Padres extend manager Green’s contract
Skipper’s deal was set to end after 2018; now through ’21
I read this piece, and had to comment. This is what I said, with final thoughts added.
There is no question to this: If Padres GM AJ Preller didn’t extend Andy Green, then some big-spending competitive team would have made him an offer.
More on why this was such a prescient move. Note that a lot of the comments from Padres fans are along the lines of, “They’re a lot better than most people said they would be.” Why is this? It certainly NOT because of the talent on their 25-man roster. Ace lefty reliever Brad Hand is the Padres lone All-Star in 2017.
What makes Hand extra-valuable is manager Andy Green knowing how to use him properly, which steals wins. It’s really hard for Friar’s fans to say who their next-most valuable player is, but it’s probably rookie CF Manny Margot.
This is the youngest roster in MLB, by far. They have carried three Rule 5 players this season, which usually guarantees 100+ losses. Their current winning % is .436, which translates to 70-92. The Padres have overplayed their Pythagorean projection by 8 games, and most of that is due to Brad Hand & Andy Green.
A set-back for the Padres this season has been the performance of 1B Wil Myers. Age 26 & healthy, he’s currently slashing .239/.320/.464. Still good defensively at 1B, but his lack-of-bat seems to have caused some regression there also, as he’s committing more mental errors in the field. The problem at the plate is strike zone judgment. He swings at too many 3-2 pitches that are ball 4, turning them into outs. It’s a team problem as the Padres hit too many solo HR’s (in terms of overall HR-type %), with the worst OBP in MLB. OBP is life in baseball; and pitching, defense & 3-run homers are what win.
As a Padres fan, I suspected trouble when Wil Myers came into Spring Training and stated his personal goal was “40 HR’s & 40 SB’s.” Myers’ 28 SB w/ 6 CS in 2016, caught many people by surprise. He’s 11 SB w/ 5 CS, so far in 2017. He shouldn’t try to be a SB guy, he needs to stay healthy & mash. His 2018 (and beyond) goals will need to prioritize OBP, if he is to progress as a player.
The Padres invested heavily in Wil Myers this past off-season, so the motivation & resources will be made available. Wil Myers just needs to get his head straight and figure it out. He has all the talent in the world, and that’s why AJ Preller gave up so much to get him, Trading SS/UT Trea Turner & RHP Joe Ross (both currently DL-ed) to the Nationals in a 3-team deal. Rays got RF Steven Souza, Jr, and it’s still hard to know who actually got the best of that deal? Sometimes it takes 3-5 years to know, and this is one of those cases. Padres need Wil Myers to work out, by being at least above-average production at 1B, otherwise their current rebuilding effort is already starting to crumble.
Final note on handling players. Padres manager Andy Green has done everything he can do with Wil Myers, including recently sitting him for 3 games to “straighten his head out, get a mental break, etc…” September call-ups need to play for the Padres. As good as their farm system is, Wil Myers may be seeing some more bench time this season– who knows? Stabilizing a young core (with better talent) around him will certainly help. The Padres are definitely doing this, as lefty-hitting 2B Carlos Asuaje may be their most-recent MLB pipeline addition. Acquired in the Craig Kimbrel deal…
Star contracts are a tricky & delicate balance, as ownership/management uses the carrot & stick. The deciding factors always come down to character, motivation & intelligence. The Padres still seem to still believe in Myers, (who at least isn’t whining or venting on teammates), so there’s room for optimism, but there needs to be more tangible progression– soon. We’ll see…
Hypothetically, a right-handed Joey Votto (career .313/.427/.541), with better defense & base-running should be Will Myers’ player goal. That may be a little lofty comparatively, but it should still be in the area of his goal. What Preller & Green need out of Myers is a durable, championship-caliber 3-hole hitter. That’s the franchise player who drives a lineup, and catapults a team (with any kind of pitching) into contention. It’s what the Padres paid for when they signed him for 6 years $83 M this past winter. How will it pay off through 2022, is a franchise-defining question that hasn’t been answered yet?
