Sunday, June 24, 2012

Colorado Rockies franchise has chosen excuses instead of excellence

Dan O'Dowd has resorted to excuses.
Winning is tough. Only one of 30 Major League teams can win every year, and in a league with no salary cap, the Colorado Rockies have an even tougher time winning than some of the other franchises.

With that in mind, franchises in some of the smaller markets have two choices. They can either commit to excellence, regardless of the odds, or the second option, they could make excuses and continue to fail miserably.

Sunday night was the latest example. A clubhouse cleaned out to bring in guys who care about winning and are focused on the game became a joke once again when Marco Scutaro once again lost his focus and made a little league mistake that possibly changed the course of the game. After being called safe at 2nd base in the 9th inning, Scutaro wandered off the bag, thinking he was out. He was tagged and suddenly the Rockies no longer had the tying run in scoring position with one out. They had two outs and the tying run at the plate.

The play on the field has been analyzed over and over and over again. It is bad. This Rockies team is terrible. There is no way around it. The play on the field is horrid. The management has been beyond horrid. Jim Tracy has shown his incompetence over and over again. Bob Apodaca has failed as a pitching coach. This scribe has shown his opinion on that issue over and over again.

However, I have long been a defender of Dan O'Dowd. Despite only reaching the playoffs twice in his 13 year tenure, I have been a fan of some of he was willing to take a risk on. Acquiring Carlos Gonzalez and Huston Street in exchange for Matt Holliday was an absolute fleecing.

Trading Jason Jennings for Jason Hirsh, Taylor Buchholz and Willy Taveras was another move that was lopsided greatly in the Rockies favor. Acquiring Jason Marquis for troubled reliever Luis Vizcaino was key to the Rockies making the playoffs in 2009.

Those are a few of the many moves that people might not think about when they think of O'Dowd's decisions. He made himself defensible. He has made moves that helped the Rockies compete and have their day in the sun.

The problem is, O'Dowd has given in to the excuse making. He has started blaming other factors on his lack of success instead of pointing his finger in the mirror.

Saturday was the latest example. On the Rockies Dugout show on 850 KOA, O'Dowd was interviewed by Mike Rice. The interview can be heard here in it's entirety.

O'Dowd admits that he is the one who was largely responsible for the 4-man rotation. He said that it is something that he has thought about since 2000. He said that Coors Field is such a tough place to play that something different has to be done.

The general manager makes excuse after excuse after excuse as to why winning at Coors Field is nearly impossible. He says that Coors Field has changed almost completely back to how it was before the days of the humidor. He says that pitchers who have played here and moved on have suffered severe injury after leaving.

It is interesting. O'Dowd blames those injuries on the park that those players played in previous to the injury. What possibly could Coors Field done to injure the pitchers. O'Dowd seems to insinuate that pitching at altitude has more to do with the effects on the body, rather than the effects on the ball at the field.

Logical thinking would suggest that if many former Rockies pitchers were immediately getting injured after leaving, the pitching coach may have been teaching poor mechanics, which resulted in pitchers using the wrong part of their bodies and injuring themselves. How would pitching at 5280 feet influence the body of a mid-20's athlete who is in as good of shape as almost anyone in the world? That logic simply doesn't make sense.

When O'Dowd talks about Coors Field magically playing like it did pre-humidor, he seems to believe that the field just changed. Wouldn't logic suggest that it might not be the park, but rather the talent on the mound? To most people, that would be the answer. To someone who doesn't want to take personal responsibility for making poor decisions and leaving a roster and farm system depleted, the answer would be something magical and fictional happening at the park in which these inferior pitchers are playing.

The worst part of the interview comes just before the eight minute mark. O'Dowd says that he cares what the fans think, but then immediately goes into saying that the fans don't understand because they don't live it day-in and day-out. He then goes as far as saying that he isn't concerned with what the fans think at all.

To any fans who think that they might make some sort of statement to voice their disapproval, the answer to how it will be received was given at that moment. O'Dowd doesn't care whether fans love him or hate him. He doesn't care if they are frustrated with the product on the field, he doesn't care how passionate they are. He thinks that fans opinions are worthless.

After listening to the interview a few things become clear. First, O'Dowd is completely naive to what is happening. This franchise is the laughingstock of baseball. They look clueless. They have a manager who makes poor decisions night-in and night-out, yet O'Dowd believes he is great. He believes that the fault of this season lies squarely on the shoulders of the players. No one else. He thinks that they are good enough to win, and have failed to do so.

Second, O'Dowd seems to have no idea how depleted the talent is on this team. Alex White and Christian Friedrich may be good down the road, but the two young starters still have to figure out how to pitch at the big league level. The initial rotation included 49-year-old Jamie Moyer, who, with all due respect, barely threw hard enough to register on the radar gun. He also traded away the most talent member of the rotation in Jason Hammel, for a below-average veteran who was supposed to eat innings, but really just eats leads in Jeremy Guthrie.

Third, O'Dowd thinks that the fans are idiots. He thinks that he is the only one who does research, he is the only one who looks into ballpark factors. He believes that every single person who claims to be a Rockies fan needs to be reminded of when to make noise by the scoreboard. He has no idea that there are people out there who live and breathe Colorado Rockies baseball.

Never once in the interview does O'Dowd blame himself. Not once does he say that he made mistakes. He blames Coors Field several times and he blames the players for not getting the job done on other occasions. His coaching staff and the front office are never blamed for the failures that this team is going through.

What that says is that it is time for change. O'Dowd did a great job for many years. Many fans don't realize how good many of O'Dowd's moves were. However, it seems that the frustration of losing over and over again has gotten to the general manager. Instead of figuring out ways to win, O'Dowd has decided to go down the excuse path. It is the true sign of a guy who needs to move on. He has lost his touch and he is going down a bad road and taking the franchise with him. It is time to focus on something different.

The only problem is, only the fans see the issue. Dick Monfort believes that O'Dowd is doing everything perfectly. He believes that he is the best GM in the game. What that says is, no matter how bad 2012 gets, whether that is 90 losses, 110 losses, or somewhere in between, nothing is going to change. The Rockies are going to move forward with the same sorry excuses, the same sorry coaching staff, and the same sorry talent that O'Dowd acquires, drafts, or incorrectly develops.

For Rockies fans, rock bottom might be deeper than they thought.

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  1. great article and to the point. truer words were never spoken. o'dowd, tracy, apodaca, matter of fact all the coaches need to be gone. question, just what is glen allen hill's job at first base? never argues a call, have to look real hard to see if he is even moving. another thing related to our forlorn and fading rockies who is this platt or flatt guy. raised in colorado and never gone fishing,hunting or camping, or least of all a rodeo. what a nerd. miss alana the young lady who is on there now has no interest in living in colorado just buy listening a looking she's a california gal. have been a rockies fan since day one 80,000 strong at mile high. i was there. live in albuqerque now and still and will always follow the rockies, but doggone it change is good. please do it soon i'm 74 and counting. thx, for listening.

  2. O'Dowd is a fool if he thinks the fans are ignorant baseball fans! If Monfort doesn't make some changes in the management/coaching of the Rockies in the near future...the fans will do it for him. They will not fill the stadium and then...then he will see the power of the fans. The Year of the Fan could be the last straw for the true fan. It will be interesting to see what excuses Monfort and O'Dowd come up with on the Wednesday conference call. They had better be careful or the fans will not show up the rest of this season! There is only one thing I would like to hear on that call.....that Monfort will state that some management changes are on their way! Yep - I know - I am dreaming again!

  3. monforts need to go