It’s morning time for the rebuilding San Diego Padres.
For the last few seasons there’s been a lot of “out with the old and in with the new.” Since 2014 there has been a stream of youthfulness that has taken a hold of the franchise, starting with the hiring of a young, first-time general manager in A.J. Preller. Before the 2016 season the team hired a young, first-time manager in Andy Green, and ever since then the makeup of the roster has been getting younger and full of first-timers to the league.
Many call this the “youth movement”. Before the Preller era the Padres never seemed to show enough wisdom or patience to try an organic approach to team building and the puzzle pieces never seemed to fit. Now the team has mapped out a homegrown direction and appears to be executing it accordingly.
As the 2017 season approaches, fans are really awaiting the beginning of this experiment.
2016 was sort of the final purging of previous eras. Many big contracts were expelled and along with them, rusty veterans were dealt. Now the team is fresh and ready to be molded. The prospects are coming up through the Padres’ own ranks and that’s where a culture will begin to be formed. At last, maybe the most important factor when it comes to culture building is a team’s coaching staff. The 2017 Padres coaching staff will have the unique opportunity to be on the ground floor of tradition building in San Diego during this new era. Are the right men for the job in place?
Let’s take a look at the staff and see.
Manager Andy Green:
It’s true that in 2016, his first season as the Padres’ manager, Green led the team to a disappointing 68-94 record. He was fresh off one year of major league coaching experience in 2015 as the third base coach with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Prior to that he had four years of managing experience in the Diamondbacks’ farm system. The Padres chose the rookie Green to lead their coaching staff because they simply like him. He has a strong work ethic and a positive attitude. He also seems to share the vision of the team and always seems to look at the glass half full. Green can’t shoulder all of the blame for 2016. He had an atrocious mess to deal with in the starting rotation, as well as huge lineup overhauls. There was really no consistency in the roster in 2016 as Preller was still fine tuning at the major league level. One thing is apparent, that Green shows good character. He speaks well of his players and staff and they speak well of him. He has the respect of his team, and that means something. He also takes an aggressive approach, which was especially showcased on the base paths last season. A standout moment for Green in 2016 was on April 19 against the Pittsburgh Pirates, when he was ejected for the first time for arguing a called balk on Colin Rea that was reversed and then reinstated. It was the first instance where fans and the team got to see the passion that Green carries with him. Another was on August 6, when he chose to pull Paul Clemens off the mound early for neglecting to run out a bunt, a showing of his expectations and willingness to administer discipline. Green deserves more time to show what he can do as a manager.
Bench Coach Mark McGwire:
McGwire is also entering his second season with the Padres as bench coach. He came with a solid coaching background at the major league level, serving as the hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals from 2010-12 and with the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2013-2015. Both teams held top offensive rankings during McGwire’s tenure with them, surely in no small part to his influence. He came to the Padres filling Dave Roberts role as bench coach as they switched teams and Roberts became the Dodgers’ manager. McGwire is quite a presence and there’s no doubt that his close proximity to the players is a benefit. I mean he is Mark McGwire. He always appears to be cool and collected and seems to get along well with Green. He even got his first taste of major league managerial experience after Green was ejected on April 19. McGwire took the helm for the rest of the game.
Hitting Coach Alan Zinter:
Zinter is entering his second season as the Padres’ hitting coach. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. The Padres did not put up good offensive numbers in 2016. They had a collective batting average of .235 and an on base percentage of .299, both the worst in Major League Baseball. They did hit 177 home runs but that only placed them at #20 in the league. Like Green, Zinter entered into the 2016 after having only one previous year of major league coaching experience as the assistant hitting coach of the Houston Astros in 2015. The Padres have had somewhat of a revolving door with hitting coaches over the years. It seems prudent to give Zinter some more time to hit his stride and hopefully right the ship. He does have McGwire, who did hold two previous posts as a major league hitting coach, to glean from.
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