San Diego Padres managerBud Black
(left) and San Diego Padres general manager Josh Byrnes. Mandatory Credit:David Manning
-USA TODAY Sports
Two. That is a small number when wins and losses are how you are judged in the profession of baseball. Two out of eight equates to 25 percent. One-quarter of the entire managerial existence of Bud Black, has resulted in winning seasons. He is in his 8th season at the helm of the Friars, and from what we’ve seen thus far, it is safe to assume that 2014 can be counted as a losing campaign. His winning seasons? 2007 and 2010. Let’s not be so quick to give Black the credit for 2007, as he took over for a more than qualified, and 2-time World Series winning manager in Bruce Bochy, who had back-to-back division-winning seasons in 2005 and 2006. In 12 seasons, exactly HALF of Bochy’s seasons were of the winning variety. Just sayin’…
While Black is considered a player’s manager, he is certainly never going to be credited for being an expert strategist, or superb handler of his roster. Bud Black could be the king of the platoon–and thus by overusing such a strategy, he never allows his players to get into a consistent groove. Baseball is a game of adjustments. Baseball is a game of consistency, or trying to be as consistent as possible. How can a player get comfortable and perform, or snap out of a slump if he doesn’t know from day-to-day when or if he’s going to see the field. What occurs is a lack of production. Oh wait, kind of like what we are seeing in 2014? A team that is on a historic pace for being the worst offensive team in Padres’ history, and could rival for overall futility in big league history?
Josh Byrnes has a track record of making bone-headed moves in an attempt to turn teams around quickly. For someone that is credited with coming from the Theo Epstein managerial structure, Byrnes has been an epic fail for both the Arizona Diamondbacks AND his current employer–the Padres. This examination of Byrnes’ record will only cover his stint as general manger of the team, which began on October 26th, 2011. He will not get strapped with any of the poor personnel decisions prior to that, although it can be assumed he had some say in said personnel decisions as Vice President of Baseball Operations under Jed Hoyer.
What is Byrnes’ excuse for failing to land any impact players or being unable to swing a deal for an impact bat? His usable payroll has increased exponentially over the past three seasons, going from just under $46 million in 2012, to just over $55 million in 2013, to a massive increase of over $90 million dollars this season. Where are the results? This could be one of the worst teams the Padres’ have fielded in the Bud Black-era.
Byrnes has made some questionable acquisitions during his tenure. Sign Mark Kotsay? Sure why not? In 186 games, Kotsay hit .227, with 3 home runs and 26 RBI. All of that for $2.55 million over two seasons. Great signing. Take your pick on awful pitcher signings. Micah Owings, Jeff Suppan, Kip Wells, and oh yeah, this season, Josh Johnson, who never threw a single pitch in the regular season. Try a combined 4-9 record, and an ERA of 4.22. More money well spent. It hasn’t been completely bad…or has it?
You can be the judge on who won the Anthony Rizzo-for-Andrew Cashner deal. Cash has shown flashes of brilliance, but continues to suffer from arm injuries. Rizzo is now a certified run-producer…one that the Padres’ surely could’ve used. Producing solid starting pitching has never been an issue for this franchise. It’s getting solid, impact bats to produce runs to support great pitching efforts, that’s been the issue with this franchise.
For most of the season, Yonder Alonso has struggled mightily with the bat. Instead of sending him down to El Paso to work things out, and giving the player who had earned the opportunity to play, Kyle Blanks, Black and Byrnes continued to run Alonso out there, and watched him fail to produce. Blanks has since been shipped to Oakland for a bag of balls and a minor league pitcher. Another player who if given 600 at-bats, most likely produces solid power numbers for a lineup that desperately needs it. Have I mentioned that? Byrnes was the one who shipped Carlos Quentin to the Chicago White Sox. He watched as Quentin produced one, solid, MVP-type year in Chicago. Quentin, as he’s done in San Diego was a constant DL occupant. This move is placed directly on Byrnes’ shoulders, as another failed attempt to bring in an impact bat. He KNEW what he was getting, and made the move anyway.
Does Josh Byrnes think it’s the 2005 season? Perhaps. He did sign both Xavier Nady and Jeff Francoeur, one of whom is no longer with the team, and the other is toiling away at Triple-A, hovering around the .200 mark. Instead of bringing in has beens, how about the esteemed general manager makes a concerted effort to extend a homegrown talent in Chase Headley? Is Jedd Gyorko worth that much more to the franchise?
