The San Diego Padres are primed to give other teams the business this year with their star-laden roste.
Padres owner Peter Seidler?
He’s already getting the business from across the Major League Baseball landscape for constructing an impressive roster through expensive acquisitions.
With more MLB squads in the tank-mode instead of the title-mode, Seidler’s actions have others in an uproar.
“What the Padres are doing, I don’t 100 percent agree with,’’ said Colorado Rockies owner Dick Monfort.
Rockies fans likely are 100 percent sure their owner isn’t doing his best to field a competitive team. The Rockies have never won an National League West title and they’re expected to bring up the caboose once again in the division.
Other top-shelf brass from the Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles and Cincinnati Reds are singing the same chorus as Monfort.
Even Rob Manfred, the MLB commissioner, casts a cautious eye toward Seidler’s drive to bring the Padres their first World Series championship by accumulating stars, with five of them earning more than $20 million this season.
Yes, that’s even more than San Diego’s hated rival to the north, the big-money Los Angeles Dodgers. That the Padres are being cast as an organization flush with money, with the Dodgers pinching their pennies, is a sentence few ever thought would be written.
Here’s another nugget that is equally as mind-blowing: the Padres have become so popular that they capped their season-ticket sales at 24,000. There’s a lengthy wait list to purchase season seats and when did San Diego start to mimic the Green Bay Packers?
Say cheese, because Seidler sports a wide smile under his fresh mustache whenever someone, like Manfred, questions the sustainability of San Diego’s aggressive spending.
“When we talk about risk, there’s a risk to doing nothing,’’ Seidler told reporters at the team’s spring-training facility.
Doing nothing, or very little, was the Padres’ mantra for most of their existence as they played in the shadow of the Dodgers and were proud of payrolls routinely among the bottom-third in the MLB.
Those days are long gone, as Seidler continues to show what is possible if an ownership group is as serious about winning as it is about the bottom line.
“Putting a great and winning team on the field in San Diego, year after year, is sustainable,’’ Seidler said.
For the Padres booster that know the term “fire sale” all too well, Seidler’s comment is like an additional ray of San Diego sunshine. Not that long ago Padres patrons would see their favorite player sign rich deals, only to be peddled soon after agreeing to them.
Right-hander Jake Peavey, a Cy Young Award winner, and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, a five-time All-Star, come to mind.
The truth is Seidler, a two-time cancer survivor with a Zen-like quality to him, shrugs when arrows are pointed in his direction. Seidler, and his family, are in this for the long haul and they don’t seem keen on changing their ways.
What Seidler’s business model, in a city with only one professional team from the four biggest leagues, has done is expose other owners crying about their lack of resources to be relevant.
San Diego is one of the smaller MLB media markets, but that hasn’t prevented Seidler from thinking big.
“Do I believe our parade is going to be on land, or on water, or on both?’’ he asked.
Only three MLB cities are considered inferior media markets to San Diego: Cincinnati, Kansas City and Milwaukee.
The outcry from the fans in those cities, where seasons go to die, that if sleepy San Diego can do it, why not us?
“One year soon, the baseball gods will smile on the San Diego Padres and we’ll have a parade,’’ said Seidler, whose grandfather, Walter O’Malley, moved the Dodgers from Brooklyn to L.A. “We have a great chance to go after that trophy and deliver to San Diego its first parade.’’
Let the other owners sit on the curb and watch it go by. Let the other owners go the cheap route and see if they can still spin the turnstiles. Let the other owners be financially conservative and fling criticism about a man eager to give his customers a title.
“I don’t spend too much time, if any, thinking about what other people are thinking,’’ Seidler said. “Truly, I care about what we’re thinking in this room in San Diego. To me, it just feels great.”
Seidler is already considering how to extend third baseman Manny Machado’s contract before he becomes a free agent after the season and retaining star outfielder Juan Soto prior to his deal expiring.
Oh yeah, there’s the possibility of adding Shohei Ohtani if the Los Angeles Angels’ two-way star becomes a free agent next winter.
Padres seasons were once an endless bummer. Now they’ve become an endless summer, with no end in sight of Seidler building his roster with stars, and not being shy about compensating them at the market rate.
The Padres have MLB’s third-highest payroll this year at $250 million, trailing only the New York-based teams, and they anticipate to set a single-season attendance mark which exceeds 3 million.
“We’re here to win a title,’’ Seidler said. “That’s what I expect.”