It’s time for the Rockies to evaluate if Bud Black is part of their future plans
Aug 23, 2022, 6:00 AM
The Colorado Rockies are about to miss the playoffs for a fourth straight year.
When the 2022 season mercifully comes to an end on October 5 in Los Angeles, the biggest questions remaining are how many games will the Rockies lose and will they finish fifth place in the National League West? Colorado was off on Monday night, sitting with a 53-70 record and three games back of Arizona for last in the division.
In fact, the Rockies have stumbled so hard in the second half, they currently only have a better mark than NL doormats Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Washington. Any hope after a decent 16-11 start is long gone. The Rockies were supposed to be bad, and after a sample size of more than 120 games, they are indeed bad.
The biggest change needed remains at the very top. The day Dick Monfort sells the team (if ever) will be a cause for celebration all across Colorado. Seemingly every day there’s a new “Dick Monfort should sell the Rockies” article popping up on the Internet or in print. Heck, the legendary Woody Paige wrote as much last week.
And even though Monfort sold the Grand Junction Rockies a few days ago, why would he ever sell his big league club? He makes an obscene amount of money running Denver’s most profitable bar. Whether the product is good or bad, fans flock in droves to 20th and Blake game after game.
After Monfort, the ire of most fans usually lands on whoever the GM is. It was Dan O’Dowd for years, followed by Jeff Bridich and now Bill Schmidt. Schmidt didn’t make a single move at the trade deadline, then complained about not having the financial resources to compete. He’s only been on the job since October of 2021, and it’s highly unlikely the fiercely loyal Monfort makes a change there.
But even though the Rockies don’t seem to care about winning, there might have to be a fall guy. The most obvious choice is manager Bud Black.
After two incredible seasons to start his tenure in 2017 and 2018, Black’s Rockies haven’t been competitive. Long gone are the 87-75 mark he posted his first season in Colorado and 91-72 record a year later. Both those resulted in postseason berths. Both those teams also featured Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story and DJ LeMahieu.
It’s not Black’s fault ownership and management bungled the relationship with each player, but his voice could be growing stale in a clubhouse that has forgotten how to win. Colorado’s winning percentages the last four seasons under Black? .438, .433, .460 and .431. That’s consistent, but it’s consistently bad.
The issue with Black seems to be his feel for in-game decisions and pitcher management. Take Sunday against the Giants at Coors Field for example. In a tie game, 2-2 in the seventh inning, Black visited the mound to have a lengthy chat with Kyle Freeland. The bases were loaded and Freeland sat at 99 pitches. He had given the Rockies his best, but was clearly out of gas. Three-time All-Star Evan Longoria waited to bat for the Giants.
Rather than pull Freeland, Black decided it was a good idea to let him keep going. Longoria deposited a ball into the left field bleachers for a grand slam on the very next pitch. Black came out to pull a visibly upset Freeland for real, with a 2-2 game now 6-2. The Rockies rallied to force extra innings, but still found a way to lose 9-8 in painful fashion.
Black is well liked by the media and fans and has never found a microphone he wasn’t comfortable in front of. He’s fun and quirky — always good for a story. But are the Rockies looking for a friend in the dugout or a boss? Black seems to be one of the guys, rather than ready to tear into a team that has been awful since 2019.
Monfort and Schmidt’s No. 1 decision this offseason is the future of Black. He signed a one-year contract extension back in February to keep him around through 2023, but that can easily be paid out while the Rockies move on.
In an organization with problems that start at the very top, it’s hard to know what’s next and who can fix the issues that have plagued this team nearly their entire existence. If Monfort won’t sell or fire Schmidt, Black being shown the door is the next logical move.
It may not be fair, but then again neither is having to be a fan of this team.