Jeff Bridich is going to have his work cut out for him in proving that he's not merely a clone of former Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd.
"There certainly was not an element of group think or a robotic thought process where we all just got in line with the [same] thought," Bridich said of his working relationship O'Dowd and Bill Geivett, both of whom resigned on Wednesday. "There were heated debates at times ... and there needed to be."
Bridich delivered an inspiring speech to a gathering of local media at Coors Field Wednesday afternoon, preaching hope, unity and patience while talking about his grand plan.
"The primary message today is that I believe," Bridich said. "I believe that we have players who are championship players. I believe we have employees and people and members of this organization who are championship people," he added.
"We may not have all of the championship people that we need to actually win a championship here right now," Bridich explained. "But we are going to go find those people and bring them into the fold, and we're going to do that together."
Bridich, 37, is a pure baseball guy whose background stretches all the way back to his childhood days in Milwaukee, where his father served as his coach.
"[My father] has taught me more lessons through baseball than I can count." Bridich reminisced. "To this point in my life, he has been my most important coach."
The future baseball executive played college baseball at Harvard, just like his dad. Bridich was a catcher and outfielder for the Crimson for four seasons before earning his first baseball job as an employee in the MLB commissioner's office. There, Bridich assisted major league teams with minor league contracts and transactions before becoming manager of minor league operations for the Rockies in 2004.
Bridich held that position for three seasons before being promoted to director of baseball operations, where he was under the tutelage of O'Dowd. The then-29-year-old was responsible for assisting O'Dowd with contract issues, player transactions, payroll management, financial and statistical analysis and rules administration, according to the Rockies' media guide. Most importantly for Bridich, he received on the job training in not only baseball, but life as well.
"There is no one person who has impacted my career with the Rockies more than Dan," Bridich said. "He has been a father figure and a willing and interested mentor who has generously shared his time, energy and wisdom."
"He provided me with opportunity and challenged me to the point of struggle and failure so that I could become a better person and a better professional," Bridich added, speaking glowingly of his former boss.
Bridich is now on his own, taking the reins of one of the most difficult jobs in baseball. And for as much respect as he has for O'Dowd, he promises to run the Rockies his own way.
"I think it's a fair question, because people are going to say, 'well, he's a clone,' or whatever," Bridich said. "But I think that doesn't represent the process that goes into making decisions, whether it's at the major league level, player development or scouting."
It's hard to say that Bridich will or won't be the second coming of O'Dowd. It's way too early for that, and in fairness to him, he deserves a shot at proving that theory wrong. But what we do know is that he'll be under a lot more pressure than O'Dowd was when he took the job. The Rockies were still firmly within their honeymoon period at that point, and the franchise was only seven years old. A decade and a half later, there is considerable unrest among a fanbase that hasn't seen a winning team since 2010 and is still waiting on a division title.
"We are not where we want and expect to be," Bridich acknowledged. "We know that."
"This organization wants to win and is determined to win," he added. "It is my opinion that [the fans] have earned the right to have playoff baseball at Coors Field again."