As we embark on Year 3 A.D. (After Dan [O’Dowd]), also known as the Bridich Era (A.B.?), Opening Day is as good a time as any to reminisce on how far the Colorado Rockies have come in such a brief time. As you may recall, Jeff Bridich assumed the mantle of general manager shortly after the conclusion of the 2014 season and had made upgrading the pitching a top priority. People were quite curious how busy the Rockies would be that winter.
This isn’t to pick on Nick. At the time, there was reason to be optimistic about ptichers like Jhoulys Chacin and Tyler Matzek. But it should give you an idea of how things have changed with the Rockies. The short-term rotation upgrade turned out to be merely Kyle Kendrick, and thankfully we aren’t stuck with James Shields today.
This also isn’t to pick on Dan O’Dowd or Bill Geivett either. Many of the players in 2017’s Opening Day Roster were drafted and/or developed under their watch.
However, in that before time, during the not-so-long-ago, this was the spaghetti writing of the 2015 Rockies Opening Day roster that managed to stick to the wall.
Among that list, only four position players (D.J. LeMahieu, Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon and Carlos Gonzalez) and two pitchers (Jordan Lyles, Adam Ottavino), remain on this year’s 2017 Opening Day roster. Lyles is in the bullpen this time around.
We’re not just talking about fire sales or mere roster churn either, but actually adding value. Think back to that 2015 roster, Year 1 A.B. The hope during those years was that the Rockies would win if Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez can stay healthy.
The hopes have changed with the times.
CarGo, while still a solid contributor, might only be the fourth or fifth best player in what has become an outstanding lineup. DJ LeMahieu and Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado have developed into stars under Bridich. And the future looks bright for Trevor Story, David Dahl and Tom Murphy. Even the under-the-radar pickups of Tony Wolters and Stephen Cardullo provide more than baseball skills but the kind of underdog pedigree that is fun to root for. It’s a young, good group with more coming along the way. Yes, we’ve lost Troy Tulowitzki, which cost some fans and a writer or two, but the lineup’s come out ahead.
On that same 2015 Opening Day roster, Jordan Lyles was considered the second best or third best starter after Jorge De La Rosa. By the end of 2016, just two short years later, both players were fighting for major league jobs on a Rockies starting staff not just with a lot of potential, but producing results.
Lyles has been left to linger around in 2017 as the long man out of the bullpen. That’s a statement on the kind of depth we now have in our rotation. Instead of throwing more spaghetti (Butler) at the wall (splat!), we saw Bridich learn to resist pressure, slowly ushering along Jon Gray. He’s the first Rockies pitcher in a long time that you don’t need to squint to see an ace. Behind him are a cadre of developed arms who have already logged quality major league time in Tyler Anderson and Tyler Chatwood, along with young guns galore to choose from in Kyle Freeland, Antonio Senzatela, German Marquez, Jeff Hoffman—you get the developing picture. But hey, if you’re still nostalgic (or a glutton for punishment) and want to relive the wonderful shenanigans of 2014 Rockies pitching, the vestiges are still available over at Fox Sports San Diego.
Even the bullpen depth has improved. Those in uniform who earned Rockies saves, Scott Oberg, Carlos Estevez and Jake McGee are now components instead of the sole stud because of a revamped pen. We’re a long time away from having a bunch of 40 year old ligaments attempting to anchor the back of the pen.
It didn’t take rushing for Shields or settling for Kendrick, just an overall organizational plan to find and develop talent that truly upgraded the pitching.
Sure, we may quibble about a Gerardo Parra here and an Ian Desmond playing there, but unlike Theo Epstein’s Five Year Cubs plan, at times we still aren’t quite sure exactly why Jeff Bridich makes the moves he makes. We’ve even had an early slew of injuries, and it seems like the Rockies will have a rough schedule in the first half, but the 2017 season is far from dead on arrival. Yet the Rockies are not only a better team, but one that’ll be darn fun to watch and talk about in 2017 and beyond.
Add Bridich: "And when i believe becomes we believe, we will win." #Rockies— Nick Groke (@nickgroke) October 8, 2014
We’re trusting the process, starting to believe as seen in multiple posts here at Purple Row, that the Rockies might (gasp) be good! We’re even getting some national predictions for shots at the Wild Card to the point the team’s barely a sleeper pick anymore.
So let’s shake off the dust off that bygone era and kick off Year 3 of the Bridich Era in style with some good old fashioned baseball talk. Come join us and other members of the local Denver media at the Purple Row breakfast on Opening Day. It may not be like those blogger panels (another casualty since 2014), but it’ll sure be fun!