The Bar: If Padres Public Owned The Padres

About a quarter of the way through the season, the Padres sit at 24-29 and 9.5 back in the NL West. They’re projected to finish the season at 78 wins and currently have about an 11% chance of making the playoffs, in almost all likelihood via a wild card spot.

There’s no question things aren’t going as expected. Aside from the based Seth Smith, the offense has been awful. While the team’s pitching, when not getting MRIs on various elbows, has been much better.

While huge changins are emotionally satisfying, they come with risk of their own. If you owned the Padres, where do you go from here?

Oscar’s Thoughts

At this point, I’d just play out the season. There’s really nothing Byrnes can do to improve the team. I have to believe the only thing that could save Byrnes and Bud is a playoff appearance, and that’s looking more unlikely by the day. I don’t think firing either one during the season accomplishes anything. Contrary to what the local media thinks, Bud deserves some blame for the team’s performance. But he’s not the biggest problem, not even close. The offense will improve OR SO I KEEP TELLING MYSELF. The pitching will get worse, especially with 3/5 of the Opening Day rotation already on the DL. Avoid any sort of quick-fix. The season looks like a loss, and the last thing this team needs is trading away young assets for veterans.

I know a lot fans want heads to roll RIGHT NOW, but I don’t see the benefit. Wait until the end of the season, then clean house.

Ghost of Ray Kroc

Bartender! I’m going to need another beer here.

  • Don’t do anything before the season ends. Very rarely do in-season changes make any difference. However, once the season ends…
  • Fire Josh Byrnes. He has done some good things with trying to build up the farm system. But not enough. And the Major League roster is a joke.
  • Up the payroll for the Major League roster to at least $100 million. And keep it that way. This team has been too cheap for too long. New scoreboards and concessions are nice. But if the product on the field is shit, the craft beer and “Cardiff Crack” will taste like shit.
  • Let the new GM decide whether or not Bud Black has a job next year. If he stays, he’s on a year-to-year evaluation plan. And if he can’t get this team to perform, get someone in here who can.
  • Fire/replace the entire training/medical staff. Too many stupid, preventable injuries throughout the entire organization. Will a new staff change that? I don’t know, but there’s something wrong with it right now.

:: passes out ::

Ducksnorts (Geoff)

Move the fences in far enough that the infield dirt doubles as the warning track. More scoring + more seating = win-win.

Avenging Jack Murphy

I would fire Josh Byrnes. Then I would pick up the telephone and call Theo Epstein to ask for permission to negotiate with Jason McLeod for the purposes of becoming next GM of the San Diego Padres. #JasonMcLeodForGM2014

And making a GM change in-season could be beneficial as it allows him (her?) to evaluate the organization and to put his/her staff in place to immediately begin scouting for the 2015 draft.

Left Coast Bias

Byrnes is in his 3rd full season as GM. Is that long enough to evaluate whether or not he’s a good GM? I don’t know. There are enough moves, positive and negative, that could sway me. Gyorko extension, Seth Smith being some recent more positive moves, in my opinion. I wouldn’t fire Byrnes unless there was a very strong candidate (ala McLeod) available. Otherwise, the devil you know…

Black is a different story and it pains me to say it. I’ve defended him for a long time. And I don’t think most of this falls at his feet. But the lineup decisions, the lack of playing time for younger players when they get promoted, some in-game decisions (specifically pinch hitting Maybin for Grandal last week than asking him to sac bunt was particularly atrocious) have convinced me. Black may be a good manager somewhere. But it’s not here. It’s time for someone new. And I’d do it immediately. What purpose is there in keeping him around any longer? The season is slipping away but not lost yet. Worst case scenario the team continues to flounder with a new manager. Best case scenario? The shot in the arm gets the team over the hump.

I’d trade Headley. Do it before the All Star Break. I love the guy and wish he’d stay but there’s no reason to think that’s going to be the case. And this yo-yo effect is not doing anyone any favors.

I have no idea how to fix the injuries. It’s running rampant throughout baseball with pitchers so I’m not sure trainers can be blamed.

And of course, bring back the pork belly nachos.

The Sacrifice Bunt (Dustin)

I would probably wait until the end of the season and evaluate the organization as a whole. How do the Byrnes Era drafts, including the early returns from 2014’s, measure up? What happens with Headley and, if he’s traded midseason, how is the return? What is the early outlook for the 2015 major league team? If the answers to those questions look bleak, it’s probably time to make changes.

