With all the new faces in the San Diego Padres line up a new expectation was brought to the team. The team should be competitive for seasons on end, and all though the end of April has been brutal for the Padres, the team has a bright future. Beyond this year the team is still built to succeed. James Shields, Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, Derek Norris and Will Middlebrooks are Padres property
The real question is, if Bud Black will remain the team’s manager beyond this year, when his current contract expires. It is really unprecedented that a major league manager with the tenure of Black, be left to dangle on the last year of his deal. Most times managers are either replaced or resigned to long-term deals. It is interesting to make note that A.J. Preller did not hire Bud Black and he might be inclined to hire a manager he hand picks.
The Los Angeles Dodgers have had injury after injury to their team. Recently losing Brandon McCarthy and Carl Crawford in the same week. Add that to the fact Hyun Jin Ryu and Kenley Jansen haven’t even thrown for the Dodgers this year. Both pitchers are close to returning, but nothing is set for either hurler. Yasiel Puig is also on the DL for the first time in his major league career. A nagging hamstring injury has shelved the Cuban phenom.
Still with all those injuries the Dodgers are leading the division and showing no real sign of weakness. The Padres mentality has dropped severely over the last eight games. The team has a scared look to them ever since Joaquin Benoit gave up an eighth inning, game tying home run to Corey Dickerson in Colorado last week. The game is 100 percent mental and it is Bud Black‘s job to get the team working in the same direction. Whatever it takes to do so.
The fire Bud Black talk has already started, and it is sure to multiply if the team doesn’t live up to its potential. The first few weeks of the season, we all saw what this team is capable of doing. Well the honeymoon is over, the pressure is on now. The next few weeks could make or break the future of Bud Black. If the Padres continue to falter and stay under the .500 mark, then the Padres front office will surely try to shake things up. They will be left with no other alternative as a franchise.
The easiest way to shake things up is simply by firing the manager. With Bud Black in the last year of his contract, the writing is on the wall. Whether it’s right or wrong, he will be gone if the team doesn’t succeed. I’m not trying to be critical of him, I believe I am just stating the obvious. Bud Black must realize this, but if he wants to stay as manager he needs to relax more himself. You cannot force the issue by running base runners into outs. The defense is another issue where the Padres have a total of 24 errors so far. Add in five passed balls and the team has the highest combined total of the two stats. This is stuff that needs to improve. Championship teams do not commit errors at that rate.
Black has made some calls this season that left me scratching my head. That is the nature of being a manager of a professional baseball team. Nobody can understand the vital inside information he has at his finger tips. We can all be critical after the fact, but that’s just second guessing him. I try not to think that way and remain positive, he is the manger of the team and he must get the players to live up to their ability. His most important job as manager is juggling the different personanlities on a team and learning how to motivate each individual player. Something that has been mastered by former Padres manager Bruce Bochy.
Ultimately though if a team full of talented players underachievers, then the manager is most surely to blame. The game of baseball is no exact science. Modern day analytical lovers of the game will tell you it is, but they can never account for hustle, luck or chemistry. Those intangibles about the sport make predicting the successful teams nearly impossible. Bud Black and the Padres need to pick it up very soon. The rough patch in the last eight games is not the end of the world, but it can be the start of something bad.