Rox interim GM: 'We’re refining our process'

Front office details plans for expansions, including research and development

September 1st, 2021

ARLINGTON -- The Rockies’ process of evaluating the roster for 2022 and improving how the front office operates is in full swing during this road trip under interim general manager Bill Schmidt.

Joining Schmidt in observing the current club are assistant to the GM Danny Montgomery, assistant GM Zack Rosenthal, vice president of international scouting and development Rolando Fernandez, current player development leader Chris Forbes and baseball operations fellow Brittany Haby.

And the group is about to grow. The Rockies soon will announce the hiring of former Nationals senior analyst Scott Van Lenten as director of research and development.

The Rockies went into the season on a hiring freeze because of the pandemic, but they have since posted three openings -- a web developer, data engineer and data architect -- with Van Lenten as the contact. Rosenthal -- who oversees a department that includes Haby, director of baseball operations Domenic Di Ricco and Major League data and game-planning coordinator Doug Bernier -- said the hirings are likely the first phase of an R&D expansion. He also added that technological tools available to the club can help.

Also, Schmidt discussed expansions in the mental skills/sports psychology area, which he finds important for any club and could be more important for a team that plays in a unique atmosphere because of Denver’s mile-high altitude.

After making postseason trips in 2017 and 2018, the Rockies saw sharp downturns and became derided as an organization that was small, stagnant and behind the curve, especially in analytics. The front office became smaller when Jeff Bridich stepped down as GM in late April, and assistant GM Jon Weil and senior player development director Zach Wilson also left in short order.

Schmidt, who said he hasn’t been told he has the full-time general manger job and doesn’t know the timetable for the club’s process, said the ideas being kicked around are not necessarily to be bigger, but be better.

“We don’t need to be a big organization to get everybody pulling in the same direction, which hasn’t always been the case here recently,” Schmidt said. “I don’t know what the right numbers are.

“You can’t worry about the outside. You’ve got to believe in your process. You’ve got to believe in the people that are around you and move on. We’re refining our process. We have to make adjustments. We’ve won in the past, and we have a group of people here that believe can do it again.”

From Schmidt to his staff to manager Bud Black, the Rockies believe there is a solid starting rotation, position players who can complement a winning team, and an underrated group of players -- especially in Class A. They also freely acknowledge the need for impact players for the daily lineup, better depth at the top of the farm system and improved bullpen performance.

The evaluation meetings in Texas are centered on the roster particulars.

“We’ve spent the last two days talking about the roster, where we're at, along with the coaches, as we break down the players -- a productive two days,” Schmidt said. “We all want to be on the same page.”

Rosenthal said the difficult year has forced the small core staff to be creative.

“We were on a hiring freeze, like the whole world was, but we’re getting back to it,” Rosenthal said. “It’s actually been a good year to reassess a bunch of different things. I’m excited -- really excited.”