Though new manager Andy Green hasn’t explicitly talked about it, the theme that he is much different than Bud Black is coming through loud and clear. For the Padres first full workout Wednesday, that decibel level was raised literally as the Padres had a team selected playlist that went throughout the entire Peoria practice complex.
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Green addressed his players and let them know that he sees himself more as the rudder on this Padres ship, and that he is counting on them to step up and lead themselves. Said Green: “For me, it was about them taking ownership of this club. Them understanding it’s been a players’ game, it’s always been a players’ game and always will be a players’ game. If we’re going to be great, they’ve got to rise up and lead.”
Rise up and lead. I love this philosophy and the more I listen to Green the more I believe he is the right man for the job. The Padres last season had the highest of expectations, and certainly that stress likely affected many of the key players who were also playing together for the first time. Now, the core group from last year is still in tact (except for Justin Upton) and catcher Derek Norris already feels the difference in camp:
“We have music down on the fields even this year. He brings an energy, he’s energetic, he’s positive. He doesn’t think about what’s the worst that could happen.”
Padres President Mike Dee addressed those failed expectations head on but also let on his plan not to rebuild but to build around the players that are still with the Padres like Matt Kemp, James Shields, and Tyson Ross:
"“Clearly we had higher expectations than what were realized last year. But there were significant strides made in the organization,” Dee said. “There was a lot of interest, I think it’s fair to say, in parts of that core group from other teams. But our decision was to stay the course with this major league group and try to improve the team. We believe this is a roster that can compete.”"
The music is a nice symbol of that new empowerment Green is giving to this players. He is young. He did play in the Major Leagues. Perhaps the fact that he is the second youngest manager in baseball does help him connect with his players in a way that Pat Murphy and Bud Black before him could not.
For the moment, anything is possible and there is no reason to suggest the Padres won’t win the World Series this year. Of course, it is a long time from February 24th to the end of the World Series. The Padres need a strong spring to shore up some bullpen, rotation, and outfield holes but a whole month+ to do that. In Full Season 2 of the A.J. Preller era, the Padres are trying to build a champion. Let the 2016 Padres season begin.