The Prominent Team President Thing Just Ain’t Gonna Work

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Of all people, Theo Epstein should know the difficulty in having a team president openly interfering with the actual running of a club. Given that he escaped a similar situation with the Red Sox after last season and came to see his former mentor Larry Lucchino as his nemesis, he has to know that the statement he made concerning Ryan Dempster is going to undermine the actual GM of the club, Jed Hoyer. The story implied that before Dempster was traded to the Rangers, he was able to hear exactly what was going on in the negotiations with the Dodgers because he was allowed to listen in on the conversations between the clubs. If true, this would be highly inappropriate. If true, why is Epstein saying it to the media?

That I believe Dempster and Hoyer when they say that it’s not true is irrelevant. Epstein’s damage control is expected and understandable, but it’s not going to alter the fundamental fact that the GM of the club—supposedly in charge of the baseball side—has a team president who’s approached for all the answers and more than willing to talk to the press when he should recede into the background to let Hoyer do the job he was hired to do.

It’s widely believed that Hoyer is Epstein’s puppet and their close personal relationship has the GM following orders and acting as the front man, handling with the media and players while Epstein runs the entire baseball ops. Hoyer was allowed to leave the Padres under curious circumstances, first without any compensation, then with almost a grudging, “let’s give them something to keep up appearances” as Padres’ CEO Jeff Moorad clearly preferred his former GM with the Diamondbacks Josh Byrnes to Hoyer. Hoyer hadn’t done much of anything as the Padres’ GM to build the club that won 90 games in 2010; a roster almost entirely comprised of players acquired by the prior GM, Kevin Towers; then he traded away the remaining Padres’ star Adrian Gonzalez as the club stumbled to 71-91. Hoyer left for the Cubs to rejoin Epstein and now he’s dealing with a story that he shouldn’t have to and only is dealing with because the team president is so heavily involved in the personnel. That Epstein was able win the power struggle with Lucchino only makes what he did to Hoyer worse. I question whether Hoyer has the stomach to challenge his mentor as Epstein did, and forget about winning the power struggle. It’s a form of castration and is a role reversal for Epstein. It’s not a good one considering he knows what it’s like to be thought of as the puppet and to have to claw his strings away to venture out on his own.

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