What Bud Black Lost the Padres
With the James Shields signing the Padres forfeited their first round pick. But it didn’t have to be this way. Having one of the 10 worst records in the league will gets you a protected pick. The Padres missed the cut by one win.
Had they lost one more game last season they would have finished tied with the Reds at 76 wins. The tiebreaker in this situation is the record from the previous year. The Reds won 90 games in 2013. I don’t think I have to tell you the Padres failed to top that. They would have had the number 11 overall pick (because the Astros failed to sign Brady Aiken last year) and could have signed James Shields without penalty.
But the hard taco shell filled with manure that was the 2014 Padres would not cooperate. By some shitty miracle the team managed to play better in the second half despite allowing Jeff Francoeur, Brooks Conrad, Abraham Almonte and Chris Nelson (a group of players I referred to as the Tanking Crew) to leave streaks on the roster, and despite allowing Alexi Amarista to lead the team in games played.
The faintest mirage that this team was in the hunt for the second Wild Card spot appeared on the horizon for a shimmering second, and that was too much for Bud Black. His hopeless days had made him too eager to see a change coming. He thought he did and never turned back.
When rosters expanded in September the team called up young players that should have gotten playing time regardless of performance. Jace Peterson and Rymer Liriano should have been allowed to take their lumps. But Bud was managing to win, even when it was crystal clear there was no way back into the race.
He tinkered. He played matchups and platoons and kept hot hitters in and chucked in defensive replacements at the ends of close games. His goals were his own. He was not acting in accordance with the needs of the organization. Nobody would have faulted him for letting the callups flail. He could have done it all under the guise of allowing young players to grow, allowing the front office a chance to evaluate those young players.
I know it sounds bad, but it’s okay to root for a negative result today if it helps your organization for years to come. It is also perfectly reasonable to be furious with a manager for trying to win meaningless games when those wins hurt the organization. It is even okay to blame him for the 1 win difference between a protected and unprotected first round pick.
The number 11 pick is worth about $28.8MM according to the Hardball Times. It can get you quality players like the Padres have drafted at number 13 overall the last two years. Players like our best prospect (Hunter Renfroe) and a chip valuable enough to land us Wil Myers (Trea Turner).
Luckily the 2015 Padres shouldn’t even be close to having a protected pick, but we’ve got our eye on you, Buddy, and we’re paying close attention to who gets drafted 11th in 2015. Their career is on you.