When you manage a team with high expectations, there is bound to be criticism. Andy Green of the San Diego Padres is no different, as his team has played well early in this 2019 season and he has been under the microscope.
The injury to San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis, Jr. forced manager Andy Green to alter his lineup. Tatis, Jr. is the team’s everyday shortstop, but his IL status will keep him out for “Several weeks” according to manager Andy Green.
Tatis, Jr. injured his hamstring while stretching out to catch a throw while stepping on second base during the series finale against the Washington Nationals on April 28. The throw forced him to do the splits. He laid on the ground in pain before walking off the field. He walked off without assistance.
The Padres’ next game was against the Atlanta Braves on April 29, the start of a four-game series. Green had plenty of options to fill the vacancy left by Tatis, Jr. He has a Gold Glove winner in Manny Machado, who has experience playing at shortstop. Machado’s everyday position is third base. Moving Machado over to short creates a vacancy at third.
Luckily, Green still has options. Ty France, who was recently called up from Triple-A El Paso but has seen minimal playing time, had spent significant time at third base while playing in the minors. In addition, he had been showing off his power while at El Paso before being called up. That doesn’t necessarily equate to him becoming the next Aaron Judge upon debuting in the majors, but one would think a manager would at least want to give France the opportunity to show what he can do at the top level.
This seems like the lineup that would make the Padres most competitive. However, this didn’t happen. Instead, Green kept Machado at third. He inserted Greg Garcia, a player acquired in the offseason to serve in a utility role but has spent most of his career at second base, at short. Second base was manned by Ian Kinsler who, according to Fangraphs, is currently the worst player in baseball.
Garcia’s inexperience showed during the game, and it was a major contributor to San Diego’s 3-1 loss in their opening game against Atlanta. In the third inning, Braves pitcher Mike Soroka laid down a bunt that went to first baseman Eric Hosmer. Instead of throwing to first to complete the sacrifice attempt, Hosmer saw a chance to throw out Johan Camargo at second.
The throw wasn’t perfect, but still playable. Garcia did not play it correctly, and it traveled into centerfield. Camargo scored from first, and Soroka was able to advance to third on the blunder. He later scored, giving Atlanta a 2-1 lead.
Later in the game, Green moved Machado over to short in a double switch. Machado made a magnificent play while at the position. If only he had started the game at short. Even if Camargo isn’t thrown out, the ball likely doesn’t go into the outfield. This is all hindsight, of course, but Machado should have been the obvious choice to start the game at short.
This is not an attempt to smear Andy Green or relegate his performance during his short time as the Padres’ manager. This is simply to show how managerial decisions impact the outcome of a game.
This one incident is not the only time Green’s decision making has costed the Padres a win. In that series finale against Washington, Joey Lucchesi gave up five runs over four innings in San Diego’s 7-6 loss. Lucchesi looked defeated on the mound after giving up four runs in the third inning.
Green left Lucchesi in, and the Nationals seized the opportunity to tie the game, setting them up for the chance to salvage a win in the series. The Padres had a 6-0 lead and their foot on the Nationals’ throat. They looked determined to finish a road sweep. That was erased in two innings.
This season is supposed to be an evaluation year, but the Padres are done tanking. This team is determined to compete in 2019 and send a message that they are done being the punching bag of the National League. The Padres aren’t contenders just yet, but the young arms have performed better than expected, and the position players on the roster have potential to sneak this team into the postseason.
None of that happens if Green doesn’t make decisions to give his team the best chance to win day after day. Inserting Kinsler, with his .134 batting average and 24 wRC+, into the lineup each day doesn’t do that. Not putting the best defensive player available at short prevents that. Keeping a young starting pitcher in too long when he is struggling doesn’t do that. It will only guarantee another losing season and a favorable draft position in 2020.