The Editor’s Desk with Billy Brost: How Long Of A Leash Does Bud Black Get In ’15?
By Billy Brost
How exciting must San Francisco Giants’ fans be at this point? They just won their third World Series in five years, and they have done it with a combination of solid homegrown products, savvy trades, and keen free agent signings. They don’t go after the big fish, they go after the RIGHT fish. Then, manager Bruce Bochy, whom by the way punched his ticket to Cooperstown with that Game Seven victory the other night, finds a way to push the right buttons every time the chips are down. Congrats to the former Friars skipper on his continued success and to former Padres’ ace, Jake Peavy for winning his second ring in two years.
What about the Padres and this coming winter? Ownership has given their blessing to new GM A.J. Preller to spend as needed, but we all know that doesn’t mean a second incarnation of the Dodgers’ payroll is happening any time soon. My guess is, payroll will be closer to $100 million, up from the $92 mil that the team carried until the trading deadline in July. There are some value options out there to improve an anemic Padres’ lineup: Adam LaRoche, Russell Martin, Nick Markakis–all of whom could make a difference. Say the Friars get two bats, and say one of them is Yasmany Tomas. How much pressure will be on Bud Black to take the Padres from distant third place finishers to Wild Card contenders as early as next season?
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The pitching staff is solid. From Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross, and Ian Kennedy to the back of the bullpen with Joaquin Benoit, Kevin Quackenbush and company, if the Padres can score runs, look out! But, what if they stumble again? What if the pitching staff once again has to carry the load, while the bats remain dormant? There will be a new hitting coach in place. Darren Balsley isn’t losing his job for the wonderful work he’s done with the pitchers, and A.J. Preller isn’t going anywhere. That leaves Bud Black.
I can’t see Preller and the ownership group tolerating another June like we witnessed in 2014, especially if money is spent to upgrade first base, the corner outfielder spots, and possibly shortstop and behind the plate. Here’s what I’m thinking…Black is on a short leash if money is spent. If the lineup gets a makeover, and they still struggle, and say, by June 1st, the Padres are once again looking up at the Dodgers and Giants, and 9 or more games out of first place, then Black walks the plank. Who would his replacement be? That is for another day, but rest assured, Bud Black is managing for his job in 2015 and beyond. If the Padres struggle, and baseball once again in America’s Most Beautiful City is irrelevant by the All-Star Game, A.J. Preller will make a change. It’s just that simple