It’s been a little while since this site or any other Rockies outlet has discussed our old Harvard friend Jeff Bridich. Bridich’s big swings and misses in past off-seasons have understandably left a sour taste in all our mouths. We all needed some time to cleanse our palettes and move forward from him just as much as he probably needed to move on from us, the fans who couldn’t wait for him to go, admittedly, at times a bit harshly.
But now that we have some time removed, it’s time to acknowledge how quietly good Bridich’s final off-season was. Now, a disclaimer here, when I’m saying it was good, I don’t mean that it was the best offseason that will forever transform the franchise. After all, the best player in recent Rockies history was traded away along with $50 million dollars. What I mean is that it was packed with tons of value.
At the time, the off-season was full of frustrations and a sense of dread that we would soon have to say goodbye to Nolan Arenado. Those sentiments were amplified when the Rockies held firm to their belief that the team just needed to “play better,” and did not sign a free agent to a major league contract.
The club did make a couple significant changes that we now, in retrospect, can see were the correct ones.
His minor league signings have nearly all worked out as well as anyone could have hoped. C.J. Cron might be the biggest bang for your buck in the entire league right now earning just a measly $1 million, according to Spotrac. He leads the Rockies in just about every offensive category, easily making him the biggest addition of the offseason.
Another minor league signing, Connor Joe has played well and stolen the hearts of many Rockies fans. Since being called up on July 20th, he’s been as good anyone on the Rockies not named C.J. Cron. He’s slashing .279/.365/.473 this season but hitting over .300 since coming up in late July.
Bridich’s final signing as the Rockies general manager was fittingly of a player that he inherited when he initially took the job in 2014, Jhoulys Chacín. Chacín (4-1, 4.22 ERA) has somehow turned into one of the more reliable arms in the bullpen. He began the year as an innings eater but crept his way up to being a late inning option for Bud Black. He’s allowed just five runs since June 28th.
However. the good decisions actually date back to the beginning of the off-season with the non-tenders of both David Dahl and Tony Wolters. As Skyler Timmins talked about yesterday, both Dahl and Wolters are currently at Triple-A trying to work their way back to the majors. Dahl slashed just .210/.247/.322 in 63 games for the Rangers before being DFA’d earlier this month.
Wolters has spent the majority of his year with the Cubs Triple-A affiliate before also being released earlier this month. Meanwhile in Colorado, the Rockies have achieved their goal of having two slugging catchers. With a combined 23 home runs between Elias Díaz and Dom Nuñez, the Rockies rank in the top half of the majors in home runs by catchers, something the club hasn’t done since 2014.
After moving on from them, Bridich decided to pull the plug on another project in Jeff Hoffman. The recent Mychal Givens trade for Case Williams, who was initially traded away along with Hoffman, muddles everything up. It’s now two different trades by two different Rockies GMs intertwined. Both the acquired Robert Stephenson (1-1, 4.18 ERA) and the traded away Jeff Hoffman (3-5, 4.13 ERA) have found relative success compared to their pasts and acquired minor league outfielder Jameson Hannah looks like solid future outfield depth.
Jameson Hannah is having arguably his best year in minor league baseball. His OPS is up 20 points, he’s been consistently around a .270 hitter with a .340 OBP. His slugging is the highest in his career at .742.— Rox Farm Report (@RoxFarmReport) August 29, 2021
*I think @RoxFarmReport meant OPS on that final line. Great follow for all Rockies minor league updates by the way!
Anyways, even when you look at the controversial Nolan Arenado trade, you can see a few tiny encouraging signs in comparison to the massive loss we originally thought it was. There’s still more time needed to fully judge the deal but the returning players have looked promising.
Austin Gomber (9-8, 4.38 ERA) has looked elite at Coors Field (2.09 home ERA) and easily figures to be a staple in the Rox rotation for years to come. Also acquired in the deal was mid-season PuRP No. 5, Elehuris Montero who continues to turn heads around the league with an .892 OPS at Double-A Hartford (MLB.com recently ranked him fourth in their rankings). Even pitcher Tony Locey has recently showed flashes and since becoming a starter a month ago, has a 2.17 ERA at Low-A Fresno with 36 strikeouts in 29 innings.
Will the return ever fully justify the loss of Nolan Arenado to fans? Probably not, but the point is that it’s looking better.
Maybe it’s the recent wins and coming off of a road series victory in LA, but everything’s looking just a little better, Bridich’s 2020-21 offseason included. I’m not saying #HireBridich but I think he deserves a little credit for the moves, not that they turned the team around completely but that he contributed to making the 2021 season fun.
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As the focus begins to shift to 2022 and the upcoming off-season, Patrick Saunders discusses what the approach could look like. While interim-GM Bill Schmidt has stated that the club will “look to improve,” he has not explained specifically how they’ll do that. A lot of money will be coming off the books, including Ian Desmond and Trevor Story’s large salaries that would have combined for 23% of the Rockies total 2021 payroll had Desmond not opted out of the season. However, there are too many unknowns right now to make any kind of predictions without a CBA in place between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association.
Jon Gray left Saturday’s game against the Dodgers in the third inning with what was described as “right forearm tightness.” Bud Black told reporters on Sunday that Gray would be reevaluated on Monday (today) but for now he should be considered “questionable” for his next start.
On the farm
Finishing off yesterday’s suspended game, the Isotopes wrapped up the smooth victory. Everyone in the Albuquerque lineup recorded at least one hit. Wynton Bernard led the way with three hits, Brian Serven, Ryan Vilade and Raimel Tapia each had two. Greg Bird hit his 21st home run of the year. Ryan Castellani threw four perfect innings yesterday. The entire pitching staff allowed just three hits and three walks.
The second game was a reversal of the first. The Isotopes record just four hits and the pitching staff allowed ten to the Express. Ryan Vilade recorded two of the team’s hits but it was Taylor Snyder who put the Isotopes on the board in the second inning with his sixth home run of the season. Starter Dereck Rodriguez allowed just two runs on seven hits in five innings with three strikeouts.
On the east coast, the Yard Goats handled the Senators yesterday with five two out RBI’s. Coco Montes had a 2-for-4 day with a walk and three RBI’s. Also recording three RBI’s was Casey Golden on a bases loaded double that cleared the bases. Earning his fifth win of the season was the starter Ryan Feltner. Feltner allowed two runs on eight hits and one walk while striking out eight in 5 2⁄3 innings.
In the northwest, the pitching was not good enough as the AquaSox launch four home runs. Two of them got hit off of Jordan Sheffield who lasted just 2⁄3 of an inning. Brenton Doyle was the only Indian to record more than one hit, he had three of the team’s six including a two-run home run in the fourth.
Not too far from where the Rockies completed the series win over the Dodgers, the Grizzlies were also putting the finishing touches on a victory of their own. Robby Martin Jr. hit his first home run at Low-A after being assigned there just a few days ago. Zac Veen finished 1-for-3 with two walks. His OPS is now at .926 through 95 games.
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