As Left Coast Bias mentioned, is three years enough to evaluate a general manager’s body of work? Who knows. It might take 10-plus years to get an accurate read on someone’s ability in that role, especially when you consider the amount of uncertainty that we have when evaluating each decision. Was ownership meddling too much with one move? Were the purse strings too tight to nab a desired player, either in the draft, internationally, or in the free agent market? Did a scout feed bad information on a key draft pick? Some of those things, like assembling a scouting staff, come with Byrnes’ job responsibilities. The others don’t, necessarily. The problem: nobody is going to wait around for 10 years to find out just how good Byrnes is, especially when the results aren’t there. There’s also an additional four-plus years as Arizona’s GM to evaluate, again with mixed results, when looking at Byrnes’ overall resume.

There’s no team in baseball that’s had more sweeping front office/ownership changes than the Padres over the last half decade or so. While another set of changes may be imminent, it’s important that the next GM/front office  is around for a while. It’s tough for an organization to build long-term when the people making the decisions turnover every few years.

Avenging Jack Murphy

I think Dustin’s approach is very reasoned and ordinarily I would agree that the prudent decision would require ownership waiting to evaluate until the end of the season. However, in the case of Josh Byrnes, he is a General Manager who was inherited by this ownership group and if they feel like his vision doesn’t match theirs or that a good fit doesn’t exist then making a move sooner is acceptable. If there is a good candidate available now then there is little sense in waiting.

I’m floating the name Jason McLeod but I wouldn’t imagine the Cubs would allow him to speak with another team until after the June Amateur draft. Moreover, pork belly nachos are not needed as long as the recipe to Kalua Pork Nachos is available on this site. Come over Geoff. I’ll make them for you.

I would also demand that Chris Denorfia get more playing time. He has no power against RHP but he can still hit whereas Will Venable cannot. And he looks like he gives a fuck when he’s out there. I need more fucks given.

The Sacrifice Bunt (Dustin)

I agree with everything AJM wrote about making a change sooner than later if ownership believes Byrnes isn’t the right guy. My only concern about making the change, let’s say, *right now,* is that the amateur draft is less than two weeks away. I don’t think there’s any chance a new regime could come in, get acquainted with the organization, and pull off a successful draft in that time span. The simple solution is obvious: wait until after the draft.

If you do that, you’re allowing Byrnes (and company) to manage the draft, which is likely more important to the organization than any other decision he’ll make this year. Then you would give him the boot after that. It seems like the timing is off and that if you wait until the draft is over, you might as well just wait until the season is over and reevaluate without the pressure of in-season struggles. Further, I’d imagine the pool and availability of GM candidates (like Jason McLeod, who AJM mentions) will be much larger in the offseason.

Avenging Jack Murphy

Right, Dustin. There’s no way a new GM could come in right now and execute a draft on his own. He would be using the scouting department that’s in place and their evaluations over the previous year. If we’re being pragmatic then a Byrnes firing shouldn’t occur until after the draft at the earliest.

If you’ll allow me to put my fan-hat back on – fuck pragmatism. I want blood. And I want it now. And I own this team dammit- time to flex the muscle.

The Sacrifice Bunt (Chris)

Josh Byrnes is in an interesting place to evaluate. He’s been GM for about 3 and a half years, and in most cases that isn’t enough time to implement and properly evaluate a rebuilding process. That doesn’t apply to Byrnes though has he inherited a rebuilding process off to a great start.

As the Padres’ owner, I looking for this to be the first year of bearing fruit from that rebuild, or or maybe even the second year of said fruit bearing. As Bryant mentioned in a chat on Twitter, the team isn’t exactly ripe for yet another tear-down. They’re not loaded by burdensome contracts of aging vets, (aside from maybe Quentin), nor is the farm system void of talent. GMs are usually given a chance to make those kinds of moves in an attempt to go all in. Sometimes those things work, usually they don’t.

But Josh Byrnes hasn’t done that yet. That’s the good news. The bad news is the team isn’t one or two pieces away from championship caliber. Sacrificing the future for short-term pieces is the worst possible plan right now–there’s too little to gain as a few extra wins won’t improve the team’s playoff chances much. But the team is running low on patience as they’ve been pretty bad for a long time now.

