On Thursday, Colorado Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich spoke at length with Scott Braun and Jim Duquette on MLB Network Radio about the club's offseason moves. Trying to make sense of the Rockies' recent positioning—or, alternately, trying to deflect attention and divert rival front offices—Bridich seemed to be equal parts candidly open and full of GM-speak which, honestly, probably isn't a bad thing.
Below, take in some selected highlights from Bridich's interview, as well as what we think it might mean for the Rockies' future based on what we know about the club now.
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On acquiring Gerardo Parra:
We know what he can do ... And surprisingly—I guess not surprisingly, it comes out of corners you really don't expect. I mean, from people, it's not like you're out looking for their opinion or it's people that come to you and say, 'This guy did this,' or 'this guy meant this on this team.' So I think in that way, not having lived with him yet, we know a lot about him and have high hopes that he's going to be a really good addition as a person to the clubhouse.
Of course, we've opined on where Parra might fit with the Rockies, and then broke down exactly how he does fit on the field—but there's still that whole fourth outfielder thing (more on that in a minute). Beyond that, it shouldn't be understated that the newcomer is a longtime close friend of Carlos Gonzalez, so the Rockies didn't go in blind acquiring Parra.
Bridich said as much in his comments with Braun and Duquette, and of course there's no shortage of awareness on the Rockies' end of things, with Parra spending more than half a decade with the division rival Arizona Diamondbacks. Will he end up being the perfect fit in Denver? Only time is going to tell on that, but at least from the perspectives of (a) his own on-field performance, and (b) his clubhouse intangibles, it increasingly seems like the Rockies made a strong move to improve their roster.
Regarding trades and logjams, well, that may be another story.
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On designating former first-round draft pick Kyle Parker for assignment:
Obviously we added somebody in the outfield and we just felt like there were guys also coming up behind him that might push him and just blatantly, I mean, there was other guys that we've tried to create some flexibility in terms of their positioning. Guys like Ben Paulsen, who just kind of flat out beaten him out, and so those guys kinda played the same outfield/first base corner utility type spot and it was a tough decision, but he was the odd man out.
Bryan Kilpatrick did a magnificent job quantifying just how bad the Rockies' drafting had been in the late 2000s, and that unfortunately includes Kyle Parker's class of selections. So when the Rockies designated Parker for assignment earlier this week after he looked more like Matt McBride and less like, say, Corey Dickerson, it was in some ways the end of a long line of difficult drafts that resulted in relatively lean pickings at the big league level.
Ultimately, that's in large part why the Rockies are where they are right now. When you consistently miss on high draft picks for multiple years in a row—in a city that already is unforgiving to pitchers and doesn't exactly find quality veteran free agent arms beating down the doors to sign contracts—the margin of error for contending in a division that's been strong in recent history goes from slim to none.
That's not just an indictment of Parker alone, of course. And that's not to say the Rockies have done significantly better in the last several years. We'd like to think that they have. Prospect lists, minor league chatter, professional evaluators all indicate that, yes, the Rockies should see an influx of talent at the Major League level over the next several seasons. But prospects are prospects until they're not, as Parker himself has proven. If Parker's DFA ought to be taken as part of a larger plan, at the very least, it's frankly encouraging that Bridich can make such definitive personnel decisions.
And it need not be said, but, good luck and well wishes to Parker for wherever his big league odyssey shall continue.
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On whether Bridich feels like the Rockies have to make a trade before spring training:
Things happen every spring training. Things happen whether it's injury or something else that interferes with all these great plans that you make in the wintertime and things happen during the season where they happen last year ... To have depth and frankly depth that can not only improve us offensively but absolutely defensively in the outfield, that's an important thing. We don't really feel pressured at all to move them, to move anybody.
This is... OK, look, he may not feel like he has to make a trade by spring training. The Rockies may feel like they are in a good position. Or, as we've pointed out recently, perhaps the club just isn't getting the kinds of offers it wants for their outfielders. In that case, then, a trade just to rush something before spring training could be dumb, and even damaging, and it might well be worth their while to hold on to all four starter-quality outfielders, and just... hey, we'll see. Or, this is all GM-speak.
To Bridich's point about injuries, well, he's right. Corey Dickerson essentially lost the entire season last summer to injuries. CarGo hasn't exactly been the healthiest cat on the block for, well, his entire career. Something could certainly happen—nay, with a club like this, something is bound to happen—and it'd be prudent to go into spring training with four starting outfielders. Heck, let's go in with a million man outfield and take our chances.
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On rumors around Yovani Gallardo:
You know, I'm not sure exactly where that came from but I mean, that's no different than us checking in on everybody, or most everybody as we have over the course of the free agency period. Obviously, his name is out there because he's still out there and he doesn't have a job. But we've been checking in on relievers as well.
