The Rockies have announced an unexpected front office shakeup, but will apparently not be making any upper-level additions from outside the organization for the time being. General manager Dan O’Dowd and senior VP of major league operations Bill Geivett — long the team’s brain trust — have resigned from their posts, as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported on Twitter.
In their place, Jeff Bridich has been promoted to the general manager seat after previously serving as senior director of player development, as initially reported by MLB.com’s Thomas Harding (via Twitter). While a young, fresh voice at the highest tier of baseball operations offers the hope of jumpstarting an idling franchise, it remains to be seen whether new operating philosophies and improved results will follow.
Colorado now becomes the third NL West organization in recent months to find a new GM, though both of their division rivals underwent broad external searches to find their new leadership. The Padres replaced Josh Byrnes with former Rangers executive A.J. Preller, while the Diamondbacks displaced Kevin Towers in favor of player agent Dave Stewart.
O’Dowd had been ensconced atop Colorado’s baseball decisionmaking structure since the fall of 1999, when he was hired as the club’s general manager. Many of the team’s highs and lows have come under his watch. The failed signings of Denny Neagle and Mike Hampton were early mistakes, but O’Dowd put together the talent that led the Rockies to deep postseason runs in 2007 and 2009. Ultimately, though, the club posted winning seasons in only four out of fifteen seasons under O’Dowd.
That less-than-inspiring track record provided the impetus for a front office restructuring in 2012. Though O’Dowd retain his general manager title and position atop the authority structure, he ceded some authority to Geivett, who had joined the Rockies in 2000. As his title reflects, Geivett was placed in charge of running the club at the major league level. Indeed, he made his office in a room adjoining the clubhouse, a situation which seemingly led to some tension. Though it is somewhat difficult to know where to assign credit and blame, the club had a hit-or-miss record on recent trades and signings. The Justin Morneau deal, for example, has already been a clear win, while the Boone Logan signing looks worse now than it did when inked.
Ultimately, the move represents a shift from a recent report from Harding (and many others before it) that made significant change seem unlikely. Both Geivett and O’Dowd reported to owner Dick Monfort, who has an extremely active role in the organization, which operates without a president. Monfort did say over the summer that he held Geivett responsible for the team’s performance. But as Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post reported recently, internal discord has arisen over (among other things) the level of Monfort’s involvement in baseball decisionmaking.
It remains to be seen what decisionmaking structure and processes the Rockies will employ with Bridich now in the GM seat. He becomes just the third general manager in the club’s history. His predecessor, O’Dowd, had been the fourth-longest-tenured GM in the game.
As Harding explains, the 37-year-old had been in charge of the club’s player development system since the fall of 2011 — a role that made him, in the words of Saunders (Twitter link), “O’Dowd’s right-hand man.” Per Harding, Bridich came to Colorado in 2004 as manager of minor league operations. He became senior director of baseball ops in 2006, a role that involved transactional and contractual matters including arbitration. Prior to joining the Rockies, Bridich had a stint in the commissioner’s office after graduating from Harvard, where he played baseball as an undergraduate. Click here for an interesting recent interview with Bridich, regarding his work in player development, from Brian VanderBeek of the Modesto Bee (h/t to Saunders).
Photo courtesy of Brian VanderBeek/The Modesto Bee.