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I have no idea what the Padres are planning. I’m not sure that anyone does. Team President Mike Dee has been with the team for all of a week or so, Josh Byrnes has finished up his second season as general manager and the team’s owners are only 14 months into the gig. This is an entirely different front office than the one that hired Bud Black following the 2006 season. It would be foolish to think his job is safe, although he publicly has said he’ll be back next season.
In Black’s first seven years in San Diego, the Padres have made the playoffs zero times. Over that time span, the team has had three owners, three general managers, roughly a hundred hitting coaches and none of the blame has ever fallen on Black. His teams have routinely collapsed, going long stretches without a win, even after moments where they were in contention for the division.
I’m not going to criticize Black’s managerial moves. That has been done. I just think that there is something to the philosophy that ex-pitchers don’t make for very good managers. There’s something to be said for everyday players relating to everyday players, and catchers relating to everyone on the team. Luckily, strangely, the Padres have a built-in backup plan that they’ve been sitting on.
Brad Ausmus played in the major leagues from 1993-2010, starting his career with the Padres. While he wasn’t much of a hitter, he was a strong defensive catcher and was so adept at “handling a pitching staff” and calling games that he was a starter for almost his entire career. Over the course of those 18 seasons, he made the All-Star team once and won three Gold Glove Awards.
A San Diego native, Ausmus signed on as the Padres’ “special assistant to baseball operations” after retiring as a player. He’s been tutoring the team’s catchers, at the MLB level and at each level of their minor league system. Ausmus has expressed an interest in being an MLB manager, interviewing with the Boston Red Sox last year and managing the Israel national team in 2012’s World Baseball Classic qualification round.
The Padres are sitting on a potentially great manager in Ausmus, but they’ll lose him to another team if they decide to give Black another year (or more). Nobody’s reputation is on the line with Black, because everyone who hired him is gone. Isn’t it time for a fresh start in San Diego?
You’re reading the Sports Report, our weekly compilation of news and information for the San Diego sports fan.
Chargers Upset the Cowboys, But Everyone Is Injured
• In one of the greatest games any quarterback has ever had, Philip Rivers proved he’s still a good player. In fact, Rivers has shown through these first four games that he has more potential than we ever realized.
• San Diego’s home win against the Dallas Cowboys was exciting, but it came with a heavy cost. Dwight Freeney, signed in the offseason to replace the injured Melvin Ingram as the team’s best pass rusher, tore his quad in the first quarter and will miss the rest of the season. The Chargers placed another starting WR on injured-reserve when they decided Malcom Floyd needed more time to recover from his neck sprain.
• The Chargers have their first game against a division rival this weekend, taking on the Raiders in Oakland. But because of the Oakland Athletics’ home playoff game on Saturday, Sunday’s football game has been pushed back from 1:25 p.m. to 8:35 p.m. Make sure to plan your day, and your drinking, accordingly.
Padres wrap up another disappointing season
• Don’t worry about Chase Headley’s terrible season. It was, by no means, the “return to the mean” that many predicted when he had an MVP-like season in 2012. Turns out, Headley was just injured all season. He broke his thumb in spring training and apparently had knee pain all year as well, the result of a torn meniscus. As the team heads into another arbitration year with Chase, it needs to figure out what type of baseball player he is when he’s healthy.
• Tyson Ross, who was on the disabled list for a good chunk of the 2013 season with a shoulder injury, also went under the knife at the conclusion of the season. Luckily for Padres fans, Ross’ pitching wasn’t affected at all by the injury and won’t be affected by the recovery.
• Corey Brock wrote up a summary of the 2013 Padres, placing the blame for the team’s third-place finish squarely on major injuries up and down the roster.
Stories You May Have Missed
• Chris Mullin, one of the weirder members of the 1992 USA Olympic “Dream Team” is apparently still a great shooter even though he jogs like a 90-year-old man. That’s video of him beating the current Sacramento Kings players in a three-point shooting contest.
• The NFL apparently spent two decades using its money and legal power to discredit scientific findings that connected football, and concussions, to long-term brain damage. No wonder the league was looking to settle its case with former NFL players last month. In a related story, the NFL’s new protocols to reduce concussions are not working.
• GIF of the Week: Soccer is awesome. Soccer in slow-motion is even better. That’s Jens Hegeler’s late, game-winning free kick for Leverkusen in its match against Sociedad. The “bend,” or spin, on that ball is absolutely mind-blowing.
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