Sorry for the lack of managerial coverage — I’ve been dedicating almost all of my time to the book lately (hope you’re enjoying the excerpts). Here’s a recap of where we’re at and what’s next for the Padres in their search for Bruce Bochy’s replacement:
- All six candidates (Dusty Baker, Bud Black, Trey Hillman, Jose Oquendo, Tim Wallach, Ron Wotus) have been interviewed. Kevin Towers has said that he expects to have a decision made by Thursday or Friday.
- Mike Cameron has vouched for Baker, despite never having played for the man. This fascinates me to the point of speechlessness. Quoth Cameron: “How can you not respect a guy who played with Hank Aaron?” Man’s got a point; after all, Denny McClain played with Aaron in ’72.
- Bobby Valentine, who has led teams in North America and in Japan to championships, says that Hillman would be a “very good choice” for the Padres. Valentine notes that managing in Japan “is even harder in some ways than managing in the States,” citing the intense media scrutiny on that side of the Pacific. Hillman also has strong ties to Padres vice president of scouting and development Grady Fuson, who in 2002 hired Hillman as the Rangers’ director of player development. Prior to that, Hillman had managed in the Yankees system, being named top manager in the organization on three separate occasions. Hillman also is in the running for the A’s managerial vacancy and was under consideration for the Rangers’ job before they decided on Ron Washington. Needless to say, Hillman is in demand. The Padres have conducted two interviews with the guy, and if were a betting man, I’d say that the Pads’ next manager will be him or Black.
- Tim Sullivan at the San Diego Union-Tribune has gone so far as to handicap the race, picking Baker as the 3-1 favorite. Sullivan acknowledges Baker’s many shortcomings and then talks about his popularity among players and the fact that he might influence Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez to sign with the Padres. Sullivan likes Hillman at 4-1 and Black at 5-1. I would be happy with either of those latter two.
- Black played with Tony Gwynn at SDSU and lives here in town. He has done nothing to hide his enthusiasm for the job opening. Gwynn previously indicated a belief in Black’s ability to manage at the big-league level despite his lack of experience.
Next up for the Padres, according to Brian Hiro at the North County Times, Kevin Towers is scheduled to meet with Sandy Alderson on Tuesday to recommend two finalists for the job. Hiro’s article also cites Black and Hillman as favorites.
And, having nothing to do with managerial talks, Hiro also mentions (as covered earlier by Tom Krasovic in the U-T) the issues in working out a deal with pitching coach Darren Balsley. Seems Balsley’s hiring of an agent to represent him in negotations may have thrown Towers for a loop. Why this would cause Towers concern remains a mystery. All I know is that Balsley is the one coach the Padres can’t afford to lose. He’s been working with the likes of Jake Peavy since their days together at Class-A Lake Elsinore, and he seems to have a real good rapport with the veterans as well. Regardless of whether “rapport” is sufficient reason to retain a big-league coach, the results speak for themselves and it’d be a big mistake to let Balsley walk.
So, this is the plan. Get a manager not named Baker and keep Balsley. Then turn attention to free agents. Works for me; how about you?