Padres expect to win soon, have yet to say for sure that Green will be the manager they expect to help do so
Around this time last year, Padres Executive Chairman Ron Fowler gave an emphatic assurance that manager Andy Green’s job was not in jeopardy.
Given that same opportunity this month, Fowler declined to discuss the matter.
Multiple sources in the organization, speaking on the condition they not be identified, said Green’s status, among other personnel decisions, will be addressed at the end of the season.
Why the delay?
The best answer seems to be in the Padres’ decision makers’ desire to be deliberate in thoroughly examining the team’s condition and potential in the face of numerous factors that make numbers essentially meaningless at this point in time.
That is a Greenism. He says “at this point in time” multiple times a day in his meetings with the media. The qualifier covers him and the organization, allowing for changes in plans without it appearing he had been misleading.
This particular point in time is a crucial one for the Padres and, thus, their chief decision makers.
Whoever the Padres manager is in 2020 — and there are hints from within that it will end up being Green — he will be charged with winning from the start. If it is Green wearing brown and gold, he will essentially begin the year on the hot seat.
Next season is when the Padres expect to push open their window of contention. That means wins and losses will be the only barometer of success.
That has not been the case in any of Green’s four seasons.
The Padres enter the season’s penultimate homestand, beginning Friday against the Rockies, at 64-75. They will miss the playoffs for the 13th consecutive season. They need to go 17-6 to avoid equaling a franchise record with a ninth straight losing season. They could lose all but three of their final 23 games and still finish with a better record than last season.
Again, not that the record matters.
Fowler, General Manager A.J. Preller and General Partner Peter Seidler said from the moment Manny Machado was signed in February that the goal was to win this season — with the realistic underpinning the Padres were a young team still in transition.
They were adamant they would not leverage a remote chance to win now for what they believe is a more assured chance of significant success beginning in 2020.
In assessing whether they will pay Green for two years of doing nothing — his contract runs through the 2021 season — they know they must look at themselves as well.
First off, while Green does have more in-game latitude than some managers in this data-driven age, he makes almost no decisions unilaterally. Determinations of which players are on the roster and, to some extent, how much and where some of them play are made in concert with Preller and the personnel department.
Second, the front office did nothing to make the current roster better at midseason, choosing instead to send away a player who had hit 27 home runs and was extremely popular in the clubhouse for a prospect. (That is not an indictment of the acquisition of Taylor Trammell, now their second-ranked prospect, nor the jettisoning of Franmil Reyes. It is a statement of fact.)
Now they have to decide whether to sacrifice Green after his four seasons overseeing an overhaul.
Preller and the two principal owners have to look back at the start to the season, when the Padres spent all but 16 of the first 90 games at .500 or better.
There appears to be an acknowledgment internally of the challenge they saddled Green with a young six-man starting rotation that often didn’t have a sixth man and for a time had two pitchers with workload limits. That circumstance as much as anything had virtually everyone in the organization privately conceding all along the ceiling was perhaps somewhere around .500 in 2019.
The reality is that the three-headed brain trust, with input from others in the organization and with Preller as perhaps the most crucial voice given that he works most closely with Green, has to make its decision amid the blurry context of a roster that has devolved back in the direction of a developmental squad.
It is not insignificant to note that in his justification last September regarding Green’s continued employment, Fowler referred to the fact the Padres coaching staff was being asked to instill organizational tenets in players on the fly.
“It’s very difficult to deliver that message at the major league level,” Fowler said.
There was less of that going on this year. But there remain a number of players who sped through a minor league system that has undergone a significant overhaul of its development staff.
One of the judgments being determined regards Green’s ability to relate to — and therefore teach and lead — players. A significant part of Green’s maturation as a manager, several people have said, has been his improvement in communicating with the various personalities on his staff and his team.
Players have always complimented Green on his attempts to keep them apprised of their roles. Several said the manner in which he communicates has improved and they feel like his understanding of their needs has grown.
Disagreements between Green and Preller that have arisen due to the strong personalities involved and difference in opinions on certain matters aren’t seen as necessarily a bad thing. Internal conflict is often a byproduct of the creative process and exists to some extent in virtually every organization, multiple team and league sources have explained.
In 2017, when the Padres extended Green’s contract by three years through the 2021 season, it was with the intent he would be the one to shepherd the team not only through the desert but into the promised land.
“It speaks to the big picture of what we’re in the process of creating as an organization — hire good people and get stability,” Preller said then. “It speaks to the notion of Andy growing with us as we’re in this building phase and then into the winning phase, him being the guy that can wear a lot of hats. He’s the guy who can relate to young players putting on a development hat, and he’s also a guy over the next years as we are competitive who gives us an advantage as we start to win championships.”
Fowler at the time termed speculation Green was a sort of chaperon for the youngest team in the majors until it matured and was ready to win as “B.S.”
The white knight does sometimes get to ride in after some poor schlep fronted the hopeless years.
The Astros went through three managers in six seasons before A.J. Hinch was hired as manager for their current run of success, which included winning the 2017 World Series.
Four managers in five seasons led up to Joe Maddon being hired to manage the Cubs in 2015, the year they went to the National League Championship Series and one year before they won their first World Series title in 108 years.
There are also recent examples of teams sticking with managers through lean times.
Terry Collins managed the Mets in four losing seasons leading up to their 2015 run to the World Series.
The team that beat the Mets that year, the Royals, hired Ned Yost in 2011 when their long rebuild was underway. The Royals won 71 and 72 games in his first two seasons, 86 in his third and then advanced to two straight World Series.
A top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher, an offensive outfielder and a catcher are on the Padres’ offseason to-do list.
Right after they decide in which of the above catego