Is 2019 Andy Green’s last year with the Padres?

Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

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(AP Photo/Ralph Freso, File)

Andy Green is signed on as the San Diego Padres manager through 2021. But will he even make it to the 2020 season?

Entering this season, few people expected the Padres to compete with the Dodgers for the NL West crown seriously. Most experts picked the Padres to win 78-80 games (I picked 76) and having an outside shot at the wild card.

So the fact that they are 59-65 shouldn’t be a huge surprise.

And yet, many Padre fans are calling for Green’s ouster. They cite things like bad pitching change decisions, allegedly mishandling the clubhouse, and mostly, a losing record. But is that the right call? Are fans being too impatient, or is there something to the complaints?

To answer that question, let’s first take a look at the arguments for why Green should be retained beyond 2019. Then, we’ll consider the reasons that some say he should be dismissed when this season ends.

Keep Green:

First, the overall improvement. One year ago, they were 48-76. Before their Tuesday, August 19 game at Cincinnati, they stand at 59-65, which represents an eleven-game improvement.

Additionally, many of the young ballplayers have finally started to take their games to the next level. Just two examples:

  • Despite a low batting average, Hunter Renfroe now has a career-high 31 homers to go with improved plate discipline (36 walks in 372 at-bats, compared to 30 and 403 last year), and vastly improved defense (leads all major league outfielders with 23 DRS, and the NL in assists with 11).
  • After a slow start, Manuel Margot has finally learned to get on base (.366 OBP since the All-Star break) and steal bases (16 in 17 attempts, as opposed to 11 out of 21 last year).

If scorn is going to be heaped upon Green for things that go wrong, then surely credit is also due to the skipper for these developments.

Second, Green cannot be blamed for (most of) the Padres’ pitching woes. Critics love to point out the Padres’ pitching problems, especially the bullpen. But let’s face it: this bullpen is overworked. Badly. And the chief reason why is that the 2019 Padres lack an ace; a true stopper who can be counted on to go at least seven innings and deliver a quality start.

This was supposed to have been an offseason priority; and while the Padres were often mentioned in connection with names like Trevor Bauer, Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman, and others, a deal did not happen.

Credit: AP Photo

Meanwhile, the starters they do have are very young; Eric Lauer and Joey Lucchesi are only in their second seasons, are still learning the ropes, and typically work just four to six innings a game.

Padres management has also been very intentional about limiting the pitch counts for Chris Paddack and Dinelson Lamet, both of whom are recovering from Tommy John surgery. The same was true for Matt Strahm when he was in the rotation earlier this year.

Throw these inconvenient truths together, and you’ve got a serious problem throughout a full season.

But the fact that the Padres did not get a frontline starting pitcher cannot be laid at the feet of Andy Green; the blame for this lies with upper management.

Along these lines, fans have called for Green’s dismissal for questionable bullpen decisions. But fans are quick to forget that not only is the pitching stretched; the club is still rebuilding, and this is the best way for Green to learn just how good these pitchers are.

All of that said, let’s take a look at the other side of the coin.

Fire Green:

First, the Padres have fallen off badly since the All-Star break. As the midseason classic was being played, San Diego’s record stood at 45-45. Excitement was in the air over a possible trade for a quality starting pitcher, and fans were anticipating the possibility of their first playoff appearance in nearly a decade.

But since then, they have gone 14-20. One of the manager’s responsibilities is to keep the players motivated, as it is a long season. For a team that was treading water this late, such a fall-off is both noticeable and alarming.

Lack of disciplinary action towards Ian Kinsler. On May 16, veteran second baseman Ian Kinsler hit a three-run homer that helped them win the game. But afterward, he made obscene gestures and shouted expletives towards the fans. Nobody believed Kinsler when he said, “That was for my teammates.” 

Kinsler later recanted. But for some reason, he received no disciplinary action from his own manager—let alone Major League Baseball.

Third, a possible lack of communication. A good manager has to communicate clearly to his players what their role is. This includes having to tell a starter he is being benched, and why.

Credit: AP Photo

That does not appear to have happened with the ongoing Austin HedgesFrancisco Mejia duel for playing time behind the plate.

“There’s no reason (with) the value I bring to the field — even right now, honestly — I shouldn’t be in the lineup,” Hedges recently told the Union-Tribune. “That’s just the value I bring. That’s what I expect. But a lot of that isn’t up to me.”

Granted, Hedges also admitted that he has to play better—his batting average has been below .200 for most of the season. However, his statement that there is “no reason” why he shouldn’t be playing indicates a lack of communication about his role.

These last two items lead to the next (and biggest) reason why Green’s status could be in jeopardy:

Fourth, the question of whether Green has lost control over the clubhouse. Earlier in August, Barry Bloom of Forbes named Green as one of eight managers who could lose their jobs this year. 

