Whether those three pull on a Padres uniform next opening day remains to be seen.
The Padres have several decisions to make in the wake of a 99-loss season, which ended Sunday with a 6-1 defeat at the hands of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Among them are whether to bring back their manager, baseball’s career saves leader and a right fielder who at 37 is among the best in the majors at getting on base.
Pittsburgh finished last in the NL Central at 67-95, 30 1/2 games behind the Chicago Cubs. The Padres brought up the rear in the West at 63-99, their worst finish since 1993, when they were 61-101. The Padres were 21 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers.
As dismal as the Padres were in 2008 following four straight winning seasons, San Diego has a long way to go to match Pittsburgh’s futility.
The Pirates tied the 1933-48 Philadelphia Phillies’ major league record of 16 consecutive losing seasons—the longest losing run in any of the four major pro sports leagues. The Pirates have lost at least 94 games each of the last four seasons.
Fittingly, Giles doubled in San Diego’s only run in the third. He was on deck when the game ended.
“If this was the last game I played here in San Diego, I’ve had some good times, some great teammates,” said Giles, who grew up in suburban El Cajon. “It will be something I can look back on when I’m done playing baseball totally and say, ‘Hey, you got an opportunity to play in your hometown, play with your brother in your hometown and have some pretty good times in San Diego.”’
The Padres hold a $9 million option on Giles, or a $3 million buyout. He’d like to remain with his hometown team, but with owner John Moores going through a divorce, the Padres are in another penny-pinching mode.
The number the Padres will have to factor against that $9 million is .398— Giles’ on-base percentage.
Black and ace Jake Peavy both mentioned how Giles can be a role model for a franchise led by number crunchers who place a premium on stats such as on-base percentage.
Giles lobbied for himself, too, although he said he’s heard more from his friends about next year than he has from management.
“Obviously there’s been a lot of talk about philosophy the last two weeks. I feel the way I go about my at-bats is everything this organization wants, so I don’t see why it wouldn’t be picked up,” Giles said. “There’s a lot of different variables that play into that. I think it’s really what our payroll’s going to be next year, and if that $9 million’s going to fit into that payroll structure.”
Peavy said Giles is the kind of player the Padres need to help their many young players.
“If they don’t have a role model to look at day-in, day-out, what kind of message is that going to send to your team, your fans?” Peavy said. “It’s a no-brainer. Brian Giles is an absolute gamer, as good a professional as there is in the game. If you don’t want him on your team, you’ve got to question what kind of team you want to be.”
Black, the second-year skipper, is under contract through next season but the Padres have not said whether he’ll be back.
Even if Black returns, there might be more upheaval on the coaching staff. Hitting coach Wally Joyner resigned with six games to go, citing philosophical differences with the front office.
Asked if he wanted to come back, Black said: “Yeah. I love managing. It’s a great job, yeah. I like this organization. Decisions will be made.”
Hoffman’s contract expires, and baseball’s saves leader with 554 would like to finish his career with the Padres. He turns 41 next month.
LaRoche homered to right leading off the fourth inning against Wade LeBlanc (1-3). Pearce homered to left two pitches later to give the Pirates a 2-1 lead. Luis Cruz singled in a run in the sixth, Jason Michaels hit a two-run double with two outs in the ninth and scored on LaRoche’s double.
Pirates starter Ross Ohlendorf was pulled with runners on first and second with two outs in the fifth and the Pirates leading 2-1, making him ineligible for the victory. He allowed one run and five hits.
Six relievers pitched 4 1-3 innings of one-hit ball. Tyler Yates (6-3) got the win after striking out the side in the eighth.
“I would have liked to pitch deeper into the game,” Ohlendorf said. “I’m glad I just gave up that one run and that we were able to win.”
Padres starter Cha Seung Baek was forced out with a strained left calf after 2 1-3 innings. … Ohlendorf, Padres CF Will Venable and San Diego RHP Chris Young were teammates at Princeton. Venable and Young also played basketball.