Even though it seems like Jeff Bridich loves sitting down with reporters about as much as Rockies fans like hearing from him, he did it anyway on Wednesday with MLB Network’s “High Heat Show” from Scottsdale, Ariz., home of the MLB GM meetings.
There is lots we don’t need to rehash about the struggles of 2019, but there were some noteworthy takeaways in the transcript posted by Patrick Saunders. Some are obvious, but still nice to hear nonetheless. We’ll categorize them into knowns, the clear musts, and unknowns, slightly surprising or somewhat new information.
1. The Rockies are looking to add pitching depth. Well gee, if we weren’t, why are we even bothering?
2. The Rockies are trying to add a catcher. Yup. Good job, Jeff.
3. The guys who played great in 2018 (he mentioned Kyle Freeland and Wade Davis) have to return to that form in 2020. Right again.
1. Bridich said, “Daniel Murphy is going to have a better year for us, even though his year turned out to be OK. It wasn’t a terrible year by any stretch. He’s got better baseball in him next year for us.” I had no idea Bridich could see the future. If that’s the case, why did 2019 happen? I hope he is right about Murphy, but I don’t think he is right.
2. Bridich cracked a joke about adding relative humidity to statistics to offset the challenges of Coors Field. He also didn’t blame Coors Field, which was nice, instead saying every player is different, but all pitchers at altitude all need “conviction and confidence and resiliency” and “flexibility.”
3. Bridich said the Rockies don’t wait until, as the MLB Network’s Matt Vasgersian asked, “the Dodgers are vulnerable before spending their free-agent dollars” to make choices on who Colorado will or won’t sign and where the Rockies will spend money. It’s more based on “self-evaluation.”
Thomas Harding of MLB.com also caught up with Bridich at the GM meetings, focusing more on the pros and cons of the 2019 bullpen. Harding reports that Bridich doesn’t see fixing the bullpen as the Rockies top priority, but that “we’re always going to want to keep our eyes and ears open for ways to improve -- one way or another -- our pitching.” That’s good and considering the rotation’s struggles and low amount of innings from starters, getting a solid starting rotation should probably be No. 1.
The 2007 streak. Winning 13 of 14 games to close out the season. The 163 one-game play-in against the Padres. Steamrolling the Phillies and Diamondbacks. The original Rocktober. That all came at the helm of Clint Hurdle.
Hurdle recently announced that while he isn’t officially saying he is done with baseball, he is retiring from managing, saying “I’ve decided to put the baseball pants in the closet.”
Hurdle was fired by the Pirates at the end of the 2019 season, but before his nine years in Pittsburgh, the Pirates hadn’t had a winning season in two decades. He then took them to the playoffs three years in a row.
The Rockies have only had seven managers in their 26-year existence. Clint Hurdle is the longest serving among them at seven and a half seasons (2002-2009). Hurdle was a part of the organization almost from the beginning (1994) to 2009. He started as minor league hitting coordinator. Then hitting coach in the big leagues. Then manager after Buddy Bell was fired early in the 2002 season. As manager, he didn’t finish with the best record (534-625), but he had a great impact on the team in developing hitters and the franchise itself. And he’s the winningest manager for the Rockies with those 534 wins accounting for 26 percent of the Rockies’ wins all time.
In the first of a three-part tribute to the Rockies former manager, Noah Yingling focuses on Hurdle’s climb up the organizational ladder and lists his successes. Hurdle drew praise from Don Baylor as “always positive with (the players), but … truthful too.”
Hurdle had a lot of great hitters during his time as hitting coach like Larry Walker, Todd Helton, and Vinny Castilla, who all brought home their fair share of hardware from that trio each getting two Silver Sluggers to Walker’s MVP in 1997. Along with co-star Matt Holliday, Hurdle also made the best commercial in the history of the Rockies.
Bud Black is the current owner of the highest winning percentage at .511 (249-238), with Jim Tracy following at .488 (294-308), then Don Baylor at .484 (440-469), then Buddy Bell at .465 (161-185), then Hurdle at .461 (534-625), then Jim Leyland (72-90, .444), and lastly Walt Weiss at .437 (283-365).
In your opinion, who is the best manager in the history of the Rockies?
This poll is closed
The Rockies have about one month to decide if any of the six Rule 5 draft eligible players in the system are worth putting on the 40-man roster. If not, they could be picked up by other teams through the Rule 5 process.
The Rule 5 draft takes place after the Winter Meetings wrap up on Dec. 12. The Rockies, who currently have 36 players on the 40-man roster, have six prospects to ponder: left-handed pitcher Ben Bowden, right-handed pitchers Reid Humphreys and Robert Taylor, outfielder Daniel Montano, infielder Tyler Nevin, and first baseman Roberto Ramos.
Kevin Henry reports that the two most probable additions to the 40-man roster would be Bowden, who shined for the Double-A Yard Goats with 20 saves in 20 opportunities this year, but then faltered in Triple-A, and Nevin, winner of the 2018 Arizona Fall League batting crown who hit .251/.345/.399 in Double-A this year. Henry also calls attention to Ramos, who was a Pacific Coast League All-Star with 30 homers and 105 RBI for Triple-A Albuquerque and could be the promising first baseman the Rockies need.
With legendary names like Dusty Baker, Felipe Alou, and Bruce Bochy, not to mention a storied franchise that’s won three World Series in the last 10 years, the pick of Gabe Kapler has got Giants fans and fans around baseball lighting up keyboards and exhausting their thumbs with complaints, concerns, and a general wondering of … him? I really don’t like the Giants, and I am still thinking … him?
Kapler’s history with San Francisco’s president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, as Kapler was director of player development while Zaidi was the general manager in Los Angeles, is the obvious answer to the wonderings, but it also just seems ill-conceived.
The Giants are coming off a season when their club president Larry Baer was suspended for domestic violence after publicly assaulting his wife. Kapler and Zaidi have faced scrutiny for mishandling an alleged sexual assault incident of a 17-year-old girl by two minor league Dodger players by not informing the police in 2015. After years of denying anything was handled wrong, on Wednesday in a press conference, Kapler said he wished he would have done things differently. The 44-year-old man said he has been talking a lot to his mom and she has taught him about women, and sexual assault, and he wishes he would have called her sooner to learn more about those things, according to Yahoo Sports.
Well, that’s weird. His mom? Surely being a human being for 40 years in this world would teach some lessons. I’m not feeling great that he’s going to his mom instead going through some kind of organizational procedure? Law enforcement? Human relations? A league-wide training and implementation of new procedures? The MLB still has a long way to go in figuring out how to handle these things.
Back on the field, even though the NL West title still runs through L.A., who is leading the Giants and whether they can get back into contention obviously matters a lot to the Rockies. Kapler, at 44, hasn’t shown success at managing yet after bombing with an expensive squad in Philadelphia, but becoming a good manager often takes time. It’s a hard ask to any fan base, especially of a highly-successful franchise, to keep being patient while also having to worry about “clubhouse culture.” It will be interesting to see the direction of the Giants in 2020 and beyond, both on the field and off.