“According to sources close to the team, he’s lost the clubhouse,” Bloom declared.

Upper management has denied this, but Bloom, a sports journalist with over 30 years experience,  has not backed down. He said in an August 13 tweet that his source is “unimpeachable.”

Bottom Line: Green should be excused for many (though certainly not all) of the pitching problems—even the best managers make these kinds of mistakes over a 162-game schedule. He also should not be blamed for rookies making mistakes—that happens on young teams.

But clubhouse management is an issue. Players need to know that their manager is in charge, that he won’t put up with nonsense, and that he has a steady hand. So, if Bloom’s report is true, then it could be curtains for Green. But that is a big if.

15 thoughts on “Is 2019 Andy Green’s last year with the Padres?

  1. I believe the Padres need a manager that’s going to hold all the players accountable. A manager that will be old school and demand that his players over-achieve on a daily basis. Someone like Pete Rose who always gave 100%.

    1. Hello Matt,

      It sounds like the guy you’re after, then, is Joe Girardi. I wouldn’t mind having him either, but I wonder if (a) Girardi would want to come to San Diego, and (b) if Preller would be willing to give Girardi a bigger say in what happens to the club, which a guy of Girardi’s stature would want.

    1. Hello Pete,

      Thank you for writing. I understand that Green is extended through 2021, and I mentioned that in my piece. However, it is not unheard of for managers to be ousted before their contracts are up.

  2. I’m sure Andy Green is a good man. His wife sure seems to be a great person, strong and motivated achiever type which I believe Green thinks he is. I don’t believe Andy Green is a leader of men. I don’t think his team looks at him that way. I think it is because at the end of the day he isn’t. It isn’t an easy job to direct people who are the best in the world at what they do. Think about it. I have watched every game since he took over, 162 a year, because I pay for them. Observing his body language and how his players react kind of gives it away. I’m not saying you need to be Bobby Knight, in fact that would be a disaster, these kids would punch Bobby Knight in the mouth. They are great kids, play hard and look like they are serious. The language barrier is there and that’s totally on Green. He should be fired for not anticipating and preparing. It is still an issue. Hard to manage people you can’t really talk to. He’s carrying water for the GM that sent a sore armed pitcher with fake medical records to a respected baseball GM. Green isn’t a leader of men.

    1. Hello Michael,

      That’s a very interesting insight, and it probably merits consideration from ownership.

      I recall that at the time of his hiring, everyone thought that Ron Gardenhire was the “obvious” choice; after all, he had experience managing some young Twins teams into contention. He was a known quantity. But instead, Preller went with Green, which in one sense was so Preller (i.e., unconventional).

      With rookie managers, you never know what you’re going to get. After four years of Green, the Padres now know what they have — both good and bad.

  3. A lot of what Tanned Tom says is true. AG may be a very cerebral baseball man when it comes to analytics but he lacks baseball common sense. When a guy (Hedges) goes 4 for 4 one night and then doesn’t start the next day, then I think the manager just lacks common sense. Likewise with the pitching staff. For the last several weeks, Wingenter has shown very little positive progress in his game but Green keeps putting him in the same situation night after night, and as fans we suffer the consequences. Kinsler should have been disciplined earlier this year (he may have been and we do not know) and Hedges should be talked to regarding his offensive failures. Machado should be told to hustle. Myers and Renfroe should be told either hit 275 and above or you are going to sit no matter what your salary is. Naylor and Mejia should be instructed to stop swinging at pitches that are a foot off the plate. Has Green been talking about any of these problems? If not, then Preller should find someone in the Dick Williams mold that will.

    1. Hello Matt,

      Yeah, I have wondered about some of Green’s choices (i.e., benching Hedges after going 4-for-4. And like I mentioned in the article, Green should have made a public example of Kinsler, especially on a team with so many young players. That said, there’s lots of other intangibles when it comes to the OF situation: they clearly want to play Myers with the hope that he will get hot, and so increase his trade value. They also want to see if Renfroe (and others) can work their way out of a slump. One hopes (and assumes) that Green has spoken to his players about their struggles; that’s Managing 101.

  4. Not knowing all of the politics of the organization, I am glad the hiring and firing decisions aren’t mine to make. There may be pressure on Green to keep players in the lineup to allow them to fail/succeed. There may be pressure to keep players in the lineup to showcase them for trade in the offseason. With the pitching, he is messed over no matter how he plays it. Young/recovering starters tire easily and give up the big hit in the fifth and sixth innings as professional hitters lock in on their stuff. Let them pitch and there is risk. Go to a young bullpen a lot and there is risk. No win. I think Andy Green is a gifted communicator to the press, and he seems a solid and reliable presence in the clubhouse. I do not agree with many of the lineup decisions and I think he should move guys down when they are not performing well or are poorly matched. If he fails to deliver the hard news clearly (Myers, Hedges, etc), then that is an area where he needs to improve. If he has truly lost the clubhouse, then he should go. If he has not, as management says, then give him an opportunity to manage next year with a team fully ready to compete.

