The Colorado Rockies on Wednesday announced the promotion of senior director of player development Jeff Bridich to general manager, following the resignation of previous GM Dan O'Dowd and assistant GM Bill Geivett.
The moves came as a surprise, considering O'Dowd had been firmly entrenched in his position for 15 seasons and had received glowing support from owner Dick Monfort over the years. Recent reports suggested changes within the Rockies' front office weren't on the horizon despite a fourth consecutive season in which the team finished 18 or more games out of first place in the National League West.
Under normal circumstances, turnover like this within a front office would signal a dramatic shift in the way the organization operates on the baseball side of things. However, that isn't going to be the case with the Rockies -- it's almost never the case with the Rockies.
Bridich is, by all accounts, an intelligent baseball mind. He's a Harvard graduate who worked in the MLB Commissioner's Office for four years before joining the Rockies in 2004. Since then, Bridich has served in various roles at the minor and major league levels during his time in Denver under the tutelage of O'Dowd.
Therein lies the problem.
How much positive change can be expected under the longtime right-hand man of a guy who fielded four winning teams in 15 years? Surely Bridich has his own ideas for how to run a team, and to his credit, the Rockies' farm system has improved since September of 2011, when he was handed the player development reins. But much of the issue surrounding the team is their inability to conquer their unique situation of playing half of their games a mile above sea level and trying to adjust to road games accordingly. Not one person within the organization has been able to figure that out, but Monfort insists that bringing in an outside presence would handicap the Rockies' chances of doing so.
Speaking of Monfort, the Rockies face a disadvantage by having an owner who is a dangerous combination of meddlesome, risk averse and stubborn. It certainly isn't out of the ordinary for club owners to have the final say, but Monfort has been stuck in a perpetual cycle of wanting to win, but not wanting to take the necessary steps to do it. The owner reportedly nixed a deadline deal that would have sent aging southpaw Jorge De La Rosa to the Baltimore Orioles for a top prospect, and has repeatedly expressed an unwillingness to trade highly paid and injury-prone stars Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez despite the team's need to rebuild after four straight disastrous campaigns in spite of their presence on the roster.
And then, there's the whole issue of Monfort not wanting to change the culture surrounding his franchise. That word -- culture -- has become laughable when it comes to the Rockies. From O'Dowd's now-infamous quote -- "We understand how difficult it is to build a culture in a world that's valued only on performance" -- to Monfort's hesitance to relinquish his duties as team president out of fear it would upset the culture surrounding the team, Colorado has made a complete mockery out of a term that should be associated with positivity.
Players, coaches and various other people within the organization have been clamoring for change, and to the Rockies' credit, change has finally arrived. It's unknown whether Monfort finally gave in, or if O'Dowd and Geivett simply became worn out from dealing with the circumstances of controlling a seemingly hopeless franchise for so long. The outlook for Colorado's future doesn't appear much brighter with Monfort's decision to hire from within, though, rather than take a much-needed opportunity to give his organization the honest assessment that it sorely needs from the outside.