Jeff Bridich should be commended.
Not for opting against the renewal of Walt Weiss’ contract with the Colorado Rockies. Not for what was ultimately a very respectable season, even though it didn’t result in a playoff berth. Not for the bevy of talent on the Rockies major league roster and in their minor league system.
Sure, Bridich deserves credit — at least a percentage — for all of those things, but that’s not why he should be applauded today.
It’s his patience that’s to be appreciated.
Yes, no matter the rhetoric that’s offered, Bridich is responsible for parting of ways between the organization and their newest “former” manager. Yes, that was Bridich’s decision. But it’s how he made it, and what he does from here — and how he does that — that counts most.
Whether or not Walt Weiss was good or bad for the Rockies is debatable. Certainly, Weiss did some very good things. He was likeable, both inside and outside of the organization. As he accurately and fairly told Thomas Harding of MLB.com, he “calmed the waters” at 20th and Blake. This season, he managed a competitive team in an extremely challenging division.
But Weiss had his flaws, too.
His teams consistently were poor on the base paths. While nobody would argue that the Rockies bullpen was a strength, most would claim Weiss mismanaged it on more than one occasion. The “Sunday Lineup” — particularly in the midst of a hot streak — will always mar Weiss’ tenure at the helm. He was known for being too calm, too easy going and perhaps not confrontational enough.
Bridich saw, and weighed, all of the things we did, plus more.
More importantly, he handled the transaction properly. He let the season play out, ultimately concluding that one of the most talented hitting lineups in baseball might be better off with a new skipper. He did not divide the locker room. He did not act hastily, creating a potentially embarrassing or hostile situation in the middle of a season that, particularly later on, wasn’t going anywhere.
Of course, Weiss didn’t stand a chance. Without a contract extension, he was the classic dead man walking. Quite frankly, he never had quite enough quality pitching to win, thus changing the course of events. He wasn’t “Bridich’s guy.” Not initially. Not ever.
And that’s okay. When a team hasn’t made the playoffs for seven straight years, change for the sake of change isn’t necessarily bad. The way the Rockies have operated of late hasn’t resulted in winning — that’s not opinion, it’s fact.
Bridich may or may not be tweaking the appropriate component, but he’s actively trying to change things. That’s to be commended.
“Bridich can’t change the culture above him, so he’s trying to change it below him,” Les Shapiro, who participated in a conference call with Bridich, said yesterday.
Going a different direction with regard to the manager is evidence of that. Bridich is not warm or endearing – he’s a “tough read” at best – but it’s becoming obvious that he wants to put his own stamp on the Rockies. He’s not following the same protocol that’s branded (and plagued) the organization for years.
Which leads to the thing he should be most applauded for – waiting.
When Weiss was hired, he was already “inside.” When Bridich himself was hired, he too was already “inside.” The announcement that Dan O’Dowd would no longer be a member of the Rockies organization was immediately followed by the introduction of Bridich as the team’s new GM. There was no search, no external names, no “process” — or at least not one that anybody outside the organization was aware of. Only time will tell if Bridich was indeed the right hire, but when it happened, there was a collective groan as the Rockies had hurriedly hired from within.
This time around, however, feels different. That we know of, Bridich had not already handpicked a manager when he let Weiss walk. Whether the young GM goes with someone who has ties to the organization (someone like Glenallen Hill, the manager of the Triple-A affiliate in Albuquerque) or someone outside of it, it appears he’ll take some time, perhaps even perform a little due diligence with regard to the new hire. At the very least, he’s put out the vibe that he’s open to ideas, that he’ll have a “process” rather than just walking down the hall from his office.
Perhaps, for a change, he’ll consider looking outside the organization. “Internal and external” he said specifically with regard to the field from which the new manager will be hired. That’s refreshing. Who will manage the Rockies remains to be seen, but how Bridich goes about deciding feels like a step in the right direction.
Jeff Bridich is one-for-one in successfully saying goodbye to a once popular Rockies shortstop. He’s just said goodbye to another. Here’s hoping the results are the same.
(Featured image via John Leyba/The Denver Post)