I know it isn’t going to sell newspapers or generate controversy, but I don’t think we’ll ever know exactly who is responsible if Trevor Hoffman is no longer a Padre. We have a lot of opinions thrown around as to why that may be, coupled with a heaping truckload of confirmation bias ready to jump at the chance to condemn whichever side of the argument we happen to usually approve of.
For the most vocal of fans and columnists, this generally means blaming the arrogant, ivy league nerds who run the team front office. As a matter of full disclosure, more often than not I give those arrogant, ivy league nerds the benefit of the doubt in their decisions.
Where I do find fault with the front office, and I think many will agree, is in their PR abilities. The dysfunctional relationship between Padres President Sandy Alderson and Billy Werndl plus Darren Smith, hosts of the radio show Alderson frequents creates a public relations nightmare. The result is less of an interview and more of a grilling designed to trap Alderson into saying what meets the obvious negative bias the hosts hold toward the team. Alderson often responds in kind with an insulting, arrogant tone which is seems directed towards the broadcasters, but gives a poor impression towards the fans. It does make for controversial, attention grabbing radio, so I guess the hosts win the battle. But I digress.
Only thinly veiled in the media coverage of an emotional event like the possible departure of Trevor Hoffman is a search for truth. Each side gives their version of events, and just as in other aspects of life, the reality often lies somewhere in between. My interpretation of the events goes like this:
- Hoffman received a 1 year offer of $4 million and team option for 2010 with no buyout, about $3.5 million less than his salary last year, which he saw as an insincere PR move.
- The club refused to allow Hoffman and agent Rick Thurman to negotiate with Padres owner John Moores.
- Sandy Alderson may have animosity towards Thurman, perhaps because of Thurman’s agenting style, or perhaps for another reason.
- Hoffman deserves special treatment from Moores due to Trevor’s icon status.
Front Office Side
- The team received neither approval or disapproval of the contract offer one month after the offer was made. They also were willing to negotiate the price of the deal.
- Moores hired Alderson for the exact purpose of distancing himself from baseball decisions, the team found a meeting with the owner inappropriate.
- It is possible that Moores was willing to meet with Hoffman to discuss the direction of the team, but not for contract negotiations or with Hoffman’s agent present.
- Thurman went public with negotiation details after the club asked to keep them private.
- After about a month with the offer on the table, the team took it off.
To me, the fault for booting the situation could go either way. My question is, who are we to judge the culpability for Hoffman’s departure? We’re outsiders! Even the people with fancy press passes and radio shows, the sources of our information, are outsiders. All they do is talk to those actually involved, then usually form an opinion based on who slanted the story the best, or go with the side they intended to believe from the beginning.
For whatever reason, even if it’s his own fault, I will be deeply saddened if Trevor Hoffman isn’t a Padre for the rest of his career. Like many people reading this, I grew up with Trevor as part of my life.
And you know what? Writing with the caps lock key stuck with lots of exclamation points doesn’t make anyone more of a fan than me. Neither does asking ill informed questions or giving ill informed rants on radio shows. That stuff doesn’t demonstrate intensity. It characterizes an emotionally fragile person with messed up priorities.
I’ll miss Trevor. But lets not kid ourselves about who we are and what we know.