When San Diego general manager A. J Preller shocked the baseball world with a myriad of high-profile transactions last off-season, the result catapulted the Padres right into the National League West Division conversation. As things turned out, the Padres finished with a 74-88 record, five games behind the Diamondbacks in fourth place in the division and considered one the major disappointments of the recently completed season.
Preller’s acquisitions essentially brought thunder and lightning to the San Diego line-up. In picking up Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Will Middlebrooks and Wil Myers, the thought was to add a couple of boosters to the Padres rocket. Injuries and lack of production caused the Padres to grossly underachieve.
The result was firing manager Bud Black on June 15 and left interim manager Pat Murphy former baseball coach at Arizona State University, to slowing twist in the wind. Last Thursday, Preller replaced Murphy with the Padres’ third manager since the start of last season and tapped Andy Green, the Diamondbacks third base coach, to manage the club. If the Padres are going to reverse their fortunes. Green’s education in the Diamondbacks system would seem an idea fit.
“(Andy’s) worked hard for this,” Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale told MLB.com. “He’s an aggressive manager and I know that when we play San Diego, they are going to be well prepared. One of the things he’s really good at is exposing other teams’ weaknesses.”
If the Padres are to benefit from Green’s experience in the Diamondbacks organization, the franchise can begin with his education. A disciple of Hale’s aggressive style of baseball and high energy, Green also brings a penchant for winning. Though the Padres job is his first in the major leagues, Green was named the Southern League manager-of-the-year in 2013 and 2014 in guiding the Diamondbacks’ Double-AA Mobile Baybears to back-to-back, post-season playoffs. In 2012, Green also guided Advanced rookie Missoula to the Pioneer League championship.
A second baseman by trade, Green spent over four years in the majors with the Diamondbacks and Mets and just completed his 12th season in the Arizona organization. At the start of the 2015 season, Green was promoted as the Diamondbacks third base coach.
If Green takes Hale’s approach and philosophy to heart, he also embraced Arizona’s Chief Baseball Officer Tony La Russa’s emphasis on analytics. Based on numbers and calculations, Green directed the defense into multiple shifts against certain hitters. In the vast majority of circumstances, Green’s movement of fielders resulted in outs.
Green’s emphasis on preparation, defense and maximizing talent should go a long way to improve the Padres fortunes. Plus, his penchant for playing “small ball” and in the attempt to manufacture runs should complement Preller’s approach to thunder and lightning during the last off-season.
Clearly, Green will not take the bat out of Kemp or Upton’s hands but he could be in a position to put runners on base for these power hitters. Plus, Green needs to get more out of under-achievers Middlebrooks, Myers, Jedd Gyorko, Derek Norris and pitchers Tyson Ross, Ian Kennedy, and James Shields. Green will have Craig Kimbrel, one of the best closers in the game, but needs to find a pitching coach who will get starters deep into games.
While Preller thought the way to win through the bats of Kemp, Upton and others, he clearly overlooked the need to play a complete game. With Green well-grounded in essentially the fundamentals of the game, taking in Hale’s high energy through osmosis, and emphasizing the need to play an aggressive game, the Padres fortunes could change.
Some pundits like to argue a players’ innate ability is good enough to invoke change. In this case, Green, as a new manager with a fresh disposition, could supersede the traditional thought of a player’s central role in determining a team’s future.