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The Rockies’ new front office has shown faith in Bud Black

With both a new extension and some new faces in his coaching staff, Bud Black has a chance to hit several milestones and bring the Rockies back to relevance.

The Colorado Rockies set their coaching staff for the 2022 season back in December with a mix of both new and returning faces.

The Manager

Harry Ralston “Bud” Black returns for his sixth season as the Rockies’ skipper. It’s been a rough few seasons since Black brought the Rockies to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons to kick off his tenure. Three straight losing seasons and a record of 171-212 since 2019 have been highlighted by a strained relationship between the players and front office, the loss of three franchise stars, and finally the resignation of former general manager Jeff Bridich to kick off the 2021 season. Bridich is the one who hired Black after the 2016 season.

New general manager Bill Schmidt has faith in Black, however. Black was rewarded with a contract extension in February that will take him through the 2023 season and give him a chance to complete several milestones while clad in purple pinstripes. With a career managerial record of 998-1072, Black is just two wins away from his 1000th career win as a manager. He’s also just 92 wins away from passing Don Baylor (440) for second-most managerial wins in franchise history. Black’s record with the Rockies stands at 349-359, and his winning percentage of .493 is the highest in franchise history.

A former big league pitcher, Black has been a calm and steadying hand through several tumultuous years in the organization. He’s overseen the development of the best starting rotation in team history, taken the team to back-to-back playoff berths, and now has a chance to bring the Rockies back to winning thanks to a new front office and player acquisitions.

The Hitting Coach

Dave Magadan returns for his fourth season as the Rockies hitting coach. Magadan was hired by the Rockies in 2019 after he and the Arizona Diamondbacks “mutually parted ways” following a 2018 season where the Diamondbacks ranked in the bottom of the league with a team line of .235/.310/.397.

Rockies Hitting Under Dave Magadan

2019 .265 ↑ .326 ↑ .426 ↑ .782 ↑ 1502 ↑ 323 ↑ 41 ↑ ★ 224 ↓ 803 ↑ 489 ↓ 1503 ↑
2020 .257 ↑ .311 ↓ .405 ↓ .716 ↓ 528 ↑ 84 ↓ 16 ↑ ★ 63 ↓ 264 ↓ 161 ↓ 543 ↑
2021 .249 ↑ .317 ↑ .414 ↑ .731 ↑ 1338 ↑ 275 ↑ 34 ↑ 182 ↓ 709 ↑ 491 ↓ 1356 ↓
↑ = Above League Average; ↓ = Below League Average; ★ = League Best

Magadan’s tenure as hitting coach has seen a decrease in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS. The team has hit below league average in home runs during all three seasons, while ranking at the top of the league in most strikeouts and the bottom of the league in walks drawn. Admittedly the Rockies were above league average in most major statistics in 2021 and strikeouts were way down... but this came at the exchange of being truly terrible on the road.

The Rockies started the season by going 6-33 on the road, and finished with a record of 26-54 away from Coors Field. They were shut out 16 times—mostly on the road—and were the first team in over 100 years to get shut out ten or more times in their first 55 games. The Rockies’ outfield was historically bad offensively as well. Blake Street Bombers they were not, putting up numbers worse in most categories than the 1993 expansion team.

Magadan was admittedly hamstrung by a front office that made no moves to improve the roster either via trade or free agency. That’s not the case in 2022. New GM Bill Schmidt has spent money improving the Rockies lineup to bring in more offense. On paper this is a good team with plenty of pop from the likes of CJ Cron, Randall Grichuk, Kris Bryant, Ryan McMahon, Charlie Blackmon, and even Connor Joe. Magadan will need to deliver on the potent player potential of this offense, or he might be shown the door.

The Pitching Coach

Darryl Scott has taken up the mantle of pitching coach after Steve Foster—who held the position from 2015 to 2021—stepped away to become the Rockies’ director of pitching operations. Scott has been with the Rockies organization since 2009 and was appointed to the role of bullpen coach prior to the 2020 season.