There's probably quite a bit of GM-speak in this particular quote (we'll ask you to vote on it in a poll below!), but this quote more than pretty much anything just reeks of keeping the cards close to the vest over the possible signing of a free agent starting pitcher. Not that it's a bad thing! If Bridich is tight-lipped and extremely measured by nature—and boy, it sure seems that way—I can handle GM-speak if it means he's running interference on his plans with the team. It's annoying to cover, and I imagine it's annoying for most of you to read, but it's a heckuva lot better than the alternative on the other end of the spectrum.
Anyways, we know there's mutual interest between Gallardo and the Rockies, and we know the two sides even met for a second sit-down this morning. Where there's smoke, there's often fire. Note: smoke and fire does not mean the Rockies will sign Gallardo, it just means their interest in him—and vice versa—is more pronounced than what Bridich revealed in his MLB Radio interview on Thursday.
Then again, maybe Bridich's motives are entirely irrational. (OK, it's probably not that.)
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On the unique situation of pitching at Coors Field:
We do have a lot of information at hand and there are, to use your words, studies that we do and information that we gather. I think, moving forward, we are going to implement some potential use of that information in certain ways, in terms of the ballpark and how we construct our roster and who's pitching for us. Really, though, the bottom line is, if the guy, the pitcher that holds that baseball on that mound, if he doesn't believe that he's going to go and do well, then it really doesn't matter what type of stuff that he has.
Oh boy. Where do we start with this. Obviously, we've broken down this topic VERY well (at least, I think so), and Coors Field is a unique beast, at least from a statistical perspective. We can't ignore that when evaluating the team's pitching performances, even if Bridich is not wrong when discussing the significance of a pitcher's mental outlook beyond the environment in which he is pitching.
All that being said, though, I spoke to Justin Miller recently, and in our interview—see a big block quote at the bottom—he specifically mentions how Coors Field can get in people's heads, and it's best not to think bout it and just go out there and pitch the game plan as if it were any other ballpark. That can't be discounted.
As for the information Bridich mentions being gathered, well, it'll be interesting to see if there's anything public to come of that knowledge. Obviously, much of that will likely be proprietary, but damn it'd be fun to know exactly how the Rockies have (or have not) been able to quantify pitching in their home ballpark in some way beyond all the things we already know.
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On whether Jon Gray and Eddie Butler will see innings limits this year:
You know, I doubt it. I think that they've reached a point in their career, unless they show otherwise, and obviously it's a day to day, week to week, month to month sort of process through a season. I think they've shown growth in their ability to handle the innings and go out and take the ball every fifth day and do well. As they get older and they get more established, hopefully they just go and they pitch.
This is good. Great, even. Grand! WONDERFUL! Eddie Butler has bigger problems than being/not being on an innings limit, but seeing that the Rockies are ready to turn these two out and let 'em deal—especially Gray—ought to do wonders for their development and, with at least one of them, pay some dividends down the road.
This is going to be a show-me year for Butler. Gray, too, but the latter has earned himself a bit of leeway and can go through a year of development looking rough around the edges. That's to be expected. Butler's outlook is a little more pessimistic and is something that he needs to iron out sooner rather than later. We'll all be seeing whether he can do that in spring training, and then all summer long.
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On Jose Reyes' situation, and planning for shortstop this summer:
It's somewhat of a waiting game right now. Hopefully, as we get closer here to spring training, there's some sort of light shed on the topic ... it's why you build depth and it's why you draft shortstops and you sign guys that can play shortstop out of Latin America. It's obviously an important position to have depth in and that's a good thing. Obviously guys like Danny Descalso and Cristhian Adames and Trevor Story and we had Rafael Ynoa who's played the position, I feel like there's pretty good names there to compete for that job if Jose Reyes is incapacitated.
This is a tough one for the Rockies, and Bridich has to approach it carefully on a number of levels, of course. Reyes' punishment was apparently supposed to be decided by the beginning of spring training... and now he appears to be all set to go to court on Opening Day. It's likely he won't be with the Rockies for at least that game (week?), unless a plea bargain or something unforeseen is put together in the meantime.
From an on-field perspective, the Rockies do have options. We can debate how good guys like Daniel Descalso and Rafael Ynoa will be, and it's somewhat of a mystery how Trevor Story will adjust to the big leagues (or if he's even being prepared for it from the beginning of the season). Similarly, we know Cristhian Adames has a role on the team, but the question is, well, how significant will that role be?
It won't matter much for the 2016 Rockies, of course—the club will most likely be fairly bad, anyways, and that's fine—but Reyes' presence or absence could accelerate or stunt the growth specifically of Adames and/or Story, and that may affect the future. The real point, though, is that nobody knows as much or more than Bridich does about this: the Rockies, the media, the players, it appears pretty much everyone is in the dark on Reyes and it'll be an interesting few weeks whenever we do find out more about his criminal case.
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At what point does Bridich transition from GM-speak to the truth? Are they one in the same? Is he a world-class bullsh*t artist? Is that even necessarily a bad thing? Obviously, this MLB Radio interview took place 24 hours ago — an eternity in Internet time! — but it's more than worthwhile to take a look at some of these quotes and ask ourselves: What's really going on here?
So, we ask you, dear readers: what's really going on here?