Ownership Still Goal for Garvey : He’d Like to Buy Padres If Sale Falls Through

<i> Times Staff Writer</i>

Steve Garvey hasn’t given up. If George Argyros’ purchase offer for the Padres falls through, Garvey still wants to buy the Padres.

A source close to Garvey said that in recent months, the first baseman had put together a group worth close to $1 billion but that Padre owner Joan Kroc would not let Garvey see the books.

“But if something were to happen down the line,” Garvey said this weekend, “our group would still be in position to make an offer.”


Kroc was unavailable for comment Sunday.

Argyros, who owns the Seattle Mariners, made an offer to buy the Padres with the intention of selling the Mariners, and Kroc accepted the offer. The purchase likely will be approved. Where does this leave Garvey? Argyros might need a new team president, and Garvey wouldn’t mind having the job.

He has not asked Argyros about it, nor did he say he would. But he says he could do the job.

Garvey’s contract is up after this season, and he says he wants to play in 1988 and maybe in 1989. Garvey, 38, sees nothing wrong with being a player-president.

“I’ve spent five years here now,” Garvey said. “I have a good understanding of the organization and how it’s been run.”

Garvey pointed to his background: playing for the Dodgers, whom he called the best-run organization in baseball; having experience in dealing with Fortune 500 corporations, and having experience in public relations.

“I think one of my strengths is creativity,” Garvey said. “I’m an idea person. That’s important. Sometimes we can get stagnant in certain professions.


“The key to being progressive is having people who are creative and are using foresight. Walter O’Malley (the late Dodger owner) was probably one of the most progressive I’ve ever seen.”

Garvey said this is a pivotal point in the Padre organization. “If done properly, this organization could really be in the top three or four organizations in baseball. It’s not far away now, but it could go up to that ultimate level of successful organizations with a few modifications and changes--nothing drastic.”

Garvey said he would make minor adjustments in the marketing department and with fan relations and player development, although he acknowledged that the Padres have one of the best minor league systems in baseball.

For instance, Garvey thinks it would be productive to form a baseball academy for prospects in Yuma, Ariz., where the team trains.

“Kind of an academy similar to what Kansas City did in the past,” Garvey said. “I’d use this complex in the summer and use it as an academy or school. . . . We could open it up nationally. If you want to improve the mental and physical aspects of a player, he has to be skilled and trained. The Dodgers are doing it in the Dominican and in Japan. Why not do it here?”

Argyros--who is in London and could not be reached--said Friday that, for the time being, the Padre front office will stay as it is--with Dick Freeman as the chief operating officer and Jack McKeon as the general manager.


Garvey and Argyros were acquaintances before this week’s sale. Garvey met Argyros and his wife, Judie, at a Chapman College fund-raising event two years ago, and they spent a couple of hours together.

“We’re both aware of each other’s accomplishments,” Garvey said.

The Padres took a two-run lead into the bottom of the 11th inning Sunday, but the Angels scored three runs off reliever Dave Dravecky and won, 7-6.

The winning run was scored on Devon White’s bases-loaded single up the middle with one out.

San Diego went ahead, 6-4, in the top of the 11th when Joey Cora--who played shortstop Sunday--singled to left, went to third on Stan Jefferson’s hit-and-run single and scored on Tony Gwynn’s sacrifice fly to left. Jefferson later scored on Kevin Mitchell’s ground out.

All three starting outfielders--right fielder Gwynn, center fielder Jefferson and left fielder James Steels--had two hits apiece. One of Jefferson’s hits was a triple, and he also had a stolen base.

But the important news was the performance of starting pitcher Ed Wojna, who went five innings, gave up six hits and left with the score tied 3-3. Either Wojna or Jimmy Jones will be the fifth Padre starter this year. Sunday was Wojna’s last outing before Manager Larry Bowa makes his decision, which is expected sometime today.


“If I get sent down, I’ll be able to handle it because of the personality I am,” Wojna said. “I have won 31 games at Las Vegas in parts of the last three years, and if I have to go back for a fourth year, I’ll try to start out with a bang.”

Wojna has been a starter most of his career, but, if Jones beats him out, he still might make the team as the long relief man.

“I just go out and get quality innings in,” he said. “It’s out of my hands. I don’t want to go to Vegas, obviously. If someone gave me three choices, my first choice would be to start, my second choice would be going to the bullpen and third, I’d want to go to Vegas as a starter.”

Jones will start today’s game against the Angels, and Bowa said he would make a decision afterward.

Dick Williams--the former Padre manager who is now the Mariner manager--said he is supposed to have dinner soon with Argyros.

“We’ll meet for dinner after he gets back from London, and I’ll give him some input,” Williams said the other day in Yuma. “ . . . Whatever I know about the San Diego club, I’ll be glad to tell him.”


On Sunday, it was learned from Mariner sources that the dinner was Williams’ idea. He volunteered to give Argyros background on people in the Padre office.

It’s no secret how Williams feels about McKeon. Williams has called McKeon “Traitor Jack” and a liar.