(AP)Bud Black just got a vote of confidence from the worst possible place. No, not from his boss, or anyone else in the San Diego Padres organization.
It comes from an online gambling site.
The Bovada Sports Book names Harry Ralston "Bud" Black as the betting favorite to be the first Major League Baseball manager fired in 2012.
Well that's a fine way for the Friars to start the regular season. But is there anything to it?
On the surface, yes. Black has gone 388-423 for a .478 winning percentage over six seasons with an average finish of 3.7th place in the NL West. The Padres won 90 games in 2010, when Black was voted the NL Manager of the Year, but that happened despite a colossal collapse in the second half of the season. They went 71-91 a year ago, but new GM Josh Byrnes made some changes in the offseason that might or might not immediately lead to more victories this season. Sure, he isn't necessarily Byrnes' "guy," but if Byrnes doesn't find Black objectionable and you're in the middle of a roster turnover, why bother changing the manager?
I actually prefer some of the other picks Bovada made. They might not be more likely to get fired, but you'll get better odds. Click here and scroll down near the bottom to see the Bovada's list of 10 names (a few of which have zero chance of getting the hook):
• Black — 3/1
• Brad Mills, Houston Astros — 5/1
• Dusty Baker, Cincinnati Reds — 11/2
• Buck Showalter, Baltimore Orioles — 6/1
• Ron Gardenhire, Minnesota Twins — 6/1
• Jim Tracy, Colorado Rockies — 9/1
• Charlie Manuel, Philadelphia Phillies — 10/1
• Joe Girardi, New York Yankees — 10/1
• Bruce Bochy, San Francisco Giants — 10/1
• Mike Scioscia, Los Angeles Angels — 12/1
• Baker seems like a great bet. The Reds are favored by many to win the NL Central. They're in the process of giving Joey Votto a billion dollars over the next 40 years to play first base. They're already having issues in the bullpen — the spot on any club most likely to get a manager fired. Dusty's teams have a reputation — fair or not — for collapsing in spectacular fashion when the expectations are highest.
• Mills has 192 career losses heading into his third season, and his contract is up. He might or might not be a good manager — how would anyone know with the Astros rosters? — but it certainly seems possible that the new owner and GM could start over with new blood.
• I'm not sure Showalter would let GM Dan Duquette fire him, at least not just yet. That's a weird power structure they've got going there in Baltimore.
• Gardenhire is a trap bet. Given the sharp decline of the Twins in 2011, he might seem teetering on the edge to outsiders. But he's the worst bet on here. No matter his curious lineup decisions or odd bullpen scheme, many things will save him. Gardy's reputation around the league is about as good as it gets. The Twins have made some terrible personnel decisions the past couple of years (GM Bill Smith paid the price). And they've been really unlucky.
• Wasn't Tracy just named manager for life in Colorado?
• Manuel might retire at the end of the season, but that's as close as you'll come to cashing his ticket.
• Girardi will only get fired if George Steinbrenner's death was a hoax.
• Bochy. This is creative. I like it. But the 2010 World Series season was too recent. If the Giants stall again this season, then start slow in 2013, get back to me.
• Scioscia's odds might be better if the Angels weren't expected by so many to do so well. If there's an unexpected and horrible implosion, sure, it could happen. New GM, plus an owner doling out millions to Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, probably unwilling to put up with underachievement. An outsider's chance at 12/1 seems about right.
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