San Diego Padres fire another coach

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 05: Coach Ramon Vazquez
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 05: Coach Ramon Vazquez /

A month before the season ended, San Diego Padres’ manager Andy Green announced that Alan Zinter had been dismissed from his job as the teams’ hitting coach. As of Wednesday, Ramon Vazquez, who played for San Diego from 2002-2004 and served as the infield coach this season, will follow him out the door.

Since the arrival of general manager A.J. Preller and Green, the Padres have presided over a veritable revolving door of coaches. Only pitching coach Darren Balsley and third base coach Glenn Hoffman, both holdovers from previous regimes, have had any measure of job security. The turnover at the position of first base coach has been particularly alarming, with three different coaches in three years: Jose Valentin, Tarrik Brock, and Johnny Washington.

In 2016 San Diego began the season with Hoffman and Balsley as well as Mark McGwire (bench coach), Alan Zinter (hitting coach), Tarrik Brock (first base coach), Doug Bochtler (bullpen coach), and Eddie Rodriguez who filled several roles. In October, the team showed Brock and Rodriguez the door.

This year Vazquez joined the coaching staff along with Washington and Jon Matthews as outfield coach. When the Padres hired Vazquez, Green told the San Diego Union Tribune’s Dennis Lin, “He communicated his passion for infield play very, very well, his handle of technique very, very well.” Green also praised his connection to the Latin players. Apparently, all those skills evaporated over the season.

So far, Washington and Matthews still have their jobs but probably shouldn’t be making long-range plans to stay in San Diego. When the Padres announced that Zinter had been fired, general manager A.J. Preller said: “You don’t want to get in a situation where you have constant turnover” (Lin, SDUT).  But the decision on Vazquez’ fate indicates the merry-go-round ride will continue.

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Under Preller, the Padres have given the coaches (except for Balsley and Hoffman) very little time to make their marks. Vazquez, who played nine seasons in the major leagues, barely got nine months on the job. And he wasn’t exactly working with players like Brandon Crawford, Nolan Arenado or Javier Baez.  What could the front office possibly expect from a roster of very young players and a payroll of $28 million, less than that of Dodger pitcher Clayton Kershaw’s yearly salary ($33 million)?

Expecting miracles from this roster and giving coaches very limited amounts of time to reach the players makes absolutely no sense.   The resulting coaching carousel does not allow for any continuity in message, which should be a top priority for a young team. And this track record certainly won’t help the Padres attract elite and sought-after coaches.

Next: Andy Green’s second year

At this point, only Green has some assurance of his status, as the Padres announced in August that his contract has been extended through 2021. But one has to wonder: if coaches can be blamed for player performance, why does the guy in charge of the entire on-field operation get a pass?