The Padres have a new manager this year.
His name is Bud Black.
Okay, so Black’s been manager of the Padres for the past eight seasons, but the majority of his tenure has been at the helm of an AAAA squad.
This year, it’s a new team and a new manager.
That’s the story.
Black, who’s had just two winning seasons (miraculously) in eight years, has more weight on his shoulders than ever before. And he should, because for the first time, he can now be fairly evaluated as a manager.
Remember that more than half of the Padres opening day roster – 15 players to be exact – didn’t start with team in 2014.
And the turnover from last year to this season isn’t highlighted by has-beens or could-bes.
That means we now have our first realistic look at what Black can do with a truly competitive squad. He deserves it. He’s managed a plethora of mediocre talent under three different general managers (not counting A.J. Preller, obviously) while surviving a tumultuous five-year ownership transition.
Revered in and around Major League Baseball, this is the year San Diego will see why so many others around the game have nothing but good things to say about the Padres skipper (he’ll go jobless for all of about two minutes if the Padres don’t re-sign him next year).
Black’s high-octane Padres (yes, I just used high-octane to describe the Padres) are off to a 10-5 start, among the best in franchise history. In fact, it’s the best start since a 12-3 Friars team went to the World Series in ’98.
The Padres already have six come-from-behind wins in 2015. The offense has scored a National League best 80 runs through 15 games and they are the only NL team among the top eight in runs scored in all of Major League Baseball.
The stats go on and on.
The point is that Black has never managed a team with so much fire-power. He’s never managed a team with so many big-time, accomplished players.
And that’s the biggest reason why this season will be a success.
Most of the Padres “core” players from previous years are gone. Black’s message is new and fresh, and when you combine that with proven veterans who are buying in, his tenure as manager should be considered as new as the lineup he’s been writing on game days this year.
Sure, the sample size is small.
But, consider that teams who’ve undergone similar big-time overhauls in recent years didn’t perform nearly as well as this Padres team is right now. Through 15 games, both the 2012 Miami Marlins and 2013 Toronto Blue Jays were 6-9 and 7-8, respectively, and went on to have disappointing seasons.
No matter what happens this season, this is the first year in Black’s nine as manager of the Padres where the fans, the team, and all of baseball expect San Diego to compete for a division title.
And if early returns are a predictor of what’s to come, the new-look Padres appear to be every bit the team we thought they’d be.
And the same goes for the manager.
Welcome to San Diego, Bud Black.
-Andrew Burer (TWITTER: @andrewburer)
What do you think of the Padres new manager? Let us know in the comments below!