Earlier in the week, the Padres’ brass elected to pick up the 2014 and 2015 options on Manager Bud Black’s contract. I believe that the decision to extend Black a sensible move made by the organization. With Black in for the next three seasons, he will finally be able to work under a more cash-flush/ready to spend ownership group, and should also have loads of young talent arriving from the Minor Leagues to contribute as well.
New Ownership Group
To Black’s credit, he has pressed on with complete and total overhaul in San Diego’s Front Office during his career with the franchise. Black has worked under three General Managers (Kevin Towers, Jed Hoyer, Josh Byrnes), and neither has lasted or stayed more than three seasons in San Diego since 2007. But as difficult as the overhaul at the G.M. position has been above Black during his tenure, his teams have always been at a large disadvantage in the payroll department, and the organization has been liable to trade away their most talented players due to high contract demands.
Last season though, the Padres franchise might have turned a corner in the ownership department. During the Summer, an ownership group led by Peter Seidler, the O’Malley Family (long-time owners of the Dodgers), and Ron Fowler bought the Padres for a cool $800 million. While the change is fantastic, what makes me happy, and I am sure makes San Diego’s Manager even more thrilled is the fact that this group is committed to building a winning franchise in a much different way than the previous regime tried to do so.
In an article by Jeff Sanders of the North County Times after the sale, Fowler was quoted as saying that: “The term ‘firesale’ is not going to be part of how we conduct business. We are building slowly, we are building through the draft and the farm system, and those building blocks are in place. … However, if we need to add a (player), we’re going to do it. We are going to build this thing in a slow build.” The article also goes on to discuss how the team’s payroll will increase over the coming seasons, and how the ownership group appears dedicated to keeping some of their better players already in place like Carlos Quentin and Huston Street (both players signed extensions last year).
As it stands, Black now has a solid and stable situation in place above him for arguably the first time since he took over the team back in 2007. With an ownership group with decades of baseball and Front Office experience now running the show, and possessing a dedication to building the Padres over the “long-haul,” San Diego’s Manager has much to look forward to over the next three years.
Front Office and Ownership stability are only one side of the coin in the “building a successful team” equation. Talent, and a pool of young and worthwhile developmental talent at the Minor League level are also needed. Luckily for Black, he just might have a wealth of talent to look forward to watching make their contributions with the Padres over the next two to three years.
Rich Minor League System
Unless you live in San Diego, or are an avid Padres fan, you might not know that over the next three years, the Padres are set to reap the benefits of their deep Minor League system. Last season, Keith Law of ESPN ranked San Diego’s Minor League system as #1 of all of the Major League teams, and the Padres could be primed to take the proverbial “next step” once these prospects reach the Major League level.
In terms of position players, Infielders like Jedd Gyorko, Edinson Rincon, and Cory Spangenberg are highly touted and have enjoyed successful Minor League careers’, and should will be set to make contributions at some point from 2013 to 2015. Outfielder Rymer Liriano is considered to be the franchise’s #1 Overall Prospect by MLB.com, should be set to make his Triple-A debut in Tucson this season, and could even be a September call-up in 2013 if he performs well.
In addition to their Infield and Outfield prospects, the Padres have some solid terrific arms currently developing at the Minor League level too. Potential Starters Adys Portillo and Robbie Erlin should be contributing by 2014, and Relievers Kevin Quackenbush and Matt Stites are coming off fantastic Arizona Fall League stints. Along with Portillo and Erlin, Starters like Cory Luebke and Joe Wieland should be healthy by the middle/end of the 2013 campaign, and Casey Kelly received some experience at the Major League level near the end of 2012 as well. And with players like Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal (after his suspension), Brad Boxberger, and Andrew Cashner already possessing a solid amount of professional experience, a young nucleus of talent could help to make San Diego a relevant and exciting ball-club in the future.
Like Robert, and I am sure like most other Padres fans, I cannot wait to see what Black and the rest of his staff are able to accomplish over the next three seasons. The upcoming period will be a terrific test for Black and his Staff to illustrate to the new Ownership Group that they can make this franchise a legitimate contender in the National League with the right resources at their disposal. And in the event the Padres or Black do struggle, the Front Office is not tied to their Manager beyond 2015, and the appropriate change can be made if change is deemed necessary. Hopefully Black can use the next three years to continue to build in San Diego, because the pieces are in place from top to bottom to make some positive things happen at Petco.
Stats Courtesy of: Baseball Reference