Clint Hurdle counts as Rockies royalty, for reasons as apparent as the 2007 pennant on the wall of retired numbers. While he is returning to serve as the special assistant to GM Bill Schmidt, one can presume Hurdle will assist far more than one person in his return to the organization.
One such person could be 30-year-old Sterling Monfort, a newly-appointed Director of Professional Scouting that could learn wonders from Hurdle’s every word.
Sterling Monfort is an internal hire: the son of team owner Dick Monfort has opened up a front office-ownership crossover that can lead some to feel concern. If this concern is valid, Hurdle’s return to the Rockies is more timely than ever. It’s important to recognize Hurdle is a voice in the board room that is established enough to be heard — and reputable enough to be persuasive.
We can presume that Hurdle, the leader of the most successful team in Rockies history, came back to make an impact.
Hurdle: The ‘external’ hire
He took over as manager for the Pittsburgh Pirates for nine years (2011-2019), making three consecutive trips to the postseason from 2013-15. Hurdle was named NL Manager of the Year in the first of that three-year stretch (a year the Rockies finished dead last in the NL West).
Hurdle’s postseason trips with the Pirates were admittedly short-lived — his teams lost the Wild Card Game in all three appearances — but holding a big league managing gig for nine years after being fired by the Rockies shows he found serious traction with a new big league system. (An average MLB manager doesn’t finish three seasons in a single location.)
Hurdle joined the MLB Network staff after that, appearing as a routine panelist. Mix in his 10-year playing career (1977-1987), suiting up for the Royals, Reds, Mets and Cardinals, and it’s easy to see Hurdle is a guy with high-level insight from multiple sources.
Rockies internal hires: A brief history
The next two managers in Rockies history, Jim Tracy and Walt Weiss, resigned with comparable pretense to each other:
- Tracy was an internal hire for managing duties in 2009 after serving as bench coach. He resigned after he reportedly felt “uncomfortable with his role.”
- Weiss, while technically an external (high school) coach at the time of hiring, was an internal Rockie through his playing experience. He later stepped down, citing a “poor working relationship with [the] front office.”
Former Rockies GM Jeff Bridich, another internal hire, had a similar departure:
- Bill Schmidt took over general manager duties this year after Bridich resigned mid-2021 in a “mutual agreement.”
We cannot confirm, but we can speculate: their motives for leaving suggest it has been easier to leave the organization than change the structural understanding of team ownership. There are exceptions to the internal hire pattern — current manager Bud Black, former GM Dan O’Dowd — but among some notable internal names (and O’Dowd), they have ultimately taken it upon themselves to move on from the organization.
It can be dangerous when family ties are crossed with business duties, and Sterling’s promotion adds a new rift in that discussion. (If someone disagrees with him, they are also disagreeing with the son of the owner.) When others have left citing poor working relationships and discomfort, it can be worrisome when the ownership’s outreach begins to infiltrate the front office.
The Rockies also haven’t had a Clint Hurdle in the past decade to help bridge that gap, either — and after all, Dick Monfort was the one that willingly hired him back.
How much can/will Hurdle run the show?
Hurdle’s emphasis will reportedly center around player development, but it’s likely safe to reason his duties will not be exclusive to one role. ‘Special assistant to the GM’ is about as general of a job title that an executive can have.
Just as John Elway returned to the Broncos and carried a serious voice, one may expect the leader of the greatest Rockies team of all time to step in and have his ideas entertained. Elway’s title with the Broncos (“President of Football Operations”) is a little more substantial than a special assistant to a GM, but when it comes to organizational royalty, does it really matter when their voice is heard? If Todd Helton or Larry Walker spontaneously showed up to contribute at a front office meeting, could anyone ever see their ideas getting thrown thrown out?
Clint Hurdle is 64 years of age, holding decades of serious baseball acumen and a personality fit for primetime MLB Network. He’s already made his impact with the Rockies, but this could be just the beginning of his long-term contribution.
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Dare we say... lockout movement?
This is hardly a building block when the proposal hasn’t even been submitted, but hey, slow motion is better than no motion.
MLB labor talks might start again soon... and Cubs set date for spring training ticket sale | Bleed Cubbie Blue (SB Nation, Chicago Cubs) *Published Jan. 7
Salt River Fields has yet to announce a formal date for ticket sales, but the Chicago Cubs are scheduled to open single-game ticket sales for spring training this Saturday. Single-game tickets to the White Sox and Dodgers shared home (Camelback Ranch) are already on sale, which further suggests the Rockies and Diamondbacks shared home will be coming soon.
For those hoping for a normal trip to the Cactus League, these early sales could end up being the most affordable chance at tickets (or the most refundable, if spring training sees any lockout-related setbacks).
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