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Jeff Moorad

Padres CEO has team on right track

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Those who know Padres CEO Jeff Moorad well count honesty as one of his best qualities.

Nothing he’s done since putting together an ownership group in 2008 to buy the team from John Moores has changed that perception.

At more than a few community gatherings, Moorad has explained his blueprint for success involves stockpiling the farm system with good, young talent, and that might require trading away some established assets.

Popular pitcher Jake Peavy, a former Cy Young winner, was the first to go, getting dealt to the Chicago White Sox before the July trading deadline in 2009. Hometown hero Adrian Gonzalez, an All-Star first baseman, is the latest, being sent to the Red Sox last month.

“He’s very straightforward and uncomplicated in terms of honestly expressing what he is trying to accomplish,” said former state Sen. Steve Peace, a senior adviser to Moores and a consultant for Moorad. “And at the same time he is very open to competing views about how to get those things accomplished.”

But Moorad also said he wants to win during the retooling process, a desire also backed up by the Peavy transaction. Pitcher Clayton Richard, one of four players acquired for Peavy, played a key role in the Padres’ thrilling, and unexpected, pennant chase in 2010. The team spent most of the season atop the NL West before falling two games short of the playoffs.

“2010 represents a step forward for the Padres organization,” Moorad said. “We felt a swelling of fan support for the season, as well as a groundswell of support for a team that captured the imagination and hearts of many.”

San Diego drew 200,000 more fans in 2010 than the previous year, averaging 26,318 fans per game.

Next year, however, could be another challenge as the Padres try to overcome several missing components from their 90-win season. But Moorad won’t concede anything for 2011.

“Jeff has a lot of heart,” said Tom Garfinkel, the Padres’ president and chief operating officer. “He cares about the fans, about the employees, about San Diego, and he cares about winning.

“The organization can’t get better, and you can’t be a great leader, unless difficult decisions are made.”

In addition to putting a winning team on the field, Moorad wants to make baseball games more affordable. The team reduced its parking rates and has controlled the cost of concessions, merchandise and tickets.

Moorad also has been working on bringing the Padres’ Triple-A farm team to Escondido. The owner of the minor league club, currently playing in Portland, Ore., recently announced an agreement to sell the club to a group headed by Moorad with the goal of bringing it to North County, within an easy drive of Petco Park.

Peace said the plan shows great foresight by Moorad because a team close to San Diego would give fans a chance to bond with the minor leaguers and lets fans see what kind of talent the Padres are getting in return for their big trades.

“The public will have a more transparent view of the overall system and how that system feeds into the major league team,” Peace said.

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