The Editor’s Desk with Billy Brost: Have The Padres Tuned Out Bud Black?


We’ve discussed the Bud Black dilemma before in this very forum. Any time a manager struggles for an extended period of time, he usually will be the fall guy. It’s not always right, but it is what happens, because managers are easier to replace than underperforming players under long-term or unmovable contracts.

The San Diego Padres have struggled for the most part since Black took over the team for Bruce Bochy, who has gone on to win a pair of World Series titles up the coast in San Francisco. Did Bochy all of a sudden become a better manager when he went to San Fran? No, he was just given better tools in which to do his job. It’s always easier to blame the manager when things don’t go well for a team. His every move is scrutinized, criticized, questioned, and discussed to the point we all get tired of hearing about it.

Bud Black is one of the most respected managers in the game by his players. He is the definition of “a player’s manager”, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not time to move in a different direction at the end of the season. No doubt, if the Padres were to part ways with Black, he wouldn’t be unemployed very long, and nobody has any idea who would replace him, but it is something that will most likely be considered regardless, just because of the lack of success on the field.

The anti-Black movement would point to the fact that the Friars increased payroll to over $90 million this season, and that blew up in their faces. Is that Black’s fault? Former GM Josh Byrnes paid the price for his mistakes, and some believe Black should follow. There is also the school of thought, that with A.J. Preller coming in as the new general manager, that he will want to wipe the slate clean, and enter 2015 with “his guy” in the dugout, leading a new version of the Padres on the right path towards building a championship-caliber team on the field. Preller hasn’t indicated, nor has ownership, that Black’s job is in jeopardy. Could it be the silent, ninja approach? Will they strike quickly and blindside everyone once the season ends?

There are many viable candidates out on the market who are qualified to take over this team. The most obvious, because he has a direct connection to Preller and the Texas Rangers, is recently resigned manager Ron Washington. After all, he took the foundation that Buck Showalter laid out before him, and won back-to-back American League pennants for a franchise that had never won a playoff series, let alone gone to the World Series. While it might not be realistic at this time, it’s an intriguing thought.  

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Of course someone else who is proven to turn teams around in a hurry, is former Giants/Cubs/Reds skipper Dusty Baker. He’s a native NL West guy, having spent most of his career in L.A. as a Dodgers’ outfielder, and he demands respect from his players. He too has a winning pedigree, having taken the Giants to the World Series, made the Cubs contenders, albeit it a brief stint, and finally his latest stop in Cincinnati. It wasn’t a lack of winning that cost Baker his job, but his loyalty to his coaching staff.

A darkhorse candidate always has to be former White Sox and Marlins manager, Ozzie Guillen. The fiery, short-tempered Guillen, made an immediate impact when he took over a long-suffering White Sox franchise that he spent most of his playing career with. He won a World Series, made a few October appearances, and wore out his welcome with his mouth, his temper, and his demands for perfection. He moved on to Miami, where a ton of money was spent (including signing away former Padres’ closer Heath Bell), only to watch that team fall flat on their faces, and finish dead last in the NL East. Guillen was quickly shown the door amid some offensive remarks he made to the media.

Or, Preller could just stick it out with Bud Black. Allow the farm system to continue developing, as they are ranked 6th in all of baseball, use free agent money wisely, and bring in talent via the International Free Agent market–something A.J. Preller is known for. Black could mold and mentor a young Padres’ team until they are ready to win, and finally be rewarded for years of futility. It should be an interesting first couple of weeks following the end of the regular season for A.J. Preller, Bud Black, and the rest of the Padres’ organization.

Keep the Faith.