MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

Black perfect for young Rox club on the rise

Black perfect for young Rox club on the rise

The Rockies could not have hired anyone better than Bud Black to be their next manager. He pretty much checks off every box.

These are exciting times for baseball fans in Colorado. There's so much young talent that the Rockies are positioned to take a significant step forward over the next two seasons

In Black, 59, general manager Jeff Bridich has added another important brick in the wall. Here's who they're getting: He's a people person and a terrific communicator. To know Bud Black is to like him.

Black engenders a loyalty among the people who've played for him or worked for him, and they remain close to him long after they've gone their separate ways.

What has Black done in baseball? Better to ask what he has not done.

Black pitched for 15 seasons for five teams, including the Royals for seven seasons. He was on the 1985 Kansas City team that won the World Series, and he later earned another ring as Mike Scioscia's pitching coach on the 2002 Angels.

Black has been a front-office executive and a Minor League instructor. During seven seasons on Scioscia's staff, he worked alongside two other future Major League managers: Joe Maddon and Ron Roenicke.

When the Padres hired Black as their manager in 2007, he lasted eight-plus seasons and distinguished himself in almost everything he did. His teams played hard and smart. Effort was never an issue. There may have been a lack of talent at times, but Black controlled the things he was able to control.

Harding on Rox hiring Bud Black

At a time when managers have reams of data available regarding optimal lineups, defensive alignments and pitching matchups, one part of the job description remains critical: It's still a people business. Managers must get a consistent effort from players and convince them that what's best for the team is more important than their individual goals or numbers.

This is where Black is at his best. He has had the respect of his players. He has an open door and a willingness to explain decisions. He's a listener, to a point.

From the moment San Diego let Black go 18 months ago, there was never a question that he would manage again. In fact, the Nationals nearly hired him last offseason before contract negotiations fell apart.

Managing Colorado is as interesting a gig as Black could hope to get. For perhaps the first time in their history, the Rockies have gifted pitching prospects lined up in their system. Unlike previous generations of Colorado pitchers, they seem comfortable pitching at Coors Field, where the thin air tests the poise and resolve of young guys. In Jon Gray, Tyler Anderson, Eddie Butler, Tyler Chatwood and others, the Rockies have the nucleus of a staff that could give the franchise a sustained winner.

Black's insight and patience will serve these 20-somethings well. They won't experience anything he hasn't already experienced himself.

Colorado has established stars in right fielder Carlos Gonzalez and third baseman Nolan Arenado, as well as second baseman DJ LeMahieu, coming off a breakout season. Rockies fans were also introduced to shortstop Trevor Story and center fielder David Dahl in 2016, two other potential cornerstones.

Bridich has a lengthy to-do list including upgrading the bullpen and adding a veteran bat or two to the bench, but the Rockies are in the best place they've been in years. The National League West is more competitive than ever, with the Dodgers and Giants both coming off playoff seasons and a new baseball operations staff taking over in Arizona.

Successful organizations are assembled in layers, and the Rockies have lots of pieces in place already. Black represents another.

Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. You can follow him on Twitter @richardjustice. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.