    1. Thank you for your comment. I think that is very well said.

      In my mind, the single biggest determining factor of Green’s post-2019 status is whether he has “lost the clubhouse,” as the report said. Upper management knows the truth, and if he has not, then I think we will see him back next year.

    2. VA Padres: Thank you for your comment. I think that is very well said.

      In my mind, the single biggest determining factor of Green’s post-2019 status is whether he has “lost the clubhouse,” as the report said. Upper management knows the truth, and if he has not, then I think we will see him back next year.

  5. There should be no doubt to fire him.
    1) Any team that signs a star like Machado, and adds two ROY type players like Tatis and Paddack had damn well better win more games. And going from 66 to 75 will not cut it.
    2) This manager routinely leaves the starter in until they give up a big inning. The biggest in-game decision is when to pull the starter. If a guy has finished 4 innings, has given up 2 runs, and is at 80 pitches, how much longer is he going to pitch? An inning or so at the most. So there is no point not to have a quick hook with a tiring, workload-limited pitcher facing the lineup for the 3rd time. Green has no comprehension of this basic fact of staff-handling. He has managed to burn out the starters and the bullpen. Not an easy trick. But because he didn’t develop specific roles for pitchers outside of Yates and Stammen (both of whom were overworked), the whole bullpen is a mess.
    3) How can the nosedive after the 11-5 start not be the manager’s fault? With the cratering after the 45-45 first half, whose fault is it if not the manager’s?
    4) The Kinsler episode is not so important by itself, a struggling player who was getting booed at home acted out. Happens. But like everything else, Green approached this with no sense of the importance of handling it the right way, of sending a message to the younger players.
    5) Hedges or Mejia. Just read James’ recent article: “The Padres are 38-31 (.551) when Hedges starts the game. They are 18-23 (.439) when Francisco Mejia begins the contest behind the dish.” Doesn’t take a genius to figure it out. Heck, a real smart 3rd grader could manage the choice. But not Green.
    6) Green always looks tight, like he’s having no fun. The ideal manager is someone who can be both firm and engaged. Green is neither. And after 4 years he should be better at the job than he is. There has been no growth. Better to make the change after this season and turn the page.

    1. Hi Tom,

      Thanks for writing. If I may, I would like to interact with your points:
      1. Yes, the Padres had Machado, Tatis, and Paddack…but they also opened the season with a lot of holes (biggest of all being the lack of a true SP ace), and the typical unanswered questions that any rebuilding club has. Such a club is not going to be a consistent winner until those get addressed.
      2. I agree with you on part on the early hooks, especially with 2nd year guys like Lucchesi and Lauer. What’s wrong with letting them see if they can get out of that jam? That’s part of learning to play well at this level. As for Paddack, they are trying very hard to watch his pitch count.
      3. I agree that the plummeting record merits a look at whether or not you have the right manager. But I was not at all surprised that they came back down to earth after their 11-5 start. There was no way a club that young and with so many holes was going to maintain that level of play.
      4. Agreed.
      5. That is a well considered point. But given (a) Hedges’ lousy bat and (b) Mejia’s awesome talent, does it not behoove them to see what they actually have in Mejia, and to see if he can be an everyday big league catcher?
      6. Every manager is different. And, the Padres are about 10 games ahead of where they were last year, which is what most people expected. So I don’t agree that “there has been no growth.” But like you, I will be intrigued to see what happens to Green after this season.

  6. I’m not seeing a lot of positives coming from him as manager. What I do see is a very uninspired team.

    A part from some individuals here and there (usually after a win or home run), I do not see a lot of passion. I do not see any players passion about playing of AG.

    I do see many inexplicable decisions (or non-decisions) when it comes to making pitcher changes, and lineup changes.

    I do see a stubborn insistence to keep Hosmer in the lineup against lefties, despite reality (and to bat him 4th).

    If you cannot faithfully put the best team on the field, despite what a player makes per year, then you should not be in leadership (this included AJ, and AG).

    1. Hello Tommy,

      Thanks for writing. It’s interesting that you don’t see a lot of passion. I do (especially from Josh Naylor), but then, that’s very subjective.
      As for the “inexplicable decisions,” let’s not forget that they lost 96 games just a year ago; they’re still rebuilding, and so this year, Green is trying to separate the wheat from the chaff. At this point, I think Green has a much better idea of what kind of club he has.
      I agree with you on starting Hosmer against so many LHP’s, let alone batting him so high in the order. At this point, we know that Hosmer is what he is, and his strengths and weaknesses (like hitting against LHP’s) are well-known. So yeah, what an opportunity to start Myers or even Mejia at 1B on those days.

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