Q. When you traded for Jonathan Lucroy at the deadline, did you envision that would be as important a center piece to help you guys get to where you are now? Was that a vital move for you at the time? Did you envision it to be so?
JEFF BRIDICH: Yeah, we felt really good about our team at that point. We knew we had a good team. So there were some very specific kind of pointed areas of the team that we thought based on who might be available around the deadline, you know. If we go acquire one, two, maybe three of those players, it could specifically help us in very specific areas. You know, the catching spot was one of them. To bring a veteran in that's been around, knows what playoff baseball is like. He's done a great job.
Took him a little while just like anybody in that position, such an important position for the pitching and for the defense. It's not just an immediate thing when you bring a catcher in. So it takes a little while for pitchers to get to know him and vice versa, and that was the case.
I think every single time, especially with the starters, that he's caught guys and they get to know each other better and he gets more and more comfortable. It's been great.
Q. Beginning of the year you had some pitching injuries, obviously, the situation with Bettis, Gray, Anderson, was there ever any thought on going out to get more experienced pitchers? What led you to decide, hey, the younger guys are going to get us where we need to go?
JEFF BRIDICH: Well, I think you could probably take it months before the trade deadline. We felt like we had a grouping of starting pitchers that some were battle tested and veteran-ish and some were not. But the common theme was that they're all extremely talented. So as we went through the season and we watched and just like everybody else did, how they performed, how they handled adverse situations, how they handled successful outings, their work in between outings that they put in, the consistency of what they were about, we felt good that we had a group that was growing together and growing up together at the major league level.
So knowing that we weren't going to be able to do -- at the trade line you can't do absolutely everything under the sun, right? So, we targeted some other areas because I think these guys showed that they were ready for the challenge.
Q. You guys got here based on a lot of the players that you drafted when you were working in player development. Is it more gratifying to you seeing the team get to where it is now with a lot of the players that you helped develop?
JEFF BRIDICH: No, I think that it's gratifying no matter what. It's very difficult to get to the playoffs, right? No matter what. And so there is a sense of accomplishment there, and that notion of players that I drafted, they're organizational draft picks, right, and a lot of guys were drafted when Dan held this role, and there is no doubt about that. Just look at the roster. But the work that Billy Schmidt and Rolando Fernandez, and all of the other people that work with them in our scouting process, you know, it's a huge part of who we are, and it always has been, and I think it probably always will be. So I think it's always going to be gratifying.
It's fun to see kids that you've scouted for a long time and that have grown up in your organization and you feel like you've known for a long time actually come together and achieve the success that people were dreaming about when they were either 16 years old coming out of Latin America, or 18, 19, 20 years old coming through a draft.
Q. That creep from 68 wins to 75 do 87, what don't we understand about the difficulties of that? That those inches along the way that bring you here?
JEFF BRIDICH: I think just how many different people are involved in that process. It's very difficult to pinpoint one specific thing, one lynchpin to propel you forward and there is pain involved along the way, even in a season like this. The adversity that you face as a team. Thomas kind of mentioned it in his question a little bit. Chad Bettis, Jon Gray goes down early with a broken foot. Ian Desmond gets hit in spring training by a pitch, breaks his hand. Tyler Anderson all of a sudden has a bad knee, first time ever in his career.
You know, the Diamondbacks have just as many. Look who is not on their roster right now that they were probably planning on having on their roster, Chris Owings and Nick Ahmed and Tomas and Shelby Miller. So in a great season or in a good season or a season with so many positives and hurdles, teams find a way to overcome together. And there are a lot of little ones that add up. I think to answer your question, that is probably what is missed by the general public a lot.
Q. Jon Gray the last five, six weeks has been really good. How is he a different pitcher now than maybe a year ago or even since the injury this year?
JEFF BRIDICH: I don't think he's much different. He's just very, very talented, and he's done a really nice job being consistent and making pitches when he had to. I think that you're just seeing a young man just continue to mature and grow at this level. He's being constantly tested at the ultimate level, and he's risen to the challenges and passed a lot of the tests along the way.
