most notably, he was responsible for the drafting of quarterback Johnny Manziel in the 28th round in 2014. Manziel was a star football player out of Texas A&M, and an NFL first round draft pick. This was controversial because there was almost no chance that Manziel would sign and that he’d be anything more than a publicity stunt to the Padres.

Additionally, by drafting an essentially value-less Manziel in the 28th round, they passed on someone who could have had a chance at working out. It has been common practice for teams to burn their final selection on a player who is a child of a front office member or has some significance beyond their baseball talent. When they drafted Manziel essentially 12 rounds too early, they made a mockery of the draft and their own talent evaluators. Dee stood by this decision.

In 2014, Dee was behind the decision to name their new Hall of Fame Plaza after commissioner Bud Selig — who has a negative reputation among Padres’ fans after overseeing a botched ownership transition from John Moores to Jeff Moorad and back to Moores from 2009 to 2012. This deal resulted in Moores pocketing $200 million of TV money — rather than having it be reinvested into the team’s payroll.

Selig also did not prevent a team firesale in 1993 —one that saw a team just four and half games out of first place — trade away Tony Fernandez, Gary Sheffield, Benito Santiago and many others. There was massive backlash surrounding this decision from Padres fans which led to the renaming of the plaza.

Dee was hired to run the business side of the Padres, but rumors swirled that he was involved on the baseball operations side as well. This comes after a scandal involving withheld medical information and a suspension of general manager A.J. Preller. This is likely the tipping point for the team — it is believed that ownership blamed Dee more than Preller for the incident.

This move overall is a win for Padres fans, as the team retains their high-energy general manager Preller and sheds an executive who has largely been ineffective for the business side of the team and has potentially meddled in baseball operations affairs. Ownership was able to show a response to condemn the medical records scandal that elicited a reaction from Major League Baseball, but not harm a baseball operations department that has seen success over the last two or three seasons.