Padres Editorial: What I would do as Padres Manager


You may have heard by now that the Padres have an open Managerial Position. The game on the business side keeps getting younger and younger, most recently David Stearns named the Brewers GM at 30 years old. Yet the managing side of the game still largely resides with former players. Of the four teams who made it to the Championship series, all four had some sort of professional baseball experience. Still, I would like to throw my own name in the Padres mix and I have a few ideas on how to improve the Padres.

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First of all, let’s throw away the idea that you need to be a former long-respected player to manage. Terry Collins only got to AAA, John Gibbons played all of 10 games in the majors, and Joe Maddon spent 4 seasons in A ball before moving to the bench. So while I have no professional managing experience, perhaps that is exactly what the next revolution in coaching will be?

In my own professional career, I have long been the youngest manager in a company and have learned to manage different ages and experience levels quite adeptly. I work in sales so certainly the personalities and egos are strong.

Here are five things I would do if given the chance to manage the San Diego Padres in 2016:

1) Reinforce the leadership that is already in place. Matt Kemp and James Shields were the vocal leaders for the Padres in 2015 in talk and action, and I don’t expect this to change much for 2016. A good manager is able to drop his own ego and guide these two players to do the bulk of the heavy lifting. I would meet with them in the off-season to make sure we are on the same page of our team vision and run with them together all season long. I think Pat Murphy and Bud Black did a good job with this but I would ensure they were given all possible opportunities to lead.

2) Take the blame and stand up for the players. I have long railed about how a good ejection is when the manager gets ejected to stand up for his player, not simply for arguing balls and strikes. I grew up watching Bobby Cox of the Atlanta Braves, and while he had a temper all to himself, his primary cause for all of those ejections was standing up for his players an to keep them for getting ejected. He always defended his players to the press and when he didn’t – like John Rocker after his comments in 1999 – you knew that player was on his way out of town. While I appreciated the intensity that Murphy brought and did get ejected more often than Black – I would make sure my players knew I stood behind them at all costs.

3) Not be married to playing veterans just because. Look at what Bruce Bochy has done with the Giants and in particular their pitching staff. While Tim Lincecum struggled, he was able to move him in and out of the rotation as needed without producing a sulky player who demanded a trade somewhere else. It seems like every time they get to the World Series they have a new closer, from Brian Wilson to Sergio Romo to Santiago Casilla. While I am not suggesting moving players on a whim, I have no problem playing Austin Hedges over Derrick Norris if the performance warranted that. More specifically I would be inclined to play Wil Myers more at first base in lieu of Yonder Alonso and play Travis Jankowski in center field.

4) Challenge Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner to step up themselves as leaders. Tyson Ross is seen as bit of a stoic guy, but that doesn’t mean he can’t become more of an emotional team leader. Look at the growth of Marcus Mariota as quarterback both while at the University of Oregon and now in the NFL with the Tennessee Titans. He came to Eugene as a shy player with maximum ability. He left as a Heisman winner as well as emotional and vocal leader. Players latch on to players who care this much.

5) 24/7 Vision of a Championship. There is a lot that can be said of positive thinking, but when a goal is stated over and over it becomes ingrained in a culture. The Padres have not had much winning of late – and I do believe that one major success of the talent that A.J. Preller brought in a year ago was not just the talent he brought but the history of success those player had. Matt Kemp, Derek Norris, Justin Upton, James Shields had all recently been in the playoffs in 2013 or 2014. They knew what successful teams did day in and day out and were able to bring that approach to their new team and many players that have never been to the playoffs before. Another year to bring this formula to the table will reap dividends.

There is a lot more in the details – but by following these principles I would guarantee more success than this season for the Padres organization. I remember when Ozzie Guillen was asked about the Marlins when they got their splashy new uniforms what he thought of them. He responded by saying they look great if they win and ugly if they lose.

Hiring an inexperienced young manager would have the same consequences for the Padres. If it works – it’s the work of genius. If it fails – it was the worst decision ever.

I for one am willing to take that gamble. Just waiting for a call from A.J. Preller.

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