Preller has the Tools and Background

preller close upBy Bill Center

The truth about leadership is that you never know if a person is cut out for the role until they are cast into the position.

That goes for almost every job of leadership out there – from running a restaurant to heading a Fortune 500 company to commanding an Army.

Results are the ultimate judge.

A.J. Preller has been at work as the General Manager of the Padres for a matter of hours. And if my initial read on the Padres 10th General Manager is correct, the 37-year-old has already plunged into the job.

I have to admit, I am impressed by Preller.

I think he has all the makings of a solid General Manager.

People in the know like his acumen for his new job. They give him very high marks in the scouting and player development, two areas that the Padres need to address and put on solid ground moving forward.

From what I have heard, few in baseball spend more hours studying players than Preller. And from what I have been told, he knows how to process and use the information he compiles.

“This is a very smart man,” Padres Executive Chairman Ron Fowler said of Preller Wednesday afternoon after introducing the Cornell graduate as the Padres General Manager.

But let’s face it, Preller has never been a General Manager before. He has assisted General Managers and earned very high marks in other jobs in baseball. But this is the first time he’s fulfilled a position that he says was on his radar as a youth.

Preller Wednesday afternoon said he had dreamed about being a General Manager since he was in elementary school. Most kids that age are thinking about being a fireman or a cop or, yes, a ballplayer. But how many kids say “I want to be a General Manager?”

So getting his “dream job” just didn’t happen overnight. Preller has been preparing for his new position for most of his life.

But the question remains, can he do it? There are those out there who will tell you Preller is a demanding boss, a workaholic who demands total commitment from his staff.

I say great.

I like the idea of the Padres being in the hands of a passionate workaholic with what appears to be the right background for the job. If some can’t handle that, so be it.

Is Preller the demanding boss that some claim him to be?

My guess is yes. And I see absolutely nothing wrong with that.  I like hard-nosed, passionate bosses who know what they are doing . . . bosses who will be working 18 hours a day to achieve success and surround themselves with knowledgeable people who also work hard.

Two things struck me about Preller during our talk Wednesday.

Before taking the Padres job, Preller was scouting the Area Code Games in Long Beach for the Rangers Tuesday. Upon reaching the decision to take the Padres job, Preller booked an overnight flight back to Dallas to tell his bosses with the Rangers face-to-face that he was going to accept the Padres job. He then flew to San Diego for the Wednesday press conference announcing his acceptance of the position.

Secondly, several times during our talk, Preller mentioned mistakes he had made earlier in his career. I like leaders who are not afraid to say they’ve made mistakes in the past. Usually, they’ve learned and grown.

I think A.J. Preller has all the attributes you’d want in a general manager. Like I said, I’m impressed. I think he has the background.

But only time will tell. That goes with any leadership role.

PADRES PUZZLER: What is the significance of Aug. 6 in Padres history?

WHAT A RELIEF: Three right-handed Padres relief pitchers – Joaquin Benoit, Blaine Boyer and Dale Thayer recently had their earned run averages dip back under 2.00. Benoit has worked 6 2/3 scoreless innings over his last six appearances (with a win and three saves to drop from 2.04 to a 1.75 ERA. Boyer has worked 7 2/3 scoreless innings in his last six appearances to fall from a 2.60 ERA to 1.88. And Thayer has four straight scoreless appearances to go from 2.09 to 1.91.

LOVE TARGET FIELD: First baseman Yonder Alonso was 6-for-8 in the two games in Minneapolis with a homer and three double. Since returning from the disabled list on July 26 (after missing 32 games on the disabled list with tendinitis in his right wrist) Alonso is 12-for-28 (.429) with four doubles, a triple and a home run to raise his batting average from .210 to .233.

RIVERA SLOWED, NOT STOPPED: Catcher Rene Rivera’s seven-game hitting streak (11-for-27), the second-longest hitting streak of his career, ended Tuesday at Minnesota. He walked in both plate appearances the following day.

MEDICA UPDATE: With a 2-for-5 Wednesday in Minnesota, first baseman-outfielder Tommy Medica is hitting .429 (18-for-42) since July 23 with two doubles, three homers, 10 RBIs and seven runs scored.

PADRES PUZZLER: On Aug. 6, 1993, the late Tony Gwynn got his 2,000th Major League hit against Colorado at Jack Murphy Stadium. On Aug. 6, 1999, the Hall of Fame outfielder got his 3,000th career hit in Montreal. And Aug. 6 was the birthday of Gwynn’s mother, Vandella.

1 Comment

It won’t matter if he doesn’t have the budget to pay for first line talent.

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