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San Diego Padres Bank on Bud Black for Bright Future

November 24th, 2012 at 9:04 PM
By Wayne Staich

'Tony La Russa and Bud Black pregame' photo (c) 2008, SD Dirk - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

With the news that the San Diego Padres have exercised their options on manager Bud Black's contract for the 2014 and '15 seasons, the question can't help but be asked: is this the right move? 

Black, who was already under contract for 2013, doesn't have a terribly impressive resume. In his six seasons as the Padres' skipper, starting in 2007, he has compiled an overall record of 464-509–that's 45 games under .500. He has not led them to the playoffs. Not even once.

He has come close though. In his first season, 2007, the Padres led the NL West going into the final three games of the season against the Milwaukee Brewers, who were a losing team and had nothing to play for. San Diego needed just one win to clinch the division title. They didn't get it; they got swept, then proceeded to lose a one game tiebreaker vs the Colorado Rockies to miss the playoffs.

It also came down to the final game in 2010, when the Padres trailed the San Francisco Giants by three games entering the last series of the season in San Francisco. Needing a three-game sweep to pull into a tie, they won the first two games before dropping the finale and finishing just two games behind the Giants, who went on to win the World Series. 

 

'Bud Black protesting the strike call on Headley' photo (c) 2010, SD Dirk - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

So, with just two winning seasons and no playoff appearances under his helm, is the Padres' front office justified in keeping him on board for three more years? On the surface, the answer appears to be no. One could easily argue that six seasons is more than long enough to at least produce a playoff appearance. And two winning seasons out of six? Pretty much anyone could do that. 

Furthermore, Bruce Bochy, manager of the San Francisco Giants and Black's predecessor as manager of the Padres, led San Diego to division titles in two of his first four seasons. But wait–in his 12 seasons in San Diego (1995-2006), he also had a losing record: 951-975. Not to mention the fact that Bud Black doesn't have the likes of Kevin Brown, Tony Gwynn, and Ken Caminiti on the field like Bochy did.

Then there is Black's NL Manager of the Year Award in 2010. All he did that season was lead a team that nobody or their grandmother gave a chance to finish within a mile of the postseason to a 90-72, second place finish. It's likely that the Padres would have done something similar in 2012 had their pitching staff not been more decimated by injuries than the U.S. Army.

Another point to consider: just how well does the "we change managers more often than most people change their Facebook profile photo" approach work? Before 1995 when Bochy was hired, the Padres pretty much changed managers every one to three years, and where did it get them? If they were to unload Black, who could they bring on board that would do any better?

What's more, Black is a player's manager. He's adept at building relationships with the players and creating a positive environment in the clubhouse. Padres' GM Josh Byrnes puts it like this:

 

"He's gifted at creating an environment that's fun and inclusive," Byrnes said. "He creates an expectation of success and no excuses. People know what's expected of them. He's bright and engaged and helps us make decisions. He's a great person, a great guy to be around. I consider us lucky to have him."

Is the Padres' front office justified in keeping Bud Black on board for three more years? Padres 101 says yes. What do you say? Log in and let me hear from you, and be sure to vote in the fan poll here at Padres101.com, and like us on Facebook.

 
Tags: Baseball, Bruce Bochy, Bud Black, Josh Byrnes, Ken Caminiti, Milwaukee Brewers, MLB, San Diego, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Tony Gwynn

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