Melvin's SD coaching staff comes into focus

December 10th, 2021

SAN DIEGO -- When the Padres dismissed Jayce Tingler in October, the team also informed its coaches that they were free to look elsewhere for jobs. That didn't necessarily mean the entire 2021 staff would be cast aside. But the Padres wanted to ensure their next manager had a major say in the hires.

That left new manager Bob Melvin with an entire coaching staff that needed to be filled. Less than two months after his arrival, Melvin's first Padres staff has mostly fallen into place, though it hasn't quite been finalized.

The club expects the full specifics on the coaching search to be announced soon, perhaps next week. Here's a look at where things stand:

What we know

The Padres formally announced the hiring of pitching coach Ruben Niebla before Melvin was brought on board, and Melvin has since expressed his full support for the hire. Niebla is a highly regarded pitching guru from his time with Cleveland.

The team has also confirmed that bullpen coach Ben Fritz, who took over as pitching coach when Larry Rothschild was dismissed last summer, will return as bullpen coach for 2022.

Beyond that, the club hasn't confirmed any hires, but several other coaches have agreed with the Padres, per sources.

Ryan Christenson will take over as bench coach, sources said, joining Melvin after he'd served in that same capacity in Oakland. Francisco Cervelli will work with the team's catchers, following his 13-year big league career as a backstop.

Perhaps the most intriguing recent hire is Michael Brdar as hitting coach. The 27-year-old spent two seasons as the Giants' hitting coach and is viewed as a quick riser within the game. He recently took home the Chicago Scouts Association's Passion for the Game award.

Brdar oversaw some serious development in the Giants' system, and the Padres are banking on his methods paying dividends with a team that struggled offensively down the stretch in 2021.

What we don't know

Ryan Flaherty is also returning to the Padres coaching staff, sources said, after he'd spent the past two seasons as quality control coach. He's been given the title of offensive coordinator, according to a report by The Athletic, but the specifics of that role remain unclear.

The Padres have also hired Herberto Andrade from Pittsburgh, per a source, but his role in San Diego remains unclear. Andrade was a longtime bullpen catcher in Pittsburgh and could help fill that role with the Padres as well, but he's also expected to have other responsibilities.

As for the openings on staff, there are obvious vacancies at first- and third-base coach. The Padres have been in dialogue with candidates for both spots, though they appear closer to hiring a third-base coach.

There's also the question of any other roles that might take shape on the staff to complement the current group. Who else will Brdar be working with on the hitting side of things, for instance?

What it all means

It's shaping up to be quite a staff, with an eclectic mix of coaches from different backgrounds. The Padres valued some stability, bringing back Fritz and Flaherty. But after their 2021 collapse, the '22 staff still looks like a serious overhaul.

Perhaps most notably, the hires of Niebla and Brdar represent a fundamental shift to the way the Padres have approached the pitching and hitting sides, respectively. Both coaches are well known for their use of information and analytics. But the Padres were equally intrigued by their communication skills and the manner in which they can drive their points home to players.

At his introductory presser in October, Melvin said, "I want to hear about what we have here in the organization. I'll probably have a few names to throw out there, too. But we want to get it right as a complete staff."

Sure enough, his staff is just about complete.