Being in charge, I’ll spend the rest of the season evaluating. While major league level fruit bearing is important, it’s Byrnes’ ability to assemble scouting talent and find good, young baseball players through creativity and smarts that matters. Has he succeeded in that regard?

Byrnes had the chance to put his stamp on the major league team. Have the players he chose to build around been worthwhile choices? While the offense is underperforming, I don’t think a rebound is out of the question. Though a “rebound” to 81 wins doesn’t instill much confidence.

As for Bud Black, I’m of the opinion that fans (I’m a fan-owner) are capable of evaluating about 20% of a manager’s job. Billy Beane said recently he evaluates managers by their ability to communicate with the front office. I agree with the Ghost on this one, lets let the GM choose the manager. “The team is losing because the manager is soft” is lazy analysis you hear from fans of every bad team. Baseball doesn’t work that way.

Vocal Minority (Nate)

I think Byrnes has to go. As soon as possible would be great. Can we go back and do it yesterday? Then they need to poach an Assistant GM from another franchise (there are several strong candidates) and get him in place immediately. There are a lot of decisions to be made this summer, and I want the GM of the future making those decisions. It would also give the new GM a chance to evaluate the roster, coaching staff, and other front office staff while on the job. This makes off-season decisions on who will continue on with the franchise better informed.

I don’t really care if Bud Black stays or goes. Count me in the group that doesn’t think most managers make a significant difference. Buddy can be frustrating, but he doesn’t bother me any more than other managers would. If the new GM wants to keep him, that would be fine with me. The GM change is far more important.

Ghost of Ray Kroc

:: snores loudly ::

Woe, Doctor!

I should preface this by saying I don’t think Josh Byrnes is a bad general manager; but I do think he’s closer to a second-division GM than he is near the top tier. With that in mind, I am not against some combination of Ron Fowler, Peter Seidler, and Mike Dee looking at candidates that they believe would be an upgrade over Byrnes. This isn’t anything personal, as I’d expect the entire organization to operate under this philosophy. If there’s somebody out there that’s a better fit for the organization, go hire that person.

However, should they pursue another general manager, I think they need to seriously rethink their philosophy when it comes to building a team and how patient they’re willing to be when it comes to getting things right. We went through this with the half-assed rebuilding effort with Sandy Alderson & Paul DePodesta, and the combination of Jeff Moorad and the dismissal of Jed Hoyer spoiled those efforts. Byrnes might not have been given adequate time to see how his drafts pan out, but I believe we’ve seen a preview of how this all turns out based on what he accomplished in Arizona. Frankly, I just don’t know if he’s the right man for the job–but that’s not reason enough to fire him. Not until the decision makers figure out which direction they want to go and are willing to commit to it 100%.

Much as I think Jason McLeod is a great candidate, I am weary of dipping back into pool of former Red Sox, and those with a background as talent evaluators. One thing that’s often overlooked with Theo Epstein is that he was brought into baseball with a very broad knowledge base that extended beyond the sport. He was simply the guy that thought it best to throw the quantitative analysis in with an extensive scouting department. I thought they did that with Hoyer, and – if the team does retool the front office – I wouldn’t be opposed to heading that direction again.

And as for Bud Black? I’d imagine he’s survived three owners and, more importantly, three general managers for a reason. As was already mentioned, communication with the general manager is a big plus and, during his Thursday interview with Darren Smith, appeared to indicate that dealing with the media is also a big deal. It was a consideration for Rick Renteria, and while the media is far less intense in the lazy little beach town of San Diego, it still plays a factor. We all know Black is beloved by players and media alike, so I’m sure it plays a role we aren’t necessarily capable of quantifying as fans.

On the other hand, this is a results based business and while we can stand by and say he hasn’t been handed the adequate tools necessary to compete, I think that if others are going to be judged on their results, that has to play a role in determining Black’s fate here as well. Chase Headley and Will Venable were both interviewed on 1090 the other day, and they said they were all responsible for the club’s offensive woes. They meant the players, but I think it’s everybody. Some managers get more out of their lineup, and some develop players better than others. I don’t think he’s blameless, but I don’t believe he holds entirely all the blame for two late-season collapses and the poor results he’s seen in his 8 seasons.

I think firing Black for the sake of shaking things up acts as nothing more than a science experiment to see if things improve, and that’s not the right way to run a team. If Ron Fowler & Co. are serious about changing this franchise for the better, they need to reevaluate what they want in a GM and hire them as soon as possible. Then let that person decide if they want to stick with Black or not.

