Sunday Sit-Down: Bryan Kilpatrick of Purple Row

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Apr 4, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; General view of a pile of baseballs before the opening day baseball game between the Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

In the first of what we hope will be many, Bryan Kilpatrick of Purple Row joins us for a Sunday Sit-Down to talk Rockies, media, and yard work.

More from Rox Pile

Bryan Kilpatrick (@purplerowBK) is the managing editor at Purple Row, SB Nation’s blog covering the Rockies. That blog is now ten years old (!) and continues to be a very influential voice in the Rockies community.

We hit media, management, baserunning, and even made some jokes along the way that are probably not as clever as we’d like to think. Nevertheless, enjoy the first piece in our Sunday Sit-Down series.

ROX PILE: I’m curious about your opinion on Rockies media – not just to rehash the stuff Connor and I have written lately, but PR’s take (which encompasses more than you, of course, but you’re integral). What’s it like being the “old” blog on the block – like, do you guys feel beholden to readers in a different way than maybe we do as we figure out our voice? Or is yours ever changing anyways?

BRYAN KILPATRICK: We’ve always been the thinking man’s (and woman’s — person’s?) Rockies blog. People hated us a few years ago because we responded to every thought/criticism/whatever with numbers. We’re not that in-your-face about it anymore; in recent years, we’ve tried to implement human interest with our “HERE’S SOME NUMBERS” approach. I think it has worked.

In fact, one dude on Twitter started calling us “The Purple Row Numbers Coalition.”

That’s interesting because perusing our content vs. yours, that’s the exact conclusion I was coming to the last couple weeks – Purple Row is heavy analytics, we can be heavy human interest and give a balance. You guys have some great writers – Eric Garcia McKinley is probably my personal favorite. Can I have his autograph? 

I’m sure Eric would sign a game-used calculator for you, yes.

Eric was a great get for Purple Row. He started with Rox Pile and I was blown away by him from the very first time I read his work. When we “poached” him from Rockies Zingers, Richard was very gracious about it. I just love the Rockies’ blog community the most.

Haha. NICE. I’ll get it authenticated at Radio Shack. That’s something interesting to me – I know some local team media communities (blog and otherwise) are at each other’s throats, but it seems like a strength around the Rockies’ camp is that everyone works so well together. (Well, until Connor and I decided to make Rox Pile persona non grata with the whole world this week). Has it always been this good amongst Rockies media?

The blogs have always had a good relationship, but Richard Bergstrom from Rockies Zingers stepping up and doing the blogger panels has helped us get in tune with each other even more. Our relationship with the MSM hasn’t always been great; Rox Girl, the founder of Purple Row, used to lambaste Troy Renck and The Denver Post on a near-daily basis.

But that went away over the years, and when we finally were allowed past the gates of the press box back in 2013, Renck, Thomas Harding, Patrick Saunders and the like were so nice, accommodating, complimentary of our work, etc. I’d say the relationship between Rockies bloggers and beat writers (and now, even broadcasters) is just as strong as — if not even stronger than — that of any other club.

That’s really good to hear. And maybe best exemplified by you tweeting for the Rockies a couple weeks ago on their account. Did they have a guy, like, peering over your shoulder every tweet? Or were you left to your own devices? You should’ve been like “hey everybody, follow Bobby, he’s an incredible human being.” 

Julian (the Rockies’ director of social media and publications) actually had me text the tweets to him. Which is probably a good thing, because had I been given access to their mentions, I probably would have started drinking in the press box.

Haha. After Connor’s piece the other day, I can only imagine some of the mentions the official team account gets. Now, I don’t want to talk about bloggers the entire time (because SOME of our readers probably want to talk BASEBALL or something… gross), but can we at least both agree that Jake Shapiro is the red-headed step-child of the Rockies blogging community?

Absolutely. He looks like any random person’s annoying 11-year-old little brother. And if you tell him that, he will act like it too. But he’s a smart, level-headed kid and a good writer. I’m a big fan.

Haha. Sorry, Jake. We are only kidding. We love you. (And Rockies Zingers deserves a mention here, they are pretty awesome, themselves). But, let’s get to baseball: it’s an alternate universe and you’re the GM of the Rockies and you MUST get rid of a super star: do you trade Tulo, or CarGo?

CarGo, no question. In fact, before this season, I wrote about how the Rockies can essentially rebuild/play for the future but still keep Tulo. CarGo’s poor start isn’t helping that, of course. And there’s always going to be the question of whether Tulo is going to have the patience to wait out a rebuild (though it wouldn’t necessarily need to be a full-blown one).

I agree 100%. And with guys like Tapia and Dahl coming up quickly, CarGo can be (well, at least on paper) overcome more easily than the loss of once-in-a-generation Tulo. But will the Rockies ever actually contend with Tulo, or is this Todd Helton, part two: a couple happy accidents (’07, ’09) but no real plan?

