Thursday, May 17, 2012

Dan O'Dowd's faults are off the field, not on them

O'Dowd's support of Jim Tracy is baffling.
With the Colorado Rockies continuing spiral into the abyss, including another disappointing 9-7 loss at Coors Field on Thursday, the debate has shifted.

No longer are fans wondering if this team can turn it around, but rather, who should be fired first.

The debate seems to be an almost even split. Half of the fans blame manager Jim Tracy. He is hard to defend considering his seemingly clueless in-game management decisions and his constantly revolving lineups.

The other side of the debate favors quickly dispatching general manager Dan O'Dowd. With a starting rotation that has looked more like they belong in Tulsa than in the big leagues, and a bullpen that has quickly felt the effects of overuse, it is easy to blame O'Dowd for not fielding a team that is capable of competing.

It has become apparent that changes do need to be made. Some would argue that change won't help anything, and it very well might not. However, at this point, whether or not the changes result in anything positive for the 2012 season or not, it will show fans--and possibly the team--that losing is unacceptable.

So who should be the first to go? The correct answer is a tricky one. Based strictly on performance, the answer is easy. Tracy has been absolutely brutal in the dugout. His moves have been head scratching at best and completely defenseless at worst.

O'Dowd, on the other hand, has made his fair share of mistakes, but his on field job has been adequate. Talent-wise, this Rockies team is good enough to compete. No one is saying that they are going to win 100 games and cruise into the playoffs, but to be fair, O'Dowd never suggested that.

The biggest mark going into the 2012 campaign was not the lineup. The questions started and ended with the  starting rotation. Jokes about a 49-year-old even competing for a starting spot was one thing, but when Jamie Moyer actually made the starting rotation, the comedy was intensified.

Arguing that O'Dowd had failed to build a strong starting pitching rotation were true. Although, it wasn't true for the reasons that the anti-O'Dowd crowd suggests. Most of the crowd that blames O'Dowd get angry that he didn't go out and sign a big-name free agent. That notion is simply incorrect simply because the big-name free agent that fans wanted O'Dowd to sign did not exist in the past offseason.

O'Dowd's failures came by drafting and developing poorly. A team that has modeled itself in the way the Rockies are built cannot afford to fail in the draft. The also have to take the raw talent that they get in the draft and get significant growth quickly. These players have to be able to produce almost immediately when they hit the big leagues or the plan simply won't work.

O'Dowd realized in 2011 that the prospects that he had put so much weight into were not going to be the caliber of players that the Rockies needed. The big league club was struggling and the batch of highly-touted prospects were sitting in Single-A Modesto. There was going to have to be at least a year before those guys were ready.

Instead of trading them away, O'Dowd built a veteran-laden team to bridge the gap. It is a team that has firepower, knows how to win and fights hard despite having their fair share of issues.

The question mark remained the starting rotation. However, if Jhoulys Chacin took a step forward, Drew Pomeranz pitched above his age, and Jorge De La Rosa came back strong, the Rockies were going to be able to at least compete in the National League West. Throw in Juan Nicasio and the team had a chance to do damage.

There were question marks, no doubt about it. However, the reality is, the team is talented enough to win. The roster is not filled with players who couldn't play anywhere else. The roster is filled with players who belong in the big leagues, with a couple of exceptions.

From that perspective, O'Dowd did his job. He built a bridge that would at least give fans something to root for and a respectable enough club to play meaningful games in September, if not fight for a spot in October.

The failures of O'Dowd, however, do not come from the mistakes on the field. His greatest error has nothing to do with the talent on the field. His biggest mistake came early in spring training when he told the media that Tracy could be the manager as long as he wanted. O'Dowd and Tracy both enter the final seasons of their contracts. It would be easy for the GM to preserve his own job by shifting the blame to Tracy and giving him his walking papers before Rockies spiral too far out of control.

Relieving Tracy from his position seems like the most obvious answer to nearly everyone except for O'Dowd. The ineptitude from the dugout gets worse every night, yet O'Dowd has done nothing but show support for his manager.

Because of this decision to turn a blind eye to the failures of Tracy, as well as many of Tracy's coaching staff members, O'Dowd has earned himself a spot in the unemployment line along with Tracy. Instead of getting rid of the problem that is Jim Tracy, O'Dowd has hitched his wagon to the failing manager. It is a noble act, but it is also the act that has him a position where he should be removed.

