The Rockies are wrapping their fouth straight losing season, yet the organization hasn’t felt compelled to make a change in the dugout. General manager Bill Schmidt told reporters (including The Athletic’s Nick Groke) today that manager Bud Black will return for the 2023 season, saying that “Buddy came here right when we were ready to be good. He led us to some playoffs. He’s very capable of doing it again. It’s not for lack of effort.”
Black’s first two seasons in Colorado indeed resulted in postseason appearances. The Rockies earned wild-card berths in both 2017 and 2018, and in the latter season defeated the Cubs in the Wild Card Game to advanced to the NLDS (where the Brewers eliminated the Rox in a sweep). Since those two playoff berths, however, the Rockies have yet to reach the .500 mark, and Black has a 414-445 overall record as he approaches the end of his sixth season as Colorado’s skipper.
The two wild-card berths earned Black a contract extension prior to the 2019 season, a three-year deal that ran from 2020-22. The Rockies added another year of control in another contract extension last February, with Black extended for a one-year deal that runs through the 2023 campaign. The relatively limited nature of that extension seemed to indicate that Black was on a slightly shorter leash, yet it doesn’t appear to have hampered his job security.
In fact, Groke notes that Black is “on a rolling year-to-year contract” that would seemingly give both sides the flexibility to walk away after any season, not that such a scenario seems likely in the near future. It would seem like Black’s arrangement could be similar to the so-called handshake deal that the Rockies had with former manager Jim Tracy, wherein Tracy had the freedom to leave at the end of any season.
Rockies owner Dick Monfort is known to value loyalty and continuity within his organization, which has proven to be a double-edged sword considering that the Rockies are often criticized for being too insular. The change from Jeff Bridich to Schmidt (another long-time front office employee) in the GM chair last season didn’t do anything to get Colorado on track in 2022, and a lot of work will need to be done to make the team a winner in 2023. Virtually every member of the Rox roster had an underwhelming season either at the plate or on the mound, and prized free agent signing Kris Bryant ended up spending most of the year on the injured list.
With all this in mind, it is somewhat difficult to really evaluate Black’s win-loss record. For as much as Monfort and company perpetually feel that the Rockies are on the verge of contention, Black doesn’t seem to be receiving much of the blame for not winning with these flawed rosters. While it can also be argued that Black isn’t necessarily part of a solution to the Rockies’ woes, Colorado’s bigger-picture issues in evaluating, developing, and acquiring talent seem like much larger obstacles to success than Black’s work as manager.