Otherwise, you’re just letting Black play the role of scapegoat that so many hitting coaches have before.

Vocal Minority (David)

First things first: if Ron Fowler wants to move on from Black and Byrnes, he should do it now. No more leaks to the media implying their asses are on the line; make a decision. A successful weekend series shouldn’t be enough to save someone’s job if you’re at the point where you’re ready to make wholesale changes. That said, I don’t think firing Bynes and Black in an attempt to salvage THIS season is an intelligent decision. Realistically, it’s probably lost. If THAT is his motivation…the Padres are in trouble.

Since I’m Ron Fowler in this scenario, I do it now. I agree with reasons AJM and Nate have laid out, wanting to have the new front office in order so they have proper time to evaluate the situation and move forward. Like Bryant said, they’ve half-assed the previous “rebuilding” efforts. They might appoint an interim manager (Roberts?), but the GM needs to be involved in the hiring process for the permanent manager. And as I’ve said many times before, the business people need to stick to business and let the baseball people take care of the baseball part.

Oh, and I’d bring back brown and gold. Not a specific retro uniform, because in this case I’m Ron Fowler and I understand the difference.

RJ’s Fro (Rick)

I usually don’t like saying this guy needs to be fired or that guy needs to be fired. Mainly because there are so many variables that we as fans are not aware of. Did the owner force a trade or signing? Maybe the GM made the manager play a certain player? Maybe a player had some personal issues that were affecting his play. But in this fictitious world where I am Ron Fowler it would be hard for me to shake the comments that Josh Byrnes made in the 2012-2013 off-season when he said that he “mis-read the market” and brought back the same 86 loss 4th place team from the previous year. Your job as a GM is to understand that market and if you can’t do your job adequately then perhaps someone else should step in. Keep in mind that Byrnes is signed until 2017, so he’s still owed some money.

As owner you need to do whats best as soon as possible for your team’s future before the draft. If that means bringing in a new GM, then let that GM assess what/who he is working with the rest of the season. This season appears to be lost anyways at this point. If the new GM thinks Buddy is the right man for the job then keep him around, if not then cut your ties after the season and bring in someone new.

Let’s not forget to BRING BACK THE BROWN as well. It’s a no-brainer.

Padres Trail

If I owned the Padres, the first thing I’m doing is firing all the bloggers. That’s just money thrown out the window.

Baseball is hitting, pitching, and defense to my simple mind. Here’s how the Padres have fared in those 3 categories since Josh Byrnes took over:

  • Defensive Ranking in NL (using Runs Saved): 2012 – 11th; 2013 – 8th; 2014 to date – 9th. The team went from -24 runs saved in 2012, to 7 runs saved last year, to 14 runs saved so far this year. That’s improvement.
  • Starting Pitching Rank in NL (using Fangraphs WAR): 2012 – last (2.7), 2013 – last (4.5), 2014 to date – 6th (2.9). So our starting pitching has gotten better, even with all the injuries.
  • Relief Pitching Rank in NL (again, Fangraphs WAR): 2012 – 11th (1.7), 2013 – 14th (-0.2), 2014 – 6th (0.9). Hard to draw a trend there, but seems to be moving upwards this year.
  • Offensive Rank in NL (more Fangraphs WAR): 2012 – 7th (21.0), 2013 – 9th (18.6), 2014 – last (1.9). Matches what we’ve seen.

Does the sum total of that warrant firing Byrnes? I don’t think so, but he’d be on a pretty short leash. It would concern me that his decisions regarding his position players don’t balance offense and defense. It would concern me that there are no viable options on the farm to spell Gyorko and Alonso, who are clearly struggling. What’s more concerning to me is some of the tactical decisions being made at the major league level. Why aren’t Smith/Maybin/Denorfia starting more regularly? Why isn’t Amarista playing second more, to spell Gyorko who’s obviously lost at the plate?

I think Bud Black is a good guy and all that, but his inflexibility with who plays (not his lineups, which are way too pliable), refusal to play Blanks in place of Alonso which led to Blanks going to Oakland, and ridiculous in-game decisions (having Maybin bunt with 2 on and nobody out in the sixth? You kidding?) are more of a detriment to this team right now than anything Byrnes is doing.

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What would you do if you owned the Padres?

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