|A Challenge for the Padres||| Print |||Send|
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on September 26, 2007
In every managerâ€™s career there is a time when the team is down and they need to step up and manufacture wins.Â For the Padres and Bud Black the time is now.Â Â With his two best hitters, Milton Bradley and Mike Cameron sidelined at least until the postseason begins, Black needs to help his team find a way to win.
And Bud Black knows just where to turn for that kind of help.Â Â Before this job Black was a pitching coach in Anaheim.Â Â And he was good. Under his tutelage and management the Padres staff boasts the best ERA in the Majors by a long shot.Â Â And now these pitchers are going to be asked to carry the team over a rough spot.
While sportswriters and fans across the country are writing off the Padres and focusing on the slugging Phillies and surging Rockies, San Diego almost seems to be a forgotten team.
And the Padres arenâ€™t dead yet.Â If the pitching can keep games close the hitters and the bench can try to generate some runs.Â Itâ€™s here that Blackâ€™s inexperience might hurt him.Â Black has spent his career evaluating and developing pitchers rather than learning the intricacies of the National League and the mastery of small ball.
Yet this year he has had a crash course.Â All season, this team has been offensively challenged, but never quite as badly as it is right now.Â And with just five games remaining on the calendar and the Phillies and Rockies only a game back the Padres only have to worry about a single trip through the rotation.
That could be good news or bad news.Â While the team probably wonâ€™t need many runs for Jake Peavyâ€™s last start, the rest of the rotation isnâ€™t as consistent.Â And that means the Padres will need to score some runs and that guys like Brian Giles, Rob Mackowiak and Morgan Ensberg who have shown power and a good batting eye in the past will have to step up.
If they donâ€™t step up the Padres might quickly fall out of the race, but you can never count out pitching - and the Padres have no shortage of that.Â Â Having a manager whoâ€™s a specialist in using his hurlers wonâ€™t hurt their chances either.Â The only question is just who will step up to the plate.