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Jeff Bridich began writing another chapter of his legacy with the Colorado Rockies. How the story ends is yet to be determined.
On Monday night on the field, the Rockies took care of business. Troy Tulowitzki continued heating up, Nolan Arenado crushed a two-run homer, and the team scored 10 runs for the second time in three days in a big win over the St. Louis Cardinals. The offense made Cardinals starter John Lackey wish he would have missed the flight to Colorado.
On the mound, David Hale continued his impressive performances riding out an early lead and going seven innings. He gave up three runs on six hits. He struck out seven and didn’t walk a batter. His blemishes came on two home runs, one a solo shot and one a two-run blast.
Hale pitched extremely well. His limited work since being called up to pitch game two of a doubleheader and then again to fill in for various injured pitchers, has been nothing less than exactly what the Rockies need. His place in the rotation is all but nailed down.
While many Rockies fans still believe that new Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich is simply a clone of former general manager Dan O’Dowd, the reality is that Bridich is already creating his own legacy. Monday’s first three rounds of the amateur player draft was his latest chance to put his thumbprints on this team.
As things have unfolded, the Rockies are certainly no contender. However, that isn’t Bridich’s fault. In fact, he has made the most of the chips that he was given, and he even parlayed some of those chips into some very valuable members of the Rockies 2015 club.
In free agency Bridich went out and signed Nick Hundley as his catcher. The move came with shrugs from many fans but has turned out to be a very solid pickup for the Rockies. The fact that he can manage pitchers and block balls in the dirt made it an easy decision to take the catcher’s gear away from Wilin Rosario.
Bridich also made the savvy move of signing John Axford to a minor league deal. The right-hander has been the most valuable member of the Rockies bullpen and clearly deserved a better contract from somewhere else. While many clubs had given up on Axford, who had a couple of tough seasons, Bridich and the Rockies were willing to pull the trigger and they are reaping the rewards.
Hale, who has been a very solid addition, was received in a move that sent a couple of minor leaguers, one being Dan O’Dowd’s son, to the Braves. Hale has shown to be a very good pickup. No team can have enough depth in their pitching staff, but depth isn’t just having an abundance of arms, as Dan O’Dowd seemed to think. Depth is having quality arms who can get the job done. Hale seems to fit the better category.
Bridich did a very good job in his limited offseason. It would be hard to criticize what he’s done in a very short window.
Monday night, with the Major League first-year players draft getting underway, Bridich had the second chance to begin his legacy. The O’Dowd model was almost always to draft college talent that was closer to being big league ready than the kids coming out of high school. On only a few occasions did O’Dowd break the mold and draft a high schooler.
On Monday, the Rockies had four picks, including the third overall pick. In all, the Rockies selected four high schoolers. Their first pick was a shortstop named Brendan Rodgers from St Mary High School near Orlando, Florida. Next, the team drafted right-handed pitcher Steve Nikorak, then Tyler Nevin, the son of former Padre Phil Nevin, a third baseman from Southern California. The Rockies finished off their big first day with a pick of another Southern California high schooler, right-hander Peter Lambert.
Dan O’Dowd wanted to sell the Rockies as a draft and develop organization. The problem with that was that O’Dowd had at least four straight years of absolute failure in the draft. While the criticism is overdone, he infamously missed on 2006 draft when he selected Greg Reynolds second overall. Just to name a few, Evan Longoria, Clayton Kershaw and Tim Lincecum were all drafted after Reynolds on that day.
This is year-one for Bridich. How his draft picks pan out remains to be seen. However, Monday was the first chance for the new GM to put his fingerprints on this franchise.