The San Diego Padres have fired manager Bud Black.
He held the job since the 2007 season, but had only two winning seasons and never made the post-season. In 2007, the Padres missed the playoffs via the surging Colorado Rockies. Three years later, the Padres led the NL West nearly the entire season. In late August, they had a six game lead in the division. But they would embark upon a 10 game losing streak and never recover. The Giants took advantage of the situation and would win their first of three World Series titles.
To be fair, during most of Black’s tenure, the Padres had a small payroll and he didn’t have much with which to work. But the same could not be said for this season. The Padres acquired the likes of Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Will Myers and James Shields, putting their payroll over $100 million. But entering tonight, the Padres are 32-33 six games back of the Los Angeles Dodgers and only half a game ahead of the Arizona Diamondbacks and 2 1/2 games of the last place Rockies.
Bench coach Dave Roberts (the same Dave Roberts who stole second for the Red Sox in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS) is in charge of the club tonight and could manage the team for the rest of the season. But the Padres are also interviewing Pat Murphy, who manages the Padres Triple-AAA affiliate in El Paso. A decision is expected within the next day or so.
I don’t know much about Murphy, but Roberts is highly regarded and for his genial, low-key presence and could be exactly what the Padres need to turn it around.
UPDATE: The Padres have opted to go with Murphy instead of Roberts to manage the team for the rest of the season.
Murphy has been with the Padres organization since 2010. After spending his first year in the front office, Murphy managed the Padres’ short season Single-A affiliate in Eugene, Oregon for two seasons before being promoted skipper of their Triple-AAA affiliate in Tucson which later moved to El Paso.
But most of Murphy’s coaching background is at the NCAA level. He coached baseball with both Notre Dame and Arizona State University. ASU has long had a reputation as a baseball powerhouse and Murphy guided the team to four appearances in the College World Series. However, Murphy was forced to resign following the 2009 season by the NCAA over a recruitment although he was cleared of any wrongdoing.
While it is not unusual to see NFL head coaches who have coached in the NCAA, it is pretty unusual to see a big league manager with a collegiate coaching background. I suspect this will change should Murphy guide the Padres to their first-ever World Series title.