Bud Black did one of the most incredible jobs of managing in the history of Major League Baseball during the 2010 season. Back in March, sports books put the San Diego Padres’ over-under for victories at 71. The Padres won their 72nd game on August 18.
Black took a young, inexperienced team with a $38 million payroll and had them in contention for the playoffs until the final day of the season. That the Padres had the second-lowest payroll in baseball is only part of that story, considering that the team’s highest paid player – starting pitcher Chris Young ($6.375 million) – only pitched in four games all season. So Black was essentially working with a (roughly) $32 million payroll, which would be the lowest in all of baseball, below even the hapless Pittsburgh Pirates ($34.9 million).
All of the money issues aside, Black made moves, pulled pitchers, made defensive adjustments and had his players running at all the right times for most of the season. He kept the Padres level-headed, yet confident and pushed them far beyond their pure talent would have taken them.
Yes, the Padres fell apart in September (12-16), suffering their first losing month since July 2009. But to think that on August 25 they had a 6.5 game lead in the National League West, had the best record in the NL by four games, and were just one game behind the New York Yankees for the best record in baseball is simply incredible.
San Diego finished the season 90-72, a 15-game improvement over last season.
The fact that some experts are looking past Black for Manager of the Year honors is simply ridiculous. Peter Gammons recently tweeted that Houston Astros manager Brad Mills “has to be NL Manager of the Year.” Mills was working with a $92.3 million payroll and his team finished 76-86. The Astros had a great second half of the season, but they were playing games with no pressure on them, while Black had to keep his young team focused in the midst of a wild playoff race.
Other people have pointed to Bobby Cox possibly getting the award, or possibly Charlie Manuel due to the Phillies many injuries and his lineup maneuvering this season. Still others have cited Dusty Baker’s excellent work with the Cincinnati Reds. All due respect to those guys, but the discussion for this award should have been over in August, if not earlier.
Black did more with less than maybe anyone in the history of the game. West Coast bias shouldn’t keep him from getting the recognition he deserves. Frankly, the vote should be unanimous.
Black has certainly earned it.