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USATSI

In a move that could be a harbinger of a deeper restructuring, the spiraling San Diego Padres have fired their farm director. Sam Geaney's contract was set to expire at the end of the season, and general manager A.J. Preller made the decision to part ways with him with the minor-league season drawing to a close. 

"Sam's done a great job here for the last seven years, assembling one of the top farm systems in the game," Preller said on Tuesday, according to Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune. "Part of his job was to develop players and in that role he developed players and coaches. We feel like we have a collection of player development staff members that are prepared to make sure this team is continuing to grow as a top-tier farm system."

Geaney had served in the role since October of 2014. On his watch, the Padres' system produced a number of quality performers, including franchise shortstop/outfielder Fernando Tatis Jr. -- who was acquired from the White Sox as a minor leaguer -- and also churned out young talents that Preller was able to use in trades for established veterans. 

The decision comes as the Padres continue to tumble out of playoff contention despite looking like postseason locks for much of the year. Going into Wednesday's slate, San Diego has lost four in a row and nine of its last 11. They're also 5-12 in September and 23-34 in the second half. 

The struggles come despite a roster that's heavy on frontline talent and ownership's substantial investments in that roster. That, in turn, has led to strong speculation that second-year manager Jayce Tingler may be in danger of losing his job. Tingler guided the Padres to an impressive 37-23 mark and a playoff berth in the abbreviated 2020 season, but the team's recent struggles -- in tandem with the possible clubhouse discord exemplified by the recent Tatis-Manny Machado dugout confrontation in St. Louis -- has led to scrutiny of Tingler's performance in his first full season. As Kevin Acee of the Union-Tribune recently wrote, it's fair to ask whether Tingler has lost the clubhouse amid these season-mangling struggles. 

The Padres fired pitching coach Larry Rothschild in August, and league sources have also told CBS Sports' R.J. Anderson that the franchise is expected to make more changes, including in its scouting department.

Former MLB executive David Samson discussed the Padres' nosedive on Wednesday's Nothing Personal with David Samson. Listen below:

At this writing, the SportsLine Projection System gives the Padres a minuscule chance of reaching the postseason -- less than 1.0 percent, to be semi-precise. Mostly, those long odds reflect the fact that the Padres right now are five games out of the second and final NL wild card spot and behind three teams -- the Cardinals, Reds, and Phillies -- in the queue. That's a large deficit this late in the regular season. As well, the Padres' 11 remaining regular season games come against the Giants, Dodgers, and Braves, i.e., the two best teams in the National League plus the NL East leaders. 

As being left out of the playoff field is almost an inevitability, and almost as inevitable is that notable changes across the organization will take place this coming winter. If Tingler is indeed fired, then Preller will be hiring his third hand-picked manager. In other words, whoever's next will likely be the last firewall between Preller and accountability for his own failings.