FAQ: What's next for Rockies in GM search?
DENVER -- Jeff Bridich has stepped down as general manager of the Rockies, and Greg Feasel has become the team’s first president since Keli McGregor passed away in 2010. Here is a look at how things got to this point, and what could be next:
What will we hear, and when?
Bridich released a statement Monday and limited his comments to that. Additional media availabilities with the team regarding the moves have not been announced.
How will the club be run for now?
The announcement puts baseball decisions, which had been under owner Dick Monfort, under Feasel’s umbrella. As is the case with Monfort, Feasel has a lot on his plate -- especially with the All-Star Game coming in July. Feasel is a key figure in organizing the event, which was moved from Atlanta to Denver earlier this month.
In terms of Feasel's focus on the Rockies' on-field product, there could be some crucial decisions forthcoming. The Rockies entered Monday night’s game against the Giants with an 8-13 record, and if they continue to struggle, they’re expected to listen to trade offers for shortstop Trevor Story and right-handed pitcher Jon Gray this summer. Both will be free agents at season’s end.
Feasel will be at the top of the decision-making chain, although the soon-to-be-hired interim general manager, current baseball operations employees and the scouting department will also be involved.
Who is Greg Feasel?
Feasel, an offensive lineman during his time at Abilene (Texas) Christian University, spent time playing professional football with the Packers and Chargers in the NFL, as well as the Denver Gold of the United States Football League. He then became an educator and key marketing and sales executive with Coca-Cola Enterprises. More relevant, Feasel is in his 26th season with the Rockies and has had a hand in almost every area of the operation. He is well-known in Denver’s business, civic and charity communities.
Who will be the interim GM?
The club expects to promote a replacement from within quickly. A logical replacement would be Bill Schmidt, Colorado’s vice president of scouting. That scouting background could come into play in trade discussions. Schmidt has been with the club since before the 2000 season and has held his current post since ‘07.
Another candidate is Zack Rosenthal, the Rockies’ assistant general manager of baseball operations and general counsel. Rosenthal, who has handled arbitration cases, some contract negotiations and other special projects, has had his name mentioned in connection to general-manager openings around the game.
Other experienced figures already in the organization include Jon Weil (assistant general manager of player personnel) and Danny Montgomery (special assistant to the GM). Both are well-known in the scouting community and have helped facilitate some successful under-the-radar moves.
Beyond hiring a general manager, are more moves coming?
There are questions within this question. Is Monfort truly stepping away from baseball decisions? Will Feasel be asked to straddle his business duties with baseball duties, or will another person be added at the administrative level?
Another thing to be watch will be how the Rockies approach statistical analysis, an area involving increased personnel and impact within many teams -- especially teams like the Rockies, whose smaller-market status suggests they need to find ways to create competitive advantages outside of payroll.
The Rockies have admitted to employing one of the game’s smaller departments. After the pandemic-affected 2020 season, several key members took higher-paying jobs in other industries. The team started the season not fully staffed and it has had to outsource some of its duties.
Is Monday’s news a surprise?
During a February press conference that was called after the Rockies traded star third baseman Nolan Arenado to the Cardinals, Monfort said, “I have thought about firing myself, but I have not thought about firing Jeff.”
But that didn’t answer one looming question: Where did Bridich stand?
Monfort, Bridich and manager Bud Black answered media questions after the 2019 season. Those answers -- that the team was not in position to make big financial moves after a poor season -- fueled Arenado’s displeasure. Nonetheless, the Rockies promised to make postseason discussions an annual event.
However, after the 2020 season, the only times the Rockies made Bridich available were after player moves -- and he began each of those availabilities by saying he would discuss only those transactions. The lack of any state-of-the-team question-and-answer session rankled fans and media alike. Beyond Monfort’s letter to season-ticket holders stating that business would not be as usual, the public was left in the dark about what was happening.
Part of a GM’s job is to set the team’s direction, not only internally but for the fan base, and interaction outside the organization helps greatly. Bridich either not speaking or not being presented to the public served as a red flag.
When will the Rockies get a new GM?
The GM job will not be filled until after the season.
What can history tell us?
The club has had either three or three and a half GMs in its history -- Bob Gebhard, hired in 1991 (two years before the expansion season); Dan O’Dowd, hired in 2000; and Bridich, promoted from player development director after the ’14 season. The “half” was Bill Geivett, who combined with O’Dowd from 2012-14 before both parted ways with the franchise.
None had been a GM with another team before joining the Rockies. Colorado went to the postseason once under Gebhard (1995), twice under O’Dowd (2007 and ‘09) and twice under Bridich (2017 and ‘18).
Geivett and Bridich were promoted from within by Monfort.
Who are candidates for GM or another high-level spot within baseball operations?
Good one. This is so fresh that it’s a stretch to call anyone a candidate, or even determine whether there have been phone calls or message exchanges. This is more an intellectual exercise.
Basically, we’re guessing.
While it looks as if the Rockies are interested in looking outside their current personnel, they tend to roll with the familiar. That said, here are some candidates, either for GM or a top baseball operations post in a two-person operation:
• Dan Evans: We’re fudging here, since Evans has never worked for the Rockies. But in recent years, Evans, the Dodgers’ GM from 2001-04, has gained deep experience scouting with five teams (Dodgers, White Sox, Cubs, Mariners and Blue Jays). He lives in Boulder, Colo., is still involved in baseball consulting and is adept in technology, analytics and worldwide scouting.
• Michael Hill: Hill was the Rockies’ player development director from 2000-02 before he joined the Marlins’ front office for their ‘03 World Series championship season. There, Hill rose to general manager (2008-13) and later became president of baseball operations (2014-20). Hill began work this season as MLB’s Senior Vice President of On-Field Operations, overseeing umpiring at the Major and Minor League levels.
• Bud Black: This would be a bit of a surprise, as Black is signed as manager through 2022. But with experience as a player, special front-office assistant for Cleveland, pitching coach for the Angels, manager of the Padres and special advisor for the Angels, Black has developed a breadth of knowledge in evaluating players and setting a direction.
• Clint Hurdle: When the Rockies have struggled on the field in recent seasons, sentiment at 20th & Blake arises to bring back Hurdle -- manager from 2002-09 and the skipper when the team went to the ’07 World Series. Hurdle’s association with the club began as a Minor League hitting coach in 1994, and he has a connection to McGregor. Hurdle saw McGregor as a key baseball and life mentor. Hurdle managed the Pirates for nine seasons, then announced his retirement from baseball after parting ways with the Pirates at the end of the 2019 season.