Padres Editorial: Lessons for the Padres from the Twins, Part 2

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Many people maintain that Bud Black is the right man for the job to lead the Padres over two months into the season. I’m starting to wear down.

 Last October I used the Twins firing of Ron Gardenhire as a sort of “test” for the Padres. After all, the popular Gardenhire had long been perceived as a good manager with no good players save Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau among others. Plus he actually made the playoffs a couple of times. The Twins had finished up another losing season and their biggest acquisition of the off-season started the year by being suspended for amphetamines. Ervin Santana is back now though but the Twins don’t seem to need him all too badly.

The Twins hired Hall of Famer Paul Molitor after firing Gardenhire after 13 seasons to manage despite no prior experience managing. Molitor had collected his 3,000th hit as a Twin and retired in 1998. He served as their bench coach for three seasons after that before leaving the organization. He was the Mariners hitting coach in 2004 before joining the Twins coaching staff again in 2014. Then when the hammer fell on Gardenhire in came Molitor.

With low expectations in a division where the White Sox added Jeff Samardzija to a rotation that already had Chris Sale, Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez in the same Detroit lineup that employs Justin Verlander and David Price in the same rotation, and the reigning 2014 AL Champion Kansas City Royals  are also around – what do you expect?

As of this writing the St. Louis Cardinals have the best record in baseball at 35-18. This is no surprise.

What is a surprise is who comes after that. The Houston Astros are 34-21 thanks to great starting pitching and a homer happy offense led by imports Evan Gattis, Luis Valbuena, and home grown talents like George Springer and Jose Altuve. After them is the Minnesota Twins.

Just how they are doing it is somewhat of a mystery. The starting rotation sans Santana is off to a good start. 2014 ace Phillip Hughes is off to a rough start with an ERA in the mid-4’s, but Mets cast-off Mike Pelfrey is 4-2 with a 2.59 ERA and Kyle Gibson is 4-3 with a 2.61 ERA. Andrew Cashner should be jealous of Ricky Nolasco, who has managed to pull of a 5-1 record despite an ERA of 5.51.

The offense provides little help. Leading all regulars in batting average is the ageless Torii Hunter, who was just supposed to have a nice final season in the place it all began and provide a few heartwarming moments for the Twins. Instead, he is hitting .273 with 7 HR and leads the team with 32 RBI. Joe Mauer is only hitting .268 but does have 30 RBI to go with that. Brian Dozier leads the team in home runs with 10. So how is this happening?

Sometimes you just have to piece together a team as you see fit, and that seems to be the Twins MO. The bullpen has been solid as well with closer Glenn Perkins 20-20 in save opportunities and a sparkling 1.80 ERA. Former Padre Tim Stauffer is not doing so well in his new home, compiling an ERA over 7 in 11 appearances. Blaine Boyer has also proven to be a quality setup man with 11 holds on the season as well.

As a team they sit 7th in hitting in the AL and 8th in pitching based on BA and ERA.

So why aren’t the Padres doing better? They are 3rd in the NL in runs scored and 8th in pitching ERA. What’s the difference?

The excuse of not having the players is no longer in Bud Black‘s favor. He has the best. Sure Matt Kemp is struggling but waiting until your team is 100% completely assembled is not an option. Making a change at the manager position is, and if June doesn’t shape up better than May did for the Padres, the Padres should follow suit of another mid-market team that got serious about winning, not protecting feelings and longevity.

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