Back with Padres, new CEO Dee has grand visions
SAN DIEGO -- When Mike Dee arrived for his first stint as a Padres executive in 1995, ownership made three key commitments to San Diego fans: to enhance fan experience, to immerse the organization within the community and to field a team that could win consistently.
At his introductory news conference on Tuesday afternoon, Dee gave his evaluation of those three aspects: check, check and coming right up.
Dee, who stepped down as CEO of the NFL's Miami Dolphins to join the Padres as president and CEO in July, said he already sees the Padres' fan experience and community involvement as thriving, and the foundation has been laid for a consistent winner to emerge in San Diego.
"There's a culture to winning -- not just winning on the field, but winning off the field," Dee said. "I think that tone has been set by this ownership group, and I look forward to striving for that excellence."
After being introduced by executive chairman Ron Fowler and lead investor Peter Seidler, Dee spoke of his optimism for the organization.
Fowler said Dee's role will very hands-on and that he'll oversee almost all of the franchise's day-to-day decisions.
"I call him Mr. Outside, because he'll be out and about in the community," Fowler said. "My job is to make sure the money is there to do what we want to do."
Dee focused on two keys to building a winning culture in San Diego. First, he noted the changing state of the game and the increasing ability for small-market clubs to compete.
"Philosophically, in a small market, it's very important to draft well and to develop your own talent," Dee said. "You can have success if you don't do it, but it's appreciably harder."
He also spoke to the financial aspect of talent building, and said the club's new ownership group will provide a solid backing for a larger payroll down the road.
"Clearly, we're going to look to invest more in the team, moving forward," Dee said. "We're in a great condition to do that."
General manager Josh Byrnes is looking forward to discussing spending allocations with Dee.
"Payroll is certainly part of it," Byrnes said. "But it's also investment spending, whether it's player development, medical or the international side; anything that we can do to give ourselves a better chance to produce talent."
Dee spent eight seasons as an executive with the Padres from 1995-2002 before he became the Red Sox's COO in 2004. He spent six seasons in Boston before leaving for the Dolphins in '09. Dee called his return to San Diego "my last move in my sports career, to be here for the long haul."
Dee said solving the Time Warner Cable-Fox Sports San Diego split will be one of his first orders of business.
"Until we're in every household in San Diego, there's work to be done," he said. "It's obviously a priority -- something we have to fix."