The decisions they made did not work out. The decisions have claimed two managers already.
No one in the front office has lost their job. Praise those protected.
None of the big money divas, who infected that clubhouse, are gone either.
You’re not going to fire management. You surely cannot fire the 25-man roster. So the scapegoat is the manager.
Such is the fate of San Diego Padres baseball this day, the first day of the off season after a lousy in-season.
Out with the former manager Bud Black; be done with the interim manager Pat Murphy. The General Manager, AJ Preller gets a ‘do-over’.
Nothing seemed to fit this season with this team. Yes they won the Winter Baseball Meetings, with all those transactions. The taking on of big salaries. The acquisitions of big names. The struggles, the failures, the injuries.
That shiny new Petco Park scoreboard in left field is dark right now. There is no baseball in October, no playoff games, and uncertainty looking forward to 2016.
Lucky the scoreboard lights are off, so they the Padres don’t have to tell you about their more recent failures. Five straight losing seasons; 7-losing-campaigns in the last 8-seasons. One playoff run , and a (1-10) record in postseason games since their World Series appearance in 1998.
The Padres will have a new manager, and possibly lose some significant cache amongst a popular coaching staff.
Preller stood in the line of fire and answered all the tough questions as his Monday press conference grinded on.
He mentioned things like wanting the ‘right fit’ from a new manager. Wanting someone who would grasp the statistical system the organization presents for game plans. Wanted some fire, to lead the clubhouse, and strength of personality, to likely change the culture of the clubhouse.
Preller defended his deals, saying he was not one to jump to conclusions that transactions failed just because a Matt Kemp had a bad first half, or a pitching staff faltered after so many good years.
He didn’t demean the hiring of Murphy to serve out the season, though the manager seemed to spend more time re-linking with friends in the other dugout, rather than dealing with his own team.
Somewhere in the use of the word ‘culture’, Preller must have been referencing things like ‘divas’ and players, who acted more like independent contractors, than team leaders.
There’s not a doubt there is talent still on the roster, but there’s no doubt too that there is some toxicity amongst that clubhouse than needs to be addressed.
This new breed of GMs, from Preller to the 30-year old just hired in Milwaukee, are surely different than leaders we have seen before. I don’t see any John Scheurholz’s amongst that Padres front office right now.
Where do they go from here?
Managers come in all shapes and sizes and backgrounds. Success stories like Mike Matheny in St. Louis, former player turned instant manager. History writes about long time bench boss assistants like Joe Maddon, who get the chance and won. And of course longtime minor league managers can make successful steps up, a-la a Jim Leyland.
This will be fun to watch, to see who gets interviewed. Dusty Baker wants back in, but there are 200,000 miles on that model.
Ron Washington is familiar with Preller, but there is baggage that can scare you away with him.
Ron Gardenhire is a vested respected veteran, just a year removed from his last job.
Phil Nevin has plied his trade from Toledo-to-Reno, but has been bypassed before by his own organizations.
In house, loyalty should count for something for a Dave Roberts. Popular Mark Kotsay has been on the job just a year.
If you sent out an Email, you’d get a thousand replies from anywhere to everyone.
This is a critical hire for the Padres. They were a business success off the field, drawing 2.4M, but a miserable failure on the field (74-88) with a payroll that chokes you.
Preller has lots to do to impress ownership, and more to do now to save the community from walking away.
His roster is ill-fitted. The contracts he has taken on are bloated and spike up. His farm system is now barren of trade bait. And his first managerial move failed, leading now to a second one he has to make.
Better get it right, and quickly, for the next press conference we attend next October might be to replace him.