Sunday, August 10, 2014

Padres Hire A.J. Preller

The San Diego Padres have hired A.J. Preller to be their fourth general manager since 2009. The Padres interviewed eight candidates during a month in which Fred Uhlman Jr, A.J. Hinch, and Omar Minaya filled in as general manager on an interim basis:

GM Interviews

Candidate Interviewed First InterviewSecond Interview Hired
Kim Ng 7/11/2014 7/24/2014 No
Ray Montgomery 7/2/2014 No  No
Logan White 6/30/2014 No No
A.J. Preller7/7/20147/21/2014Yes
Mike Hazen 7/8/2014 7/22/2014 No
Billy Eppler 7/3/2014 7/24/2014 No
Larry Beinfest 6/27/2014 No No
Josh Stein 7/9/2014 No No

Mike Dee and ownership eventually settled on A.J. Preller, signing him to a 5-year contract. Preller had spent time in various positions with the Dodgers, Phillies, and most recently: the Rangers. The 37-year old was the assistant general manager under former fraternity brother and Rangers' general manager Jon Daniels before being hired by the Padres. Preller's main area of expertise is the international market, meaning that San Diego will continue its push to acquire more international talent, a search that has yielded Odrisamer Despaigne and Rymer Liriano in recent years. With this push, it is conceivable that the Padres could sign one of Yasmani Tomas, Rusney Castillo, or Jeong Choi this offseason.

In the front office shuffle, scouting director Chad McDonald and interim general manager A.J. Hinch left the team once the hiring of Preller was announced. Hinch was one of six executives to turn down an interview with the Padres, a group consisting of David Forst, Omar Minaya, Jason McLeod, Mike Chernoff, and Michael Girsch. One of the first challenges that Preller will be faced with as general manager is filling the positions left open by Hinch and McDonald. According to Will Carroll, he already has a list of executives that he is targeting to join the front office.

During Preller's tenure as the Rangers' director of international and professional scouting, he was suspended by MLB when it was discovered that he was negotiating with a player who was lying about his age. Mike Dee told fans that the team spoke with major league baseball about the suspension, and was told it should not be an issue. It can be drawn from this incident that Preller is at times overly aggressive and ambitious, which can be a bad thing at times. The Cornell graduate has shown some of this ambition while mentioning the potential for a championship during his initial press conference.

Preller's weakness appears to be evaluating talent on a major league level, through trades and free agency. It stems from inexperience, not incompetence. Interestingly enough, trading seems to have been the biggest strength of the Padres' front office under Josh Byrnes, bringing in players such as Seth Smith, Huston Street, Tyson Ross, and Ian Kennedy for little to nothing in return.

All in all, Preller is quite the character. It seems that winning is what the ownership wants, and that they are willing to spend money to win. Preller will try and make that goal reality over the next five seasons, hopefully reaching a world series.