Since A.J. Preller was named the San Diego Padres’ general manager in midseason, he has quietly gone about assessing his on-field talent while making some changes to the scouting staff.
But in the past 10 days, Preller has gotten busy, making two major front-office moves while removing Phil Plantier as the team’s hitting coach.
Preller’s latest — and perhaps most wide-reaching — move came earlier this week when he hired Logan White away from the Dodgers to be his senior advisor and pro scouting director.
White, 51, has spent the last 13 years with the Dodgers, with whom his duties included overseeing amateur scouting and the draft. Among the first-round picks the Dodgers made while White oversaw their draft were James Loney (2002), Chad Billingsley (2003) and Clayton Kershaw (2006).
Additionally, while White oversaw LA’s international scouting, the team signed Cuban outfielder Yasiel Puig, Korean pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu and Japanese pitchers Takashi Saito and Hiroki Kuroda.
“Logan has a tremendous track record in the game,” Preller said. “The knowledge and experience he brings to our organization strengthens our entire baseball operations staff.”
The Padres haven’t had a No. 1 pick make an impact since shortstop Khalil Greene in the mid-2000s (Greene reached All-Star status, then abruptly retired due to an anxiety disorder). The only No. 1 pick on the roster this past season was long-relief pitcher Tim Stauffer.
White began his scouting career in 1988 after playing three seasons as a pitcher in the Mariners minor leagues.
Last week, Preller named Sam Geaney his farm director. Geaney, 29, has been Oakland’s director of international scouting for the past three years. He replaces longtime Padres front office presence Randy Smith, who will stay on as a senior advisor for baseball operations.
Geaney came to the baseball world’s attention when he started a website, calleaguers.com, while attending UC Berkeley. That earned him an internship and eventual job with the A’s.
Preller said Geaney “has a sharp baseball mind and a strong work ethic and will help shape our player development philosophy.”
As for Plantier, it’s a case of another one bites the dust at Petco Park. The Padres ranked last in the National League or all of MLB in most meaningful hitting statistics this past season, and Plantier was released last week. He’s the sixth batting coach to be fired since the Padres moved to pitcher-friendly Petco Park in 2004.
Preller said Plantier is “a guy with a tremendous work ethic and knowledge, but I think ultimately a different voice and a different direction may be the way to go.”
Plantier, the hitting coach for three-plus seasons, may accept another job within the Padres organization.
One chief figure who is staying on is manager Bud Black. Preller said he would honor Black’s contract, which runs through 2015.
With the World Series settled and the Padres looking up at the Dodgers and Giants in the NL West, Preller’s next task is to try to find some potent bats without giving up too much of the team’s stellar pitching.