So it appears, based on a few Rockpile comments over the past few weeks, that I should post my thoughts about the Jeff Bridich luncheon I attended back in August. So here they are:
- Into. speech: Thinks the team (and the organization as a whole) is headed in the right direction. He emphasized on first getting the talent level increased, especially in the pitching. He feels the teams future success really hinges on the pitching depth, since there is so much emphasis on it in baseball as a whole. The first goal of the organization was to have competitive games in the second half of the season, ultimately all the way up to the last game of the season. He feels we are just about there, but still need to learn how to win an then learn how to win pressure games/events, which will ultimately show the team is ready to succeed in the postseason. This year the focus is to keep having competitive games through the season. He said they look at the Giants and Cardinals as organizations they aspire to be: building a culture of "expecting to win" and understanding how to win pressure games.
- My question was how does he envision getting the necessary win total to make the postseason (about 90-95 wins for the 2nd wildcard). He said it will come from a lot of places, but the focus will be to build a core through home grown talent (which he said would come through the draft, trades like the Tulo trade, and getting young FAs like Wolters). He said bits and pieces will be filled in, but the key will be players who can succeed at the pressure situations once they get there. He said the bullpen needed work in that regard as an area to get to the next level, but all specific personnel decisions will be made after the seasons end.
- On a question regarding the outfield logjam with the Rockies and farm, his response was classic...he leaned in, put his chin on his hand and said: "I don't see a logjam. I see a lot of talent that is and will be major league ready soon and that is a good problem to have." So take that response what you will, but he seems content to have all those outfielders...although his response to a question about areas of weakness, such as 1B and the bullpen, did show his willingness to take from that talent pool ("If we need to address an area of weakness, and can do that through an area of strength, and their is a fit out there that will work, we will do it"). Translation: If the right trade offer comes around to address a position like 1B, and can be done through trading an outfielder, appears he won't flinch to do it. He did also say he wanted Parra to improve and said "he would sit down with him at the end of season to see what can be done to get him to improve to his contract." I interpret that to mean, Parr better start shaping up or he may be shipped out.
- On why Hundley is still getting the majority of the starting duties as opposed to TFW: "Tony has come a long way in developing to be a catcher...Nick has been tremendous in teaching him what it means to be a catcher, and were are grateful to Nick for that...Tony still has a to learn, but we are very pleased with his progress, and especially offensively. We look forward to Tony being a part of the future of this team." I interpret this to mean they are utilizing Hundley's "veteranness" to teach Wolters how to be a catcher to go along with his pitch framing while Hundley is here, and are rewarding Hundley by giving them the lions share of the starts for his next contract...but he clearly sees Tony as the future of the catcher position with Rockies. He also gave a great story as to how they almost missed Tony being available via the wire when the Indians designated him for assignment, and that if it was for the scout following him telling him Tony was available, they might have missed it as it was during ST and he was distracted by other things. He said "it would have been "unfortunate" if they missed out on Tony.
- On the Tulo trade and what was the main motivation: He said the former Jays GM (Alex Anthopolous) was very aggressive in trying to obtain Tulo. The discussions started "many months before the trade happened" (no exact date but he then disclaimed it started during the prior season offseason, as Alex saw Tulo as a final piece to the postseason). He said they went back and forth pieces and personnel, but ultimately when he offered Hoffman, that was enough for him. He said he could not disclose if there were any other trades like that in the works, but he said they happen over time and they are very diligent about what they request in return for every player.
- On possible September call-ups: He said there are a few in discussion, such as Patterson and Murphy, and acknowledged they are both "almost there" and said both are in the club's future plans, so once their season is just about over (they meaning ABQ), the org. will sit down and see who can help not only the team but help themselves by getting some playing time. He was emphatic that Patterson is also in their plans for 1B, so at least he acknowledged JP is just about there. He said Tapia was looking really good, but is still raw in a few areas (he said seeing Tapia run the bases is "quite amusing and stressful to watch at the same time (says he needs to learn his body more, whatever that means).
- There were some other random questions, but he game his usual GM speak and not much to glean from them. One thing he didn't touch on was any managing decisions, as he leaves that up to the coaching staff, but acknowledged they always sit down with Walt and his staff at the end of season and evaluate the direction of the team and what needs to done to keep improving...lets hope that does not include Walt and his staff...All and all, he seems confident in the direction of the team, and you can tell his main focus is on pitching. He believe this team will not be ready for success until all aspects of its pitching staff are ironed out.