Bud Black is in his fourth season as a manager in Major League Baseball. He took over a team in 2007 that had won back-to-back NL West titles under Bruce Bochy, and they looked primed for another in Black's first year, as San Diego was first in the division as late as September 4.
But the Padres collapsed down the stretch, punctuated by their star outfielder Milton Bradley tore his ACL upon being thrown to the ground by Black. San Diego succumbed to Rocktober and fell all the way to third place, the best finish by the Padres in the Bud Black era. The team is 17 games under .500 under Black's direction.
Today, the Padres announced they would be giving Bud Black a three year extension, with club options in 2014 and 2015. Now that's a vote of confidence, and it is well-deserved.
After completing a 12-game improvement last season, Black has led the young Padres to the best record in the National League. They have been first in the NL West every day sans four since April 20. He has to be the unanimous front-runner for Manager of the Year this season. I can't say I'm totally surprised given the Padres' surprising relevance in 2009 (I would have voted for Black as MoY last season if not for Jim Tracy).
What's more - Bud Black, a former pitching coach, is presiding over a potentially record-breaking pitching staff. The Padres are on pace to allow the fewest runs since 1989, when I was terrorizing my parents during my Terrible Twos. Yeah yeah, PetCo Park. That undoubtedly helps, as the staff ERA+ is actually tied with the Rockies for 3rd in the NL.
That shouldn't cloud your judgement. Consider that San Diego's most valuable pitcher last year, Kevin Correia, has struggled to the tune of a 69 ERA+. Consider that PetCo Park is in its 7th season and even with Jake Peavy, we have never seen a pitching staff this successful in San Diego. Remember that three of the pitchers in the rotation are 26 or younger, and the best one is 22. One of the most understated characteristics of managers is their handling of young prospects, and by all accounts, Black knows exactly what he is doing. I respect Black a great deal, and his track record of leading young teams to surprising success will be a challenge to the Rockies for as long as Black is at the helm.
In a time where every fanbase loathes their team's manager, the Padres don't have much to complain about. Click here for GasLampBall's reaction to the news this morning.
Dex at GLB provides a quality microcosm of reactions from San Diegans today.
I've come around to the idea that playing for the hit and run, the steal on both offense and defense, taking the extra base, instilling confidence in the young guys, truly playing and aligning defenses and not just shifting the infield over for a power hitter, knowing (like really knowing) how to handle pitchers and get the most out of them. This is Padres Baseball. All of this is Bud Black's game and I'm totally down with that.
Am I convinced that another manager wouldn't have us in first place at this point in the season? Not totally. But I'll take Bud Black over any other manager 7 days out of the week and twice on Tuesdays.
As my boss says, "If the Padres could win by half a run, they would."
Team capsules after the jump.
NL West Report
Arizona (34-55, 5th, L4, 20.5 GB)
Last Week: 0-3. 0-3 @ Padres. Dan Haren allowed two home runs Friday, the sixth time he has done so this season. That's not as bad as it gets for Arizona fans. Saturday's starter, Rodrigo Lopez, allowed four home runs to the Padres to surpass Haren for the most HR allowed in MLB.
Divisional Change: Lost 3.0 games to first-place San Diego.
This Week: 3 game home series vs. Mets. 4 game home series vs. Giants.
You Should Know: Arizona hasn't won a series against an NL team in over a month (St. Louis).
News: The Diamondbacks have the third worst record in MLB. Obviously, they will be sellers at the trade deadline. Jim McLennan goes over the most likely players to be traded by the deadline at AZSnakePit. Adam LaRoche (Angels), Dan Haren (Tigers) and Chris Snyder (Red Sox) are the top three as voted on by the community, but I'm starting to have serious doubts on Dan Haren being dealt.
#15 / Pitcher / Arizona Diamondbacks
Sep 17, 1980
|2010 - Dan Haren||7-8||22||20||1||0||0||0||135.0||155||76||69||21||27||133||4.60||1.35|
As Jon Heyman reported, interim GM Jerry DiPoto is asking for two starting pitchers and bullpen help for Haren, which obviously means the Rockies won't be trading for Haren despite this random mention on MLBTR.
Nick Piecoro suggests the Diamondbacks will either try to sign RHP Barret Loux at a discount or pass on trying to sign him after he failed his physical. This is no surprise.
Brandon Webb is nearing his return, as it has been a few weeks since his latest set-back. Webb is hoping to return in time for six starts this season. That would be a good number to perhaps convince someone to give him a Ben Sheets type contract this offseason.
Tread lightly with this topic if you discuss it, please. Yovani Gallardo is refusing to participate in the 2011 All-Star Game. Yes, next year's game. If Gallardo is selected, he doesn't want to go to Phoenix. The reason? Arizona's immigration law.
Chris Young had a horrid performance at the Home Run Derby, but at least he had fun. I think Steve Gilbert has been well practiced at that article angle since 2008.
The 2007 playoffs marked the planting of a sapling, one that one day was supposed to become a mighty rivalry between the Rockies and Diamondbacks. Of course, that never materialized, as Arizona has fallen on extremely difficult times. However, the rivalry might not have ever happened anyway, consideringSnakePitters are closet Rockies fans.
Injuries: Kris Benson still has not resumed rehab assignments, though Brandon Webb did have an "intense long-toss session" last Friday. His ETA has now been set as mid-August. Adam LaRoche is dealing with back stiffness, though he did get two hits Saturday.
Arizona Diamondbacks Injuries
Los Angeles (49-43, 4th, L4, 5.5 GB, 1.5 GB WC)
Last Week: 0-4. 0-4 @ Cardinals. The Dodgers lost all four games in St. Louis, capped by a blown four-run lead by the bullpen yesterday, three of which scored with Jonathan Broxton on the mound. The loss means Los Angeles is now 4-21 in their last 25 games at Busch Stadium.
