The Rockies have removed the “interim” tag from Bill Schmidt, as Schmidt will officially take over the team’s front office as the new general manager. Schmidt has been serving as the interim GM since May 3, a week after former general manager Jeff Bridich resigned.
The club also announced promotions of two other in-house executives. Danny Montgomery goes from special assistant to the GM to being a newly-minted vice president and assistant GM of scouting, while assistant GM Zack Rosenthal had the vice president title added to his current duties.
“After five months as our interim general manager, it became increasingly clear that Bill was the right person to lead this franchise forward,” Rockies president/COO Greg Feasel said in the press release. “We already knew Bill as a trusted and respected baseball professional within the game. He came into a challenging situation and quickly impacted the play on and off the field. Bill’s promotion also gives the organization an opportunity to promote two experienced individuals, Danny and Zack, to leadership roles that will be key in getting us to the next level.”
At the time of Bridich’s departure, the Rockies announced that a wider search for a new GM/president of baseball operations would take place after the season, though the club has now decided to stick with a familiar face. Schmidt has been working in Colorado since October 1999 in various scouting capacities, and has been running the team’s drafts since 2000. Schmidt was promoted to VP of scouting in 2007, a title he held until becoming interim GM. Before joining the Rox, Schmidt also worked as a scout and minor league coach with the Reds and Yankees, a minor league coach with the Brewers, and as a national crosschecker for the Indians.
Schmidt’s hiring is something of an old-school move, as teams have generally trended towards younger and more analytically-inclined front office executives in recent years, rather than older, more established baseball lifers. Schmidt is known to be widely respected around the sport, and his hiring will surely be applauded by peers pleased to see him finally getting a shot to run a big league organization.
It is fair to wonder if Rockies fans are as enthusiastic, however. Bridich was also a longtime front office employee before he was hired as GM in 2014, and the hiring of Schmidt (and even the promotions of Montgomery and Rosenthal) reflect more continuity within an organization that many fans and pundits believe is in need of a shakeup. Owner Dick Monfort is known to be very loyal to his employees — perhaps to a fault, as the team’s insularity has been seen as a chief reason for the Rockies have had only five winning seasons since the Monfort brothers become majority owners in 2005.
Thanks to a brutal 19-34 start, the Rockies will finish under the .500 mark yet again this season, despite a respectable 55-51 mark since May 30. That performance over the last four months quite possibly inspired the team’s decision to mostly stand pat at the trade deadline, moving only Mychal Givens despite the number of impending free agents (most notably Trevor Story and Jon Gray) on the roster. The Rockies have designs on re-signing Gray, while Story is as good as gone but the team didn’t find any acceptable trade offers, so the decision was made to keep Story and at least recoup a draft pick via the qualifying offer.
Schmidt now faces a tall order in getting the Rockies on track, considering the potential free agent losses, a farm system seen as being lacking in impact talent, and the ever-difficult NL West. It will be interesting to see how Schmidt’s approach differs from Bridich, who relied mostly on free agency to make his moves and didn’t swing many major trades (apart from moving longtime stars Nolan Arenado and Troy Tulowitzki) in his tenure as GM.