The Padres seem to be unlikely to keep Pat Murphy as manager for 2016 and beyond. The team is 41-50 since Murphy was hired – worse than the 32-33 under Bud Black. For 2016 and beyond, there is no better candidate than former Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire.
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In a recent interview with the Mighty 1090, Padres beat writer Corey Brock listed Mark Kotsay and Alex Cora as possible candidates. He added that Ron Washington was his number one pick for the position. FriarsOnBase’s Nick Wilson proposed Jason Varitek for the job. While Washington would be a decent choice the other three are flawed for this team.
Pat Murphy was well respected, but in the minor leagues. There appears to be a bad and inconsistent vibe from the team. If Varitek, Kotsay, Cora, or any would-be first-time manager were to be hired, that manager would have to gain the respect of those in the clubhouse. That hasn’t worked this year and probably won’t in 2016. The Padres really need an authoritative presence in their clubhouse. The next skipper needs to already be respected across Major League Baseball and have instant credibility as a leader.
Two-time AL Pennant winner Ron Washington would be a good choice. So too would be Rick Renteria, who elevated the Cubs above expectations in his one year as manager. Renteria also served in the Padres organization in both the minor leagues and from 2008 to 2013 in the majors.
But no other candidate has the resume of Ron Gardenhire. In the early and mid-2000s, two organizations consistently performed above what was expected on paper: the Oakland A’s and the Minnesota Twins. In 13 years of managing, Gardenhire has finished in the top three in Manager of the Year seven times, including winning the award in 2010. He elevated his teams to become more than the sum of their parts – the mark of a truly good skipper. The Twins captured the AL Central six times under his leadership, despite a changing roster that never included a big budget. The teams were always fundamentally sound and played as a cohesive unit. The fourth and fifth place finishes during his last few seasons were from a lack of talent rather than direction.
Gardenhire is ready to manage again in 2016, according to FoxSports’ Ken Rosenthal. For years, Gardenhire was in the debate for best manager in MLB, along with Joe Torre, Tony LaRussa, Bobby Cox, and Mike Scioscia. The former Twins manager will turn only 58 years-old in October. There is a lot of baseball left in Ron Gardenhire; let us hope it is in San Diego.