It’s not often you recognize a team’s executive chairman by name, but Ron Fowler of the San Diego Padres is doing all he can to change that. The outspoken executive has made waves the past few seasons, calling the Padres “miserable failures” and taking shots at Matt Kemp and James Shields after the team traded them away.
On Wednesday, he turned his sights on a new target. During a radio interview, Fowler singled out starting pitcher Jered Weaver’s performance, saying he was on a “short leash,” according to Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune.
“We’ve had several performances from Jered that have been not very good, and Jered owns them,” Fowler said. “He’s very matter-of-fact in his quotes — he’s let the team down, he’s very disappointed in his performance. But are we going to let this continue? I think this is a short leash and we’ve got to make some decisions. He started last year very poorly and ended up (12-12) for a sub-.500 team. We’re hoping there’s something left, but the last several performances don’t give us much cause to be positive.”
He went on to imply that changes could be made depending on how Weaver performs in his next start.
“That’s basically going to be up to (manager Andy Green) and our pitching coach and (General Manager A.J. Preller),” Fowler said. “They will make that determination, make a recommendation, and then we’ll take appropriate action if his next start is not a good one.”
That’s a brutally honest assessment, though that’s expected from Fowler at this point.
It’s not entirely untrue, either. Weaver’s struggles are well-known by now. The 34-year-old posted a 5.06 ERA with the Los Angeles Angels last season. He’s been even worse this year, with a 6.81 ERA over seven starts. After averaging 90 mph with his fastball early in his career, Weaver averages just 84.4 mph with the pitch now.
As Fowler mentioned, Weaver has acknowledged his struggles this season. Following his most recent start, Weaver said that if he kept pitching like this he would find himself “on the couch here soon.”
Though Weaver understands what’s at stake, it can’t be good to hear a team executive call you out publicly. Weaver had already expressed frustration with his current performance. Imagine how much pressure Fowler added by implying his next start could be his last.
At this point, you would like to think someone in the organization would talk to Fowler about dialing it back a little during his interviews. The Padres haven’t exactly turned themselves into a desirable destination for free agents lately, and having an executive who is happy to rip struggling players isn’t going to help.
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