In a season of upheaval, one thing will remain the same on San Diego's baseball field: The Padres have extended the contract of manager Bud Black through 2010 with a club option for 2011.
Black, in his third season of managing the Padres, is presiding over a club with a drastically cut payroll this season that is buried in last place in the NL West. Chopping from $70-some million down to the $40-million range following the trade of Jake Peavy to the Chicago White Sox on Friday, the Padres entered a series-opener with the New York Mets on Thursday night at 44-65.
Padres general manager Kevin Towers and Jeff Moorad, the Padres' new chief executive officer, first discussed extending the manager a couple of months ago, and they first broached an extension with Black several weeks ago.
"Watching the way he dealt with young players, he's done a real nice job," Towers said. "I personally think he's managed better this year than his first two.
"I knew he'd get better with time. Our record doesn't indicate it, but it's not Buddy's fault we're 20 games under .500."
Black, 52, has a career record of 196-238 during his two-plus seasons in charge in San Diego. The Padres went 89-74 in his first season and were eliminated from the postseason chase in a one-game playoff in Colorado on the Monday after the regular season ended.
"The first year was kind of a whirlwind managing a contending club," Towers said. "Last year we had a lot of injuries. I've said I thought Buddy would be better even with a younger club. He likes young players.
"He's been one of the driving forces here, 'Hey, let's get our young guys up here and see what they're capable of.' I think this is more of the team he's wanted. He can steal some bases, hit-and-run. We've had a station-to-station club the last couple of years."
Towers also has been impressed with Black's calm demeanor, especially as the losses have mounted and the roster has blown up.
"I don't know how he's done it," Towers said. "I've never seen Bud Black have a bad day. A more volatile manager can make things even worse. If anything, he's been a breath of fresh air for all of us. I tend to fall on the negative side, and he helps balance me out a little bit."
Black, following San Diego's 8-3 win over the New York Mets on Thursday, said he's excited with the extension and is happy that he'll be in charge as the club looks to turn things around.
"I'm flattered that it was talked about over the last month," Black said. "I'm glad to be a part of what's going on here. There's been a transition with ownership in the spring, and there is an evaluation process that obviously continues to go on. Jeff and Tom (Garfinkel, new club president) are doing some things that are going to get us back to where we belong. And K.T. is a great baseball mind. I like working with him."