Rockies sign Bud Black to 3-year deal as manager
DENVER (AP) Bud Black really has no radical or revolutionary ideas about how to reliably pitch in the thin air at Coors Field.
Just an age-old concept.
''You know what works here? Good pitching and making pitches and getting outs,'' Black said Monday after being introduced as the manager of the Colorado Rockies. ''That's what we have to do. I don't think we have to change anybody. We've got to make guys better. And these guys are pretty good to start with.''
Black signed a three-year deal to take over for Walt Weiss, who stepped down last month when his contract expired after four years in charge of the Rockies. They finished 75-87 last season, their best record since 2010.
The 59-year-old Black is revered for his pitching acumen. Understandably, he views the game through a pitcher's eyes and knows this park is filled with difficulties for a staff.
''It's just a different game here than other spots,'' Black said. ''But it's still baseball. … I'm not planning anything unconventional. I like the conventional. I like good, solid starting pitching, a good, solid relief core. That works anywhere.''
Black knows this park well after serving as manager of NL West rival San Diego for 8 + seasons before being fired in June 2015. He compiled a 649-713 record for the Padres and was voted NL Manager of the Year in 2010.
With the Rockies, Black inherits a potent offense that includes a batting champion in DJ LeMahieu, sluggers Nolan Arenado and Carlos Gonzalez and rising star Trevor Story.
Not that he's going to offer them much advice. Instead, he'll stick with what he knows best – pitching.
After a major league career that spanned 15 seasons on the mound, Black became a respected pitching coach for the Los Angeles Angels. He brings a wealth of experience to a team that's long struggled to get outs in Denver, which is a mile above sea level.
Colorado as a team had a 4.91 ERA last season, tied with Cincinnati for 13th out of 15 National League teams. Arizona (5.09) was the only club that was worse.
But the Rockies feature a young and talented rotation led by Jon Gray.
The first order of business will be shoring up a bullpen that blew 28 saves last season.
''We're aware of where we're at and where we need to get to,'' said Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich, who also stressed the importance of adding a first baseman. ''Bud's experience and his expertise absolutely adds into that, and lends to us to being better than we have been recently on the bump.''
Over the years, Colorado's kept a close watch on the development of teams such as Kansas City, Cleveland, Houston and St. Louis. Good pitching, clutch hitting, lights-out bullpen – they're trying to emulate that sort of blueprint.
''We try to be in tune with them as much as possible,'' Bridich said. ''There's a difference between talented and good. We have talent. The next step is to become a good team – a good and consistent team.''
Bridich interviewed quite a few internal and external candidates before tabbing Black as the seventh manager in franchise history. He got a thumbs-up from owner Dick Monfort, who made a list of eight or nine qualities he wanted to see his next manager embody.
''I went down that list and checked a lot of them off (with Black),'' Monfort said. ''I've always watched him manage at San Diego. He seems to be a tough guy. He understands the game, obviously has a lot of experience. I think that fits well.''
On a recent visit to town, Black had a meeting with the Rockies staff in a stadium suite. Hanging on the wall was a picture of Colorado players celebrating with former Rockies outfielder Matt Holliday after he scored the winning run during a 2007 play-in game to beat Black and his Padres. The Rockies rode that wave of momentum all the way to their only World Series appearance.
But there was a little bit of controversy about whether Holliday actually touched home plate on his winning slide in the 13th inning. Black weighed in with his opinion.
''To this day, I don't think he's touched it,'' joked Black, who posed for pictures Monday right next to home plate. ''That was a good group. … We're going to do everything to get back to where this team was in 2007.''