By Nicholas Burmeister (AKA Padres Haiku)
I wrote something like this last season when Fowler vented his frustration with Kemp. What I said then is still true now. He is giving voice to the deepest rooting passion in Padres fans. This is fan service at a caveman level. Not everyone understands the need to “tank.” There are casual baseball fans that are turned off by the idea of trying to lose. Ownership needs to hold on to these fans during the lean years anyway they can. Fowler is betting that some of these fans might react positively to a “the buck stops here” style owner. He might be right. Of course, there are other ways to retain casual fans during times of planned horrific baseball that they haven’t capitalized on. They might be saving the pie eating contests and bobble heads for next year.
One of the main objections to fowler speaking out against poor play is that it will deter future big name free agents from coming here. This would be true if the Padres were in the big name free agent market, which they are not. Nothing Fowler can say or do is going to land them on the short list for players like Harper, Trout, Arrieta, McCutchen, or Altuve. That’s fine. The Padres are not in that market. It’s like if someone told you, “Hey, watch out what you say about your ex because in the future Charlize Theron might not want to date you if you’re mean.” While that’s true, it’s not likely that Ms. Theron was considering going out with you in the first place (her loss, really).
Here’s the kicker. In a few years, the Padres will be in that market and free agents will come here. The team will probably try to land a big name free agent when they’re close to contending. Free agents know which teams are close to contending and which ones aren’t. They also follow the money. Robinson Canó went to Seattle of all places because he saw a chance to compete in the playoff’s (never happened) and a big time pay day (10yrs 240MM. Thank you Roc Nation Sports). When the time is right, players will play for a contender and a large sum of money even if Ron Fowler had the audacity to besmirch the good name of two of the worst pitchers in the last two years. So, cool it with the “he’s hurting our future” histrionics.
What Ron said about weaver wasn’t all that bad. It was nowhere near the lambasting that Shields and Kemp got. Ron said Weaver hasn’t been good, he hasn’t. Fowler said that Weaver has been critical of himself, he has. He said at some point teams have to let underperforming players go, they do. He didn’t call the man an embarrassment, and he never really let loose on Weaver like he did with Shields. This might be a product of how Shields carried himself prior to his trade as opposed to the self-effacing Weaver.
It’s also poor judgment to have Fowler say something like “we back him 100%, we have full confidence” and all that boilerplate nonsense. That’s not true. He doesn’t have confidence in Jered Weaver. He shouldn’t have confidence in Weaver because he’s been exactly what everyone thought he would be: a wet noodle arm with a good personality. If you think being critical of a player is bad, it also looks bad if the owner backs the worst pitcher in the league time and time again. Ron is being honest and that should matter for something.
This isn’t to say he should be allowed free range to run his mouth. Hunter Renfroe hasn’t had the spectacular season fans hoped for but he hasn’t put him behind the eight ball because the rookie is young, cheap, and doesn’t have the same perceived impact on a single game as that a starter does. When he vented on James Shields last year it was before the White Sox trade. That trade was likely made worse for the Padres by his comments. He should have held his tongue until after the trade a la Kemp. Let me be perfectly clear, I don’t think he should be doing these things, but I also don’t think his comments are going to have any more of a lasting impact then having Weaver stink up the joint in the first place.
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