Fresh off the heels of an abysmal 2015 season, it was pretty clear there was going to be a shake up in the Padres organization. Nowhere is that as evident as it is in the coaching staff. Immediately following the conclusion of the season, it was made clear by general manager A.J. Preller that interim manager Pat Murphy would not be returning for 2016.
In his place, after quite an extensive search, Preller hired former Arizona Diamondback player and coach Andy Green. As part of his staff only two Padre coaches remain from last year, pitching coach Darren Balsley and 3rd base coach Glenn Hoffman, with new additions in bench coach Mark McGwire, 1st base coach Tarrik Brock, hitting coach Alan Zinter, bullpen coach Doug Bochtler, and finally Eddie Rodriguez. What follows is a little back round on the new, and old, members of the Padres 2016 coaching staff and what each individual member brings to the table for the Padres.
Manager: Andy Green
At the head of the Padres new coaching staff is of course new manager Andy Green. Following the firing of the long-tenured Bud Black in June of last season, Triple A manager Pat Murphy lead the team for the remainder of the year. Following the change, not much changed for the Padres at the big league level, so Murphy was not brought back as the manager for 2016. Instead, the Padres front office initiated a search for a new manager to lead the team, culminating in the hiring of Andy Green.
Coming off a third base coaching stint with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Green has some coaching experience at the minor league level. After playing for the Diamondbacks, and in Japan, on and off between 2004-2009, Green coached at the minor league level between 2012-2014. In 2012, Green led Missoula Osprey, the D’backs rookie league affiliate, to a Pioneer League Championship. Following that, Green had a two-year stint with the Mobile Baybears, the Double A affiliate for the Arizona Diamondbacks. In his two years in Mobile, Green won back-to-back Manager of the Year awards for the Southern League, and also led the team to consecutive first and second half division titles.
In choosing Andy Green over the likes of Ron Gardenhire and other veteran skippers, A.J. Preller and company made it clear that they favored youth over experience in choosing the Padres new manager. At only 38 years old, Green represents that desire for youth very well, as he became the youngest manager in all of baseball upon his hiring. Above all else, Green brings an extensive knowledge of defense and defensive shifting, as the D’backs led all of baseball in defensive runs saved last year under Green’s instruction. With defense being one of the Padres greatest weaknesses in 2015, Green makes a huge amount of sense for the Padres.
Pitching Coach: Darren Balsley
Despite the firing of his longtime running mate Bud Black, Andy Green has elected to bring back long tenured Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley. Balsley has been in that position since 2003, originally with former Padres skipper Bruce Bochy, and has been in various roles within the game for years prior. Credited with turning around the Padres pitching staff during his tenure, Balsley has had wild success throughout the last 12 years. Despite a down year last season for the Padres staff, Balsley is still one of the best in the business and brings an advanced knowledge of the game.
Bench Coach: Mark McGwire
Next up is a new addition under new manager Andy Green, former Major Leaguer Mark McGwire. With the departure of Dave Roberts, who signed on to be the Dodgers new manager, McGwire was tabbed as his replacement due to his strong knowledge of the game. McGwire began his coaching career in 2010 with the St. Louis Cardinals, operating in that role from 2010-2012 and overseeing one of the top offenses in the entire league during that span. McGwire then spent two years in the same role with the Los Angeles Dodgers, to similar success, before being hired on to be the Padres new bench coach. It appears McGwire intends to one day be a manager himself, however he should bring a strong presence on the bench for the Padres next season.
Hitting Coach: Alan Zinter
Another new addition is Alan Zinter, who replaces former hitting coach Mark Kotsay, who took a job as the bench coach for the Oakland Athletics for the 2016 season. Zinter played two full seasons in the big leagues, in 2002 with the Houston Astros and in 2004 with the Arizona Diamondbacks, and also played a year in the Nippon Professional Baseball League.
Zinter played a full fourteen seasons in the minors before being finally called up in 2002. Zinter has had several stops after starting his coaching career in 2008, most notably serving as the hitting coach for several D’back minor league affiliates, the minor league hitting coordinator for the Cleveland Indians and, most recently, the assistant hitting coach for the Houston Astros. Zinter brings over 25 years of minor league and major league playing and coaching experience and has had quite a bit of success in a variety of different places to this point.
1st Base Coach: Tarrik Brock
Next on the list of new coaches is new first base coach Tarrik Brock, who replaces Jose Valentin who was previously in that role for the last several years. Brock began his coaching career in 2006 with the Ogden Raptors. Following his one year stint there, Brock was the outfield and baserunning coordinator from 2007-2013. He worked as the Astros 1st base coach for one year in 2014 before joining the Padres organization as a minor league coordinator for the 2015 season. Now Brock will serve as the new 1st base coach going forward, a position he thrived in during his one year with the Astros organization.
3rd Base Coach: Glenn Hoffman
The last returning member of the Padres coaching staff will be 3rd base coach Glenn Hoffman. Hoffman has been in the Padres organization as a coach since after the conclusion of the 2015 season, and will now be working under his 3rd manager in San Diego.
Following an eight year playing career, Hoffman spent eight years in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization during the 90s as both a manager and as a fielding instructor. Hoffman even spent just over half a season as the Los Angeles Dodgers manager in the 1998 season, then serving as the 3rd base coach for the seven seasons to follow before his most recent stint with the Padres. Hoffman has always been well-respected in his role with the Padres and should continue to do good work going forward.
Bullpen Coach: Doug Bochtler
Yet another new addition to the staff is new bullpen coach Doug Bochtler, who will replace Willie Blair in that role. Bochtler pitched in parts of six seasons in the Majors, from 1995-2000, and spent time in four organizations, including the San Diego Padres. Originally part of the trade that sent both Andy Ashby and Brad Ausmus to San Diego, Bochtler is perhaps most notable for helping Trevor Hoffman with his changeup during his short time with the Padres. Bochtler spent the last four to five years working in various pitching coach jobs throughout the minor leagues, and brings a deep knowledge of pitching to the Padres bullpen.
Miscellaneous: Eddie Rodriguez
Finally, the Padres announced the hiring of Eddie Rodriguez in an unspecified role. Rodriguez will likely serve in many different capacities for the Padres for the 2016 season, helping out where needed. Rodriguez was originally a coach, scout and manager in the Angels organization for 11 years from 1983-1993, before joining the Blue Jays as a minor league instructor from 1994-2000. Rodriguez has also coached in the Mariners, D’backs, Expos, and Nationals organizations, and also managed Team USA during the 2009 Baseball World Cup. Rodriguez brings decades of baseball and coaching experience to the Padres and should be a vital part of the 2016 staff.