Padres Express Confidence In Bud Black With Extension; Too Soon?
For a Padres team that has surprised many this year, some of the best news they've gotten all year came on Monday, in the form of a three-year extension for manager Buddy Black. This move shows the Padres that the front office believes that what they're doing this year is sustainable, and also shows the rest of baseball the Padres are unlikely to be dealing away any stars come July 31.
Many will tell you that Black's extension was well deserved. It's true, he has done an excellent job of handling a bullpen and starting rotation that have been the best in baseball.
But could it be too soon?
Don't get me wrong, Black seems like a nice enough guy, and certainly capable of handling a major- league managing position. But half of a season does not have much of a bearing on the next three years.
Look at a couple of the Cinderella stories of recent baseball memory.
Everyone remembers the 1969 Miracle Mets, who improved by 27 games and shocked the world and the Baltimore Orioles by winning the World Series, right? Not so many people remember the 1972 version, who finished a distant third in the NL East.
The 1991 Twins, who improved their record by 21 games, won the World Series. Three years later, Minnesota was sitting 14 games out of first when a strike ended the season.
The point is that nothing is for sure when it comes to Cinderella teams, especially low budget ones such as San Diego. Their biggest star and offensive lynchpin, Adrian Gonzalez, is only under contract through 2011. If Gonzalez leaves, Black will be stuck with a sputtering offense.
In fact, this season may not be all it's cracked up to be for San Diego. Their dream season could come falling back to earth in a matter of weeks.
Mat Latos, the staff ace, has an unsustainable .246 BABIP, well below the norm.
Jon Garland, the only Padres starter with much big-league experience, and thus a large enough sample size, is expected to hit a serious wall, and soon, as evidenced by his an xFIP of 4.34 and a lucky BABIP of .276, which should regress. His ZiPS projected ERA is 3.61, so don't expect him to continue his lucky streak much longer.
Clayton Richard and Wade LeBlanc have stranded 80.6 percent and 83.2 percent of base runners so far, so their ERA is bound to rise as well. In fact, LeBlanc's home-away splits are horrible. Once he gets away from cavernous PetCo Park, his ERA will continue its recent rise.
For a team so reliant on its starting rotation, any sign of failure means the wins will stop coming.
Even the bullpen, which has been one of the best ever, may experience some slight regression. The Padres currently have four relievers who have thrown over 40 innings this year. No other team has three. An overworked bullpen can lead to some not so friendly postseason outings.
Just ask Ryan Franklin.
I can see why the Padres think extending Black was the right idea, but I wouldn't be too confident in a man who has never won 90 games in a season. This move could be a huge success in the Bobby Cox mold, but it could also be a huge flop for San Diego. To me, it seems like the Padres have just tied Bud Black to the mast of a ship that is bound to sink.
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