Bud Black returns at the helm of the Rockies this season and the majority of the coaching staff from 2022 is back, as well. However, there is a new hitting coach from outside the organization and a new third base coach from within the organization.
Despite already being signed through 2023, Bud Black wasted no time adding one more year as the Rockies manager when he and the organization agreed to a deal on the first day of pitcher-catcher workouts at spring training. Owner Dick Monfort has basically said the managing job is Black’s as long as he wants it.
Black, who’s entering his seventh year with the Rockies, guided the team to back-to-back playoff appearances in 2017 and 2018 in his first two years. Despite the Rockies struggles in the years since, Black is generally regarded as one of the most-liked managers in the game and a great mentor to young pitchers. He has posted a 417-453 record (.479 winning percentage) in his career with the Rockies. This season, he will have his hands full with roster management, trying to get the most out of a rotation that regressed in 2022, and helping younger players adjust to the big leagues.
Black just needs to manage 40 games to pass Don Baylor on the Rockies list of most games managed and needs to win 24 games to pass Baylor in wins. Clint Hurdle holds the organizational record for most games managed at 1,159, most wins at 534, and highest winning percentage at .461. Through his current contract, Black could take over most games managed and most wins, but the winning percentage will depend on if the Rockies can improve from their 68-94 (.420) mark from last season, which is the lowest of Black’s tenure in Colorado.
The Hitting Coach
After four years as the Rockies hitting coach, Dave Magadan was fired in October after a struggling offense got even worse during his reign — setting franchise single-season records for worst numbers in several categories including runs per game (4.31) and slugging percentage (.398) in 2022, as well as batting average (.249 in 2021) and on-base percentage (.311). In 2022, the Rockies tied for 15th in total runs (698) and tied for 22nd in homers (149).
This season, the Rockies are hoping Hensley Meulens — aka “Bam Bam” — can add some more bang to the offense. His résumé includes winning three World Series rings as a coach for the Giants, serving as a bench coach with the Mets in 2020, serving as an assistant hitting coach with the Yankees in 2022, and managing the 2-2 Netherlands squad in the World Baseball Classic this year.
Meulens earned the “Bam Bam” nickname as a teen, growing up in Curaçao and smashing softballs and baseballs because they were coming off the bat like Bamm-Bamm Rubble from the Flintstones hit them . A top prospect in his youth, Meulens was signed by the Yankees and projected to be the next great Yankees slugger. He went back and forth from the minor leagues to The Show from 1989-1993, but struck out too much to stay in the lineup. He still forged a solid career, playing professionally in Japan, Korea, and Mexico, in addition to suiting up for the Netherlands in the 2000 Olympics before retiring in 2002 to start his career as a coach.
After figuring out how to help the Giants offense in pitcher-friendly Oracle Field during his nine years with the team, Meulens is accustomed to solving hitting struggles and finding ways to manufacture runs. Due to his international play, he also speaks five languages (English, Spanish, Dutch, Japanese, and Papiamento — the most widely spoken language in the Dutch Caribbean). All that said, Meulens faces a tough challenge in not only trying to get more power out of the Rockies lineup, but also helping the offense produce more on the road.
The Pitching Coach
Darryl Scott returns for his second season as the pitching coach for the Rockies in 2023. Scott has been with the organization since 2009. He was promoted in 2017 to minor league pitching coordinator and took over as the Rockies bullpen coach in 2020. Last season, he replaced Steve Foster as the pitching coach.
With a background in psychology, Scott’s philosophy is teaching Colorado pitchers to be mentally tough in order to be able to compete at Coors Field. He has been instrumental in the development of most of the Rockies pitchers, especially those being drafted and developed by the organization.
The Rockies finished last in MLB with a 5.07 ERA in 2022, were 29th in strikeouts (1,187), 23rd in walks (539), and gave up the ninth-most homers (tied for 184). Scott has his work cut out for him trying to solve multiple problems: getting Germán Márquez back on track, helping Austin Gomber return to the rotation after severe challenges in 2022, easing Antonio Senzatela back after a torn ACL, continuing to develop Ryan Feltner, and managing oft-injured Peter Lambert, to name a few.
A New Face in the Infield
After spending 28 seasons with the organization, Stu Cole, who served the last nine seasons as the Rockies third base coach, is no longer with the team. Another man with a long history with the organization, Warren Schaeffer, is replacing Cole as the new third base and infield coach.
Schaeffer, who held those same duties in addition to managing the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes the last two seasons, was drafted by the Rockies in the 38th round of the MLB Draft in 2007. His minor league career lasted six seasons — including 59 games at Triple-A — and in 2013, he transitioned from being a player to working in player development.
At age 38, Schaeffer brings youth to a coaching staff where Black is 65, Meulens is 55, and Scott is 54. He’s also established solid relationships with many players in the system, which could be a great advantage for a young squad with an infield that could have up to three rookies in the lineup some days (third, shortstop, and first base). Schaeffer may have struggled with his bat in his playing days, but he was always a talented defensive infielder. Hopefully, the Rockies can benefit under his tutelage after finishing 2022 tied for the fourth-most errors in the majors with 100.
The rest of the coaching staff remains in place with Mike Redmond returning as bench coach, a spot he’s occupied for the entirety of Black’s six-year tenure. First base coach Ron Gideon, who has been with the Rockies organization since 1996, enters his fifth year at the post. Reid Cornelius (bullpen coach), Andy González (assistant hitting coach), and P.J. Pilittere (assistant hitting coach) are starting their second seasons as part of the Rockies coaching staff. Beginning his eighth season as bullpen catcher is Aaron Muños and the assistant bullpen catcher is Kyle Cunningham in his sixth year in the post.