The San Diego Padres are still looking for a long term solution at the shortstop position, and what many don’t realize is that talent is not the only factor to take into consideration.
Luis Rodriguez, Everth Cabrera, Miguel Tejada, Jerry Hairston Jr., Cabrera (again), Jason Bartlett, Cabrera (again), Andy Parrino, Cabrera (again), Alexi Amarista, Clint Barmes, Alexei Ramirez, Luis Sardinas. What do those guys have in common? They all played shortstop for the San Diego Padres in the endless search for a player to replace Khalil Greene. None proved worthy.
Greene manned the spot from 2003 through 2008 and provided steady and, at times, brilliant defense, combined with power at the plate and a strong work ethic.
However, in an uncharacteristic show of emotion, he broke a bone in his left hand hitting a storage locker out of frustration over offensive woes in 2008.
In reaction, Padres’ CEO Sandy Alderson actually filed a grievance against his own player, and then traded him to the Cardinals. That signaled the beginning of the end of Greene’s career. Now we know that Greene suffers from social anxiety disorder, not uncommon in MLB, which made it more difficult for him to deal emotionally with the ups and downs inherent in the season.
Other teams have worked closely with players like Zack Greinke and Joey Votto, who have had similar problems. Instead of providing support, the Padres trashed their own player. San Diego hasn’t had a decent shortstop since then.
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Alderson’s punitive behavior created the void, but it his cold-hearted attitude toward a human being in pain provides a cautionary tail to the current Padres’ front office. A.J. Preller may be a great judge of talent, but he definitely lacks skill in interacting with other humans. Current Executive Chairman Ron Fowler feels quite free to engage in rants calling out players like James Shields while failing to acknowledge his own shortcomings.
With a young major league team and many teenagers in the Padres’ farm system, this organization must acknowledge the importance of the psyches of the humans who play the very difficult game of baseball.
Fortunately, Andy Green exudes concern for and interest in his charges. His passion as well as his empathy will help get the best out of this roster. But the front office needs to follow his lead in nurturing the talent that the organization depends upon to bring winning baseball back to San Diego.