The Lava Lamp 2018: Coaches

The Lava Lamp 2018: Coaches

Every team needs coaches, and the Padres are no exception. Let’s start with the man calling the shots and work our way down to folks whose jobs we don’t really understand.


Andy Green is entering his third year as Padres manager, and while it’s fun to note that former staffers Dave Roberts and A.J. Hinch met in last year’s World Series, it’s less fun but equally true to note that they inherited talented teams. That isn’t so much to take away from what Roberts and Hinch (and even Bud Black in Colorado) accomplished as to serve as a reminder that context matters.

Those guys wouldn’t have taken these Padres to the playoffs. Four or five years from now, if the team ever finds a starting pitcher, maybe there’s a chance. But until then the big-league manager is an extension of the player development program that starts in the minors, and Green isn’t the worst guy in the world to fill that role.

Never mind tactical stuff. Every manager essentially operates from the same playbook, which seeks to minimize risk and maximize one’s ability to cover one’s ass in postgame interviews (and to avoid “chats” with the front office). So we’ll skip analyzing in-game moves and look at something more interesting: The Padres outperformed their Pythagorean record by 12 games, which is kind of insane. Green took a team that theoretically should have lost 103 games and squeezed out 71 wins, which not only killed the Padres’ draft position but was also a monumental feat of little consequence.

And how many Manager of the Year votes did he get for his efforts? Zero. Sure, voters may not have been impressed by such a paltry win total, but… okay, listen, I can’t keep this up. I’m laughing too hard at my own stupid argument, but the point is, Green did a terrific job with inferior talent. There’s no reason to believe he can’t do it again with slightly less inferior talent.

Key supporting staff

Mark McGwire returns for his third season as bench coach, where he’ll hopefully teach the bench a thing or two. Failing that, maybe he can bat third against lefties.

Matt Stairs takes over as hitting coach, after having previously served in that capacity for the Phillies, so good luck to him as he becomes the baseball equivalent to a Spinal Tap drummer. Perhaps some of his ability will rub off on Eric Hosmer. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Former first-base coach Johnny Washington is the new assistant hitting coach. Most of his seven years of minor-league coaching experience comes as a hitting coach. It isn’t clear how much experience he has assisting.

In a rare bout of continuity, Darren Balsley soldiers on as the pitching coach capable of surviving repeated managerial, front office, and ownership upheaval. He joined the Padres in 2003, coming up from Double-A Mobile with a kid named Jake Peavy, and has been in San Diego ever since. His staffs have finished tenth or worse in ERA among NL teams in five of the last six years (yay, 2014!), but if you look at some of the “pitchers” he’s had to work with, it’s worth cutting him considerable slack. Another 2007 version of Peavy would make Balsley look a lot better, although at this point even another 2010 version of Clayton Richard would be acceptable. Here’s hoping Dinelson Lamet turns into something.

Skip Schumaker is the new first-base coach. He wields a mean stopwatch.

Glenn Hoffman returns as third-base coach. He has survived almost as long as Balsley.

Former Padres reliever Doug Bochtler begins his third season as bullpen coach. Fact: Bochtler allowed just one home run to current Hall of Famers in 63 plate appearances (to Craig Biggio, of all people). Other fact: Bochtler allowed two home runs to Willie Greene in four plate appearances.

Others of note (or not)

Josh Johnson is listed simply as “coach,” which offers a fair amount of leeway. The important thing to know is that this isn’t the right-handed pitcher who spent two full seasons on the Padres DL. This is a former switch-hitting middle infielder taken by the Royals in third round of the 2004 draft.

Justin Hatcher and Griffin Benedict are back as bullpen catchers. Hatcher is entering his 11th season, while Benedict is entering his eighth. This depresses me because I remember watching them both as players at Lake Elsinore. I also remember watching Benedict’s dad Bruce play for the Braves back in the day. Where does the time go?

Other intriguing names include former big-league outfielder Tony Tarasco (outfield and baserunning coordinator, famously interfered with by a 12-year-old kid in a 1996 playoff game—yes, the right field umpire who ruled against Tarasco and sided with the Yankees on that play was Richie “Mark Langston Got Jobbed” Garcia), Trevor Hoffman (probably not best known as Glenn’s brother), Moises Alou (special assistant to player development, could bat behind McGwire against southpaws), and Hideo Nomo (advisor, baseball operations; once sued by Tony Gwynn’s wife).

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That’s all you need to know about the 2018 Padres coaching staff. Probably a little more than you need to know, if we’re being perfectly honest, but there it is. Use this information wisely.


Geoff Young pours craft beer at cool festivals. He also occasionally writes about baseball.

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