Giants

Report: Rockies to hire Bud Black as team's new manager

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Report: Rockies to hire Bud Black as team's new manager

DENVER — Bud Black is taking his pitching expertise to hitter-friendly Coors Field.

The highly regarded mound guru has been hired as manager of the Colorado Rockies, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity Sunday night because the move had not yet been announced.

The Rockies scheduled a Monday news conference to introduce their new manager, but the release did not reveal the team's choice.

Black takes over for Walt Weiss, who stepped down last month when his contract expired after four years in charge of the Rockies. They finished 75-87 last season, their best record since 2010.

The 59-year-old Black managed the San Diego Padres for nearly nine seasons before he was fired in June 2015. He compiled a 649-713 record and was voted NL Manager of the Year in 2010 after the Padres went 90-72, their most wins since a franchise-record 98 in 1998.

Washington nearly hired Black last year before contract talks broke down and the Nationals gave the job to Dusty Baker.

After a major league career that spanned 15 seasons on the mound, Black became a respected pitching coach for the Angels. He brings a wealth of experience to a team that's long struggled to get outs in Denver's thin air a mile above sea level.

Colorado had a 4.91 ERA this past season, tied with Cincinnati for 13th out of 15 National League teams. Arizona (5.09) was the only club that was worse.

Yet the Rockies boast young talent in a starting rotation led by Jon Gray, the third overall pick in 2013 draft. Tyler Chatwood had the best road ERA (1.69) in the majors last season, while Chad Bettis and Tyler Anderson made big strides. The team will more than likely lose Jorge De La Rosa, the franchise's all-time winningest pitcher, in free agency.

One of the biggest challenges will be shoring up a shaky bullpen that blew 28 save chances in 2016. Colorado finished 24-36 in games decided by no more than two runs.

Black was lauded for the way he ran bullpens with the Angels and Padres.

On offense, Black inherits an NL batting champion in second baseman DJ LeMahieu, an all-around star in third baseman Nolan Arenado, an up-and-coming shortstop in Trevor Story and a feared hitter in outfielder Carlos Gonzalez.

"I like the group that we have," Arenado said after the final game of the season. "I think we are close. But basically when I say that it's for the fans. I want fans to know that so they don't lose hope. I feel bad. They come out every day, to see us lose the way we do sometimes."

Arenado led the NL in RBIs (133) and tied for the home run title with 41. He played stellar defense at third base again and could be in line for his fourth straight Gold Glove.

Black spent a large portion of his career with Kansas City and was part of a Royals rotation that helped the team win the 1985 World Series. He won 121 games with Kansas City, Seattle, Cleveland, San Francisco and Toronto.

After his playing days, he became the pitching coach for the Angels and spent seven seasons under manager Mike Scioscia. Black helped the team to the 2002 World Series title before taking over the Padres heading into the 2007 season.

Black rejoined the Angels as a special assistant to the general manager last November.

Why Dodgers might pick A.J. Pollock over Bryce Harper in MLB free agency

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Why Dodgers might pick A.J. Pollock over Bryce Harper in MLB free agency

When the Dodgers traded Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp to the Reds last month, it sparked speculation that the team was clearing space in its outfield to sign Bryce Harper.

What if it was for A.J. Pollock instead, though?

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported Saturday that the Dodgers are interested in Pollock, who fits their player profile and needs in many ways.

Pollock has his issues -- he reportedly wants a five-year, $80 million contract, and he played more than 115 games just twice in seven seasons with the Diamondbacks. But, as Rosenthal noted, Pollock would provide the Dodgers with positional versatility and the right-handed bat they need. Harper, a lefty hitter who mostly plays right field, would do neither, and he’s rumored to be seeking a $300 million-plus deal.

While the Dodgers have big wallets, they could decide signing Pollock for about one-fifth the price of Harper is more prudent. That certainly would sit well with Giants fans, who don’t want to see their hated NL West rivals loading up for a run at a seventh consecutive division title.

And before you ask, no, Harper and/or Pollock aren’t options for the Giants, who also could use outfield help. It’s clear new president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, who came from the Dodgers, values sense more than dollars as he tackles the huge task of making the Giants contenders again.

MLB rumors: Giants, A's appear out on trade for Yankees' Sonny Gray

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MLB rumors: Giants, A's appear out on trade for Yankees' Sonny Gray

Both the Giants and the A's reportedly had interest in acquiring Yankees starting pitcher Sonny Gray this offseason, but it doesn't appear he'll make a return to the Bay Area.

Per Fancred's Jon Heyman, the Yankees and Reds are engaged in trade discussions that would send Gray to Cincinnati in exchange for infield prospect Shed Long and a draft pick.

Gray would have made sense for both Bay Area teams, as the Giants and the A's could use an influx of quality starting pitching. Gray went 11-9 with a 4.90 ERA and 123 strikeouts in 130.1 innings for New York last season, but he was far better on the road than he was at home. 

Considering Oakland Coliseum and Oracle Park are far more pitcher-friendly than Yankee Stadium, a bounceback season in the Bay Area certainly could have been possible. Alas, it appears Gray could be making his home starts at Great American Ball Park, which just might be the most hitter-friendly park in the entire league.