The Padres' slow start could cost Bud Black his job.
The Padres are at a breaking point.
Ron Fowler, the team’s executive chairman, indicated in an e-mail to FOX Sports on Thursday night that changes could be imminent for his struggling franchise.
"At this time, we will not be discussing our situation with any parties outside of our senior management circle," Fowler said.
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"That said, we are terribly disappointed in the team’s offense this year and staying the course (waiting for a turnaround) is becoming less appealing as the ugly losses continue."
Fowler’s comments followed a radio interview earlier Thursday in which team president Mike Dee told the Mighty 1090 radio station in San Diego that the club’s performance was "unacceptable."
"Stay tuned, if it doesn’t turn around, we’ll have to make some changes," Dee said. "…This thing has to be fixed and it will."
Phil Plantier, the team’s hitting coach since 2012, would appear to be in the most immediate danger of losing his job.
However, a column by the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Kevin Acee last month strongly implied that ownership was growing impatient with Bud Black, who has been the team’s manager since 2007 and is under contract through ’15.
The Padres, after opening the season with a club-record $90.1 million payroll, are a season-high 10 games under .500 and in fourth place in the NL West. The team sits just a half-game ahead of the Diamondbacks, who reacted to their poor start by installing Tony La Russa as chief baseball officer last month.
As Fowler noted, the Padres’ disappointing record stems mostly from the performance of its offense, which has produced just 17 runs in the past 10 games. The team has gone 2-8 during that stretch and been shut out three times.
For the season, the Padres are averaging the major league low 3.03 runs per game. The next-worst team, the Reds, are averaging 3.46.
The Padres also are last in the majors with a .216 batting average, .275 on-base percentage and .344 slugging percentage.
Three of their hitters — second baseman Jedd Gyorko (currently injured), shortstop Everth Cabrera and first baseman Yonder Alonso — rank among the eight lowest in the majors in on-base/slugging percentage.
The Padres were viewed by some as a potential surprise team this season after adding free-agent right-handers Josh Johnson and Joaquin Benoit and trading for outfielder Seth Smith.
The pitching has remained strong, ranking eighth in the majors with a 3.51 ERA even with Johnson and four other potential starters on the disabled list. But the offensive collapse has baffled Black and other club officials.
Injuries to third baseman Chase Headley and outfielder Carlos Quentin helped account for the dropoff, but the Padres have struggled to score even when healthy.
Black is a popular figure in San Diego and considered by rival executives to be one of the game’s better managers. He likely would land another managing job quickly if he desired.
Beyond a potential shakeup in the on-field staff, the Padres also are likely to trade off several veterans before the July 31 non-waiver deadline. Smith, right-hander Ian Kennedy, closer Huston Street and outfielder Chris Denorfia are among the candidates to be moved.