The Padres need someone like Rays VP of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, shown here talking to Rays manager Joe Maddon. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Weekend Coffee with James Krueger: Why Doesn't Anyone Want to Come to San Diego?

A little bit ago we fired Josh Byrnes. Good. We don’t need to be drafting any more football players.

This opens up a whole world of possibilities, with the importance that GMs have on the sport. It gives the Padres a chance to scoop up one of the top analytical minds on the frontier of advancing baseball, like Michael Girsch of the St. Louis Cardinals. With a team loaded in prospects on their way to playing in one of the most beautiful stadiums in baseball, one would think San Diego is a prime destination for lower level front office staff to come make their name.

But it hasn’t been that easy. Girsch wanted nothing to do with us, and so have most other candidates. We’ve interviewed seven candidates and six have declined. AJ Hinch declined the job before he was even approached. People are avoiding the position like there’s no tomorrow, and no serious top mind has had any interest in hopping on board.

In the meantime there’s a three headed monster of a GM making the decisions, led by former Expos and Mets GM Omar Minaya. In case you haven’t heard of his incompetence from the role, Minaya traded for Bartolo Colon and sent just a few prospects in return; Cliff Lee, Brandon Philips and Grady Sizemore. Here’s a list of his moves made with the Mets, to add to the egregious moves.

Everyone wants Kim Ng. And don’t get me wrong, hiring a woman would be great for the Padres and the sport of baseball. She even has experience as an assistant GM in the division, with the Dodgers. People talk about how smart she is, her inquisitive mind. She has great experience dealing with the minors, trades, transactions and winning arbitration cases.

Yet where is the analysis? Where are the advanced statistics? The predictive models? I’m in no way trying to bash Ng, and she would be a good choice, but we need a home run choice. We need an Andrew Friedman, who turned the Rays from perennial laughingstock to perennial championship contender. Or a Mark Shapiro, who developed DiamondView, an advanced model that many teams have replicated since, though not as well. Maybe even a Theo Epstein or Jed Lunhow, who have built completely stacked farm systems through new methods of scouting, who will lead their teams to the playoffs for years to come.

Maybe this great mind isn’t in baseball yet. It could be time to expand the search. Friedman came out of Wall Street. Economists practice similar techniques to GMs, maybe we should be looking there. Many teams are starting to have internship opportunities in analytics departments, maybe we should start doing the same to find one. Or even look at local colleges for young talent.

The Padres don’t need to be hiring another “bridge GM” or worse, take a step backwards and bring back Kevin Towers. We need a GM who can lead the field, set the standard for running a team. It’s time to stop messing around with gimmicky moves, or quite frankly anything that isn’t the right move. If we can just convince someone to come to the beautiful city of San Diego to run a team full to the brim with great prospects (it really shouldn’t be this hard) there’s no reason to think the Friars aren’t going to be a serious contender in a short time. As long as the ownership and management give the new hire enough free room to roam, the next great front office core could be happening right here.

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  • ballybunion

    Well, I, for one, am not taking it personally. Girsch has been with the Cards since he graduated from college, was the first director of the Cards’ online evaluation program, and has been assistant GM since 2011 – the year the Cards won it all. In 3 years, the team has made it to the World Series twice. He’s settled in St. Louis with his family, so why move now?

    David Forst of Oakland is Billy Beane’s right hand man, having helped build the current team. Why leave now and do it over in San Diego, without tasting the success first?

    Omar Minaya is a New Yorker, and so is his own family. He needed the Padres job to keep his hand in the business, but his family didn’t need a cross-country transplant. This is just a way-station for him until he can get back to the East Coast.

    Mike Chernoff in Cleveland got his first job with the Indians as an intern and worked his way up, under then GM Mark Shapiro, a fellow Princeton grad. Chernoff just relocated from the east coast to Cleveland last year. The prospect of leaving his mentor and relocating his family at this time is what took him out of the running.

    Jason McLeod is a local who started with the Padres and followed Theo Epstein and Larry Lucchino to Boston (along with Mike Dee). He then followed his boss in Boston, Jed Hoyer, back to San Diego, and followed him and Theo to Chicago for the mother of all rebuilding jobs. He’s smack dab in the middle of that, and like David Forst, wants to stick it out.

    Now A.J. Hinch has taken himself out of the running. He was up for the Cubs’ MANAGER job, but was beaten out by the Padres’ own bench coach. Imagine if he interviewed and didn’t get the job? The relationship with the new GM who does win would have made A.J.’s position untenable here. He has better employment chances staying on and maybe being considered as an in-house replacement for Bud Black!

    In short, all the guys who have turned down the interview have unfinished business where they are or just settled in where they are, making the timing of a job/family relocation unworkable. They’re just not ready to grab the CHANCE of an opportunity at this point in their careers, and that’s all the Padres are offering, a preliminary interview.

    Let’s not develop some kind of inferiority complex over people declining a promotional interview. The timing of Josh Byrnes’ firing has far more to do with it than any imagined failings of the franchise, ownership or City. So chill out, dudes!