With AJ Preller officially back in the captain’s chair, the Padres have begun preparations for the offseason by clearing three spaces on the roster and opening two vacancies on the coaching staff. First base coach Tarrik Brock and infield coordinator Eddie Rodriguez were terminated on Wednesday. Fringe roster members Jemile Weeks, Jose Dominguez, and Jake Smith cleared waivers and were assigned to AAA, but all three elected free agency.
Tarrik Brock was the first base coach for the Houston Astros before being hired by the Padres in 2013 as a coordinator for baserunning and outfield defense. He was promoted to first base coach by manager Andy Green before the 2016 season, while still overseeing outfield defense. While 2015’s outfield defense was plagued by personnel issues, the 2016 squad showed great improvement, most visibly apparent in changes to Matt Kemp’s positioning and mechanics. The Padres showed exemplary metrics in baserunning statistics, leading the league by a wide margin in several measures, but apparently Green still wants to hold a higher standard.
“We were good baserunning,” Green said. “I think we can be substantially better. Honestly, I think the bar in baseball to have a competitive advantage baserunning is incredibly low, but if you do it exceptionally, I think it can be worth a lot of wins.”
Eddie Rodriguez has been with the organization since 2014, working alongside Glenn Hoffmann on infield defense. The past few years have not produced the kind of defense fans enjoyed for most of the 2000’s, mostly due to the personnel on the field, but apparently management sees an opportunity to kick it up a notch with a change in coaching. Shifting was a noticeable improvement in 2016, but that was a change implemented by Andy Green. Perhaps a new coach will be appointed the Shah of Shifting moving forward.
A roster crunch was imminent, as the 40-man roster is full and yet a slew of players need to come off the 60-day DL, and a few more spots need to be opened up if the organization wants to protect some players from the Rule 5 draft in December. The first wave of moves happened yesterday, with the departures of Jemile Weeks, Jose Dominguez, and Jake Smith. The team designated all three for assignment. They all cleared waivers and were subsequently assigned to AAA, but each declined the offer and opted for free agency.
Jemile Weeks was a sensation all spring, lighting up the fields in Arizona with a combination of athleticism, speed, and power. He was left off the opening day roster, but still got a chance to do his thing when Padres infielders were decimated by some kind of flesh-eating virus that targets hamstrings and quads. In his brief time with the MLB team, he failed to capitalize on the opportunity, finally succumbing to the aforementioned affliction with a hamstring injury of his own. He finished with a disappointing 7-for-50 batting line, with one double, one triple, and one stolen base.
Jose Dominguez came to the Padres as a minor league free agent with a few tastes of MLB action and spent most of the season in AAA El Paso. He saw significant time with the Padres late in the season, but the control issues that have followed him throughout his career came with him to the Padres. He appeared in 34 games, logging a 5.05 ERA over 35.2 innings of work.
Jake Smith was signed mid-season after being released by the Giants. The former greenskeeper got to make his MLB debut, only to give up a homer on his first pitch. Welcome to the show, kid. He made four total appearances for the Padres, mostly in mop-up duties.
These three roster moves leave a total of 45 players either on the 40-man roster or on the 60-day DL. Expect some more moves to come before the end of the World Series. On the coaching side, it appears that most of the remaining coaching staff will be retained for next year.