You shouldn’t feel sorry for the Colorado Rockies.

They’re too young for that, too new to the MLB landscape. Oh, sure, it’s been 23 years since they became a franchise. But that’s peanuts on the geologic timescale by which clubs like the suddenly liberated Chicago Cubs and still-suffering Cleveland Indians measure their triumph and heartbreak. 

No one—aside from the guy with the threadbare Dante Bichette jerseycares that the Rockies have been to the playoffs only three times, have never won a World Series and haven’t had a winning season since 2010.

Still, Colorado is a team on the rise. And Bud Blackwho was reportedly hired on Sunday as the team’s new manager, per’s Ken Rosenthal, replacing Walt Weiss, who resigned Oct. 3is the right man to lead the Rockies to relevance.

Black’s 649-713 managerial record doesn’t leap off the screen. Consider, however, that all nine of his seasons on the dugout’s top step were spent with the frequently woeful San Diego Padres and their dysfunctional front office.

More tellingly, Black won National League Manager of the Year honors in 2010 and finished among the top five in MOY voting three times. The Padres pitching staff, meanwhile, finished among the top five in the NL in ERA four times on Black’s watch.

Prior to that, he served as pitching coach for the Los Angeles Angels from 2000-2006 and won a ring with the Halos in 2002.

Stretching further back, he won 121 games and posted a 3.84 ERA in 15 big league seasons.

If you’re sensing a pitching-centric theme, you’re on the right track.

The Rockies can score. That’s never their problem. In 2016, Colorado paced the Senior Circuit in runs (845) and OPS (.794). It’s the Coors Field effect, and it’s a fact of life in the Mile High zone, humidors notwithstanding. 

It helps that the Rockies’ lineup is stacked.

Third baseman Nolan Arenado (.294/.362/.570, 41 home runs, 133 RBI) is a whiz with the lumber and the leather and is coming off an MVP-caliber season. 

Second baseman DJ LeMahieu (.348/.416/.495) just won a batting title. Shortstop Trevor Story (.909 OPS, 27 home runs) was squarely in the Rookie of the Year conversation before a thumb injury ended his season in late July. 

Center fielder Charlie Blackmon (.324 average, .933 OPS, 29 home runs) and right fielder Carlos Gonzalez (.298 average, 25 home runs, 100 RBI) give the Rockies two more dangerous bats or valuable trade chips in a thin free-agent market.

The key, as ever, is to get enough pitching to keep the ship afloat. Despite all that offense, Colorado finished 75-87, 16 games out in the NL West.

Rockies pitchers posted a 4.92 ERA last season, third-worst in baseball. There are enough pieces, however, to nudge the needle toward hope.

Tyler Anderson (3.54 ERA, 114.1 innings, 99 strikeouts), Chad Bettis (4.79 ERA, 186 innings, 138 strikeouts), Tyler Chatwood (3.87 ERA, 158 innings, 117 strikeouts) and Jon Gray (4.61 ERA, 168 innings, 185 strikeouts) are all 27 years old or younger and showed flashes in 2016.

Gray, in particular, looks like a possible ace after setting a franchise record with 16 strikeouts against the Padres on Sept. 17.

“I feel like I belong out here this year,” Gray said at the time, per Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. “I told myself, ‘I’m here for a reason, so why not show it off?'”

That confidence should have the Denver faithful thinking happy thoughts, particularly with a proven pitchers’ manager like Black coming into the fold.

“Bud Black knows pitching,” the Denver Post‘s Mark Kiszla opined prior to Black’s hire. “Coors Field begs for a manager with a master’s degree in pitching.”

That’s not to say Black will wave a wand and turn the Rockies’ young starters into world beaters, or that he can magically reform a bullpen that posted an MLB-worst 5.13 ERA.

His selection, however, suggests Colorado is placing emphasis on its greatest area of need. If the Rockies can pitch at even a league-average clip or close to it, they’ll be a serious threat to the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants out West.

Speaking of which, Black’s extensive experience within the division should be a plus, as Rockies play-by-play man Drew Goodman of Root Sports pointed out:

There’s no such thing as a can’t-miss managerial hire. Scores of skippers have looked good on paper only to wilt under the unique pressures of their assignment.

Shepherding the Purple and Black 5,200 feet above sea level is no ordinary assignment. 

From here, though, this is a prudent move.

The Rockies don’t have enough history to be considered long-suffering. Yet, with Black at the helm and bright spots all over the roster, their suffering may end nonetheless.


All statistics courtesy of and

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