Angels name Black special assistant to GM
Was club's pitching coach from 2000-06
ANAHEIM -- The Angels announced Tuesday that they have hired Bud Black as a special assistant to new general manager Billy Eppler, which was first reported by MLB.com last week.
Black was the Angels' pitching coach from 2000-06, then served as the Padres' manager for the next 8 1/2 years until being dismissed in June. His official hiring comes six days after Ron Roenicke, yet another one of Mike Scioscia's high-profile coaches from the 2002 World Series championship team, was named the third-base coach.
"We're getting the band back together," Black said in a phone conversation. "I'm excited about it."
Black called his new role "wide-ranging" and "fluid."
"With a general manager these days, it's a very demanding job," Black said. "Those who are around him and close to him -- his staff, Mike, others -- he has to obviously lean on a number of people in the organization. I will be one of those guys that will lend Billy all the support that I can."
Black, who lives in Southern California, was reportedly one of three finalists for the Dodgers' managerial vacancy, a job that ultimately went to Dave Roberts, his former bench coach in San Diego. Earlier, Black seemed poised to become the Nationals' manager until he and ownership reportedly disagreed on the terms of his contract, prompting the hiring of Dusty Baker.
Black admitted that his offseason has been "a little unique, yes," but didn't want to go into further detail. Asked about putting aside ambitions of managing to perhaps become a GM, a role he at one point seemed poised to take on, Black maintained an open mind.
"I think any of us in this game, we never know what lies ahead," he said. "And I think that we take those steps as they come. I will continue to do that. I loved coaching with the Angels, loved managing the Padres. We'll see what lies ahead. But managing is a great challenge that I enjoy."
Other front-office positions announced by the Angels include: Steve Martone and Jonathan Strangio as assistant GMs, Mike Gallego as director of baseball development, Justin Hollander as director of player personnel, Mike LaCassa as director of Minor League operations and Bobby Scales as special assistant to the GM.
Gallego and LaCassa will share responsibilities overseeing the Angels' Minor League system.
Strangio, 27, is a Harvard graduate who initially joined the Angels as a baseball-operations intern in 2012 and previously served as manager of Major League operations, a multifaceted role that involved negotiating contracts, navigating the Collective Bargaining Agreement, delving into analytics and helping to construct the 40-man roster.
Scales, 38, spent the last three years as the Angels' director of player development, which essentially involved overseeing the Minor League system. Hollander, 37, is entering his ninth season in the Angels' front office after most recently serving as director of baseball operations. LaCassa, 29, is entering his fifth season and was previously assistant director of player development.
The additions of Gallego, the former A's third-base coach, and Martone, formerly the Yankees' manager of professional scouting, were reported last week. The Angels still need to name a bullpen coach for their Major League staff, but that could come soon.
Eppler likes to call his front office "the office of the general manager," an environment where a lot of people can share opinions on trades, free agents and any other moves relevant to the organization. Director of pro scouting Hal Morris is also in that group, along with a few others.
"We have guys that are sitting around that table that have had a diverse background, a lot of years in baseball," Eppler said. "Some with not as many years in baseball, but guys that are forward-thinking, guys that are comfortable challenging each other."
Angels closer Huston Street, previously with the Padres, called Black "extremely intelligent, versatile with his style and philosophy."
Black and Eppler knew each other through other contacts, most notably ex-Padres GM Kevin Towers, and bonded over their ties to Southern California. They've spoken at prior Winter Meetings, and Black shot Eppler a congratulatory text message when he was introduced as the Angels' GM in early October.
"I think he can affect a lot of different areas," Eppler said of Black. "He can impact the front office, impact Major League operations, impact Minor League operations, impact scouting."
Black's 649 wins rank second only to current Giants manager Bruce Bochy (951) in Padres history. The 58-year-old Black was named the 2010 National League Manager of the Year after leading San Diego to a 90-win season, but the Padres finished below .500 each of the next four years. After a subpar start to 2015, which followed a slew of win-now moves over the offseason, Black was let go on June 15.
Black won 121 games in a 15-year pitching career from 1981-95, then spent four years as a special assistant to then-Indians GM John Hart and one year as a pitching coach in Triple-A. In his seven seasons on Scioscia's staff, Angels pitchers ranked among the top five in the American League in ERA five times.
"Any time you have the leaders in the organization -- from ownership down to the front office down to the field staff -- who have a passion and a desire to win, that's a great combination," Black said. "And I know that the Angels have that. The talent base, obviously led by Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, is a great place to start. I know what their objective is every year. I know Billy's vision and Mike's vision are aligned of where they want to get to. It's going to be great to be a part of that."