Apr 12, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; General view of Coors Field during the ninth inning of the game between the Chicago Cubs against the Colorado Rockies. The Cubs defeated the Rockies 6-5. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
When Dan O’Dowd was General Manager of the Rockies, it was no secret that Rockies fans had a major disconnect with the organization.
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Years of complacency and no real commitment to winning, the Rockies became the afterthought of Denver sports.
So when new GM Jeff Bridich said at his opening press conference that O’Dowd was his mentor, Rockies fans thought here we go again and expected much of the same from the Rockies.
With shrewd off-season moves, a change in front office philosophy, and a change in front office culture, new GM Jeff Bridich is showing Rockies fans that his regime will be different and we can once again “trust the organization.”
The Rockies PR department had their hands full in 2014, putting out fire after fire. oddly enough it wasn’t the players causing a stir, it was the front office/ ownership. With Dan O’Dowd and Bill Geivett’s roles unclear, everyone was wondering who’s really in charge?
“I don’t even know who’s the GM. I think everybody over there is still wondering who really is the GM … Dan and (Geivett) are just both coexisting.”
From Manager Walt Weiss, to players former and current, no one seemed to be on the same page. Former Rockies Center fielder Dexter Fowler weighed in on the front office confusion saying, “I don’t even know who’s the GM. I think everybody over there is still wondering who really is the GM … Dan and (Geivett) are just both coexisting.” Even ever so calm Walt Weiss had rumored run ins with Geivett as Ken Rosenthal reported, “Manager Walt Weiss has grown frustrated due to his philosophical differences with (assistant GM Bill) Geivett and the team’s unusual front office structure, major-league sources say”.
On top of all this, owner Dick Monfort went on a fan-bashing email spree with the infamous “if product and experience that bad don’t come.” Which included another email where he told a fan, “Maybe Denver doesn’t deserve a franchise“. Even with all that being said Monfort has a chance to redeem himself through Jeff Bridich.
The opening moments of Bridich’s tenure didn’t sit well with Rockies fans. After calling Dan O’Dowd his “mentor”, it was easy for Rockies fans to envision much of the same from their ball club, but then started bring something the front office hasn’t been in quite some time, a leader. In his short time as GM Bridich has shown me enough that I know this team is in good hands.
It’s not always the blockbuster deals that improve clubs, sometimes it’s the backup shortstop being dealt for a young flame thrower. The first real move Bridich made was all about timing. Right after the Angels traded away Howie Kendrick the Rockies stepped in sending Josh Rutledge and his hair to the Angels for Jairo Diaz. Just another ho-hum move right?..Wrong. In a bullpen short on power arms picking up a young fire-baller like Diaz could prove to be a steal.
While Josh’s hair will be missed, Diaz can dial it up in the triple digits and absolutely blow hitters away. The best part is the Rockies didn’t have to trade anything or real value and with the signing of Daniel Descalso this move looks even better. While spending most of 2014 at double A for the Angels, Diaz will begin the year with the Isotopes. I wouldn’t expect to see Diaz at 20th and Blake until September call ups, but when he does arrive good or bad it should be exciting.
The Jhoulys Chacin release shocked the Rockies fan base including myself. Chacin, an ace in waiting has been hampered by injuries and never quite could return to his 2013 form. I wrote a piece explaining why this would be a bounce back year for Chacin, still could be just not for the Rockies. This single move distant’s Bridich from Dan O’Dowd more than any other move could. O’Dowd had the chance to cut ties with Chacin after a disappointing 1-6 start to 2014, but as usual the front office was complacent and kept the staus quo.
While shocking, this move was set up with three offseason deals. The first being offering Chacin a one year $5.5 million deal pending on him making the opening day roster. This was a genius move by Bridich not only because it avoided arbitration, it gave the Rockies an out if Chacin continued to under perform. The other two moves that should have clued us in that the Rockies were moving on from Chacin were the acquisitions of Kyle Kendrick and David Hale. While neither one of these starters are worth bragging about, they gave the Rockies insurance in case Chacin didn’t regain form. More importantly they give the Rockies depth and keep guys like Yohan Flande from making spot starts.
The change in culture hasn’t been limited to on the field. Under Dan O’Dowd’s tenure the Rockies ranked near the bottom of the league in use of analytics. That’s different now, well because we actually have people who work in that department now. With analytics coordinator Trevor Patch working towards his masters in predictive analysis, Bridich and co seem to getting the Rockies up to speed in implementing advanced metrics in decision-making. With Geivett no longer taking the club house hostage, one would think Weiss has more freedom to use these resources at will.
With another hot start (4-2), I implore you Rockies fans. This season might not end in a playoff berth or even a winning record, but things down on 20th and Blake are changing. No longer is the attitude that making the playoffs two out of every five years is acceptable. Jeff Bridich has the tools to build a winning organization and isn’t afraid to use them. If Bridich tells you to trust the organization, will you?