It's pretty obvious that's what you want to see out of your players, right? Charlie Blackmon's a good example for us. He keeps getting better, and better, and better at the major league level. That player development at the major league level is just as important as it is at whatever minor league level these guys come from. So he's been good and he's ready for this game.
Q. What is your feeling about Carlos Gonzalez? He's a guy that there have been trade rumors for years and contract situations. But it seems like between the two of you you're able to put those things aside and make the Rockies a better team.
JEFF BRIDICH: Yeah, he's been around, he's been a Rocky for a long period of time. He's been a great Rocky for a long period of time. There are just elements of this business that there's a time and a place, right? The time and the place right now is focused on this game and winning this game. There is a time and a place for all the other business elements and outside the lines type of stuff that comes up in this industry. I think it's just a healthy respect for each other.
We always wanted Car-Go to be involved in this process. We always envisioned him being on this team when we got back to the playoffs. I think I can probably speak for him in this, and I'll speak for the rest of the organization is that we're really happy that he's around to experience this with us right now.
Q. To follow up on Thomas's question, and I'm asking a lot for the fans because I get this question a lot. Car-Go's played really well in September after a struggling season. Does that change the dynamics of, I know he's a free agent and will be, does that change the dynamics or the possibility of him returning at all what he's done in September?
JEFF BRIDICH: I don't know. Again, we're not focused on that right now. So, again, if there is a time and a place, we'll figure that out. But there's really not a whole lot of use in talking about that stuff right now as we sit here on the doorstep of the game.
Q. You've got two guys that are up for MVP. Any thoughts from you who should be or why they both should be the MVP, Charlie and Nolan?
JEFF BRIDICH: Are you asking me to pick an MVP right now of the two? No (laughing). The only thing I would say to that is that when you try to build a team, you feel very grateful when two players like this, since you mentioned them specifically, play to the level that they're playing too, and when you scout players like this and help them develop through a minor league career, and you watch them come to the major league level, and you have dreams about them, you know, and visions about what they could be along the way. And to see guys reach their potential at this ultimate level, that's a lot of fun. Not just for me or for buddy, but for everybody in the organization.
Q. What is your opinion on the National League West this year, and how competitive it's been, and really the imbalance of the entire National League where you had four teams in the east that really weren't competitive, and then you had a couple in the central too?
JEFF BRIDICH: Yeah, I've been looking at -- I don't think specifically about the NL West. I don't think it's that big of a surprise. Looking at the teams and how they were built. Way back in November and December and January of last year, not a big surprise. We felt like if teams stayed healthy in this division, and if teams had some things go their way in terms of player development or player acquisition, that this was going to be a really tough division going in. It ended up that way. I'm not sure if anybody saw it.
We thought the Giants were going to be pretty darn competitive too, and really tough. That's why we thought it was going to be a buzz saw. All these games in the division were going to be really, really tough.
It's a good thing. To be the best, you've got to beat the best, right? And in a division like this, you're tested early, and often, and you find out things about yourself both good and bad when that happens. It helps you, I think, prepare you for the situation we're in right now.
Q. Maybe a little different take on Car-Go. What kind of testament is it to him and your clubhouse when you were struggling earlier in the year and he has the business hanging over his head or could have that he kept focused on this goal rather than maybe what's next?
JEFF BRIDICH: Yeah, not surprised at all. You listen to what Car-Go has said about his season, and there were times, obviously of frustration. I'd be lying if I said there weren't times of frustration for everybody involved trying to help and just seeing the struggles continue. But the belief in him never went away. I think it's a testament to him, to answer your question, the belief in himself never really went away. His personality never truly went away. His true self never really went away, and I think that that shows that he's an adult and he's able to maintain some perspectives on life. And what sometimes is a tough life in a very challenging industry and a very challenging game that involves at times a lot of struggle, and a lot of failure. And maybe a younger and less experienced Car-Go would have reacted differently, potentially. But he handled it incredibly well and stayed a positive presence in the clubhouse.
Q. Since you passed on the Blackmon/Arenado question, I was wondering if you could tell me who the best player was between Forrest, Woodfork and you?
