Grading the Padres: Coaching Staff

Credit: AP Photo

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In the past years, the San Diego Padres coaching staff lacked leadership and development; the team never improved.

With the disaster of the 2021 season, A.J. Preller decided to hire a whole new staff.

In 2022, for the first time in a while, the coaching staff of the Padres seemed to have control of the team. That provided much of the success that brought the Padres to the National League Championship.

Bob Melvin (Manager)- A

For the last 7-10 years, the Padres lacked the leadership that a manager brings to the table. Preller stunned many organizations and hired Bob Melvin, who was still under contract with the Oakland Athletics. In his first year with the Padres, they went 89-73 and were eliminated in five games against the Phillies in the NLCS.

Unlike many managers the Padres have had before, Melvin kept the clubhouse together and kept everyone’s confidence up. It’s clear that Bob Melvin was a huge success to this team and will be a huge success going forward. Melvin made a very controversial move; pitching Robert Suarez against Bryce Harper. That at-bat ended the Padres’ season with Bryce Harper crushing a fastball. Whatever you think about that decision, Melvin was a great manager for the 2022 Padres and will do even better next year.

Ryan Christenson (Bench Coach)- A-

In the beginning of the year, Ryan Christenson filled many roles due to Bob Melvin’s absence for health reasons. Christenson took the manager role for a small portion of 2022 and kept the team winning while Melvin was gone. It is also clear that he kept the bench and dugout in a healthy manner throughout the season. Christenson was hired because he was Bob Melvin’s bench coach in Oakland, so the two have lots of history together. Like Melvin, Christenson is a huge asset to this Padres team. 

Ruben Niebla (Pitching Coach)- A+

Ruben Niebla has been an absolute prize to the Padres. He has helped pitches improve the entire year and helped them feel comfortable. When Niebla got hired, he was first tasked to help MacKenzie Gore get back to his old self, and it did not take long. Gore put up great numbers in spring training and his shortened 2022 season. This past year, Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, Joe Musgrove, Tim Hill, and Pierce Johnson are examples of pitchers who pitched much better than in 2021. As each pitcher’s connection with Ruben Niebla gets better, you can only imagine their performance will improve as well.

Credit: AP Photo

In 2021, the Padres whole team ERA was 4.10 for the year. In 2022, it went down to 3.81 with Niebla on board. The San Diego Padres starting rotation also threw 81 quality starts (just from the names below), including 25 from Yu Darvish, 21 from Joe Musgrove, 11 from Blake Snell, 16 from Sean Manaea, six from Mike Clevinger, and two from Nick Martinez. It is safe to say the Padres pitching in 2022 was much better and was the prime reason the Padres made it as far as they did.

Michael Brdar (Hitting Coach)- B-

It is hard to grade Michael Brdar because it was reported at the beginning of the year that hitters would go to him only if they thought they needed help. However, the Padres’ at-bats and approach in 2022 are worth mentioning. The Padres were a top team in the league in drawing walks and working counts, which is surprising looking at all the taken strikes they earned. Michael Brdar is still very young, and many people in the baseball industry think highly of him. He’s adored in the industry for a reason, and he could develop the Padres hitters into much-improved players next year. 

Ben Fritz (Bullpen Coach)- A

Ben Fritz is one of the only coaches from the 2021 team to stay with the Padres in 2022. Fritz has been the Padres bullpen coach for a couple of years and has always been good at his job. Since the Padres have been contending (since 2020), their bullpen has been great and has helped the team win many games. Ben Fritz is a great coach for the Padres bullpen and the fact he is one of the only coaches that stayed after the 2021 season shows the Padres have a lot of confidence in him. 

David Macias and Matt Williams (First and Third Base Coach)-B+

The Padres were pretty solid on the base paths in 2021. These two men helped guide the Padres around the bases. Williams was a plus defender throughout his career, and you can be sure he helped solidify the infield unit. Macias worked the first base coaching box and assisted all the runners in their stolen base attempts. These two did a great job in 2022. 

Francisco Cervelli (Catching Coach)- A-

Francisco Cervelli, a former catcher in MLB, was hired this offseason as the catching coach. He did a great job with most of the catchers this year, including Austin Nola. Almost every pitcher on the Padres has said in interviews they love pitching to Austin Nola because his pitch calling involves trust and confidence. Overall, Fransico Cervelli has done a great job with Austin Nola, Jorge Alfaro, and Luis Campusano, but there is some to improve on going into 2023.

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Peter Summerville (Game Planning and Coaching Assistant)- B+

The Padres’ game planning in 2022 looked very promising, which is why they were at the top of the league with quality starts. The Padres’ game plan on the pitching levels looked really good. The pitchers on the team looked like they knew about every hitter and attacked them with the pitcher’s strengths and the hitter’s weaknesses. On the hitting side, it did not look promising all year. Sometimes it looked like the hitters did not even have a game plan and just went up and guessed the entire at bat. Now, obviously, that was not the case, but it is something to be improved going into next year.   

The Entire Coaching Staff  (overall grade)- A-

The Padres’ pitching staff in 2022 was great. The pitching was better than last year, the bullpen was better than last year, and the hitting was better than last year. Everything was improved from last year. A.J. Preller did a great job hiring a whole new staff and should be praised for that. There were some spots to be concerned about in 2022, but the Padres had a great 2022 season, and all of these coaches played a huge part in the success.

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