Scott has big shoes to fill, with his predecessor Foster helping to bring about the renaissance in the Rockies’ pitching rotation. Under Foster the Rockies saw Kyle Freeland, Germán Márquez, Antonio Senzatela, and the recently-departed Jon Gray blossom into a quality major league unit. This year, Scott has Austin Gomber and an open fifth spot to work with, but also the specter of the bullpen looming over his head.

Rockies Bullpen under Darryl Scott: 2020-2021

Category Stat Number MLB Rank
Category Stat Number MLB Rank
Innings Pitched 771.0 4th least
ERA 5.40 Worst
fWAR 1.1 4th worst
FIP 4.84 4th worst
xFIP 4.83 2nd worst
K/9 8.50 5th worst
BB/9 4.20 8th worst
HR/9 1.35 5th worst

To put it bluntly, the bullpen under Darryl Scott was bad. It was one of the worst units in the league in a variety of different ways despite the rotation handling most of the workload. The Rockies’ bullpen pitched some of the fewest innings from 2020-2021.

In Scott’s defense, he also inherited the bullpen at the end of the much-maligned “Super Pen” era that was severely lacking in both depth and talent. In 2020 the Rockies bullpen got 4 13 innings of Wade Davis to the tune of a 20.77 ERA. While Carlos Estévez (7.50) and Jairo Díaz (7.65) struggled with injuries, Jeff Hoffman (9.28) and James Pazos (16.88) just struggled. The Rockies were forced to bolster the arm barn with a bevy of under-baked prospects, rookies, and minor leaguers like Phillip Diehl, Antonio Santos, José Mujica, and Tommy Doyle. 2020 also had bright spots out of the bullpen, like Daniel Bard’s triumphant return to professional baseball with a 3.65 ERA.

2021 was a genuine improvement from the previous year. The bullpen’s ERA fell from 6.77 to 4.91 and bullpen fWAR climbed from -0.7 to 1.1... but that ERA was still fifth worst in the league, and that fWAR was seventh worst. The Rockies also still lurked around the bottom of the league in most other categories. Again though, the bullpen had bright spots: Jhoulys Chacín’s return to the Rockies with a solid season, Carlos Estévez showing reliability in late innings, and the very strong rookie campaigns of Lucas Gilbreath and Jordan Sheffield.

The bullpen has nowhere to go but up, though Scott has a lot to prove now that he’s in charge of the entire pitching staff. The rotation needs to continue to perform and the bullpen needs to take a major step forward if Scott is to consider this season a success.

The Coaches

Dugout mainstays Mike Redmond, Stu Cole, and Ron Gideon are all returning for another season with the Rockies.

Mike Redmond, the bench coach, former big league catcher, and noted naked batting practice enthusiast, is entering his sixth season under Bud Black.

Ron Gideon will be continuing his duties as first base coach for a sixth season. Gideon first joined the Rockies organization as a coach in 1996.

Stu Cole has been coaching with the Rockies organization since 1995, and will be enjoying his tenth season as the Rockies’ third base coach. He was first appointed to the position for the 2013 season.

The New Faces

The Rockies added three new members to their big league coaching staff over the offseason.

Reid Cornelius will be taking Darryl Scott’s place as the bullpen coach. Cornelius worked with the Miami Marlins organization for a combined 17 seasons in a variety of roles, most recently as their rehab pitching coach. He also worked as the pitching coach for the Atlanta Braves Triple-A affiliate Gwinnett Stripers from 2017-2018.

Andy González joins the team as an assistant hitting coach under Dave Magadan. A former infielder who played with the Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, and Miami Marlins, González has been with the Rockies organization for seven seasons, including working as the supervisor of player development with the Grand Junction Rockies.

PJ Pilittere also joins the coaching staff as an assistant hitting coach. Pilittere was the assistant hitting coach of the New York Yankees from 2018-2021. He was also a longtime farmhand with the Yankees’ minor league system and has been a hitting coach in various levels of minor league ball.

★ ★ ★

The coaching staff is set and the expectations are clear: win ballgames. The Rockies may not be competing for their division—the Dodgers and Giants have too much of a stranglehold—but an improvement over the last three seasons is a must. It’s up to Bud Black and his staff to help make that happen.