Some headlines are hot enough that they don’t require much in the way of a lead-in explanation—if you clicked on this article, you came for something of a referendum on the job status of Padres GM AJ Preller. And with good reason.
As a recent column from the UT’s Nick Canepa shows, chatter around Preller’s standing with Padre ownership is beginning to ramp up in the wake of Andy Green’s dismissal from the San Diego manager’s seat.
Canepa, who shares the world-weariness common to many who have followed the team throughout its five-plus decades of futility, places a decent amount of blame at Preller’s feet for the club’s most recent struggles. Sez Canepa:
“During his five-plus years as the baseball club’s GM, A.J. Preller, The International Sensation, has attempted a sea change in organizational thinking, canvassing the Caribbean especially to find hot, young talent.
He has found some, for sure, but the lava, the result, has been cold.
He hasn’t found someone to lead this team, manage it, and share his vision — if it’s possible. He’s trying again, and my guess is, if the skipper who replaces Andy Green can’t get it done, this will be A.J.’s final cruise.”
Canepa’s take makes clear that he’s personally seen enough of Preller’s “hot talent lava” rebuild, although, to be fair, the columnist is probably just reading the writing recently left on the wall of chairman Ron Fowler’s executive suite.
As Fowler made clear in comments to the UT following a tirade-laden appearance at the Padres “Social Summit” event, the heads of his subordinates are expected to do a fair amount of travel in the event of another disappointing campaign in 2020. Preller’s head would, one would imagine, be the one Fowler is most readily positioning for the organizational guillotine.
But is this really a happy state of affairs? I hesitate to even ask the question, because most understand what a divisive figure Preller has been during his time in San Diego.
With a demeanor and appearance that screamed “IVY LEAGUE ANALYTICS GUY” , Preller arrived in San Diego with a fair amount of wunderkind buzz—when he sumarilly proceeded to shake up the baseball world in the 2015 offseason, that buzz elevated into near-cacophony, as national baseball writers paid preseason creedence to the Padres for the first time in years.
Since then, Preller has continued to amass his share of devotees and detractors alike. Some point to his near-prescient ability to spot prospect talent where others see only raw tools (see: Tatis Jr., Fernando); others point to his propensity to be seduced by “prestige talent” (see: Hosmer, Eric). His choice of Andy Green as manager in 2016 turned out, from most angles, to be a poor one.
But that brings us to an interesting aspect of this discussion—are fans, and writers alike, far too fire-happy in our touchy 2019 climate of discourse?
If fans around here have learned anything, isn’t it that change isn’t always, you know...good?
We only have to look back a few years to recall a time when it was obvious that it was time for manager Bruce Bochy to move on. And a change was exactly what was needed after Bud Black manned the dugout to a middling record through the first months of 2015. Andy Green’s ouster was, as we can all agree, just what the doctor (and fans) ordered.
For those who failed to bring their sarcasm Geiger counters to class this morning, the preceding is meant to illustrate that a change in leadership is not always the panacea it is made out to be.
Of course, those were managerial decisions; the role of a general manager, in charge of player development, transactions, scouting, and operations, is much more integral to the success of a baseball team.
Which brings us to your opinion: is a change at the top what is needed for this club to move forward? Will the “Fire Andy Green” movement soon morph into the “Fire AJ Preller” movement?
Should the Padres consider a change at GM?
This poll is closed
Yes—it’s clear that Preller is not the man for this job.
Absolutely not—stay the course for a few more seasons.
Unsure—Preller has done some nice things, but could he maybe comb his hair?