SAN DIEGO (AP) — A.J. Preller has set the bar high for the San Diego Padres — World Series high.
Preller was hired as general manager on Wednesday after developing a reputation as a hard-working, hard-charging scouting and player development executive the last 10 years with the Texas Rangers. He has extensive international scouting experience, particularly in Latin America.
Preller said at his introductory press conference that it was "intriguing to me that the Padres have had some tremendous players over their history, some All-Stars, some Hall of Fame players, some good clubs, but have never won a World Series."
The Padres played in the World Series in 1984 and 1998, losing both times.
They've been back to the playoffs only twice since 1998, winning the NL West title in 2005-06. They were swept by St. Louis in the playoffs in 2005 and won just one game in the postseason the following year.
Since then, they've had only two winning seasons.
Preller joined the Rangers in November 2004 and helped build teams that became perennial contenders. They reached the World Series in 2010 and 2011, losing both times.
Preller, most recently the Rangers' assistant GM, said it was apparent that the Padres' top executives, Ron Fowler, Peter Seidler and Mike Dee, want to do whatever it takes to win a World Series.
"It's a challenge for everyone in the organization, something to look forward to," Preller said. "You talk about it all the time: You want to play on the big stage. The big stage is not Lake Elsinore, the big stage is not for our prospects to get to El Paso, or our prospects to get to Petco. The big stage is not to get to the big leagues. The big stage is playing in the World Series, with the whole world watching."
Preller replaces Josh Byrnes, who was fired June 22.
He beat out a field of finalists that included assistant GMs Mike Hazen of the Boston Red Sox and Billy Eppler of the New York Yankees, and Kim Ng, senior vice president for baseball operations for Major League Baseball. Ng is one of the highest-ranking women in baseball. There has never been a female GM in MLB or any of the other major sports. Ng also interviewed for the Padres' GM job in 2009 after Kevin Towers was fired. The job eventually went to Jed Hoyer.
The Padres are looking for stability. They're on their third ownership group since 2009 and Preller is their fourth general manager since then.
Preller said he's heard himself portrayed "as this maverick out in the middle of nowhere, doing my job. The biggest thing is, can you connect people. That's what we did with the Rangers and that's what I want to do with the Padres."
He said he wants his staff to be "cutting edge, next wave, ahead of the curve."