Every now and then, you’ll hear a name tied to a certain job, and it will just hit you like a bus. Of course that’s the right pick! you think. And, if you’ve thought it, so have others. So why hasn’t your dream candidate been supplanted from whatever job he or she is currently working to take over the vacancy within your organization?
That’s my feeling with Jason McLeod. When the Chicago Cubs stole Jed Hoyer away, it seemed like a tough blow. However, when I discovered Jason McLeod was going with him, I was concerned for the Padres’ development going forward. You can argue that concern was warranted or was not warranted depending on your view of San Diego’s current farm system and the production from its prospects. However, very few would argue against McLeod’s skill in the scouting department.
Now, Josh Byrnes is gone. The Padres are in search of a new GM. Jason McLeod could be fill that role. He has maintained a position relatively similar to that which he held with the Padres in Chicago. He does not have GM experience. Yet, he feels like the right candidate. He knows San Diego, he knows the players, he knows the farm system. Fangraphs interviewed McLeod shortly before Byrnes’ firing. Here’s what he had to say about some of his former selections:
“With San Diego, right from the summer before we drafted Jedd Gyorko, when he was playing in the Cape Cod League, we could see he had big-time confidence. He had a presence at the plate and knew he was going to hit anybody. While [Jed] Lowrie was ‘Okay, I’m going to take it like it comes’ – nothing was going to rattle him – Gyorko was ‘Alright, throw it in here, I’m going to ring it into a gap.’ His mentality was more aggressive than Lowrie’s. They had the same confidence, but the personalities surrounding that confidence were different.”
McLeod still sounds high on Chase Headley, even. As he discusses his failures, Headley was among them. But not for selecting him. Headley was one of McLeod’s failures because he didn’t select Headley in the draft while he was working with the Red Sox.
“Headley was a very steady college player who controlled the zone and got on base. I was like, ‘You know what? We already took Jed Lowrie and Jacoby Ellsbury.’ In a nutshell, what we did was go for the big upside. We took Jon Egan, who ended up not playing very long. Chase Headley became Chase Headley. I completely whiffed”
First, it’s refreshing to see someone talking about Headley in a positive light. We’ve all known who he was as a player, but his breakout 2012 season made some of us forget that and begin to expect more. But that’s beside the point. The point is that McLeod clearly knows and understands this club.
The Cubs have reportedly already granted the Padres permission to interview McLeod. Unless he completely blows the interview, it seems that the ultimate decision will fall on him. I can see no strong reason San Diego would not want to bring him on as GM. If the concern is his lack of general manager experience, simply remembering he has worked for and worked with some of the best GMs in the game might help. McLeod has learned from Theo Epstein, Ben Cherington, and Jed Hoyer. If I’m looking to get experience for a role I have not yet held, I can’t think of a better group of people to have as mentors.
The Padres need a significant shift. Perhaps hiring a general manager with no GM experience is that shift. There will always be former GM’s looking for work. It’s rare that a team is presented with the opportunity to hire a talented person with nothing but promise in front of him. That’s the opportunity lying ahead of San Diego. Whether they capitalize on it or not is up to them.