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Colorado Rockies GM Jeff Bridich on the Coors Field Effect

Drew Creasman Avatar
March 24, 2016


SCOTTSDALE — “We are well aware that our home circumstances are unique,” says Colorado Rockies GM Jeff Bridich. “It’s not like we play dumb to it. But what truly plays up for us are people that believe in themselves.”

In an interview with BSN Denver, the second-year GM discussed a myriad of topics we will be reporting on in the coming days, but there was only one place to start: The Coors Field Effect. Bridich reminds us, “Altitude doesn’t necessarily just affect pitchers, it can affect hitters, too.” In other words, it can impact every facet of the team with no obvious answer.

This is why the Rockies player-acquisition philosophy can’t be pigeonholed into a preference for one or two particular skills. It would be tempting to reach the conclusion that the Rockies have identified such skills after walking through the clubhouse and beholding the army of young pitchers over 6’2 who can throw 96 mph or more. But my attempt to lead Bridich into confirming that he prefers lanky fireballers was thwarted with some pretty compelling empirical evidence:

“When you have pitchers as varied as we’ve had — Jeff Francis is very different from Ubaldo Jimenez who is very different from Jorge De La Rosa who is very different from Pedro Astacio or Rafael Betancourt — the most telling common denominator is that they believe in themselves; they believe they can pitch on the moon if they had to pitch on the moon. That’s literally the stuff you hear come out of their mouths ‘I don’t care, I’m gonna throw strikes.’”

Fair enough. Though with the exception of Francis, there are still some pretty hard throwers in there. But the point remains that Bridich isn’t just making an argument about some unmeasurable quality like “grit” or “tenacity” he’s pointing out the undeniable fact that if you pitch at Coors Field, you are likely to be scored upon and you cannot afford to implode and exacerbate the situation.

You can’t be scared of Coors Field. So why are some guys?

“I think it’s overblown in the media because it’s easy to talk about,” says Bridich. But then he takes a pause and admits that the team itself is not free of blame for having made Coors Field out to be some scary monster. “And we’ve talked a lot about it over the last five years,” he says, “which really we don’t have to do because it’s not like there’s some magic pill or some sort of special formula that’s required. It’s people that believe in themselves, have good stuff, can make some adjustments, and not define themselves by a bad outing here or a bad outing there. If you define yourself in those terms then you’re not going to pitch well, or you’re just not going to play well in Denver period.”

This admission that the team once played a role in the horror stories is indicative of a change of culture that has come along somewhat quietly during the Bridich era.

Still, some say that perception is reality and if the perception of Coors Field is so overblown in the media, couldn’t rival GMs be using that “reality” to their advantage? Bridich seems to have the team in lock-step on this attitude about Coors, but how outside forces feel can still impact the team. I ask Bridich if he has experienced any explicit moments in his negotiations where he felt his players were being undervalued because of a misunderstanding of their statistics.

“Thus far I haven’t,” he laughs. “I imagine you’d have to ask the other 29 GMs how they feel about it.”


 The national coverage over the winter of what Rockies outfielders Corey Dickerson, Charlie Blackmon, and Carlos Gonzalez are worth on the market was a joke at times, but it would be a leap to conclude that most GMs feel the same way. Though, Bridich did go on to say that it’s entirely possible that the Coors Field Effect has played at least some role in sessions with other GMs. “I think it’s probably fair to say that the feelings on that are all over the place,” says Bridich. “Just like the feelings on free agents are all over the place. Some probably stay away because of however they feel, some it doesn’t matter. It’s all over the map.”

That could get frustrating, and might explain why Colorado can’t simply operate in the traditional “buyers or sellers” dichotomy. They can’t afford to put themselves inside more of a box than they are already in. They need to look for fair value, and the kinds of players they believe can succeed in Denver, with a unique eye.

Bridich is adamant that the Rockies are aware of and addressing an obviously important component of their existence while simultaneously refusing to use it as an excuse. Saying this and accomplishing it are two very different things and time will tell whether or not he and his team can walk this fine line.

But when it comes to the history books, there is one part of this whole thing that Bridich truly laments: “I do think there are a lot of pitchers that get overlooked that have done well and they’ve made their career at Coors Field,” he says.

Here’s looking at you Jorge De La Rosa, Jeff Francis, and Aaron Cook.

The trick now is for the Rockies to make their home field an advantage and not a burden. The man at the top says that begins with players who have the right attitude, and his declaration that the team is done with discussions of Coors Field as a burden suggests that such an attitude is starting with the man at the top.

Stay tuned to BSN Denver for more from my conversation with Colorado Rockies GM Jeff Bridich.

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