Monday, August 2, 2010

The case against Mark Kiszla, Part 2

Mark Kiszla is at it again.

The Denver Post columnist continues to show why the print media industry is failing. They employ too many columnists who follow a team only long enough to put the franchise's head in a guillotine. They rile up the passive fans and it sells a few more newspapers, but credibility is lost with fans who pay attention on a daily basis.

Kiszla routinely pulls out a "the Rockies owners are greedy" article and puts a different spin on it. His latest version features a twist, a dagger in the back of his very readers.

On Sunday, Kiszla penned an article about how Rockies management let the baseball trade deadline come and go without making a move. He talked about how the other National League West teams in the race made moves, and he mentioned that the Rockies owners have no motivation to make moves because fans turn up in droves to Coors Field regardless of the product.

Kiszla will not rest until he forces the team to become a western version of the New York Yankees, buying players at whatever cost and trading away the farm system to get the latest superstar.

The point that Kiszla is missing is that the Rockies already tried that model. In the early days they went out and signed big name free agents. They made trades for guys who were sure talents in Major League Baseball. They tried, and what did it get them? A lump of money owed to players who were no longer on their team and a farm system full of wash-ups.

Sure, the team won when they signed Larry Walker. But the wins hardly outweigh the losses. The Rockies spent big on guys like Mike Lansing, Denny Neagle, Mike Hampton, Darryl Kile, Bret Saberhagen, only to see them wish they had saved their money and their minor leaguers.

Kiszla mentions the names of who the other National League West teams went out and got. Take a look at the names on the list and see if even a single one of them would have made the Rockies a better team. The Padres acquired Miguel Tejada and Ryan Ludwick. Tejada is on the downside of his career and has an OPS of just over .600. With Ian Stewart at third base and Melvin Mora behind him, Tejada would have been the equivalent of the Rockies going out and re-signing Garrett Atkins.

Ludwick is a good outfielder, but the Rockies have more depth in the outfield than any other position, is Ludwick a better option against left handers than Ryan Spilborghs? Maybe, but Spilborghs clubhouse presence and leadership probably make him the better choice. Especially when talent is abundant.

The Dodgers acquired second baseman Ryan Theriot from the Cubs in exchange for Blake DeWitt. This is the same Theriot who woke up on Tuesday morning with an on-base percentage of .320 and a slugging percentage of just .327. The Dodgers traded DeWitt, who is essentially the same player as Theriot, only younger.

Is there an area that the Rockies are lacking in? With Todd Helton's injury a huge question mark, it could be argued that the club should have gone out and traded for a first baseman. Immediately Lance Berkman's name comes to mind. The Yankee's were the winners in the Berkman derby, however, dealing away minor leaguers Jimmy Paredes and Mark Melancon. Those names don't ring a bell, but less than a year ago, Melancon was talked about as the next Mariano Rivera.

The Phillies traded for Roy Oswalt. He would have helped the Rockies rotation, there is no doubt about that. However, with the trade, Philadelphia gave up a key lefty in JA Happ, a 10-game winner as a rookie in 2009 and a lefty who shut out the Rockies that same year. Oh, and instead of paying Happ the league minimum for two more years until he hits arbitration, the Phillies are absorbing Oswalts remaining salary (about $6 million) and about $9 million of his 2011 contract.

If the Rockies had gone after Oswalt, what Philadelphia sent to Houston could only be compared to the Rockies sending Jhoulys Chacin and another minor leaguer to the Astros and still taking on that much more salary. Would that have been worth it for the Rockies? Anyone who follows the team regularly would say no way.

Should the Rockies have made a deadline deal? Maybe. But should they have made a trade simply to make a trade? What player was available that could have helped the Rockies? It would have been easy for the club to come back from an awful 2-9 road trip and try to trade away all of their chips, but emotional trades like that are what get a general manager fired. The fact is, this team was a throwing error away from being tied for the lead in the National League West three weeks ago. The talent that they need to win is already on the field.

The problem for Kiszla is that he keeps insisting that the Rockies owners do not want to win. He insists that they want to be mediocre. The only problem is that he forgets that these are the same owners who have taken part in two champagne celebrations in the past three years. If they don't want to win, why do they keep winning?

The other problem is that Kiszla conveniently forgets that the Rockies owners have carved out a methodical way of keeping players in a Rockies uniform for as long as possible. When they can't work out a deal, they trade them for players who will start the cycle over again. If Kiszla had it his way, Carlos Gonzalez never would have hit for the cycle at Coors Field on Saturday night. He couldn't have. He wouldn't have been a Rockie. Matt Holliday would still be playing mediocre defense and sucking up $20+ million per year.

The final group that Kiszla takes a shot at are the very readers themselves. He says that despite the team not trying to get better at the deadline, fans "have nothing better to do on a summer night than hang out at Coors Field."

The logic of that statement is nowhere to be found. If people had something better to do that sit at Coors Field in the summer, Kiszla's job wouldn't be necessary. Does he want Rockies fans to revolt against an evil ownership group and not show up for Rockies games? Five years ago fans were crying not for a team to win the World Series, but for a team to simply be playing meaningful games in September. They have their wish and they are showing up to the park. Besides, as a baseball writer, are there that many more things that Kiszla would rather be doing than watching a baseball game?

His statement also might make a little more sense if it did not come immediately following two of the most exciting baseball games of the season, not just for the Rockies, but for all of Major League Baseball. Fans who showed up Friday night were treated to a 12-run 8th inning. They saw Major League records collapse for most consecutive hits in an inning and most runs with two outs. The following night they saw their team win a huge game in dramatic fashion, capped off by a mammoth blast from Carlos Gonzalez to complete a cycle. What else would someone who enjoys baseball want to be doing with their summer nights?

The sad part about it is that when Kiszla is not ripping Todd Helton for making too much money, the ownership group for not spending enough money and Rockies fans for not making a big enough fuss about both, he is busy voting on who wins the MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, and sadly, who gets into the Hall of Fame. Kiszla is a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America, which means that his opinion actually matters, even if everyone who reads him knows how out of touch he actually is.

For more on the Rockies visit RockiesReview.com

This article is also featured on INDenverTimes.com

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