Rockies Mailbag: Jeff Bridich’s future, Josh Fuentes at first base, trading Nolan Arenado and more – The Denver Post

Denver Post sports writer Patrick Saunders with the latest installment of his Rockies Mailbag.

Pose a Rockies — or MLB — related question for the Rockies Mailbag.

As has often been the case in recent weeks, the majority of the questions to the Rockies mailbag concern the status of general manager Jeff Bridich. The following two questions typify what fans are asking.

When will we know the fate of Jeff Bridich’s job status? Is it alarming that there has been no-end-of-year recap yet? Count me in as hoping there is a change at the GM level.

— Blake, Denver

Patrick, there is an obvious frustration among fans — and I might say some players! — with Jeff Bridich. Do you see ownership addressing this problem in ANY way during the offseason? I realize the topic has been beaten to death, but as many have said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again. Just hoping you might have some insight.

— Kari Van Horn, Denver

The bottom line is that there are no indications that owner Dick Monfort is ready to replace Bridich as the GM. I’m not saying that changes won’t happen, but nothing I’ve been told tells me that Bridich’s job is on the line.

As for the end-of-the-year recap, Monfort said last October that the media session involving him, Bridich and manager Bud Black would be an annual occurrence. So far, that hasn’t happened. I’ve been told that it’s because the Rockies were busy setting up their players for the Arizona Instructional League. That’s a major project, especially since there was no minor-league season because of COVID-19.

That being said, it’s been frustrating for those of us in the media — and by extension the fans — to have had no opportunity to ask questions of Monfort and Bridich after such a bad season. There are a lot of issues regarding the direction of the franchise. Hopefully we will be able to meet with the powers that be soon.

As for Kari’s question, I can only reiterate what I’ve said many times before. Monfort, in my opinion, likes stability and he believes Bridich is a key to that stability. Like it or not, the playoff appearances in 2017-18 likely bought Bridich another season, even if there are those in the franchise who would like to see a change.

Do I think the franchise needs a shakeup? Yes. But I don’t think major changes are coming soon.

As one big-league general manager has said, “Being GM of the Rockies is like being appointed to the Supreme Court.”

Are the Rockies considering Josh Fuentes to be a solid choice for first base? Is Josh a good choice, even though he is not a power hitter?

— Judy Frieman, Denver

Judy, I think Fuentes impressed Bud Black enough to be the front-runner for the job in 2021. I don’t know how the front office sees the situation going forward, but clearly Fuentes has shown that his defense is excellent. Plus, he’s proven, over a short stretch, that he can hit big-league pitching, even though he is not a gap-to-gap hitter, not a true slugger.

Here’s what his cousin, Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, told me for an end-of-the-year feature I wrote on Fuentes:

“Josh is doing a great job of being ready to hit when he plays and his defense has always been really good. He’s not afraid to work and get better. He is a big-league player, so his ability to hang in there and make it is something I knew he could do. He’s been great for our team as a player and as a guy in the clubhouse. Everyone loves him.”

In my opinion, Fuentes should be the starting first baseman next season, unless the Rockies sign a slugging first baseman, and I don’t see that happening. Fuentes said he would be open to being a utility player, but he wants to be an everyday player. He’s certainly an upgrade over the now-departed Daniel Murphy.

Greetings. Instead of shopping for free agents, shouldn’t the Rockies organization look to hire developmental coaches and scouts from the Dodgers, Padres, Rays or the Braves? Recent free-agent acquisitions and poor drafts indicate (to me, just a fan) there is a big lack of depth and talent in the organization. Thank You.

— Robert Emmerling, Parker

Hey Robert, those are two separate, yet linked, issues. The Rockies must explore the free-agent market, especially for a reliever and a power bat, but whether they can afford to make any major moves is questionable.

As for hiring away from the franchises you mentioned, I doubt that happens. The Rays’ front office, I’m sure, will get a look from other teams around the league. Will the Rockies be interested? We’ll see.

In his recent “Three Strikes Blog,” former big-league pitcher Mark Knudson opined that the Rockies should check out Peter Bendix, the Rays’ vice president of baseball development.

Here is part of what Knudson wrote:

“‘The Rockies way’ is in many ways a dinosaur. It has not invested enough in player development and long-term thinking. It’s been a solid year-to-year, ‘last year’s profits equal next year’s payroll’ bottom line kind of approach, which at times has resulted in free agent spending sprees, and at other times allowed quality players to leave town without the team getting any value in return.

“Clubs like Tampa, Oakland and others realized long ago that they could not compete the old fashioned way. So they decided to put their money where their talent evaluators were. They didn’t point at a lack of resources for failings, they found a different and often times better way to compete.”

Do you think Nolan Arenado has a good chance of being traded? If so, does St. Louis still have any interest?

— Evan Baehl, Fort Branch, Ind.

Evan, I don’t know if we can say there is “a good chance” of Arenado being traded.

Before the coronavirus, I would have said there was a very good chance that Arenado would be moved, but now I’m not sure at all. He’s got a huge contract and is owed $35 million next season.

As I wrote in a previous mailbag: “Baseball’s financial landscape has changed because of the coronavirus pandemic and I don’t know if another team will trade for Arenado and pay him $35 million in 2021 with his contract allowing for an opt-out after the season. Someone I know and trust on the Rockies says it’s a 50-50 proposition a trade goes down.”

The Cardinals, in my opinion, would be a great fit for Arenado. And yes, they were interested last year, but the Rockies’ asking price was prohibitive. At this point, I honestly don’t know if the Cardinals and Rockies will revisit those discussions.

Patrick, do you know if there are any big sinkerballers in free agency who the Rockies could go after this offseason? One of the best starters we’ve had was Aaron Cook and his 4.65 ERA at Coors Field over 122 games is pretty darn solid.

— Emmett, Wheat Ridge

Emmett, pitchers don’t have to be sinkerball pitchers, per se, to succeed at Coors Field. Kyle Freeland, for example, did well this year because of his circle changeup. But you’re right in saying that some sinkerball pitchers would be a good fit for Coors.

Mets right-hander Marcus Stroman is only 29 and he’s a sinkerball pitcher. He’s coming off a torn calf muscle and decided not to pitch in 2020, but he might be worth a look.

Kevin Gausman, the Giants’ right-hander, will be a free agent. He learned how to throw a split-finger changeup (which sinks) when he was at Grandview High School, so we know it works at altitude. Would Gausman be interested in returning to his hometown? It’s something to watch.

Denver Post sports writer Patrick Saunders with the latest installment of his Rockies Mailbag.

Pose a Rockies — or MLB — related question for the Rockies Mailbag.

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