First, he did it to Nolan Arenado.
Now, Jeff Bridich is ghosting all of us.
Things seemed to be going well right? I guess it always feels like things are going well in the beginning. Despite a rough first year (just to generalize, let’s call it the Troy Tulowitzki trade for Jose Reyes, Jeff Hoffman, Miguel Castro and Jesus Tinoco debacle - sure Tulo faded after, but what did we get?), a solid core was coming up from a farm system that Bridich oversaw before becoming GM. The Rockies slowly improved, earning back-to-back postseason appearances in 2017 and 2018. For icing on the cake, the Rockies locked in Arenado, signing him to an eight-year deal for $260 million on Feb. 26, 2019. Things were looking good.
Then came the 2019 season, preceded by losing DJ LaMahieu and Adam Ottavino to free agency, and the team fell apart. The Rockies had a very expensive and ineffective bullpen and free agent acquisitions that were also expensive and unproductive. The Rockies went from 91-72 in 2018 to 71-91 in 2019.
After the 2019 season — two days after the last game ‑— Bridich, Dick Monfort, and manager Bud Black all met with the media to summarize the media and talk about the future. It might not have been very promising news (there is no money and don’t expect any big moves), but at least it happened.
The 2019 season was hard for fans and Nolan said it felt like a rebuild. Then trade rumors started whirling around Nolan, while we got nothing but crickets from Bridich. I get that it’s his job to listen to all offers, but it’s also to manage, you know, generally, the club. That might mean managing your superstar instead of pissing him off and causing panic attacks in your fan base.
Finally, in January of 2020, a good month after rumors had consumed the baseball world, Bridich finally said that nothing had come of the talks. By then, Nolan felt “disrespected” because the Rockies didn’t keep their word about making efforts to improve, and a whole mess of preventable drama consumed the Rockies. There is no need to relive it any more than that. Bridich explained he would talk to Arenado at some point, saying “We’ll find time to sit down and interact, both with myself and others, so I trust we’ll find the right time for that.”
According to the Denver Post’s Patrick Saunders, “Sources say that the Bridich-Arenado feud has not been resolved” as of three days ago (Nov. 10). Bridich just couldn’t find time before the season, during spring training, during the pandemic shutdown, during Summer Camp, during the season, or in the nearly 50 days since the season ended to “find the right time for that.”
He’s probably busy. He did have to let go of three major and costly mistakes during the regular season (Wade Davis, Jake McGee, and Bryan Shaw) and not pick up the option for another after the season ended (Daniel Murphy). Now he has some more minor league deals to hand out, so that takes time. (Not that I think the Dereck Rodriguez or Brian Gonzalez signings are bad, but I am not sure they put the Rockies in the running in the NL West against the defending champion Dodgers who will be even better next year with David Price returning to the rotation.)
When it comes to just ignoring arranging a talk with the team’s superstar, all I can think of is Jason Bateman’s character Pepper Brooks from Dodgeball upon hearing that the Average Joe’s team is forfeiting the championship match: “It’s a bold strategy, Cotton. Let’s see if it pays off for them.”
Do you know what else Bridich hasn’t done in the almost seven weeks since the 2020 season ended? Have an end-of-the-season press conference. This might not seem like a big deal, but like Patrick Saunders explains, “It’s traditional in baseball for management to talk about the team’s plans for the off-season once the World Series is over.” Saunders goes on to say that reporters were told Bridich would talk to them at some point, but now he will not unless “the club has news to announce regarding players, staff or coaching moves.” Apparently, Rodriguez and Gonzalez don’t count.
Every other team in the MLB has had some version of the state-of-the-organization press conference. Not the Rockies. Saunders reported that “Bridich is the only GM in the majors who has not talked to reporters about the 2020 season or about what the club’s expectations are for the offseason.”
It’s no secret that Bridich doesn’t like reporters. He’s insulted them and doesn’t seem to have much patience for anyone who has the audacity to question his moves. (See Drew Goodman’s book, or read a recap of Bridich’s reporter rants from it in this 104.3 The Fan article, or read this fiery Bridich roast from former Denver Post columnist and current Gazette columnist Woody Paige.)
But by ghosting the media, he’s also ghosting Rockies fans. Bridich might just think he is dismissing reporters and local media. These days a lot of information can bypass reporters and go straight to fans because organizations can use social media or, in Monfort’s case, write an email to season ticketholders. But it still takes someone making the effort to communicate. Bridich has disappeared from that effort.
It seems like there is a clear pattern emerging. When it’s uncomfortable, or — gasp —when he might have to admit he’s made a mistake, Bridich is out. No explanation. Not even any excuses or lies. Just radio silence.
So he doesn’t like talking to reporters or doing press conferences. Fine. That’s fair and I am sure many players, coaches, and GMs from all sports hate it. But guess what? It’s part of the job. He is the general manager for a MLB team. That comes with reporters and it comes with fans. Both will praise a GM in the good times and ask the hard questions and demand accountability in the bad times.
According to a Healthline article, some of the most common reasons people ghost other people are because of fear, conflict avoidance, lack of consequences, and self-care. The second and third one there really seem to hit home. Remedies to being ghosted include setting boundaries and giving the person time. If disappearing and avoiding communication become a regular behavior, then it just might be time to end it: “Calling it off and getting closure can be hard and sometimes painful, but treating people with kindness and respect can go a long way in this relationship and the next.”
The ball is in your court, Jeff.
Are you there?
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Looking at past low-risk signings that benefited the Rockies starting lineup or bullpen, Bryan Kilpatrick praises the recent deals for Dereck Rodriguez and Brian Gonzalez. By comparing them to guys like Matt Belisle, Chris Rusin, Adam Ottavino, and Josh Fogg, not to mention most recently Daniel Bard, all pitchers who were coming off injuries or who had been dismissed from other teams but found success in Colorado, it’s possible the Rockies have found some good pieces to improve the team in 2021. It’s not only better than those expensive free agents who don’t need to be named anymore, but they are also pitch-to-contact pitchers, who just might pan out better because they don’t simply rely on the heat to get outs. At the same time, Kilpatrick acknowledges “now that most teams in baseball seem to be shying away from pitch-to-contact guys in favor of whiff-inducing maniacs who reach triple digits with ease, the Rockies’ strategy seems out of place.”
Overall though, he thinks these signings and maybe a few more like them this offseason could “end up being just what the Rockies need.”
This is a long article with many subheads on different numbers and reflections on the 2020 season. It’s got some interesting takeaways, and two depressing ones about the Rockies. With each game in the shortened season representing 2.7 in a regular season, usually teams that got off to hot starts or put together good runs made the playoffs. Not the Rockies.
• “After only 10 games, there were 11 teams that simply had a winning record, any kind of winning record. All but the Rockies made the playoffs.”
• “After 20 games, we were up to 12 teams that had climbed anywhere north of .500. All but the Rockies and Orioles made the playoffs.”
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