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Jeff Bridich is out. What's next? And is it really any better without outside hire?

Bridich deserved to go, but will this move consolidate Monfort's power?
Jeff Bridich, VInny Castilla
Posted at 4:53 PM, Apr 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-26 22:44:36-04

DENVER — The moment the Rockies announced that Jeff Bridich had stepped down, my phone started to hum.

It's impossible to overstate how much Bridich was disliked by so many former Rockies players and coaches. He crafted his legacy on arrogance, which overshadowed the team's only back-to-back postseason appearances during his watch.

Bridich was aloof, difficult and confident he was always the smartest guy in the room. He talked down to the press, alienated his best players and signed Ian Desmond, Bryan Shaw, Jake McGee, Wade Davis and Daniel Murphy to $300 million in free agent contracts while they posted a negative WAR rating.

Other than that, he deserves a statue outside of Coors Field. (Don't ask him, he might believe he does in between performing brain surgeries at local hospitals).

The reality is this: Bridich took his swing on big contracts and missed. In any other market, he would have been fired. That's how pro sports work. Accountability is measured by the standings. The Rockies have been awful the past two seasons and are 8-13 this year without a road win.

That Bridich stepped down was surprising. I was told by sources owner Dick Monfort and Bridich, once in lock step, were no longer on the same page. The sides parted ways after encouragement from the boss that this was the best outcome for every one.

Plus, Bridich likely knew he was a lame duck — his departure feeling inevitable at season's end.

So why stay on and deal with whether to trade Trevor Story, Jon Gray, Mychal Givens and Daniel Bard this season? Leave that mess to someone else.

While Bridich's exit was celebrated by Rockies' fans, it remains bitter sweet. Had Monfort fired Bridich after he alienated Nolan Arenado following the 2019 season, it would have increased the likelihood that Arenado had stayed. A source told me as much on Monday.

Instead, in a deal put together largely by Monfort to save $25 million this season, Bridich traded Arenado to the Cardinals for left-hander Austin Gomber and little-known prospects.

The vitriol for Bridich reached a flash point. The Rockies dealt Arenado — the greatest player in franchise history — and paid the Cardinals $51 million to take him. Say it out loud and try to convince yourself it wasn't the worst deal in decades? Good luck.

Bridich doesn't deserve all the blame for the trade. He deserves all the blame for picking a fight with his star player and for including an opt-out clause in Arenado's $260 million contract. Both accelerated the All-Star third baseman's exit.

Bridich's inability to relate to players was well-known. One former player texted me on Monday and told me he was planning a celebration. Others simply said, "Why did this take so long?"

Bridich leaving should create optimism. Instead, it fosters pessimism. In announcing Bridich's departure, the Rockies indicated that Greg Feasel is the new president of baseball operations. He remains in charge of business ops as well. This doesn't sound like a recipe for meaningful change or success.

Feasel becomes the team's first president since Keli McGregor passed away in 2010. The void in leadership remains.

It's naive to think Feasel will be able to fill this vacuum given his lacking baseball background. He was a former professional football player with the Denver Gold. He has been with the Rockies for nearly three decades. He has obviously become trusted with his business acumen, but this team needs a baseball vision.

Monfort has always been tremendous with business, from the party deck to McGregor Square. The Rockies need a baseball leader (I would have asked Clint Hurdle to take over as president, but I doubt he needs the headache at this point in his retired life. And Theo Epstein certainly doesn't need this gig given the internal dynamics on Blake Street).

The expectation is that the Rockies will fill the interim GM role from within. Scouting director Bill Schmidt and assistant GM Zack Rosenthal are the top candidates. A source told me that this is being sold as something new, that evidence things can change.

Even the Broncos realized the need for a fresh set of eyes on their roster as John Elway moved upstairs, clearing the way for George Paton to execute a U-turn.

Bridich leaving is a first step. But if this only consolidates Monfort's power, it will make little difference.