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MLB: Can Colorado Rockies contend under Bud Black?

Last week the Colorado Rockies announced that manager Bud Black had agreed a one-year extension to his current contract.

Black managed the Rockies to the postseason in 2017 and 2018 but has seen his side have four sub-500 seasons since. Was this the right move for the franchise? The Rockies are +12500 to win the World Series in 2023.

WhatMLB Spring Training
WhereArizona and Florida
WhenFirst Exhibition games are on Friday February 24th 2023
How to watchMLB.TV (not all games are broadcast)
Odds(To win the World Series) LA Dodgers +600, Houston Astros +600, New York Mets +700, New York Yankees +800, Atlanta Braves +900, Toronto Blue Jays +900

Strong relationship

There is no doubt that the Rockies' management have a strong relationship with Black. Things haven’t gone their way over the past four seasons culminating with a poor season in 2022 and last year’s 68-94 record was the Rockies’ worst with Black at the helm.

There are a lot of young talented players within the Rockies’ minor-league system which Black can introduce over the course of the next two years. Effectively, this is saying that the Rockies won’t be challenging for the National League West Division anytime soon.

Speaking to the official Colorado Rockies website, following the announcement of his contract extension. Black said: “We had an off-year last year, there is no doubt about that.

“I’ve mentioned before that I do think we have the pieces to contend. We have players with talent that can exceed expectations of not only what the noise you hear from the outside, but my own personal expectations of this group and also the players’ expectations.

“There is talent there, but when games start and we play the 162, that will tell you how we play. But I do think we have the players very capable of playing each team.”

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Talks with Black about his contract extension had begun in January with owner Dick Montfort and general manager Bill Schmidt. These talks indicated that Black could stay for as long as he wanted as Montfort was delighted with how things had gone with Black over recent seasons.

Black ranks third in franchise history in both games managed and wins (870 games, 417 wins-453 losses), trailing Clint Hurdle (1,159 games, 534-625) and Don Baylor (909 games 440-469). If Black manages through to the end of the 2024 season, he will have managed the most games in franchise history.

Last season, the Rockies were 43 games behind the NL West champion, the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Rockies are +15000 to win their first NL West Division in franchise history.

What next for the Rockies?

The Rockies didn’t make any major offseason moves so are banking on a bounce-back season from outfielder Kris Bryant, who was limited to just 42 games due to injuries. Bryant is +8000 to win the National League Most Valuable Player award in 2023.

The injuries are starting to rack up already and the exhibition games are set to begin this weekend. German Marquez was expected to pitch for his native Venezuela in the up-and-coming World Baseball Classic which begins on March 8th. However, he has injured his hamstring in conditioning drills and it is unclear when he will return.

Injuries have been a focus for the Rockies in the last few seasons and none more so than last year. Right-handed pitcher Peter Lambert, whom the Rockies hope can produce rotation depth, is expected to be a full participant throughout Spring Training after having elbow issues. Lambert had Tommy John surgery in 2020 and has only appeared in two big-league games since.

Right-hander Antonio Senzatela is returning from surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee since August and remains on-track to be in the rotation by mid-May. It is thought that he is about two weeks away from his first bullpen session.

Lefty Ryan Rolison, who had surgery on his labrum last summer, remains about a month away from pitching again. There is no timetable on his return for the majors or even a spell in the minor leagues.

However, despite all the injuries accrued by the Rockies, they do have some prospects that will get valuable game time over the course of Spring Training. These include, top prospect Zac Veen and also Sean Bouchard, Nolan Jones and Michael Toglia.

Maybe this was the future Black was referring to and hope can spring eternal for the Rockies.

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