The San Diego Padres are in search of a new manager to help formulate a new winning culture. After the dismissal of Bud Black, the Padres handed the managerial job to Pat Murphy. It was Murphy’s first managerial experience in the Major Leagues and the team decided he would not be the answer long-term.
It has been reported by John Heyman of CBS Sports that the Padres and Ron Gardenhire had a second interview. Nothing else was reported and quite frankly the Padres have been very secretive in their managerial search. They obviously liked what they heard from Gardenhire during his first interview.
It is not clear if the Padres have their final candidates in order. Others who have been rumored to be of interest to the team are D-Backs Triple-A manager Phil Nevin, D-Backs third-base coach Andy Green, Pirates third-base coach Rick Sofield, former MLB pitcher Tom Gordon, ESPN analyst Alex Cora and Padres executive Moises Alou. A really diverse group, as it is reported the Padres do not require their future manager to have Major League managerial experience. Gardenhire is represented by agent John Boggs, who the Padres are quite familiar with. Boggs represented Tony Gwynn during his 20-year Major League career.
As far as Gardenhire goes, he had a very successful run as the manager of the small market Minnesota Twins. He took over the team in 2002 after long time manager Tom Kelly retired. Gardenhire immediately led the Twins to six division titles in his first nine years as manager. He was let go after a record of 1,068 and 1,039.
The 2010 American League manager of the year was a former Major League player for the New York Mets. Gardenhire was a second baseman, third baseman and shortstop. He played in 285 games in his five-year career and was a lifetime .232 hitter in his 710 at-bats. Gardenhire was always known as a heady ball player that enjoyed the game and played it in an old school manner.
There are some negatives associated with Gardenhire. He led the Twins to six Division Titles, but in reality the division was really weak and this was in an era of balanced schedules. The Twins played terribly in the playoffs and finished with a 6-21 record under Gardenhire. The team only managed to win one series with Gardenhire at the helm. Another troubling fact is the Twins seemed to either win 90 games or lose 90 games under him and there was no middle ground. They lost 99, 96, 96 and 92 games his last four years as manager, after winning 96, 94, 92, and 90 in four out of the first five seasons he took over.
The reports on Gardenhire indicate he is a small-ball type of manager. He enjoys moving baserunners over and his type of managing has always catered better to the National League. Gardenhire has a calm, relaxed personality when dealing with the media. Very reminiscent of Bud Black.
Interestingly Gardenhire has a bad reputation working with young players. The Padres indicated they wanted a teaching manager to help develop talent. Gardenhire does not seem like that type of manager. He has a track record of calling out young players in the media and also is known for his lack of platooning players. He has his own style of managing and it is not clear if that is the right fit for the Padres future.
The San Diego Padres have a huge decision to make regarding their manager. They should rightfully take their time in their search. Gardenhire being brought back for a second interview is interesting. The new manager should be in place in a matter of days. The Padres would surely want their new skipper to have his staff in place before the start of the free agent frenzy and the winter meeting that follow closely behind.