JEFF BRIDICH: Wow. I can tell you who the worst player was by a long shot, it was me, the worst player.
Forrest and Woodfork? Gosh, it depends on how many beers we've all had, probably, and how big the lies are. But it was probably David. Peter Woodfork, he can wear it a little bit. David was team captain, he was the shortstop. Yeah, none of us were really all that good, which is why we're trying to do the jobs we're doing now instead of the jobs these guys are doing on the field.
Q. Bud Black, I know the reasons why you hired and you state those, but now that a full season has gone by, can you share a few of the things that you have seen from him that you think really helped this team evolve and get to where you want to be?
JEFF BRIDICH: Sure, there was a time in spring training. Spring training can be a great time. It can be a long process and a long period. For competitive people that just want to get things going, it's like today. Sitting around here yesterday, waiting for the game, everybody's on edge and away they go. Spring training there can be a lot of days like that. So to have somebody like Buddy with experience in that and also have a sense of humor about it, and that he's willing to share and inject some goofiness and inject some levity and some humor into the days, I think that goes a long way in terms of telling us, all of us involved, what's important overall. And over the course of a six-plus month season that there's going to be some humor, and there's going to be some fun and that's great, and I think that comes naturally to him, so that's nice. Also the fact that he's so very in tune to pitching and catching.
For us, I think it pairs well for some of the things we've done over the past two years in both scouting, player development and player acquisitions and some of the things we've focused on.
Through the flow of the season, it really fell together well. You have some experienced guys now fresh into October. You can prevent injuries what sort of plan were you able to leave in (indiscernible) through the whole year. Again, we didn't expect to have very early in the season. We certainly didn't expect to or desire to have Chad Bettis, Jon Gray, and Tyler Anderson out of that rotation. And we knew that with the focus on some of the injuries he had in 2016, that we were going to have to monitor, and we were going to have to plan for him and take care of him and nurture him a little bit as he got to the major league level for the first time coming off of 38 or whatever -- however many minor league innings he had in 2016.
So you draw things up, right, and you think you've got it all figured out. Then plenty of curveballs that are thrown that it tests -- it really tests your depth, and it tests the strength of the guys that you have. That's why depth is so important. Then after that it's about who is ready to rise to the occasion and take advantage of opportunity.
Early on in our rotation, there was a lot of opportunity, and these young kids were, you know, in terms of the belief that they had in themselves, the belief that they had in each other, the willingness to learn and be coachable and to challenge each other and to take on the responsibility of being given the ball every fifth day and giving us a chance to win. It's a great testament to them as individuals and as a group and to our coaches who are able to Foster that and nurture that.
Q. There is a negative side to that which is a lot of guys who have contributed to the season weren't able to make the roster for today or maybe may not be able to moving forward. As the team got more healthy, some of those guys stepped up. So how difficult was it to tell some of those guys that we're not going to be able to take you? What is that process like for you? How do you continue to give them credit knowing there are some guys that you might not be here without who couldn't be here today in the lineup?
JEFF BRIDICH: Specifically, do you have ideas?
Q. For example, Jeff Hoffman gave you a number of excellent starts throughout the year. Marquez isn't on there today.
JEFF BRIDICH: You know, this roster building process for this game is different than any other time of the year. It's interesting. You think about it, we're the only sports industry that goes from one number, five months, a different number for a month. And then if you're lucky enough, fortunate enough to put yourself in postseason play, you go back to that original number.
So, for a month leading up to the playoffs you're accustomed to certain numbers and things that you can do with your roster and strategy and timing, and then you've got to revert back to, for just one elimination game if you're in the Wild Card game process. That's all we're worried about roster building-wise is this one game. We win the game, and we'll figure it out for the NLDS, and that might be different. So everybody's got to stay -- it's a long way of saying everybody's got to stay ready. Everybody's got to stay primed because that's one of Buddy's things, be ready for anything, right? That's rule number one for Bud Black. Be ready for anything.
You have to be ready when your name and your number is called. What better place to do that than right now in the playoffs?