From a minor-league standpoint, 2017 has been a huge success for the Padres. Their teams are mostly winning, and their prospects are mostly advancing. AJ Preller has brought in a depth of talent that has transformed this franchise from a joke, into the #3-ranked farm system in MLB. Yankees & Braves are ranked 1-2. Yankees are in the AL, so no worries until the WS– which isn’t happening anytime soon in SD. The Braves have a mess on their ML roster, and their prospects haven’t performed as well as expected, SS Dansby Swanson being the most prominent example. The Padres farm system was 30th (or so), when Preller took over as GM in 2015. Perhaps what’s now most-exciting for Padres fans, is seeing better players (& pitchers) starting to pop-up– seemingly out of nowhere! This is an indication of superior deep scouting, followed-up with proper player development. When you do things right, and stick with it, nice surprises start to happen over & over.
The biggest Padres minor-league organizational set-back of 2017 was RHP Anderson Espinoza blowing out his elbow, necessitating Tommy John surgery. Recall this was the prized pitching prospect, dealt by the Red Sox for LHP Drew Pomeranz in 2016. Pomeranz has since pitched the whole time in Boston, even while AJP was suspended by MLB for “undisclosed anti-inflammatories” in this trade. The irony of all this only deepens for Padres fans.
It still takes awhile for what’s happening here to translate into winning at the MLB level, but the process the Padres are going through is fundamentally correct. If/when it happens, AJ Preller will have turned a hopeless organization into a winner, faster than any GM in modern baseball. In other words, the Padres have to win it all, for Preller & Green to be widely recognized as being the best. Based on their abilities and performance, they’re already at least in that discussion. The GM-manager relationship is the most important to any organization baseball. There has to be 100% agreement on everything between the two, otherwise factionalism & hidden agendas destroy team continuity & chemistry. Time is all that is required for positive proof in San Diego. The enemy is impatience & short-sightedness, which tends to be the preferred perspective of the naysayers & critics, only proving they refuse to understand anything.
Padres Injury Notes & Up-Coming Roster Decisions
AJ Preller took a low-cost free-agency flier on Jered Weaver, to see if he had anything left in the tank. He didn’t, but it didn’t really matter to the Padres season, so there’s no hard feelings. His type of retirement is always a bit awkward, as everyone remembers him as an Angel. Well-handled by the Padres organization & Jered Weaver.
Padres roster decisions GM AJ Preller will have to soon make include: LHP Christian Friedrich, who made $1.8M in 2017, but didn’t pitch at all due to injuries. Left lat muscle & elbow giving him pain. His root issue is lack of hip, back & core strength. Preller & Andy Green will have to decide if he’s worth another go around in arbitration. Preller found better low-cost options last winter, and I suspect he’ll release Friedrich and try a similar strategy this coming off-season. We’ll see how the market plays out after the World Series…
Age 27 LF Alex Dickerson was said to be a “big part of their 2017 plans,” by some in the Padres organization last winter. He of the career 1.0 WAR. I never believed it, especially when rumors surfaced of CF Travis Jankowski & Dickerson being floated as trade bait. Dickerson now has been diagnosed with a bulging disk in his lower back, and has been transferred to the 60-day DL. He’s most-likely finished as a big-league player, and note that this is how many, many sports’ careers come to an end– unnoticed & physically disabled, with pain.
Travis Jankowski (age 26, career -0.2 WAR) hurt his foot, and has been rehabbing in the minors. His 90 PA’s (so far) in AAA El Paso are .263/.378/.355. He still can’t hit lefties, and has no pop. These were the “top prospects” AJP inherited (most of the best of which, he kept), when he took over as GM. Jankowski is still cheap, but is he worth a 40-man roster spot, when better & younger prospects have to be protected (or else exposed) before the Rule 5 draft?
