The Axe Hits Black

Posted by on June 16th, 2015  •  0 Comments  • 

Hired to be fired. That’s the old baseball axiom, and that axe fell on Padres manager Bud Black yesterday at Petco Park.
It was sudden, swift, shocking, stunning, disappointing.. Was it deserved? Only time will tell.
General Manager AJ Preller, who gave Black a roster full of baseball card stars, only to see the team struggle, wanted new leadership for all his new players. He wasn’t getting it from Bud Black.
You could sense the pressure building, the frustrations boiling over. Black got ejected from games, the shuffling of the roster seems over the top, the lineups never had a consistent theme to them.
The pitching staff has underperformed, aside from ace James Shields. The top three veterans, who pitched so well last year, are a combined (8-20) this year.
I’m not sure if the woes of Tyson Ross, Ian Kennedy and Andrew Cashner’s are Black’s fault, but the dominance of last year is missing. Maybe it was all the innings from a season ago, taking a toll on that staff.
The bullpen has been spotty around closer Craig Kimbrel, and overuse may the reason. How all that is Black’s fault, is anyone’s guess.
Matt Kemp is playing hard, but is not hitting. Wil Myers is back on the DL again with another wrist injury. Jedd Gyorko isn’t here, because he was not hitting, and he’s not hitting in El Paso either.. And of course Melvin Upton can’t buy a hit this season, though he is making 15M a year.
They have utilitymen starting at 2nd, short and 3rd, players the GM gave his manager, with instructions go win..
Did Bud Black have shortcomings as a manager? Maybe in game strategy, maybe an ever changing lineup.
Maybe too the reality that a clubhouse full of veteran players, some of them divas, is very different from a clubhouse made up of guys named Headley, Hundley, and Venable. Maybe Black was better leading kids then trying to drive veterans.
The critics will bark Black had only two winning seasons in 8-years. He also didn’t have the luxury of big budgets, much from a farm system, or even continuity. His acumen somehow helped the team to a (617-680) record
Lest we forget, in his run, there were 3-owners, 4-different general managers, and a malaise that existed forever. Aside from the 2010 battle for first place, that went to the final day of the season, he did not have much to work with.
The Padres are a combined 50-games under .500 since opening day in 2011. That is more a condemnation of what the organization gave him to manage, than him as a manager.
So the change has been made. AJ Prellar will get to choose his own manager rather than the one he inherited.
Maybe it will be El Paso-AAA manager Pat Murphy, who flew into town late last nite. Maybe it will be ex-Padre Phil Nevin, who has climbed the managerial ladder to Reno in the Diamondbacks farm system. Might it be Ron Washington, who managed Texas into post season when Preller was part of that organization? Maybe it’s ex Twin boss Ron Gardenhire. There will be no shortage to choose from. Likely there will be a change in personality though in that manager’s office.
Reaction has been mixed. The Padres season is not over for sure. They are not the Red Sox, buried in last place, but a team just 5-games or so out of first place. Maybe the change is a catalyst to trigger a run to first place.
Or maybe Preller has made so many mistakes on players, and traded away so many prospects, that he has outsmarted himself. Preller indicated he would never have thought Matt Kemp would have just 2-homers at this poiint, the defense would be so unsettled, or the pitchers couldn’t get to the 8th inning of games.
The reaction in the clubhouse was a diverse bag of reaction. Interim manager, and close friend, Dave Roberts said his meeting with Black was emotional but that Black was a pro and handling it in stride. Roberts said the players had to hold themselves accountable.
Slugger Matt Kemp said the players were shocked by the sudden departure of the manager. Pitcher James Shields indicated people in the clubhouse bear some responsibility for the decision.
Scouts on press row, who ovbviously respected Black, dinged the Padres, asking where’s the plan?. All you did was announce you are hiring someone as interim for nearly 100-games.
The change better work, the Padres better win, or they will be stuck with alot of bad contracts, and Bud Black wasn’t to blame for that either.
You look back at his eight year run, and he did more with less than anyone I know. And history should write, aside from Tony Gwynn, Bud Black was as classy as anyone.
Good guy, who just did not win enough games, with substandard talent. Hired to be fired, even it is unfair.

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