The Padres have their new manager, and it's someone with an impressive resume.
The Friars have decided to make Mike Shildt the 22nd skipper in franchise history. Shildt has been with the organization the past two years as an instructor, advisor and occasional 3rd base coach. He took over the Cardinals in the middle of the 2018 season and almost took a .500 team that was struggling all the way to the playoffs. St. Louis finished the year 41-28 under Shildt, who returned for 2019 to lead the Redbirds to the National League Championship Series and win the NL Manager of the Year Award.
In 3.5 years with St. Louis the 55-year-old never had a losing record but was surprisingly relieved of his duties following the 2021 season after winning 90 games and narrowly losing a Wild Card game at Dodger Stadium. He brings a career .559 winning percentage to his second stint as a big-league skipper.
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The Padres were looking for a new skipper after allowing Bob Melvin to leave for the San Francisco Giants managerial job. Melvin took the Friars to the 2022 National League Championship Series before falling dramatically short of the club's sky-high 2023 expectations. Toward the end of the 2023, season multiple reports of discord between Melvin and Padres GM A.J. Preller came to light. Shortly after the season, both parties offered reassurances that Melvin would return for a third season on San Diego's bench. Instead, he was headed back to the Bay Area a week later.
One of the biggest obstacles for Melvin and Preller was a difference in opinion on the use of analytics (the ubiquitous term for advanced statistical data). One of the most important duties for Preller, who is appointing his fifth manager in 10 years with the Padres, was finding someone who shares his vision on how to gather, interpret and apply data. Interestingly, one of the main reasons Shildt was relieved of his duties in St. Louis was a clash with the front office over analytics. It appears he and Preller are on the same page.
San Diego also talked with Carlos Mendoza, who was hired by the Mets to take over for Buck Showalter, and reportedly had interest in former Friar All-Star Phil Nevin.
Shildt inherits a team full of All-Stars but facing some serious off-season questions. The offense should be in good shape (even if they decide to trade outfielder Juan Soto) with a healthy Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr., Xander Bogaerts, and Ha-Seong Kim leading the attack. However, after declining the options on Michael Wacha and Nick Martinez, then having Seth Lugo decline his player option, the only veteran starting pitchers under contract are Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove, who both missed significant time in 2023 with injuries.