The 2015 season for the San Diego Padres has not exactly gone to plan. Executives within the team and Padres fans in general had very high hopes for this team. Manager Bud Black came into the season with all eyes on him. Being that he was in the last year of his contract, the team was in full evaluation mode in regards to Black.
In the end his demeanor or baseball philosophies were not on the same level as new general manager A.J. Preller. He was let go on June 15th after starting the season with a 32-33 record. He finishes his Padres tenure at 649-713 with only two winning seasons under his belt in his nine managed. The team wanted to go in a new direction and that is exactly what they did.
Bud Black was extremely popular within the local media and San Diegans in general. He graduated from San Diego State University and his loss was big for a team that had him at the helm for nearly a decade. With that change, naturally comes a bit of a hangover. The team stumbled out of the box with Pat Murphy as manager and his future with the team seems cloudy at best.
Pat Murphy has learned on the job as Padres manager. With that being said, he hasn’t done a horrible job, but he seems a bit overwhelmed from time to time. The passion and heart he brings to the team are valuable and he clearly knows how to motivate his players. He would be considered a “players manager” if you wanted to put a label on him. That managerial style is probably what the Padres covet in a manager due to the high veteran presence.
Pat Murphy has an outside chance to be retained as manager. He has fit in very well, but something tells Padres fans that the team seeks a more notable manager. The Padres have gone big in their attempt to gain a reputation as a solid franchise. For their search for a new manager, they will likely use the same approach.
There are many big names out there to choose from. Whether its Ozzie Guillen, Rich Renteria or Dusty Baker, the Padres have a chance to hire whomever they want. They will take their time and make this important decision as soon as possible. I would imagine the team will make a managerial move within the first few weeks of the off-season. They have some tinkering to do with the roster and a potential new manager would need to be in place. The new skipper would have a great say in improving this team. That you can count on.
Ozzie Guillen would be an interesting choice for the team. He brings a lot of passion to the game and with him at the helm the team would have accountability for their play. His antics and personality might not be the best fit for the city and its fans. Dusty Baker has a great reputation working with hitters and veteran players. He seems to get the most out of his veterans but has been criticized often for his use of pitchers. He tends to lean heavily on them and refuse to baby them. That could be a good thing or a bad thing for this potent Padres pitching staff. The risk might not be worth the reward with Dusty. Rich Renteria would be an interesting choice being that he has a past with the team. He served as the teams bench coach and is well aware of the Padres history. Renteria was fired after one season as the Chicago Cubs manager and replaced with Joe Maddon. He could be interviewed but probably does not have the name the Padres seek.
Two current Major League managers would be of interest to the Padres if they are let go by their respected teams. Brad Ausmus and Matt Williams are both reportedly on the hot seat. The Detroit Tigers were expected to once again win the American League Central division but the team fell flat and was out of contention by late July. General Manager Dave Dombrowski left for the Boston Red Sox and with his departure the writing seems to be on the proverbial wall.
Matt Williams was expected to lead the Washington Nationals to the promise land this season. With a starting staff of Max Scherzer, Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmerman, plus all everything Bryce Harper, the team seems like a no-brainer to make the playoffs. Williams has lost a lot of position players to injury this season and with those injuries the team’s playoff chances went out the door. The sudden resurgence of the New York Mets and their young pitching staff was just too much for the Nationals. Williams job is surely in jeopardy, but is he a fit for the Padres?
Matt Williams seems to have lost control of both the team and the media in Washington. He is being booed by fans as they blame him for the team’s total collapse. The Nationals have a great nucleus of players and they are learning that chemistry is a vital part of a championship team. The Nationals, much like the Padres are close to competing, but they need to make some changes. Perhaps Williams will be used as a scapegoat for the teams failures. The Padres should be weary of Williams and although he seems like a strong candidate, his name should probably be avoided.
On the other hand Brad Ausmus will surely intrigue the Padres. Ausmus has a history in San Diego as both a player and a member of the front office. In November of 2013 he left the Padres to become the Tigers new manager. He guided the team to a 90-72 record last season and an A.L. Central Division Title. The team lost to the Royals in the playoffs, but the season had to be deemed a success to some point for the team.
The expectations were high once again for the Tigers, but they fell flat on their face in 2015. Injuries hit the team hard, much like the Nationals, and the team currently sits in last place in the American League Central Division. Ausmus has been criticized for his managerial skills and his job seems to be in jeopardy. The Tigers have always struggled to have any consistent bullpen, so their failures can’t be solely on their skipper.
Brad Ausmus comes with much respect in the MLB community. He is widely regarded as a very smart baseball man. Being a graduate of the Ivy League (Dartmouth College), Ausmus has a superior mind for the game. He has been questioned about his decision making skills regarding generating runs and managing players. Those critics are nit picking in my judgement as Ausmus inherited a team full of veterans. It can be difficult motivating all these established players. That in itself is probably the most important factor of being a Major League manager. Each players personality is different and with each individual you must approach in a different manner. Those intellectual aspects of the game or what Ausmus will eventually be great at. If he gets fired from the Tigers, expect the Padres to bring him in immediately for an interview.
There are a few more candidates that have surfaced as potential managers. Phil Nevin and Jason Varitek have both came up when discussing potential new skippers. Varitek is currently in the Red Sox front office but has the skill set to be a decent manager. He has yet to get his feet wet managing, so he seems like a long shot to be hired.
Phil Nevin had some fantastic years for the Padres and he surely would represent an intense figure for the coaching staff. Nevin has the distinction of being a first overall draft pick (1992 draft). With all that hype and expectation, Nevin struggled initially and actually made his mark as a back up catcher. He showed that he wasn’t above anything and worked his butt off to become a decent Major Leaguer. His 208 homers and a .270 career batting average are very respectable. He has recently been managing in the Tigers system (2010-2013) and the Diamond Backs system (2014). He has gained much experience and could be interviewed by the team if Murphy is let go.
Former Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington is also rumored to be a potential candidate. Washington left the Rangers in 2013 after some personal issues. He guided the Rangers to two World Series appearances in his five years as manager and is currently working within the Oakland Athletics organization. Washington is known to work well motivating players and he could work wonders with this Padres roster.
There will be more names surfacing once the team gets closer to interviews. The Padres must be very careful in selecting a manager that will embody what the organization is trying to do. The Padres need a 180 degree flip on their past philosophies in regards to running a Major League team. They need a manager that will buy into this new regime and help change the views of this organization. Not an easy task by any means. Brad Ausmus in my opinion is the name to watch. If he is let go by the Tigers, expect the Padres to ove fast in bringing him in for an interview. If he says the right things, he could very well be the manager for the 2016 season. In my dream scenario, Murphy is also retained as a coach. He has shown a great passion for the game and he just needs a little more conditioning to improve his skill set. Having him in the dugout will make him a better coach and will also help the Padres retain some tradition. We will see how A.J. Preller goes about it. This off-season will be very interesting once again for Padres fans.