When dinosaurs ruled the Earth, I used to publish “Friday Links” at Ducksnorts. The name pretty well describes the feature, and I’ve decided to resurrect it here for the 2015 season. It’ll still run on Fridays, but there will only be five links, hence the new moniker.

That was a tedious explanation of something that shouldn’t need one. Here are more interesting things to read, in no particular order:

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On Sunday night, news broke out of the Domincan Republic that Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras, along with his girlfriend Edilio Arvelo, had passed away in a car accident. I was hoping that it wasn’t true — probably like many of you — that it was one of those rumors somehow spread via social media that turns out to be a vicious hoax or some type of misunderstanding. As you certainly know by now, the story was confirmed and reported by Ken Rosenthal during the World Series, serving as a somber reminder that sometimes the escape that we call sports doesn’t always comply with our wishes. Taveras, a consensus top-three prospect over the last few years, was just 22 years old (his girlfriend 18) and had his whole career — and more so, his whole life — ahead of him. It’s a tragic, jarring loss, even though similar accidents and untimely deaths happen countless times each day. The fact that we’re part of a community — baseball fans in general and/or prospect hounds more specifically — in which Taveras played a prominent role makes his loss stand out, triggering all of those age old questions about life, and death, and things we don’t understand. Condolences to the family and friends of both Taveras and Arvelo, along with the entire Cardinals organization.   

Now, on a much lighter note, let’s discuss some news and notes in and around Padres land.

Joe Maddon speculation … commence!

Our continued focus on moves that might affect the Padres indirectly — like Andrew Friedman going to LA and the D’Backs front office shake-up — shifts to discussing Joe Maddon’s abrupt departure as Tampa Bay Rays manager. Maddon, who had amassed a .517 winning percentage and an America League pennant in nine years with the Rays, exercised an opt-out in his contract on Saturday that allowed him to walk away from his deal if Andrew Friedman left the Rays.

The immediate speculation was that Maddon, one of the game’s most respected managers, would take over as skipper for the Dodgers, reuniting with Friedman in LA and ousting Don Mattingly. Mattingly, despite two straight 90-win seasons, is firmly entrenched on the managerial wobbly chair with an early playoff exit in 2014 and an ongoing power struggle with right fielder Yasiel Puig. That narrative took a bit of a turn when Friedman issued this statement on Saturday:

As I said last week, Joe and I enjoyed a tremendous relationship working together in Tampa Bay, and I wish him nothing but the best, wherever his next stop will be. However, nothing has changed on our end. Don Mattingly will be our manager next season and hopefully for a long time to come.

With Maddon now essentially a free agent manager and the big spending Dodgers apparently out of the mix (at least for this year), you’ve got to ask yourself: why couldn’t Maddon’s next destination be San Diego?

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Oh, A.J. Preller…is there anything you won’t do to make San Diego fall in love with you? Although we have yet to see what the Padres general manager can do in the free agent or trade markets, one thing is becoming more and more apparent…the guy knows how to surround himself with good people. Last Thursday, Preller lured current director of player development Sam Geaney away from the Oakland Athletics. Today, the Padres website announced the hiring of former Los Angeles Dodgers scouting director Logan White. According to the LA Times, White is rumored to be named senior advisor to the general manager, as well as director of pro scouting.

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The Padres have finished the first round of interviews to replace dismissed GM Josh Byrnes. Eight candidates received interviews, while six prospective candidates declined to be interviewed, including 2 of my top 3 choices, Cardinals AGM Mike Girsch and Cubs VP of Sexy Jason McLeod.

First to interview were former Marlins GM Larry Beinfest and Dodgers scouting VP Logan White. Next were Diamondbacks Scouting Director Ray Montgomery, Yankees AGM Billy Eppler, and Texas AGM A.J. Preller. Last week, the Padres interviewed their final 3 candidates, Boston AGM Mike Hazen, Padres AGM Josh Stein, and former Dodgers AGM and current VP of Baseball Operations for MLB Kim Ng.

Now that the first round of interviews appear to be done, the results of those interviews are beginning to leak out, as the Padres narrow their selections, bring up to 4 back for second interviews, and eventually narrow things down to their ultimate decision, which could still be a few weeks away. Sunday evening, Peter Gammons suggested that both Beinfest and White, two of the older candidates to have interviewed, were no longer being considered, while it appears that Preller of the Rangers has made the first round of cuts and will receive a 2nd interview.

For the purpose of ranking the candidates right now, I’m going to include them all. It seems as though the Padres are right in the midst of narrowing down the list from 8 to 3 or 4 as I write this, and I don’t want to leave anyone out on the chance the information I am getting as I write this is incorrect.

I don’t dislike any of the 8 candidates interviewed. They are all qualified. I do have preferences though, so here’s how I would rank the Padres GM candidates, starting with my least favorite homie and ending with my top bro or chick.

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