The baseball playoffs are off and running which usually has Padres fans off in hibernation.
For the ninth straight year their favorite team didn’t land on the right side of the win-loss ledger. For the 13th consecutive season the postseason didn’t include the local nine, not after it chalked up at least 90 losses for the fourth year in a row.
That’s not to say ex-Padres aren’t sprinkled about the second-season landscape.
Cardiff’s Dave Roberts, an ex-Padre player and coach, leads the Los Angeles Dodgers as their manager. A.J. Hinch, once a member of San Diego’s front office and a part-time La Jolla resident, manages the Houston Astros.
They are in addition to numerous players once wearing Padres duds being on postseason rosters. But it’s managers — and finding the right one — which is the Padres’ current focal point.
With skipper Andy Green being dismissed in the season’s closing days, it’s time to open a new chapter of Padres baseball.
Ron Fowler, one of the team’s owners, long ago promised 2020 would be the year his rebuilding team being constructed by Encinitas’ A.J. Preller is competitive.
So, it’s imperative Preller, the general manager, and the Padres’ brass, select the right man to grab the steering wheel of this franchise which is known for its brown uniforms — which return next season — and little else.
What’s clear in Fowler’s comments to a season-ticket group in the wake of another disappointing season is that he’s grown weary of the word “development.” It’s about winning and if that doesn’t happen, he said, “heads will roll.”
Preller is under pressure to prove he can build a major-league roster as well as he can craft a minor-league system which is the envy of most other teams. Not only does Preller have to mix-and-match the correct players with complementary skillsets, but he must anoint a man to lead them as well.
That’s some heavy lifting for one offseason but the weight falls on Preller to end the long wait of Padres boosters to see winning baseball. An organization that has advanced to the playoffs just five times in 50 seasons is on the clock to make its sixth trip sooner rather than later.
The Padres have said they want their new manager to be someone demanding respect, which is equated with experience. To hire such a man would be a course change for the Padres as the last time they didn’t select a first-time manager was Jack McKeon in 1988.
Preller said he was busy interviewing candidates this week and little else. The team is holding its cards tightly, but there’s a sense of urgency something needs to transpire quickly with six other managerial openings in baseball.
Those seeking work form an impressive group and many are linked to the Padres: Joe Maddon, Buck Showalter, Joe Girardi, Mike Scioscia and Mark Loretta. All have earned their stripes as a manager, with the exception of Loretta. The former Padre and a Rancho Santa Fe resident served as Maddon’s bench coach last season with the Chicago Cubs.
Ex-Padres Phil Nevin and Mark Kotsay should also be vetted, but their lack of managerial experience at the big-league level keeps them from the short list.
So, who will be the 20th manager in Padres history? We’ve got Maddon returning to the Angels so put us down for Showalter.
He’s developed, and won, with young teams, he was Manny Machado, the Padres’ $300-million-man, manager with the Baltimore Orioles, and he spent time in the Texas Rangers organization with Preller.
Maybe Showalter can bring the team from the backwaters of baseball and this time next season, the Padres won’t again be seeking a record to be proud of.
Contact Jay Paris at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @jparis_sports
Sportswriter Jay Paris has written his “Sports Talk” column since joining the Coast News in 2013.
Paris, a Cardiff resident, is a longtime Southern California writer, getting his start with the Orange County Register before coming to San Diego in 1992 to cover the Chargers.
He had the Chargers beat for more than two decades with Oceanside Blade-Citizen, the North County Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune, before being named a sports columnist with the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Paris has won numerous awards voted on by his peers in the Pro Football Writers of America. He has also been a staple on countless media platforms, everything from the KPBS to MLB Network and various radio outlets.
Paris is also the author of three books, with his latest one being, “Shohei Ohtani: The Amazing Story Of Baseball’s Two-Way Japanese Superstar.” He has also written “Game Of My Life Chargers” and “Game Of My Life Rams.”
He currently covers the NFL in Los Angeles for Forbes. com and is a contributor to USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow Jay on Twitter @jparis_sports