AJ Preller and the front office did not hesitate to make a decision on the San Diego Padres’ future Manager with the season coming to an end. Preller spoke on the Mighty 1090 only a few days before stating that they would let the season play out and make a decision once the last game has been played. They did just that.
On Monday morning, it was officially announced that Pat Murphy would not be the future manager of the San Diego Padres. Most fans would probably be relieved to hear this, considering the way the team played under Murphy. Murphy ended the season with a 42-54 record. Sure, it could be argued that Murphy was not set up to succeed, but that seems more of an excuse at this point.
The truer statement or assessment is that the Padres probably made some haste decisions when letting Bud Black go after only 63 games played into the season. Black was fired after sailing San Diego to a 31-32 record. Hindsight is 20-20, but it may have been a good idea to let Black continue to sail the ship to the season’s end to get a clear idea of what this team could have accomplished in 2015. By releasing him so early in the season, with not a terrible record and not too far back in the standings, seems like AJ gave up on the season. One would only expect the team to go into a tailspin without an established Manager who can guide the team through the natural ups-and-downs of a season. If AJ was going to fire Bud in the middle of the season, than that means he thought about it before the season. His explanation was that he wanted to ‘give Bud a chance,’ considering he had never had a team as talented as the 2015 San Diego Padres. Then why wouldn’t you let him finish out the season?
AJ Preller got a ton of new talent this offseason, primarily on the offensive side. Most thought that would be good enough, considering the Padres had a top-5 pitching staff (and bullpen) in 2014. Adding some bats to a difficult PETCO Park seemed to be the antidote to a historically anemic offense. Pat Murphy claims that the expectations for the 2015 Padres may have been a little higher than what was realistic. Truth to be told, the Padres got more out of a team in 2014 with worse players than they had in 2015. What was AJ really expecting with Pat Murphy? He heard that the Milwaukee Brewers were interested so that must have meant Murph was good enough to be the leader of the team. Now Pat Murphy has pretty much been alienated from the organization and will more than likely not return as the Triple-A coach.
So where does that leave the Padres and what are their plans moving forward? Well one thing we know is that the team needs a new manager. They need a new leader and a new personality. Not that Bud Black was not a ‘personality,’ it is just he did not have a strong-enough personality. This Padres team has a lot of ‘big name’ players and those kind of players need to be managed a certain way. It would not be smart to throw in a first-time manager to a team like this. What this team needs is an established coach who can impose his will on a team with a lot of egos.
The next move for the Padres is to determine who is gong to fit that personality. There are a couple of coaches that come to mind and we will try to asses them here now. One that comes to mind is Ron Washington, former Manager of the Texas Rangers. Washington took the Rangers to the World Series twice, and was a missed-catch away from winning one against the St. Louis Cardinals just a few years ago. The guy is as old-school as they come and will definitely be a change of pace in relation to what the Padres have known the last decade with Bud Black. Washington also has a connection with AJ Preller, as Preller worked for the Texas Rangers organization for many years.
Other names that have been brought up are former Padres’ Third Basemen Phil Nevin, former Red Sox Jason Varitek, and Sandy Alomar Jr. Even more under the radar is San Francisco Giants Third-base coach Tim Flannery. Flannery held the same coaching position when he was with the Padres under then-manager Bruce Bochy. When Bochy left for the bay area, Flannery went with him. He could be a sleeper pick, especially considering his extended familiarity with the NL West, working with the Giants and the Padres over the past 2-decades. He also has been a part of an organization that won 3 World Series in a span of 5 years and has some familiarity with the Padres.
Then there are the local guys in Mark Kotsay and Dave Roberts. Both are on the current staff and had pretty successful Major League careers. That doesn’t necessarily translate into good coaches, although they have both been valuable to the Padres. Dave Roberts had a brief opportunity as the interim coach but went 0-1 in his one opportunity. Kotsay is in his first year as the hitting coach, so may not have enough experience. Realistically, the 2016 Padres may be looking at an entirely new staff and these two fine gentlemen may not have a job next year.
The Padres front office needs to make moves quick if they want to put 2015 behind them and move forward. They need to get a personality in the organization quick to start putting his stamp on the team. Maybe the Pad’s are waiting for the Playoffs to end so they can pick their guy from one of the lucky teams, but either way they need to make something happen as soon as possible.