For the first time in many years, I feel like there is a plan. Never before did we hear key people within the org say things like “if things don’t change this year, we’ll be going in a different direction,” like Walt Weiss said on multiple occasions during the offseason. I think that’s a precursor of things to come.

And really, that’s going to happen organically; by the time the next wave of impact position player prospects are ready, it’ll be 2017 or 2018. CarGo will be gone after 2017 anyway. There’s a pretty good chance Tulo will be, as well. If that’s part of an actual elaborate plan to get back to being a contender, I’m OK with it. That’s what I’ve resigned myself to: just being OK with a plan. Any plan. 

I’m very interested to see what Bridich does with it, too. I’m a little worried he’s too much of an inside-man – i.e., I wish the Rox had gone outside the organization to fill his role – but his actions recently (Chacin, Matzek, Rosario, etc.) prove he’s at least a little different than slower-moving O’Dowd. Who do you think Bridich is most likely to deal before the deadline – Morneau? Stubbs? Rosario?

I’d say Rosario. I feel like Wilin is going to provide some value in a bench role — or at least enough to show AL teams that he can hit well enough to DH, anyway. But Morneau should be dealt, too. If he continues to be competent at the plate, the Rockies should be able to get a nice return for him even though he’ll be merely a rental player. Stubbs is too broken right now to be dealt for anything more than a player to be named later or cash considerations in a waiver claim type of deal.

And to your point about Bridich’s hire, I was ultimately OK with it, but why is it so complicated for this club to realize that it is in a situation that is hard for anyone inside the org to evaluate properly? A team president (or someone to oversee the operation otherwise) should have been brought in to — and I’ve said this following phrase at least seven million times — provide an honest, accurate assessment of the organization. Is it a club with championship-caliber talent that is just too injury prone? Is it a team with a star player, some overrated, Coors-inflated pieces and a bunch of scrubs? Do we really know the answer to that? I’m sure the true answer lies somewhere in the middle, but damnit, someone with a fresh perspective should be answering that question.

I’ll get back to the trade talk in just a minute, because your second point is more important, it underscores the entire thing; KELI MCGREGOR. When McGregor was alive, it seemed like the Rockies had a plan. And after his untimely death, that plan got lost. I don’t know how much of it to attribute to McGregor vs O’Dowd, or the Monforts, or whomever, but I think a lot of people forget years later that McGregor’s death impacted the team very heavily in addition to the personal effect it had on his family and the Rockies org.

McGregor wasn’t a baseball guy, necessarily, but he gave the club a voice of reason that simply isn’t there anymore. From what I understand, he was one of the few people that could successfully butt heads with Dick and Charlie and actually come out a winner. So yes, his absence is, was, and forever will have a profound effect the Rockies organization.

That seems like management 101 in EVERY biz – leaders need people around them who will challenge them. It’s the argument Bobcats/Hornets fans always used to make in Charlotte with Michael Jordan running their team with no opposition and no one to tell him ‘no.’ Can Bridich challenge the Monforts? (Judging by Matzek, Rosario, Chacin, I’d say… yeah.)

I think we’ll REALLY find out if Bridich can successfully challenge the Monforts when it comes time to shit or get off the pot regarding Tulowitzki.

Man, I hope. Back to the trade talk earlier – I agree about Rosario, although I think his value was highest this winter when the Rox had a little more leverage with teams like the Rangers who needed him at one point. Do you have faith Bridich will get a good return on guys like Rosario and Morneau (not to mention Tulo or CarGo)? I guess we don’t really know, considering he has yet to make a blockbuster trade.

That’s the real test, isn’t it? I’d like to see how he handles a couple of smaller trades before selling off the stars. There was a rumor — and a very substantial one — that the Rockies had Morneau dealt to the Marlins for essentially the same package Miami shipped to the Yankees in return for Martin Prado. I don’t know which side backed out, but maybe that tells us something regarding Morneau’s value. Now, they’re not going to get a Nathan Eovaldi in return for Morneau at the deadline, but there’s still a chance to get some value there. I guess what I’m saying is, I do have faith in Bridich until he gives me a reason not to (though, if the Rockies side backed out of the Morneau-to-Miami deal, that faith wouldn’t be nearly as strong).

I agree about Bridich, and considering the much smaller decisions he’s made, I think he’s earned all of our patience at least to see how one or two trades shakes out. You can’t fix a team in six months, after all. I don wonder though if the skid keeps going, whether Walt Weiss becomes the scapegoat. I think it’d be unfair to drop him (I guess if the Rox lose like 30 straight he’d have to go), but something tells me some of our readers aren’t as generous…

The readers are level-headed, for the most part. They understand that Weiss was handicapped by the presence of Bill Geivett the last couple of years. Now that he’s “on his own,” so to speak, we’re getting a chance to truly judge Weiss’ managerial abilities. I like the stuff he’s done with the lineups and I like the shifting, but the over-aggressive baserunning, especially at Coors Field, where there’s really no point in employing that tactic, is bothersome.

