DENVER -- Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich said Tuesday manager Bud Black was the right guy at the right time for a team that had struggled with the pitching puzzle throughout its existence.
Bridich, during the General Managers Meetings in Carlsbad, Calif., praised Black, who was named one of three finalists for the National League Manager of the Year Award after leading the Rockies to an unprecedented second straight postseason appearance in his two years in charge.
The Rockies had devoted many of their Drafts and trades to building young starting-pitching depth. Black, who pitched 15 seasons in the Majors, replaced Walt Weiss after the 2016 season, and has reached the postseason with a mostly young rotation. In 2018, Rockies pitchers -- led by 17-game winner Kyle Freeland -- accomplished the most strikeouts (1,409) and lowest opposing batting average (.250) in club history.
In an era when the first-time manager is en vogue, Black came to the Rockies after managing the Padres from 2007-15.
"He was the right man, well-timed for the job at hand," Bridich said. "Whatever happened in San Diego in all those years there, the experience, perspective and everything that he's about, was exactly what he needed. The timing, what we could potentially do as a team, as an organization at the Major League level, putting him in as the manager, has ended up igniting a positive or codifying a message.
"His personality is able to keep things light, loose, and yet, there is no sense of fear. You know who's in charge. And he can deliver messages in many different ways. He is naturally in tune with pitchers. He sees the game from the pitcher's eyes. That's a different thing from who we had in the past, and he's got an easy way about him."
Where do CarGo and Parra stand?
Despite a dramatic early slump, right fielder Carlos Gonzalez hit .276 with 16 homers and 64 RBIs and at times was a main cog while completing his 10th season with the Rockies. But he is a free agent, as is outfielder Gerardo Parra, who struggled early last season but settled in as a key bat off the bench and late-game defensive replacement.
Bridich spoke fondly of both, but said it's too early to determine if either would receive offers or what role the Rockies would eye for either.
"We're still pretty early," Bridich said. "We've had great experiences with both guys over the years. We're not quite there yet -- in understanding the whole trade-market dynamic and free-agent realities -- to say. I imagine we'll have conversations with their agents.
"We had to decline an option on Parra already, so there has been some contact this offseason. I'm sure it'll be part of our routine, normal free-agent process to reach out to them for extra discussions, to see where they're at as well."
Pitching always on the radar
The Rockies' multi-faceted approach will include trade exploration with other teams, which could fill holes and potentially make other deals or free-agent signings possible. Should the Rockies deal, expect young starting pitching to be a focus -- even though the Rockies have a mostly young Major League rotation with several prospects trying to work their way on to the Major League roster.
Since becoming GM before the 2015 season, Bridich has dealt just one young starter, Eddie Butler; meanwhile, established rotation member German Marquez and two righties trying to break in, Jeff Hoffman (an on-and-off contributor the past two years) and Jesus Tinoco (yet to make the Majors) arrived in trades.
"Our story is not ever going to change," Bridich siad. "We're always going to be interested in trying to add as much. We never, ever, ever felt like, 'Oh, we've got a glut of pitching.' No. Stuff happens. Injuries. Trades. Whatever happens, happens. We feel good but there's always that in the back of your mind, 'How are we going to get more?'"