The talent on the field is good enough to be respectable. O'Dowd did fine putting that together. The talent from Tracy, and Tracy's staff, leave much to be desired. Yet, because O'Dowd turns a blind eye to these failures, his ship deserves to be sunk first.

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  1. The pitching and hitting coaches are a BIG problem!!! Rockies pitchers are traded and become winners with other teams!!!

    1. I agree 100%. That is my exact point. Dan O'Dowd turning a blind eye to the real issues is the baffling part.

  2. Jim Tracy can't help that Chacin has been awful. Jim Tracy can't help that De la Rosa is hurt. Jim Tracy can't help that Pomeranz and Nicasio aren't as good as we want them to be at this point. Jim Tracy can't help that he was given starters who go 4 innings wasting his pen. The Rockies are fifth in runs, so if you use his lineup shuffling as a reason to fire Tracy, stop it. I'm not even a Jim Tracy fan and i think this is such a stupid debate. O'Dowd's last 10 top draft picks: Tyler Anderson, Kyle Parker, Tyler Matzek, Christian Friedrich, Casey Weathers, Greg Reynolds, Troy Tulowitzki, Chris Nelson, Ian Stewart, and Jeff Francis. Look at all those busts.

    Also i agree if anyone should happen to get fired first, it should be the pitching coach.

    1. But Dan O'Dowd can help that Chacin has been awful? O'Dowd can help that De la Rosa got hurt? No one is blaming Jim Tracy for the fact that some of the starters haven't progressed to where they need to be, but the talent suggests they should be better than this.

      The jury is still out on Anderson, Parker, Matzek and frankly, even Friedrich. If two of those four pan out, I actually think it would point to pretty good drafts. Jeff Francis took them on his shoulders to the World Series, Tulo has become a superstar, Weathers needed Tommy John...

      But we both agree that Bob Apodaca is the real problem.

      Thanks for the comment.

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  4. And once again Uncle Bob gets a pass from the team comments. If all of the staff can't pitch is anyone capable of helping them? I cannot believe that all of these pitchers got to this level and forgot how to pitch. Tracy says no one can throw strikes. How can he sit next to Uncle Bob and look him in the eye?

    1. I have beat that drum for a long time. I guess Bob Apodaca was smart enough to drill into management's head that pitching at Coors Field is so hard that quality performance, or even throwing strikes, should never be expected. I don't get why he is shielded from the criticism. We try to run the hitting coach out of town every year, but Apodaca gets a pass.

    2. This is so have been complaining about pitching for years but the pitching coach remains. Pitchers come and go at Coors Field...most move on and do extremely well against us with another team. The writing has been on the wall for a long time about Apodaca but no one is reading!

  5. A new broom is needed. Clean sweep - across the board. Tracy had the opportunity to bring in an entire new coaching crew during the off season and elected to remain with the same failures as last season. Start with replacing O'Dowd and work down. Tracy managed the team out of a win yesterday against AZ! Yes - the pitching was awful on both sides but this constant changing of players in the infield results in zero continuity and a pitcher has no idea who is playing behind him! These constant days off for these players is ridiculous (Todd being the exception). I get tired too but my boss does not give me a paid day off because he wants me to perform better tomorrow. He expects a constant level of good performance and I do not make anywhere near the millions these guys rake in!

    1. It is frustrating, isn't it? For me, the frustrating thing is not that it happens, but that there is no you said, after a year like last year, you bring the entire coaching staff back?? No ramifications for mediocrity, so why care?

  6. 25 years ago I told Tom Greive, GM for Texas, Moyer was a joke, and look, the Rockies just made him famous. Kevin Millwood a few years younger than Moyer just shutout the Rockies, and we traded his 92 mph fastball for Moyers 78 mph batting practise speed pitch. I pitched for the Twins many years ago, and at 45 tried to get back, but was turned down for Moyer. Anyway the Rockies GM needs to be replaced, and Tracy needs to go now. Tracy is a disaster. In the dugout I tries not to look at the action, instead looing down. The team wants to win, but with Bob Apodaka, a mediocre pitcher in his time, and Carney Lansford, who barely stayed in the majors with Oakland, the picture is clear, sweep management out. I come from a baseball familly, Hoyt was my Uncle, and Walt Jocketty a cousin who was GM for world series champions St. Louis, and now at Cincinnatti. So its really easy to see the black hole in the rockies. Change management, and the team will win.