He won the press conference. Now we will see if he can get players to San Diego so they can win more baseball games.
The Padres hired AJ Preller as their new General Manager, a five year deal, coming from the Texas Rangers.
The next generation of Whiz Kid execs, super scouts, big on saber-metrics, and with a track record.
Preller is given much credit for helping flip the woeful Texas Rangers, from high priced underachievers, to young and talent laden. This year they look terrible in the standings, but losing over 1400-man games to injuries, and virtually your entire pitching staff, will do that to a team.
But when you look at the Texas Roster, the first thing that strikes you, aside from the $130M payroll and Prince Fielder’s name, is where they come from.
Preller’s reach has been far and wide. Yu Darvish, the Japanese pitching sensation. Players from the Dominican, Cuba, Venezuela, Mexico and the Pacific Rim.
People call him ruthless in his pursuit of talent. He was on the road for 320-days scouting last year. He laughed when he talked about the 3-million miles he has on his flight cards.
Some think he is a recluse; others say pushy; some think too edgy.
The Padres think all those things factor into what the Rangers became, with the players he scouted and recommended they sign or draft.
The press conference was full of flowery phrases.
Owner Ron Fowler called him an “unknown diamond” in the Texas organization. He was an encyclopedia of knowledge about the players in the Padres organization. They expect him to lure some Rangers scouts with him.
Owner Peter Seidler said he was blown away in the first 9-hour meeting the ownership group had with Preller, about what he knew and what he thought of the franchise he would inherit. . .
CEO Mike Dee said he was the “best of the brightest minds’ they interviewed from all the young guns they brought in.
The Padres estimate they spent 100 hours over a five week span, interviewing Preller, talking to other people about him, and then meeting amongst themselves.
They had three interviews with him and believe he is the right guy. Some of the same phrases have been mentioned with the last two GMs hired here, Jed Hoyer and Josh Byrnes. Of course the people who said that, and who hired them, are all in the Padres rear-view mirror.
He’s been called a ‘maverick’, and the Padres better be right, for they have just eaten the contracts of 3-different front office people to get this guy on board.
But maybe doing things differently will work, for what has been done in shaky drafts, wasted money in the Dominican, and the failure to explore and sign Cubans-Mexicans-or Pacific Rim players, have hurt San Diego over the last decade.
2-winning seasons since their last World Series experience have led us to this point.
AJ Preller starts on the job today, with tons of information on players, a strong track record, and an attitude.
They flipped the Texas Rangers. He believes they can flip the Padres, not to be just .500, or be a wild card team, but to play in October, hopefully soon than later.
He may be a bright light. His energy in that meeting with the media lit up the room.
He won the press conference. Now the real challenge. Make the team win.