It’s a sad state of affairs for this franchise if only Bud Black loses his job. This should be a package deal, but according to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union Tribune, opines that if the Padres continue to lose at their current pace, Bud Black is most likely done. Acee goes on to state that if the ownership group chooses to make wholesale changes, Byrnes is most likely a casualty as well.
Byrnes is at fault for the poor roster moves, while Black is guilty of not knowing how to manage a baseball team. The combination of the two has left this franchise in disarray. Byrnes hasn’t drafted an impact player that is on the big league roster as of this writing. The question is, should the ownership pull the trigger now, or wait until the end of the season…after another draft has come and gone, and the team most likely finishes at the bottom of the NL West and watches Chase Headley walk away as a free agent?
One cannot just throw darts at the wall, place the blame on the current regime, and not have a viable answer for replacements. When a team makes sweeping changes by firing a field manager and a general manager simultaneously, ownership better have a pretty good idea of whom they want to fill the GM’s job, and then allow that person to bring in their own manager. When a GM is forced to take on a field manager not of their own choosing, problems are existent almost immediately. Here is the short list of who should be considered to be the next Padres’ GM:
- John Coppollela, Atlanta Braves
- Bob Miller, Cincinnati Reds
- David Forst, Oakland A’s
Coppollela comes from the long-successful braintrust in Atlanta, one that has built one of the most consistent and top-producing farm systems in all of baseball. Learning under both John Schierholtz and Frank Wren, Coppellela would be able to recognize the weaknesses of the farm, along with the major league roster. With a limited budget and an eye for talent, Coppellela would have the Padres rebuilt top to bottom in a couple of short seasons.
Bob Miller has worked for Walk Jocketty the past few seasons, and again, like Coppellela, would be able to rebuild the farm system, and start growing young, productive hitters that the Padres would have under team control. Think Joey Votto and Jay Bruce. The Reds organization has never lacked depth for big thunder at the dish, and oh by the way, they’re not bad at developing young arms either (Homer Bailey, Mike Leake).
Much like his boss, David Forst would be able to use the Moneyball approach to build the farm system into one of the most productive in the game. With limited funds, Forst would maximize his dollars to find the diamond in the rough that would work for what the PADRES are trying to do, not what the Dodgers or Yankees are trying to do. Any of these candidates would bring a solid vision, and have a good understanding that as a small market club, they will have to get creative to get and stay competitive.
Now that the general manager candidates are out there, the Padres’ need to review some names for the vacant field manager’s job. The last two managers for the Friars have been more laid back and reserved. Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to go with the opposite of what you’ve had for the past 20 years. Then again, in a relaxed community such as San Diego, someone that is laid back and calm might not be a bad thing. Let’s take a look at some of those names…
If the team is looking for someone with a proven track record of winning wherever he goes, then the obvious choice is Baker. Three teams, three pretty solid turnarounds. He is the perfect mix of former player, respected leader, and fiery field manager–something the Padres have sorely missed. He tends to wear out his welcome and look for greener pastures, so it may be a short-lived gig. Then again, after so many chances, this may be the perfect landing spot for the “Lizzard.”
A former top prospect of the Padres’ organization, Alomar has paid his dues. He’s been a finalist for several jobs, most recently the Cubs’ managerial job that went to former Friar’s coach Rick Renteria. Former catchers tend to make good managers, and Alomar will be a good one. Are the Padres’ willing to live with the learning curve until he’s comfortable?
Willie Randolph comes from the Billy Martin/Buck Showalter/Joe Torre managerial tree, and perhaps took more of the blame for the failings of the Mets than he should have. Many believe he had forces on his own staff working against him, and he, much like Alomar has interviewed and been a finalist for several jobs including in Milwaukee, Seattle, and Miami. He would bring a calming influence along the lines of Torre, but has a genius baseball IQ thanks to his former managers in Martin and Showalter.
Fan favorite Dave Roberts has been involved in coaching for the past couple of seasons, and would make a niece PR hiring for the Padres. What nobody knows though, is what kind of manager would he be. Roberts most likely needs to serve in a bench coach capacity for a couple more years before he becomes a viable candidate.
As the Padres’ season continues to get away from them, the ownership needs to make some difficult decisions sooner rather than later. It’s never easy to make sweeping changes, but at the same time, how long will your fan base tolerate losing? This is a city that has seen two NL pennants, several division crowns, and multiple individual accolades that have resulted in a handful of Hall of Fame members. Recently however, mediocrity, a lack of organizational direction, a underperforming farm system, questionable free agent signings, and no leadership in the dugout, has produced six losing seasons in the past eight. Enough is enough. It’s time for Bud Black and Josh Byrnes to go.