Rock Star GM pulled plug on season

San Diego Padres GM A.J. Preller

San Diego’s Rock Star GM A.J. Preller sure looked like he put together one heck of a show last February.

Too bad he stopped the music before it was even close to ending.

With a 39-47 record and eight-and-a-half games behind the Dodgers in the NL West, and eight-and-a-half games behind the Pirates for the NL’s second wild card, the Padres season is all but assured to end October 4th, with no playoff encore.

What a bummer!

Admittedly, there were concerns with Preller’s roster prior to the season. In particular, the defense, a predominately right-handed lineup, and potential injury risks. However, the star power was there. The offense was thought to be vastly improved and the pitching even stronger than last season. Many (including myself) at least thought the Padres would be competitive.

And they were.

Right up until Preller fired Manager Bud Black after a 32-33 start.

Since then, the Padres have gone 7-14 under Interim Interim Manager Dave Roberts and Interim Manager Pat Murphy.

It’s not all Murphy’s fault (or Roberts). Murphy could turn out to be a great manager some day. He was successful at the college level and worked his way up in the Padres minor league system, his last post being skipper of the Triple-A El Paso Chihuahuas.

But to expect a manager with no major league experience to come in and jump-start a “struggling” club loaded with stars was ludicrous.

More than half of the Padres opening day roster in 2015 wasn’t with the team at the start of 2014. Black had all of Spring Training to get to know his new club, to understand the dynamics of this team, and to learn the personalities of his new stars.

That takes time, and Black needed more of it.

Look no further than last season for an example. Five of MLB’s 10 playoff teams had 34 or fewer wins 65 games in to the 2014 season, including the 31-34 Pirates who were the lone team under .500.

(I repeat, the Padres had 32 at the time of Black’s dismissal.)

Look, Black may or may not have been able to get this team to gel, or to make a serious run at the playoffs. We’ll never know.

He was, however, a better choice to manage the rest of the season. Murphy was thrown in the fire with no time to spare, and with the weight of huge expectations never before placed on a Padres’ season.

How did Preller realistically expect Murphy to turn things around?

For weeks now, we’ve heard Murphy constantly say he’s learning on the job, getting to know the players, understanding the competition. That’s reasonable, but its not what players want to hear or see when trying to stay in the hunt.

A baseball manager, perhaps more so than any other sport, truly has to earn the respect of his team because of the longevity of the season. It’s paramount. It’s about managing personalities and delivering a believable message, win or lose, day in and day out for 162 games.

Baseball can only reach a certain level of complexity. It’s not about X’s and O’s like football or basketball. I’m sure Murphy understands the intricacies of the game as well as any one.

The question is, does Murphy have the credibility to keep Matt Kemp in check, to pull James Shields in a tight ball game, or challenge Justin Upton when things aren’t going right?

No, he doesn’t.

Perhaps he could have gained some of that respect with time in Spring Training. Expecting it to happen midseason, though, was a mistake.

The season wasn’t lost on June 14th , Black’s last day in uniform.

But now the show’s over. And San Diego can thank its Rock Star GM for it.


–Andrew Burer (TWITTER: @andrewburer)


Do you think A.J. Presser made the right move in firing Bud Black? Let us know in the comments below.




12 thoughts on “Rock Star GM pulled plug on season

  1. OBomb

    Where do Mike Dee/Ron Fowler and company play into this? They’re the ones, specifically Dee, who hired Preller. Now we have this mess on our hands. We’d be better off losing the Padres instead of the Chargers. This team seriously has not been able to catch a break since at least 2006. Embarrassing to say the least.

  2. Lilian Fortunati

    I couldn’t have written this any better. Knowing that some of the players joined the team at the end of Spring training and did not get the chance to work together. Agreed there was frustration with the changes Black had everyday, however he was trying to find something that worked for the team. Sometimes it did, sometimes it did not. I had a feeling by or before the All Star Break the Padres would have found their groove and being playing extremely well. They would have been in second place by now if not first. They needed time to know how each other worked. There was also reaspect from umpires for Black so we were not messed with. Now, some calls are ridiculous and players are apt to blow up.

  3. FRAN

    I truly believe AJ was the messenger……This came from DEE and FOWLER and AJ being the employee had to follow orders….Buddy is a great manager and is better off getting far away from this mess. I feel for the players, though….they lost their LEADER

  4. filbert10

    Great post. Agree that this is on Dee and Fowler, who wanted to make a splash. At least Sandoval turned the Padres down..that would have been another terrible decision. And yes, although I didn’t like the Black firing, I’m happy for him. Wherever he goes next will be an improved situation. Bud Black was obviously not the problem; in fact he may have been keeping this team afloat.

  5. filbert10

    This all really shows the importance of having a consistent ownership and front office. Jed Hoyer had started to turn around the roots of the organization….adding focus on scouting and drafting, trading for Rizzo (and unfortunately, taking Rizzo to Chicago with him )–the Cubs are now set for many years, and a large part of that is Hoyer.

  6. filbert10

    This feels like a huge moment in the organization. Padres are out of it, barring a near miracle. How we handle the trade deadline, restock the farm, find a SS and CF (hey maybe Trey Turner and Cam Maybin are available!) could determine our chances for the next few years.

  7. rickochey

    maybe all the struggles the Padres have is because of its small market money. However, I hate all the trades that happen in baseball and find it hard to support a team, so how can a fan follow a team when the GM/owners dont believe in the team either? Any trades from here is a sign the season is over.

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