The Colorado Rockies made headlines throughout the baseball world after they reached a record-setting contract extension with Nolan Arenado on Tuesday morning. Even though this is by far the most significant move this off-season for the franchise, keeping manager Bud Black in town also plays a large role in maintaining a winning culture.
According to Thomas Harding of MLB.com, the Colorado Rockies reached a three-year contract extension with manager Bud Black on Monday. His current contract contained a mutual option for 2020, but the new contract extension will replace this option and run through the 2022 season.
Black was originally signed by the Rockies ahead of the 2017 regular season as the organization found itself in the midst of a seven-year postseason drought. During this drought, the Blake Street Bombers were only able to win more than 75 games during one season (2010, 83-79).
However, since Black took the reigns as the manager of the Rockies, the team has been able to put together two back-to-back 75+ win seasons (87-75 in 2017 and 91-72 in 2018). To make his tenure to this point even more impressive, the team also reached the postseason in each of his first two seasons. Even though the recent success is primarily due to the amount of talent on the roster, the leadership of Black goes a long way in keeping the team focused throughout the grind of the regular season.
“There’s a consistent kind of calmness to being able to breathe, being able to calm things down in the face of fire or unfortunate events or if things don’t go your way,” Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich told MLB.com in reference to Black. “There’s a lack of panic. He does a good job of leaning on experience.”
"“It’s not all about Buddy, so he leans on the people around him, and he leans on the folks that are empowered to do their jobs, and that includes the players,” Bridich continued. “When everybody feels that way, it can calm things down.”"
Alongside his calming presence, which likely played a large role in helping the Rockies rebound from a disappointing month of June last season in which they found themselves eight games out of first place, Black is able to bestow his deep knowledge of the game onto each player.
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“A lot of guys lean on him for knowledge,” Kyle Freeland told MLB.com in reference to Black. “He’s always looking to learn more about us and learn more about the game, and teach us in the right ways. He helps you think in a different way, not like a one-way-street kind of way.”
“[He helps you] think about a hitter or a situation or anything in a game of baseball in a different aspect,” Freeland continued. “Him being able to do that opens more doors mentally to attack hitters, attack this game and be creative on the field.”
The ability for Black to teach the pitching staff has been a very important factor in the team having success over the past two seasons. Even though the Rockies are not known around the league for having solid starting pitching, Black has changed this narrative in a large way.
In terms of wins above replacement (WAR), the starting pitchers in Colorado combined for 15.0 WAR last season, which ranked 8th in the MLB and 4th in the NL. This is a significant turn around from the league worst 4.3 combined WAR of the Rockies’ starting pitchers combined during the 2015 season.
“My coaching style is communicative, based on a teaching concept,” Black told MLB.com. “That’s something I learned long ago, even as a player becoming a veteran player and talking to younger players and getting into coaching. That’s the part I enjoy most, the teaching aspect — whether it’s on-field fundamentals, the teaching part of the game, it’s daily, and I love that.”
Despite bringing in veterans such as Daniel Murphy and Mark Reynolds, the dedication Black has to teaching will play a large role in helping young players such as Garrett Hampson and Raimel Tapia (maybe even Peter Lambert and Brendan Rodgers) make an impact at the big league level next season.
As Bud Black is committed to helping each member of the Colorado Rockies improve their individual game, and as he provides a calming presence that helps the team push through tough stretches of the season, keeping him with the franchise long-term will play a large role in maintaining a winning culture.