Morning Coffee with Mark Whelan: Maybe The Padres Losing to Dodgers was a Good Thing


Jul 13, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Dee Gordon (9) is greeted by teammate Adrian Gonzalez (23) after scoring on Yasiel Puig

This weekend’s series with the Dodgers was… ARRRGGGHHHHH! No words are adequate to describe it, so maybe just a big loud frustrated noise will express it best. As frustrating as it was, however, perhaps it was the best thing that could have happened to the Padres. Perhaps not for the 2014 team, but for the organization.

It has been a little over three weeks since Mike Dee and Ron Fowler fired GM Josh Byrnes. When a team fires a GM mid-season, that’s a little different from firing a manager mid-season. If a team fires a manager mid-season, the front office usually thinks the team should be performing better than they are, and that it’s the manager’s fault. There is often hope that a new manager will bring a new energy to a team, and that the team will begin to play better. When a team fires its GM mid-season, the front office feels that the system is broken, and it is about more than just that season. They’re looking for a change in direction.

But the front office hasn’t been acting like it’s looking for a change in direction. So far, they’re acting like they were disappointed with the team’s performance, and they’re hoping the team will begin to play better. As in this year. We’re getting contradictory messages about who might be traded. We’re extending player contracts. Why is the team making long term decisions when the person who will be responsible for the long-term success of the organization isn’t a member of the organization yet?

The fact that a number of candidates for the position have publicly removed themselves from consideration for the position, some even before they interviewed, raises suspicion about the impression the owners are making on these candidates. When was the last time you interviewed for a job, and removed yourself from consideration without an offer even being made? There must have been something about the position that really pushed the wrong buttons for you. We’re talking about a job that there are only 30 of in the world, and it’s the job that most of these candidates want to move into. But not this one, not the Padres job.

What is the problem? What made A.J. Hinch, Omar Minaya, David Forst, Mike Chernoff, and Michael Girsch, all Assistant GMs who presumably aspire to the GM position, all either decline interviews or withdraw from consideration? Each may have his own reasons, but that’s a lot of people who are just saying no.

One reason may be the indecisiveness of the front office about this year. GMs want to know that they will have control of the reins. They want to be the one making the baseball decisions. And they want ownership that has a vision that they can buy into.

The Padres’ current ownership doesn’t seem to have enough vision to decide what to do this year. And the focus on the present may be clouding their vision of the future. So maybe, just maybe, losing three-of-four to the Dodgers in a series where the Padres pitching staff allowed a total of seven runs, and having three days over the All-Star break to reflect on that, will remind the owners that it is the long-term goal that is important, and will remind them of why they fired Josh Byrnes in the first place. And maybe that will allow them to forget about this year, re-establish some credibility within the group of potential candidates for the GM position, and look out for the long-term good of the Padres.