Exclusive: Jed Hoyer Q&A

Will the San Diego Padres shy away from being active in Latin America? How important is the first-round pick? Will injuries continue to linger before a decision is made? spoke with general manager Jed Hoyer in an exclusive interview to answer these questions and more.

Five of the last six players taken in the first round have succumbed to injury. How important is it for you to hit on that initial pick every season?

Jed Hoyer: Failure in the first round is something that has been a struggle for this organization. When you give up that kind of opportunity to get a quality major league player, it is hard to recover.

I don't want to put too much pressure on the 2010 first-round pick. I don't think that is fair. Over time, we have to hit more often on those high picks.

The draft is a wonderful opportunity to add an impact bat to your system. We have given up the opportunity a number of times over the last few years.

In today's game, how difficult is it to trade a well-regarded prospect or prospects for a veteran – for you it is likely the opposite where you might want the well-regarded prospect? It seems like teams are not readily giving up that talent.

Jed Hoyer: It is always a challenge. Teams do value their prospects highly. At the same time, teams also value, significantly, the chance to win.

If you look at that as the ideal, you hope it is a deal both teams can feel good about. The other team acquires a player that helps get you a win. Ultimately, that is the most important thing – winning at the big league level.

Does it generally make more sense to pour money into the draft and international market than to offer a three-year deal to a player that will cost $15 million over the life of the contract? In other words, is that $15 million better allocated across multiple potential major leaguers than an established one?

Jed Hoyer: It depends on how you feel about your chances to win. There is no question that it is important to invest heavily into the draft, international market, scouting. That $15 million dollar investment could suddenly turn into $100 million worth of value. It is important to do that.

At the same time, winning at the major league level is the most important thing. If there is a player that significantly impacts your major league team that you can sign for that amount of money, it is important you do that as well.

A lot depends on the real impact that player can make.

In the past, pitching prospects that suffer arm injuries have gone through a lengthy rehabilitation program before eventually having surgery. That has cost valuable development time. How do you weigh whether someone requires surgery or should go the rehab route first to see if surgery can be avoided and is there anyway to expedite the process?

Jed Hoyer: It is a challenging question. Logically, you are totally right. Medically, a doctor will always tell you that surgery is the last option. Certain surgeries are harder to come back from than others. I have had the same thought and had that discussion many times. A doctor will always tell you that you never cut on a patient until every avenue has been exhausted. It is a challenging question.

So, there is no answer.

Jed Hoyer: There really isn't. Every time a guy feels a pain in his elbow you tell him to rehab for a while. If every time we had them have Tommy John surgery, we would probably make mistakes. It is a grey area.

There is no question that if you rehab a guy for eight months and he doesn't come back and you end up having Tommy John – that nine months we spent was a waste of time. I understand the logic. But doctors know much more than me. They say that is the last thing you want to do.

You returned from your first trip to the Dominican Republic, which prompts a few questions. What was your impression of the facilities down there?

Jed Hoyer: I was really impressed. They did a good job. You look at it – not only is it an incredible property but it is also well maintained. It makes a significant difference in not only attracting players but also developing the players we do have.

The food is excellent so we handle the nutritional aspect. The weight room is enormous for weight training. It is something that can be a big competitive advantage because of how nice it is and because of how well maintained it is.

There has been talk of trying to get a second team to share the academy. Is this something you and your team are trying to facilitate?

Jed Hoyer: There is nothing active on that front right now. It has kind of been brainstormed about because it probably is big enough, but there is nothing ongoing in that regard.

The Padres have been active in Latin America over the last several years for some of the top talent with former CEO Sandy Alderson at the helm and Randy Smith and his team getting quality players while keeping budget constraints in mind. Will that strategy remain the same under your direction and that of Jeff Moorad, or will be it curtailed, as a certain perception that has been stated says it will?

Jed Hoyer: I don't know where that impression came from. We certainly plan on being aggressive in Latin America and signing players.

I am not sure where the idea that Jeff Moorad or I felt that way. That got created by someone and I am not sure where. It is inaccurate. We plan on being aggressive in Latin America.

With Randy Smith handling the international market and now leading the player development within the system, do you spread a guy too thin?

Jed Hoyer: The rest of this signing season – he started off the process and feels very good about his ability to finish the process off and keep doing it. We are certainly going to think hard about it and probably will hire someone to take over some of the international responsibilities. Randy may very well oversee it while someone sees to the day-to-day. I think you are right. We are asking a lot of Randy to be a good farm director and a good international scouting director at the same time.

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