Marlins reserve outfielder Ichiro Suzuki used an interesting analogy to describe what it was like to be a free agent during the off-season. Via Brad Lefton of the Wall Street Journal:
“That must be what it feels like to be a puppy at a pet shop,” Ichiro explained in his unique style. “Amongst all the cute little puppies jumping and tumbling for prospective owners, there’s one who’s a little older, a little more mature, who keeps getting passed over for the more adorable ones. When someone finally comes along and points a finger at him, an undying loyalty is born.”
The analogy is cute, but it’s also kind of sad if to think of adult athletes in the same way as caged animals. Then again, given the substandard conditions minor leaguers face and the lack of choices available to players who have not yet reached arbitration eligibility, the analogy may not be too far off.
Ichiro signed with the Marlins on a one-year, $2 million deal in January. Over the last two seasons with the Yankees, he batted .271/.308/.341 with eight home runs, 57 RBI, and 35 stolen bases in 940 plate appearances.
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.