ATLANTA -- Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich believes his team is closer to being a contender than a seller."I believe a run is possible," Bridich said from his Coors Field office before the All-Star break. "Absolutely, I do. Whether it happens or not, I've said from the get-go, there's a
ATLANTA -- Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich believes his team is closer to being a contender than a seller.
"I believe a run is possible," Bridich said from his Coors Field office before the All-Star break. "Absolutely, I do. Whether it happens or not, I've said from the get-go, there's a lot of belief in this group. Whether we really, truly come together and start winning more games than we're losing, there's a lot more to that than getting along and being a tight group.
"I certainly believe if this team is together and healthy here, hopefully, moving forward, that we're better than eight games under or seven games under, which we're currently sitting right around that area."
The Rockies are 40-48, third in the National League West and seven games out of the second NL Wild Card spot, which paints them as a team that could go either way between now and the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline. But Bridich's words, as well as discussions with industry sources, indicates Colorado believes its current roster can meet expectations.
But the calendar says time is getting short. The Rockies have 10 games -- three at Atlanta starting on Friday and a seven-game homestand against the Rays and the Braves -- to start winning, or else offers for players can come Bridich's way.
"We're going to end up most likely talking to every team between now and the Deadline," Bridich said. "I'll just leave it at that. It's part of the normal operation this time of year."
In the spirit of improved play -- which can include more help from a Minor League system that has produced four rookies who are important contributors (shortstop Trevor Story, closer Carlos Estévez and starting pitchers Jon Gray and Tyler Anderson) -- Bridich addressed a myriad of subjects, such as:
Starting pitching is trending upward with a rotation ERA that has improved by the month: "The process we went through with Jorge De La Rosa, it helped him to take a breath and focus on some things he needed to focus on and we needed to focus on, to get back to being the guy that we know he can be as a starter," Bridich said. "Then you have young guys in Jon Gray and Tyler Anderson, Chad Bettis, who are still learning at this level and are making adjustments.
"You've got a guy in Tyler Chatwood who hasn't pitched in a couple years [because of Tommy John surgery in 2014], and now he's back at it. It's good to see those guys doing well."
Run production has been inconsistent, despite All-Star years from Nolan Arenado and Carlos González and career years from Charlie Blackmon, DJ LeMahieu and Story: "It seems like we have some depth and we have some danger in this lineup, whether we are actually productive and make the most out of that seems to come and go," Bridich said.
"I think there's better play out of Gerardo Parra [the left fielder who hopes to return soon from a left high-ankle sprain] than what we saw. He's a better player. He did some good things when he was healthy. There were some extra-base hits and the defense was fine in left field and all that, but overall, I believe there's more in there."
Some pitchers who were originally considered starters could be better as relievers, such as Jordan Lyles(scoreless in 5-of-7 bullpen outings), Eddie Butler and Christian Bergman (both at Triple-A Albuquerque), but Bridich looking for the best ways to use his depth: "It's certainly not a novel idea in the game. If and when it does happen, it's not necessarily a knock on them or something to be embarrassed about or disappointed about," Bridich said. "It might just be that the reality of a person's skill set, or how they're built, that he's best-suited for the demands of a bullpen role rather than the demands of a starting role. These things, at times, are fluid. We make decisions as necessary."
Many prospect position players are in a good place: "There's been good development with David Dahl [Albuquerque outfielder] since we brought him up [to Triple-A]. Same thing with Raimel Tapia [Double-A Hartford outfielder] and others in terms of position players," Bridich said. "Tommy Murphy [Albuquerque catcher] had a tough first half. It seems like he's starting to come out of it offensively, to the positive. Jordan Patterson [Albuquerque outfielder, first baseman], as well, he's doing all right. The young prospects are each kind of on their own timetable, their own time frame."
The acquisition of prime pitching prospects Jeff Hoffman (Albuquerque) added to the starting depth, but there's never enough: "The nature of the industry and the nature of human beings playing this game, with injuries and other things that have happened that can change or derail careers, or timelines to careers, I don't think we'll ever feel we're set or truly have enough," Bridich said. "I'd be shocked if we ever felt that way. This year, for instance, [Hartford prospect Antonio] Senzatela is a good example of that [right shoulder issues have limited him to seven starts]. He's never really dealt with any sort of arm injury before, and this is the first year of it happening. There was no reason to see it coming."
The Rockies tend to promote their own, but the offseason deal of outfielder Corey Dickerson and infield prospect Kevin Padlo to the Rays in exchange for reliever Jake McGee and starter prospect German Márquez showed that the Rockies will deal from within their system if they catch fire and become a buyer: "There's great hope that the players that enter as amateurs and Minor Leaguers become big leaguers with us, but it's not some blanket policy that we won't ever trade guys," Bridich said. "It's been part of our history. We're not as aggressive in trading our own guys as certain organizations might be, [but] that doesn't mean it can't or won't happen."
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and** like his Facebook page**.