Right now the Padres sit on a record of 17-34. I’d like to type that again just so I can try to soak it in…17 wins and 34 losses. We are 16 games out of first, have a 5-game losing streak and are resting very comfortably in last place. Not just last place in the NL West – we’re last place in all of Baseball, and possibly Hockey, too. We rank 28th in hits, 29th in RBI’s, 28th in team BA, and dead last in homeruns with 23. That’s how many homeruns the ENTIRE team has hit in case that wasn’t clear. However, we do rank 2nd in strikeouts so don’t say we’re not good at anything!
This team sucks and they’re not getting any better. We got shutout twice in a row last week in New York; we ended up scoring a few runs against the Cubs in Chicago, just not enough. I have no idea how moving the fences in at PETCO will help us score more runs on the East Coast, but by all means let’s keep thinking about it.
So, when your team is the worst team in Baseball, you don’t really have an owner, and 95% of the citizens in your city couldn’t tell you who plays left field to save their lives, you decide to play a few rounds of the Blame Game! Come on boys and girls – everyone’s doing it!
When your team is playing this badly the first people to get blamed are always the hitting coaches. They are (usually) the first to get fired and this season is no different. Phil Plantier might as well keep a packed suitcase with him everywhere he goes. But, looking at this objectively and not just as an angry fan who’s team is close to or thee worst in every offensive category in the Majors, one thing becomes very clear: It’s not entirely Plantier’s fault.
Let’s take a stroll back to 1995 and the year things really started to turn around for the Padres. Bochy was at the helm and Merv Rettenmund was our hitting coach. In fact Merv had been there since 1991, and not only was he ridiculously respected in his position but he also has an awesome name. After the great fire sale of ‘99 Merv was politely asked if he’d like to retire. What followed can only be described as ‘sad’.
Replacing Merv as hitting coach in 2000 was a guy named Ben Oglivie.
In 2001 and 2002 it was Duane Espy.
Remember those guys? No? Oh, well here’s a name you might recall: Dave Magadan! He jumped on board as hitting coach from 2003-2006. After what was three solid seasons for the team, Magadan was fired midway through the 2006 season and was replaced by the old warhorse Merv! Rettenmund came out of “retirement” and was promptly fired midway through the 2007 season being replaced by Wally Joyner! PETCO’s home dugout officially became ‘Wally World’ until the end of 2008 when Joyner “resigned”. The reigns were then handed over to Randy Ready in 2009 and he stayed there until the end of a pretty pathetic 2011, and was fired.
In 2012, an extremely respected ex-player and one time Padre Phil Plantier was handed the job of hitting coach for the lowly San Diego Padres. I can’t imagine the phone call to Plantier during the off-season sounded much different than the phone call trying to hire Lou Brown to manage the Indians in Major League.
But, Phil took the job and here he is about to be fired, and I keep asking myself if it’s actually his fault? Just recently Mickey Hatcher was fired by the Angels solely due to the fact that Albert Pujols wasn’t hitting. That’s harsh. True, Pujols literally started crushing the ball the next day, but I’d say it was less actual Hatcher and more Pujols letting himself believe it was Hatcher.
Fine smartass, then whose fault is it? Wait, I know! I know! It’s the fences! Move the fences in at PETCO and everything will be fine! We’ll win the World Series for the next thirty years! I guess it could be the fences except for the fact that we have a vastly better home record than on the road. Hard to believe that isn’t it? With all the whining and crying about PETCO, most of our troubles come outside the not-so-friendly confines. We’re an almost (I wrote almost) respectable 12-16 at home, but we’re an awful 5-18 on the road! What does that mean? Well, I’ll break it down for you and show you.
HOME team BA: .208 (28TH in MLB)
AWAY team BA: .241 (20TH in MLB)
Okay, so we can’t necessarily hit anywhere, but we do in fact have a better batting average on the road. I don’t think anyone was unaware of that. However…
HOME team ERA: 3.05 (7TH in MLB)
AWAY team ERA: 5.06 (27TH in MLB)
Oh. Um…so we blame the pitching? Yes we do. We blame the pitching coach? Yes we do. I’m sure you’re thinking at this point, “but I like blaming the hitting cause I like homeruns”. And, here is where I’m going to make you happy – you can blame the hitting too! You can even blame Phil Plantier.
There is one rule though: You can’t blame just one of them.
WHAAAAAA???? I know it sucks, but it’s true and I almost forgot one more thing – you can’t blame it on the fences either, because it’s fairly obvious those fences are the only thing keeping us in ballgames. However, this is the Major Leagues and we must have a scapegoat. We must have someone who can win the Blame Game, because apparently It’s the only game we can win. We can’t release every single player and start over, even though that might be the best thing to do. We can’t really blame Josh Byrnes and what’s refreshing is that it seems like no one really is. It’s clearly not his fault; he was dealt a raw hand and is now trying to put the pieces together while not losing every single fan in San Diego. All this really leaves is one person and I’ll be completely honest when I say I’d rather not admit it, but it’s Bud Black.
Bud Black was handed a team that Bruce Bochy was able to take to the playoffs two seasons in a row. Of course the 2005 and 2006 squads were nothing to write home about, but that’s where Bochy always succeeded and so far Bud Black hasn’t. When Bochy was given any amount of actual talent he could cultivate it and then produce something above expectations. Up until this point Bud Black has only lead the Padres to one serious run, and that was in 2010 when the team finished the season with one of the most epic collapses of all time; losing a 6.5 game division lead in a month. Even then people blamed the bats, they blamed the pitching, the fielding, but no one wanted to blame the Skipper. Why?
Bud Black has always been considered a great ex-player, a fantastic pitching coach and an all-around good guy. Hell, I even bought him a beer two seasons ago when he walked into a bar I was in. But, Bud Black seems to be proving time and time again that he’s not a big league manager. No prospects have grown during his tenure, we’ve finished under .500 in three of his five full seasons and are clearly headed that way again, and no player has ever stepped forward to say anything good or bad about him. Buddy just exists. I like Bud Black. I’d love to see what he could do with a talented team, but he won’t get that opportunity anytime soon here in San Diego, so what are we doing? Why do we feel this attachment to a manager who hasn’t really done anything for us other than not rock the boat? At this point, he should be fired and if he were the manager anywhere else he would have been.
Let me make this abundantly clear: Fire them all. Clean house. No current coach or manager we have has done anything anyone could call successful. But, that’s not financially sound so it should all come down to the man in charge. As you read this Bud Black should be giving his exit interview and the team should be looking for some manager who will come in here and yell at these young guys. Cause a controversy and get people to care about Baseball in San Diego. But, none of this will happen and they’ll probably just fire Phil Plantier.
Sorry Phil, looks like six more weeks of winter.
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