DENVER (AP) – New Colorado Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich is a Harvard graduate who looks at baseball from more of an analytical angle.
He was promoted from within the organization after a fourth consecutive losing season and counts as his protege longtime GM Dan O’Dowd, who resigned Wednesday after a mostly unsuccessful tenure.
A fresh start or more of the same? That was debate around the Mile High City soon after the Rockies announced their decision.
O’Dowd’s wasn’t exactly a rousing success, with his time at Coors Field reading like this: 15 years, four winning seasons, two postseason appearances, including a four-game World Series loss to Boston in 2007.
He wasn’t the only team executive to resign Wednesday. Senior vice president Bill Geivett followed him out the front office door.
Bridich understands the skepticism from fans, given his ties to O’Dowd. He insisted this won’t be more of the same.
“Four straight years of losing baseball? If you ask anybody in this organization, it’s unacceptable and it’s tiring,” said Bridich, who was promoted from senior director of player development. “It’s certainly not what people want and expect inside and outside the organization.”
While introducing Bridich, owner Dick Monfort said he was “excited about a fresh start.” Also at the gathering was manager Walt Weiss, who said a clean slate is “the way we have to look at it. … It’s time to turn this thing around and bring playoff baseball back here.”
The last time Colorado made the postseason was five years ago.
The highlight of O’Dowd’s stint came in 2007, when the Rockies rode the wave of winning 21 of 22 games all the way to the World Series.
But O’Dowd’s power began to dwindle in recent years with the rise of Geivett, who was promoted to senior vice president of baseball operations in August 2012.
Geivett was given an office in the clubhouse, which at times made things a little uncomfortable for players and coaches. Geivett began focusing on roster management, particularly as it related to the pitchers, and evaluating the coaching staff and the rest of the players.
That played a role in manager Jim Tracy’s resignation after the 2012 season, with a roughly $1.4 million deal still on the table. It opened the door for Weiss to manage the team he once helped on the field.
And while having Geivett in such close quarters was “an unconventional way by baseball standards,” Weiss said he didn’t have a problem with it.
“Contrary to popular belief, we got along just fine,” Weiss said. “We’ve got to perform. It’s time to do that.”
Through all the losses, Monfort remained fiercely loyal to O’Dowd and his staff. He thanked them on their way out.
“They have been friends and colleagues, and their families have been a part of the Rockies family, for a very long time,” Monfort said.
Never heard of Jeff Bridich. He may be brilliant. But I thought they were better off bringing in a fresh voice from outside the organization— Vic Lombardi (@VicLombardi) October 8, 2014
The call for some sort of change grew louder and louder from fans this season. Monfort even received emails from angry patrons; he responded by saying that if the fans weren’t happy with the bad baseball they were witnessing, maybe they shouldn’t come to Coors Field. And that perhaps the city wasn’t deserving of a major league team anymore. He later softened his stance.
It was Monfort himself who raised expectations by predicting a 90-win season in the spring.
Instead, the Rockies finished 66-96 and 28 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West.
Bridich takes over a team for which two of its biggest stars – Troy Tulowitzki (hip) and Carlos Gonzalez (knee) – missed chunks of the season with injuries. Tulowitzki has longed maintained he wants to play for a winner.
“I wouldn’t limit that to Troy and CarGo. I’d be surprised if any player said, ‘I don’t want to play for a winner,'” Bridich said. “I’m not going to sit here and tell you I have all the answers scripted in my supposedly analytical head right now and it’s going to work out perfectly. That’s going to be a process.”
I've known Jeff Bridich since 2005, he is very bright,former catcher at Harvard, and knows the organization inside and out.Excited for him— Ryan Spilborghs (@spillygoat19) October 8, 2014
The few bright spots in 2014 included Justin Morneau capturing the NL batting title and left-hander Jorge De La Rosa’s steady performance on the mound, especially at hitter-friendly Coors Field.
“We didn’t perform to the expectations we had on ourselves,” outfielder Michael Cuddyer said.
An impending free agent, Cuddyer said before the Rockies’ last road trip that he would be open to a return.
“I believe in the guys that we broke out of spring training with,” Cuddyer said. “I believe in that team. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to put that team on the field very often.
“Whether I’m here or not – the offseason is going to dictate that – but if I am, it’s because I believe in this team.”
By PAT GRAHAM, AP Sports Writer
(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)