Six Thoughts: Pad-Rays, Matt Bush on Comeback Trail
Maddon manages the Tampa Bay Rays, Black helms the San Diego Padres, and the two kid about meeting in October, far from the golf course.
"We keep talking about a powerful 'Pad-Rays' World Series, and how much fun that would be," Maddon says. "Buddy coined that one. 'Pad-Rays.' We text each other on it."
Get it? Instead of Padres, say Pad-Rays.
For you lunkheads who think Black's actually making a prediction, get real. He likes his spunky club, and what's the point of playing for second place?
West Coast Bias pegged the Padres for 79 wins and fourth, one spot ahead of the Diamondbacks. If the $38 million Padres end up with a winning record, Black should be manager of the year. The Padres are 58-37 since last summer. Time for club CEO Jeff Moorad to pick up Black's option for 2011.
• After bouncing around for several years, Matt Bush may have found a home within Tampa Bay's farm system.
Rays personnel say they wouldn't be surprised if Bush, one of the most disappointing top picks in draft history, rises to the major leagues later this season. Now in Single-A, Bush has thrown only three innings but clocked well into the 90s. Time will tell if Bush's comeback from alcohol abuse will hold up, but the Rays are encouraged by the 24-year-old's overall progress. Baseball's answer to Ryan Leaf, Bush was drafted first overall by the Padres in 2004 and quickly found trouble off and on the field.
• Mike Scioscia's managerial tree is thriving, even as Scioscia's Angels fight canker-rot
Maddon and Black each are in first place. Maddon's Rays lead the majors at 24-10 and, because they're on Florida's West Coast, they get honorary status here.
Unless you're looking for a big belly, you'll see Scioscia's influence on each former Angels coach.
Maddon proudly named three Scioscia attributes that his Rays have. "I think we're fearless," he said. "I think that we play the game hard every day. And with 'Sosh,' you never knew the next day if you had won or lost the previous day, and I think we're all of that."
Black said he "learned a ton" from Scioscia. "Mike's sturdiness, his consistency as a leader is something that I hoped I brought here," he said. "He's extremely sturdy. He's extremely steady. He's extremely consistent. There's some toughness to him, yet there's a compassionate side to him as well."
Eight years ago the three men celebrated a World Series title in Anaheim -- an all-California classic far more entertaining the duds that followed back East or in wastelands elsewhere.
"We all fed off of each other," Scioscia said. "I got as much from them as they got from me. I can't tell you how much about pitching I learned from Buddy. Joe, he's just got a great ability to think outside the box and find very common sense solutions to what could be problems."
• If you went to roulette table with the Rockies and they bet black, you'd make a fortune by betting red.
No other team's 2010 has been as unlucky as Colorado's.
Colorado has put nearly a whole pitching staff on the disabled list, along with right-fielder Brad Hawpe, who only recently left the DL. Still out are former ace Jeff Francis, closer Huston Street and No. 2 starting pitcher Jorge de la Rosa. A power left-hander who frustrated several previous employers, De la Rosa broke through in 2009 to go 16-9 with a 4.38 ERA, and was off to a good start this year before he suffered a torn tendon band in his left middle finger.
"He has No. 1-type stuff," said manager Jim Tracy. "When he throws strikes, he's unhittable."
But it's anyone's guess when de la Rosa will return..
"The tendon runs through the middle of your finger," Tracy said. "Flexor tendon bands, long story short, hold the tendon in place. And he tore one of those off. I don't know when he's going to throw again. I don't know when he's going to start throwing catch."
Colorado's spate of injuries improves San Diego's chances of staying in playoff contention and keeping star Adrian Gonzalez for the season. Deeper than most organizations from Double-A up, the Rockies can still win their first division title, but not if their luck stays bad.
• ESPN will stop airing Red Sox-Yankees games before the Giants ever fully embrace a widespread youth movement.
It's just not in the Giants' DNA to go all-out with the kids. In this space last month, Giants general manager Brian Sabean attacked the notion that manager Bruce Bochy is overly partial to veteran players. Later, Sabean said the same applies to the other managers he hired in San Francisco -- Dusty Baker and Felipe Alou.
Sabean said it's brutally hard for a manager to try to win a playoff berth and develop young players in the majors at the same time. Unlike some clubs, the Giants push hard to reach the playoffs every year.
Here's more from Sabean: "I've been lucky to work with three amazing managers, and I honestly can't remember one time that I've had a manager literally say, 'Hey, you've got to get this [young] guy out of here, or, 'There's no way in hell we can go forward with this guy.'
"Managers that I've been around aren't built like that," Sabean said. "They know that this is a game of failure with tremendous pressure. The kid that's going 0-for-the-month this month might turn around and help you for the stretch drive.
"Managers also want to have the players know that there is a certain amount of backing no matter what you're going through, especially the guys that were ex-players that know how difficult this game is."
• The Angels' Brandon Wood still looks out of sorts.
One of Wood's buddies said Wood isn't attacking first or second pitches like he did in the minors. Batting .168 with 31 strikeouts in 101 at-bats, Wood got another mental breather Wednesday. He's 2-for-14 on first pitches, with one home run.