He’s also mishandled the bullpen on several occasions, most recently in Game 1 of the doubleheader on Wednesday. Right now, the negatives and positives to me cancel each other out, which means that Weiss essentially is just … there. He exists. Do we want more than that? Maybe it doesn’t matter this year, but eventually, I’d say yes. We do.

That’s fair. I really like Weiss, I think it’s important to have a guy of his station in life (long time former player, but also hasn’t been retired too long) managing a team, something in me feels players can relate to him better (or I’m just crazy). But the base running, man. WHAT. THE. HELL. God love Corey Dickerson, that man will win a batting title (or five) in his career, but jeeeeeeez.

Yeah, he essentially has two tools: He hits, and he hits for power. And that’s OK. But he should not be allowed free reign on the basepaths.

But back to Weiss, you do make a good point. The players seem to enjoy his style. He’s an even-keeled guy. He understands that’s the best way to make it through a 162-game season. But his teams haven’t exactly improved as the season has gone along in each of the past two years, and it’s more than just injuries. Baseball Prospectus recently had something to the effect of “here are some stats that show how managers have handled ‘the grind,” and Weiss/Colorado was at or near the bottom of the league.

Oooof. That’s not good, and probably something we all intuitively knew (hot Aprils, cold Mays!). Speaking of Cold Mays, it’s supposed to snow this weekend? Um… what? That just underscores how unique Coors Field is to manage, general manage, and play.

The Rocky Mountains, man. I live in Utah, and it’s the same here. I remember it snowed on the last day of school one year. That was in June. But yeah, it’s not easy to do anything at Coors Field (including watch the team, har har har).

The players won’t talk about it and Weiss won’t talk about it, but all of the data out there shows the Coors Effect — in whatever context you want to say there’s an effect — is a real thing. It might even be a mental thing at this point (so maybe people like you and I should stop writing about it because out of sight = out of mind), but it’s definitely a thing.

If the Rockies ever get their home-field advantage really together (like the Nuggets did a couple years ago) a campaign around “The Coors Effect” would be pretty bad-ass. 

Ok, last thing – some word association. I say something, you tell me the first thing that pops up in your head. First: Patrick Saunders.

Passionate about the team and his work. (does it have to be one word? haha)

No, a sentence is fine haha. Love him. I miss Troy Renck a LOT, but that’s nothing to do with Saunders, or Nick Groke, who are awesome; Troy Renck is just an awesome dude, too. Second: Spring Training.

Hope.

And incredible facility. Don’t know if you’ve been to Salt River Fields, but, like, go now.  Third: the Rooftop.

Incredibly smart business idea.

Iiiiiiiiinteresting. Next: 2007.

Magical. What kittens and puppies and ice cream and cold beer while doing yard work are made of.

Haha. Ok: pitch clocks. (by the way, cold beer during yard work: I see ya, Hank Hill.)

Get off my lawn.

Brandon Barnes’ tattoo sleeve.

Is there tribal stuff in there? Why is there tribal stuff in there? Otherwise, respect.

Haha. And finally: Jake Shapiro.

Little brother who plays lacrosse and whom my friends think is cooler than me.

Wow. You went respectful. I can dig it. I assume trying to end on a high note? After all, neither of us wants to incur his wrath on Twitter.

No. He’ll destroy me on there. All little kids are great at social media but can also use it against you. Beware.

OK, final question, and I will release you from my death grip. You’ve seen a month of the season now. Predict the Rockies’ record (I maintain my 75-87 prediction… so far).

That’s actually my prediction, too (not even an easy-way-out type of thing; I think I’m on record with that somewhere). I see them going 75-87, but with a run differential of a near-.500 club.

We think alike again! This will make it much easier for me to steal your readers in an effort to make Rox Pile the best Rockies blog around. GOOD LUCK, SUCKER. No, but seriously, thank you for taking the time, Bryan!

It was a blast, man.

Obviously, we love to jokingly hate Jake Shapiro, who is a talented and funny writer in his own right over at Rockies Zingers, and hosts their fun RCSNY podcast, which is worth a bookmark.

Thanks again to Bryan, for taking the time out to talk with us this weekend.

I have some ideas of where I’d like this series to go (Patrick Saunders, Thomas Harding, Nick Groke, Rockies players, national MLB writers and bloggers, etc.), but as we do more of these Sunday Sit-Downs, I’d love to hear your feedback on what you’d like to read, and the people you’d like us to interview.

As usual, leave it in the comments or on Twitter: @RoxPileFS, and @BobbyDeMuro.

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