MVP of the Rockies? How about their GM?
On your feet, everybody. Give it up for Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich. He deserves a standing ovation. In a year when Colorado is better than anybody’s wildest dreams, nobody on the team is having a dreamier season than Bridich.
It was Bridich who changed the narrative of a franchise with a long history of scuffling through summer. Way back in the dead of winter, Bridich said it was time for the Rockies to step up and win. Not next year. Now.
Despite a recent eight-game losing streak that revealed holes in the batting order and exposed the youth in the starting rotation, the Rockies have every reason to believe there will be a 163rd game after the regular season is done. Playoffs? Yes, we’re talking playoffs.
So let’s issue midseason grades for the players Bridich has recently added to the Colorado roster. While Nolan Arenado is worthy of MVP consideration and Charlie Blackmon is as dangerous a leadoff hitter as you will find anywhere in the major leagues, the Rockies could not possibly have won more than 50 games before the all-star break without the moves made by Bridich.
Greg Holland: A-plus
The New York Yankees did a very Yankees thing, bringing back closer Aroldis Chapman, signing him straight from the Chicago Cubs’ victory parade, for the tidy sum of $86 million. Chapman has earned 17 saves for the Yankees, but also has battled a shoulder injury.
Wasn’t it Holland, coming off Tommy John surgery, who was supposed to be the risky investment? Bridich signed him for the bargain price of $7 million guaranteed in 2017. And Holland has been lights out. His presence in the ninth inning has completely reshaped the way Colorado thinks about itself as a team, which is why I consider him the MVP of a fast start that has made a playoff berth possible. And if the Rockies can take a lead into the ninth inning of Game No. 163, why will they win it? Holland.
Mark Reynolds: A
Reynolds was considered a disposable part. He was out on the street, looking for work. Then the Rockies decided to bring Reynolds back, at the bargain price of $1.5 million. All Reynolds has done is play stellar defense at first base, while ranking among the National League leaders in home runs since April.
Did Bridich get lucky with Reynolds? Darn right he did. Reynolds, however, is exactly the kind of luck a team with a budget needs to do battle with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who spend money as if the bills never come due.
Alexi Amarista: B
The grind of a baseball season is sweaty, not pretty. At first glance, there is not anything particularly impressive about Amarista, from his 5-foot-6 stature to his .232 career batting average.
Amarista, however, is a player manager Bud Black knows and trusts, from the time they spent together with the San Diego Padres. On any given day, Black is unafraid to toss Amarista in any situation. Isn’t that the definition of a utility player? For a salary of $1.25 million, Amarista has been a bargain.
Mike Dunn: C-minus
This is what’s known as a gentleman’s C. If I wasn’t such a gentleman, there would be screaming and yelling about Bridich needing to hop on his cellphone and get a trade done for a more reliable relief pitcher. For example: Pat Neshek of Philadelphia.
After posting an earned run average of 1.17 in April, Dunn was roughed up for a 9.35 ERA in May and a 6.30 ERA in June. There have been hints of late he might round into form. The Rockies better hope so. Bridich signed Dunn to a three-year, $19 million deal.
Ian Desmond: D
This deal never made sense to me. The Rockies gave Desmond $70 million and a first baseman’s mitt, to learn a position unfamiliar to him. At the majorleague level. During games that count in the standings. Say what?
This has been one expensive experiment. And, thus far, it has been a flop.
It is not Desmond’s fault he has battled injuries. But in the 57 games Desmond has been available, he has been almost invisible, batting an exceptionally quiet .283, drawing only 10 walks and hitting only five home runs, leading to an OPS of .709. That’s below replacement level, not a cornerstone of the future that I always believed Bridich hired to be a long-term replacement for Carlos Gonzalez. If the Rockies want to be a factor in October, Desmond had better get well in a hurry. Please.