Carlos Santana homered in both games of Thursday’s doubleheader against the Twins and the Indians switch-hitter has been such a force at the plate that it’s hard to remember he was hitting .159 as of June 1.
But it’s true, Santana had a .159 batting average through two months of the season while struggling defensively in an attempt to transition from catcher to third base.
Coincidence or not Santana’s last game at third base came on May 22 and since then he’s hit .279 with a .404 on-base percentage and .543 slugging percentage in 89 games, including 22 homers, 17 doubles, and 64 walks on the way to a .947 OPS.
Among all American League hitters during that same span Santana ranks first in walks, third in on-base percentage, fourth in homers, and sixth in slugging percentage. And now, even including his brutal first two months, Santana’s overall OPS is .818 compared to his career mark of .815. That’s a helluva turnaround.
The Padres fired manager Andy Green on Saturday, per an official team release. Bench coach Rod Barajas will step into the position for the remaining eight games of the 2019 season.
Executive Vice President and GM A.J. Preller gave a statement in the wake of Green’s dismissal:
I want to thank Andy for his tireless work and dedication to the Padres over the last four seasons. This was an incredibly difficult decision, but one we felt was necessary at this time to take our organization to the next level and expedite the process of bringing a championship to San Diego. Our search for a new manager will begin immediately.
In additional comments made to reporters, Preller added that the decision had not been made based on the Padres’ current win-loss record (a fourth-place 69-85 in the NL West), but rather on the lack of response coming from the team.
“Looking at the performance, looking at it from an improvement standing, we haven’t seen the team respond in the last few months,” Preller said. “When you get to the point where you’re questioning where things are headed … we have to make that call.”
Since his hiring in October 2015, Green has faced considerable challenges on the Padres’ long and winding path to postseason contention. He shepherded San Diego through four consecutive losing seasons, drawing a career 274-366 record as the club extended their streak to 13 seasons without a playoff appearance. And, despite some definite strides in the right direction — including an eight-year, $144 million pact with Eric Hosmer, a 10-year, $300 million pact with superstar Manny Machado, and the development of top prospect Fernando Tatís Jr. — lingering injuries and inexplicable slumps from key players stalled the rebuild longer than the Padres would have liked.
For now, they’ll prepare to roll the dice with a new skipper in 2020, though any potential candidates have yet to be identified for the role. It won’t come cheap, either, as Green inked a four-year extension back in 2017 — one that should have seen him through the team’s 2021 campaign.