Divisional Change: Lost 3.5 games to first place San Diego, fell into fourth place in the NL West.
This Week: 3 game home series vs. Giants. 4 game home series vs. Mets.
You Should Know: James McDonald will likely get the call to start tonight, marking his 2010 debut.
News: According to Bill Skaikin of the LA Times, Ned Colletti will not consider trading Matt Kemp. Even more, Colletti claims it was never a consideration.
#14 / Second Base / Los Angeles Dodgers
Feb 18, 1974
|2010 - Jamey Carroll||77||182||31||54||7||1||0||11||32||36||6||0||.297||.397||.346|
...unless Jamey Carroll is traded. The Dodgers have been fielding many calls on the former-Rockie, though he seems to be well-liked in the organization.
Los Angeles placed LHP George Sherrill on outright waivers. That's a long fall from the guy who dominated down the stretch for the Dodgers last season. It's also a lesson for GM's who are tempted to trade a top position prospect for relief help....any relief help. Here is TrueBlueLA's reaction.
Steve Dilbeck predicts that Garret Anderson's days in Los Angeles are numbered. With the club showing more trust in Xavier Paul and more willingness to cut ties with big name players, Anderson may not have a role once Reed Johnson returns from the disabled list.
Apparently, there were scouts from Japan at a recent Dodger game.
The Dodgers are in trouble. A handcuffed Ned Colletti is watching his reeling team fall in the standings as the trade deadline looms less than two weeks away. To see how Dodger fans are reacting, take a gander at Eric Stephen's always excellent Week in Review at TrueBlue LA.
Transactions: Optioned RHP John Ely to AAA Albuquerque and called up RHP Jon Link. Link has been on the bus between AAA and the big leagues about six times more than Esmil Rogers, or close to it. Don't be surprised if he gets demoted again today for McDonald.
Injuries: Activated LF Manny Ramirez and placed OF Reed Johnson on 15-day DL retroactive to July 9.
Los Angeles Dodgers Injuries
San Diego (54-37, 1st, W4)
Last Week: 3-0. 3-0 vs. Diamondbacks. PetCo Park limits home runs the most in MLB. The Diamondbacks pitching staff allow the most home runs in MLB, by 18. Arizona's staff won out in the wrong way, surrendering eight home runs (and 26 runs) in the series, two by Chris Denorfia yesterday.
Divisional Change: Lost 1.5 games to 2nd place Los Angeles and 2.5 games to now second place Colorado. By winning yesterday, they maintain first place for the 12th straight Monday.
You Should Know: The last time San Diego faced an above .500 team was June 22-24 (Tampa Bay). The last NL team under .500 (other than Colorado) was the Mets from June 8-10. It doesn't get a whole lot more difficult until September 3. Starting that game at Coors Field, the Padres' final 30 games are against above .500 teams.
News: Adrian Gonzalez is a beast. If Petco Park wasn't dwarfing his numbers, he could be challenging Albert Pujols in just about every way. Adrian Gonzalez will be a free agent after 2011. Given his talent level, he's seeking an 8-year contract with around $20mil/year. That's a problem for San Diego. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe suggests that there's essentially no chance that A-Gone will be a a Padre after next season.
San Diego Padres Injuries
San Francisco (50-42, 3rd, L1, 4.5 GB, 0.5 GB WC)
Last Week: 3-1. 3-1 vs. Mets. A poor call by Phil Cuzzi at home in the ninth inning was all that prevented San Francisco from being the fourth NL West team to be involved in a sweep over the weekend.
Divisional Change: Lost 0.5 games to San Diego. Leap-frogged Los Angeles for sole possession of third place in the division
This Week: 3 game road series @ Dodgers. 4 game road series @ Diamondbacks.
You Should Know: The Giants are on fire, winners of 9 of 11. They now rank third in the NL in run differential, behind San Diego and St. Louis, one run better than Atlanta.
News: Last week, Brian Sabean became the second NL West GM this season to take a flyer on LHP Dontrelle Willis. Of course, the difference between Josh Byrnes and Sabean's moves are immense, so don't just go to LOLGNATS or LOLSABEAN yet.
#0 / Pitcher / San Francisco Giants
Jan 12, 1982
|2010 - Dontrelle Willis||1-1||6||5||0||0||0||0||22.1||24||17||17||3||27||14||6.85||2.28|
When Jonathan Sanchez has one of those bang-your-head-against-the-desk days, he'll walk five hitters in five innings. That's about what Willis has averaged for the past three-plus seasons. But he's Dontrelle Willis! The Giants are under no obligation to do anything but pay him peanuts and see if they can fix him. It's low-risk, high-reward, though the chances of the reward part are faint, if not non-existent. If the Giants could figure out why Willis went from wild to historically wild, they'll have a bargain of a pitcher.
As speculated upon earlier, the Brewers asked for either Jonathan Sanchez or Madison Bumgarner in return for Corey Hart, who will be a free agent at the end of this season. Understandably, Brian Sabean balked at that.
With Hart seemingly off the radar, Sabean is looking at the Royals outfield. Hank Schulman reported a top Royals scout was visiting the Giants. While David DeJesus has long been linked to the Giants, the Royals asking priceof "a major league-ready prospect and mid-level prospect" appears to be too much for the San Francisco. Given that, Chris Haft reports that Jose Guillen is the more likely acquisition.
Either way, Bruce Bochy won't be happy. He doesn't want a trade at all, especially if it takes surrendering someone from the 25-man roster.