Padres Editorial: People Management Will Determine Success of Andy Green

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OK, the rest of the staff has written their opinions (1, 2, 3) on the hiring of heretofore unknown Andy Green as the new manager of the San Diego Padres. So far, it’s 2-1 in favor of the new skipper. Time for the old guy to chime in.

I’ve been around a long time. I’ve watched a lot of baseball, and I’ve lived a lot of life. I’ve observed a lot of people whose job it is to manage other people. There are a lot of different approaches. Some are successful, and some are really just awful.

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There was the manager who screamed at everyone when they weren’t working hard enough. She got some additional production out of people. And then some good people started to leave. And some of the others start to respond less and less to the shouting and the threats. But production stayed high until she left for a new position, perhaps in part because the turnover in employees was so high that she could continue to intimidate the newer people into higher productivity. She considered herself a success. If she had stayed past the time when people started calling her on her B.S., perhaps her legacy would have ended up considerably less shiny.

Then there was manager who wanted to be friends with all his employees. The positive work environment kept people working there for longer, and they developed more of a bond with the company, and took pride in what they were accomplishing together. But it got tough when an employee took advantage of the manager’s good nature. And it got ugly when the manager had to fire an underperforming friend. But he also felt like a success.

The best managers I’ve seen were the ones who respected their employees, and understood that different people respond to different kinds of motivation. And recognize that that can change under different circumstances. They knew which people thrived under stress and which took pride in the day-to-day consistency of their work. And they knew when and how to light a fire under somebody’s butt. Some of these managers seemed to know intuitively how to do this. Others worked hard to learn the intricacies of managing people. I would consider these people successful managers.

In baseball management, the definition of success is pretty tangible. How many games did you win? Did you get to the postseason? Did you win the World Series?

But while the results are pretty easily measurable, expectations play a large role in how “successful” a manager is. The Nationals and Twins both won 83 games this year. Their managers were by no means equally successful. Washington, favored by 40% of ESPN’s experts to win the World Series, ended up firing manager Matt Williams. The Twins, expected to finish in last place for the second year in a row, instead find skipper Paul Molitor in the discussion for AL Manager of the Year.

How will success be measured for Andy Green? If the Padres win the World Series, he’ll be a success. If they lose 100 games, he’ll be a failure. Most likely, it will be somewhere in between.

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And how he manages in-game, how he manages the pitching staff, whether or not he can keep both veterans and rookies happy enough with their playing time, whether he can maintain a harmonious clubhouse, how well he utilizes the particular skill sets the 2016 Padres end up with, these are the things that will actually determine whether or not he is a good manager. These are the qualities that will determine whether he manages in the majors for one year or thirty. If he can manage people, then the wins will come. Maybe not this year. And maybe not with the Padres. But like Bruce Bochy and Bud Black, if the people-managing skills are there, he’ll keep getting opportunities.

Do I like the Green hiring? I’ve been around long enough to know that trying to judge a man by his resume is like trying to judge a beer by its label. We know that he was Manager of the Year twice in the minors.  We’ve heard that he’s poised, well-prepared, and energetic. Those are good signs. But I’ve also read that Ballast Point Commodore Stout has won a gold medal, and that it has “strong flavors of roast coffee and bittersweet chocolate balanced with light citrusy hop aromas, highlighted by a crisp, bitter finish.” Sounds intriguing. But I’ll have to try it with a few different foods before I decide if I really like it. And I’ll have to see how Green handles his postgame interviews, how he talks about his players, and what kind of production he gets out of Wil Myers, before I’ll make a call on whether or not I like the hiring.

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