LHP Clayton Richard & RHP Jhoulys Chacin have both said they want to return, and the Padres should do it– if the cost & contract length is agreeable. Nothing more than 2 years, for either, and more-likely, one year. Padres may get priced-out by the big-silly spenders.
RHP Jarred Cosart is a medical case, and now a long-shot at age 27. Padres expect LHP Robbie Erlin to be ready for ST 2018. He’s still recovering from TJ surgery in 2016. RHP Colin Rea finally submitted to TJ surgery in 2017, after blowing his elbow out in his only appearance as a Miami Marlin in 2016. Pitching is so hard to find, and they’re all so very cheap, so the Padres most-likely keep them all.
Update [9-2-17]: Padres cut ties with hitting coach Zinter
Friars on pace to finish last in MLB in average, OBP in back-to-back years
Alan Zinter (below) was an organizational hire by AJP, brought in when Andy Green was hired. He was one of Green’s guys from his minor-league managing stint with the Diamondbacks. AJP is calling this move. OBP is their biggest weakness, so it makes sense. I wonder how bench coach Mark McGwire now fits into their plans?
The Padres have overachieved on their pitching, both starting & bullpen. Keep in mind that not much was expected from the rotation. This over achievement is due to Andy Green & Darren Balsley. The results on the offensive side haven’t been as impressive, and it’s not because Andy Green is a klutz when it comes to using his bench or writing in a lineup. It’s because OBP is life in baseball, and the Friars are dead last again. The Padres lineup can’t continue to allow opposing starters to roll through easy innings, with guys swinging themselves into easy outs. More walks put the pitcher in the stretch, which stresses them. This leads to longer innings, more base runners & more runs. More runs means more wins. The failures of Wil Myers & Hunter Renfroe (mentioned in the article) are the tangible reasons Alan Zinter is fired. His replacement will be expected to produce better results from these two & the rest, but especially from Myers as he’s the big contract. He’s got a ton of talent, which we’ve all seen, but he’s also got head problems it seems.
Sportswriter: What’s the best hitting advice you ever got?
Ted Williams: It was from Rogers Hornsby. He told me, “Make them throw you a strike.”
For Myers & Renfroe, new goals for counting stats need to be: more walks & doubles. This will correlate to less strikeouts & more hits. Cuttings down to protect with two strikes is a prudent approach, especially in stressful at-bats against tough pitchers. Both have the power to hit it out with less than a full swing anyways. What’s lacking is strike zone judgment & control. At times it appears there’s also no plan (individual or team) to attack a pitcher. Hitting is probably the most difficult skill in sports, so it’s not like anyone has figured out all the answers, but just seeing more pitches in an AB (even if it still produces an out), has value. The pitcher is throwing more pitches and will become more vulnerable, sooner.
Padres hitters need to take more of a grind approach to every AB. If this is done up & down the line-up (with their power), it will crush most NL pitching. Note– the best grinding line-up (in recent memory) was the 1998 NY Yankees. That was a high OBP, with power 1-9; and the Padres didn’t really have much of a chance against them even with their best team ever. In the NL it’s 1-8, so this can be achieved with less payroll, which is nice. This is the direction that Preller & Green want to offense to go, as this is what’s holding everything back. Once the line-up consistently produces, the young pitching will be ready from the minors.
Another feather in Andy Green’s cap is his use of defensive shifts, which were the most dramatic in MLB in 2016, his first year a manager. The league has caught up to him & the Padres, by increasing their shifting. The point is Andy Green sees all facets of the game, manages them masterfully, and is highly respected by his peers. Bruce Bochy was only the latest to pay his respects, after their last series. Green knows where his responsibilities begin & end, and is in full partnership with his GM. When the Padres actually have a MLB roster, instead of pre-arbs, prospects & Rule 5 selections, it’s going to get a lot better in a hurry. Manny Margot is a stud, and Carlos Asuaje is a possibility. The Kimbrel deal and all the other moves AJP made in 2016, are going to reap huge bounties for years to come, and it started showing in 2017.