Bud Black will no longer be wearing Padres
brown blue. He managed the Padres for almost nine seasons, a period that is perfectly describe by one word: mediocre.
The facts are damning.
Black winning percentage as a manager of the Padres was .477. The Padres have never made the playoffs under Black’s helm. Meanwhile, up the 5 Freeway (or the 101 if you like the scenic drive and need to stop at Pea Soup Andersen’s) Giants skipper Bruce Bochy has more WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS than Black has winning seasons (3 to 2).
This off-season was going to be different though for the Friars, who spent big in hopes of changing that run of being utterly average. And yet there they sit, right where they have for most of this decade, middle of the NL West at 3rd place, one game under .500.
How much of this fall squarely on the back of Skipper Black?
Until this season, the Padres teams Black has managed were made up of players that were what those teams were as a whole: mediocre (excuse the repetition). This was not the fault of Black but transactions made by the general managers (there’s been four of them not including interim GMs) during Black’s tenure.
Need an example?
Take the time the Padres trade Adrian Gonzalez for Reymond Fuentes, Casey Kelly and Anthony Rizzo. Which seemed like a good trade. A-Gon was getting expensive and they got ultra-prospect Anthony Rizzo out of it. Except Rizzo never wears a Padres uniform because of transaction number two … Padres trade Anthony Rizzo for to the Cubs for Kyung-Min Na and Andrew Cashner.
There’s plenty of more failed moves like this under Black’s reign. There’s the signing of players well past their prime (David Eckstein, Carlos Quentin, David Wells), busts (Cameron Maybin), and numerous Tommy John’s young prospects like Robbie Erlin, Joe Wieland and Cory Luebeke have endured. There’s also the most recent failures but too-soon-to-pass-judgement like Matt Kemp (2 HRs, 79 OPS+), Will Middlebrooks (83 OPS+), Wil Myers (back on the DL for the second time this season) and Brandon Morrow (injured yet again).
Sure, all teams have injuries and busts. And the Padres have had some bright spots this year (Norris and Upton, mainly).
Even then, it’s probably fair to say that Bud Black for most of his tenure with the Padres received a lion’s share of bad baseball voodoo coupled with years of mediocre players to work with, making his chances of success about as good as bringing a cap gun to a duel with Andrew Jackson.
Which is not to argue Bud Black is a good manager. He might not be. But his firing seems less like a decision that was based off this year’s performance and looks more like a desire to take things in a new direction. AJ Preller wants “his guy” now.
Which, if that’s the case, then why not can Black before the season starts? Was it really worth giving Black a 65-game trial before you sent him packing? Was it necessary to disrupt the clubhouse of a team that still has a fighting chance of making the playoffs just one-third of the way through the season?
Maybe it was and Preller will come out looking like a genius. And maybe it doesn’t make a difference. From 2000-2011 there were 39 mid-season firings in the MLB. Winning percentage of the teams beforehand was .434 and only .455 with the new manager. This small and somewhat flawed sample says it’s basically a wash.
One thing is clear out of all of this: Bud Black was on a short leash to begin with. The Padres needed to come out like a shaken-up soda can to start the season. They needed to burst. Instead, they fizzled. Now Bud Black is in his civilians and the pressure is on A.J. Preller to pick the next guy with the right stuff.
Any failure now and they’ll be no one to blame but himself.