In a surprising move the San Diego Padres have named Mark McGwire their bench coach for the 2016 season. The team had reportedly been holding out for Ron Gardenhire, but in the end he declined the job and the Padres turned towards McGwire. Fox Sports reports the signing.
The former slugging first baseman was the batting coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2013-2015. He took the job in L.A. to be closer to his family, after a couple of seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals as their hitting coach. He has a great track record working with veterans and helped Joc Pederson with his swing last season in Los Angeles.
Being a bench coach is a different job that what he was used to being, however it is a step in the direction of manager. McGwire clearly has aspirations of one day becoming a Major League manager. As bench coach, McGwire will be responsible for knowing the opposing team and their tendencies. His scouting reports and experience will be vital for the Padres success.
Having a rookie manager in Andy Green, his job will be extremely difficult. Green will surely be learning on the job. He can prepare all he wants by watching video and reading reports, but actually seeing another team play the game is far more effective in formulating a plan to stop them. McGwire will need to do his homework and assist the rookie manager beyond his wildest imagination.
McGwire had a very impressive career (steroids or not) as a player. His 583 home runs is still 10th all time and he had over 1,400 career RBI’s. McGwire was a 12-time all-star, two-time World Series champion and the 1987 American League rookie of the year. His numbers are tainted by his steroid use, but he is still commonly recognized as a great hitter in the history of the game.
He will have a chance to both work with the nuances of the game as well as help Alan Zinter mentor and develop the young hitters. Having McGwire work with the young farm players as well as young players like Austin Hedges, Cory Spangenberg and Travis Jankowski in the Majors is going to be huge for the team.
McGwire already has a relationship with Matt Kemp as the two worked well together in Los Angeles while Kemp was a Dodger. He could help a slugger like Jedd Gyorko shorten up his swing. Which would be essential for Gyorko to keep having success at the Major League level. It will be nice to see McGwire work with the Padres hitters to help develop a more consistent approach at the plate. This signing might be a bit unorthodox, but would you expect anything different from a team led by A.J. Preller.