Weeks of rumor finally came to fruition last week when Theo Epstein officially agreed to join the Chicago Cubs as President of Baseball Operations. Unfortunately for the Padres, Epstein managed to convince Padres GM Jed Hoyer, and his assistant in San Diego, Jason McLeod, to join him in the windy city. Owner Jeff Moorad quickly moved to replace Hoyer with Josh Byrnes, his former GM in Arizona where Moorad held the title of CEO and General Partner of the Diamondbacks. Byrnes joined the Friars last December after being fired as GM in Arizona.
Not surprisingly, some Padres fans feel Hoyer abandoned the team; that he took the first opportunity to leave a small-market like San Diego for the riches of Chicago. It’s almost as if he turned his back on the challenge of turning the Padres into a perennial contender, as he had repeatedly said was his goal, in order to take a job with his mentor for a club that doesn’t have the financial restraints San Diego does. On the surface it does look like he took the easy road so-to-speak. But anyone who has experienced a split either in their personal or professional lives knows there are two sides to every story.
Let’s look at what we know to true and offer my take.
Josh Byrnes was Moorad’s guy. Even though Hoyer and Byrnes had worked together in Boston and Moorad brought Hoyer to San Diego to be their GM, it had to be awkward for Hoyer having the specter of Byrnes looming. You have to think had Byrnes been available when Moorad was looking to replace Kevin Towers as GM, Hoyer never would have gotten the job in San Diego.
I also heard on Lee Hamilton’s radio show that Hoyer had asked Moorad for a five-year contract extension to stay in San Diego. With a handy replacement in place, Moorad declined Hoyer’s request. I have been unable to verify that account anywhere else but if true it makes Hoyer’s departure more understandable. Coming off a down year and with Moorad’s guy hanging around how comfortable could Hoyer have been in his long-term future here in San Diego?
The Cubs job, despite the difficulties that will certainly come with it, is still a plum position. Those jobs don’t come around often. With a chance to join his mentor while bringing his right-hand guy (McLeod) along in an effort to end a curse worse than the one they helped break in Boston, how can you blame Hoyer for taking the opportunity?
I will admit; had it been me I would have stayed. I don’t believe in leaving before your job is done. The Padres minor league system is in far better shape than it was two years ago when Hoyer assumed control but the major league product isn’t very good.
Besides, what would be considered the greater accomplishment; turning the small market Padres into a perennial contender despite not having the financial wherewithal of the big guys or heading off to Chicago where even if they do win a World Series it will be Epstein who gets the bulk of the credit? If I am looking to tackle the greater challenge then I stay here.
Regardless, that’s just me. I can’t blame Hoyer for moving on. I understand the sense of betrayal some Friars fans may feel but I believe Byrnes is capable of finishing what Hoyer started.