Monday, June 30, 2014

Starting over might be the best option for Colorado Rockies, but isn't the only option

Dan O'Dowd might be effective with some help.
I admit it, I am a person who believes in black and white. I am opinionated, and it is hard to convince me that I am wrong.

Those opinions also make me passionate. If I believe in something, it takes strong evidence to sway me otherwise.

For years I was a Dan O'Dowd defender. I believed that, within the constructs of what he was allowed, he had done a phenomenal job. The Colorado Rockies general manager pulled off an incredible trade in November of 2008 when he dealt Matt Holliday, a fan favorite, to the Oakland A's for Carlos Gonzalez, Huston Street and Greg Smith. At the time O'Dowd took a ton of heat from fans, but the bold move paid off as Street anchored the bullpen in 2009 and Gonzalez turned into a star.

Other trades flew below the radar. O'Dowd traded Luis Vizscaino, a right-handed reliever whose ERA resembled Wilton Lopez, to the Cubs for Jason Marquis. Marquis flamed out in 2009, but the first half of that season kept the Rockies head's above water and landed Marquis in the All-Star game.

In that same season, O'Dowd dealt Single-A pitching prospect Aneury Rodriguez to the Rays for odd-man-out Jason Hammel. Hammel went on to be a double digit winner for the Rockies and started a home playoff game for the club.

The moves O'Dowd made were great. They got the team back to the postseason. However, the magic stopped there. I defended him until the middle of 2012. Nearly two years ago to the day, my opinion of O'Dowd shifted. It was becoming clear that he was burned out. He had tried for so long to find ways to win at altitude, to win on the road, to build a team that could play good baseball both at home and on the road, without much success, that He couldn't handle it anymore. On June 27th, 2012 I wrote a piece linking to a Bob Nightengale article highlighting O'Dowd's frustration. It become clear to me that O'Dowd wanted to win, but couldn't see the forest through the trees.

From that point forward, O'Dowd has only gotten worse. He publicly rips on players right before he trades them. He blames the altitude and injuries--and the altitude for the injuries--in any effort to keep his job. If O'Dowd spent half as much time trying to win as he does concocting new excuses for why he doesn't, the Rockies would be well on their way to the playoffs.

It's not an indictment on O'Dowd. He has done everything he can to build a winner. He has tried his best. Sometimes it is simply time to let someone else steer the ship for a while.

The Rockies tried that by letting Bill Geivett take over the everyday general manager role. The problem is, he never truly assumed that role, and O'Dowd was still very much involved in the decision. It is hard for a new leader to take the reins when the old leader is still looking over his shoulder.

My opinion has shifted greatly on O'Dowd. I could no longer defend his employment with the club and believed it was time for someone new, someone from outside the organization to take over.

As mentioned, for me, there really is no gray area. It is either yes or no. However, Drew Creasman, writer for the fine Rockies blog, Purple Row, often defends the Rockies and O'Dowd. His passion and fire is equal to mine, in a completely different opinion. His feelings are very frustrating to me. I often find myself wishing more people would join the revolt against O'Dowd. The more loud voices, the more Dick Monfort has to pay attention (or so we would like to think).

However, Creasman's work has been great. He brings a perspective from the constantly shrinking minority, but he brings it strong. His work is well thought out and logical. In fact, he has talked me off the ledge with this front office to a certain degree.

While Creaman thinks that the entire front office should remain in place, I still differ, but can go back in the other direction slightly.

If Monfort isn't ready to clean house, which honestly, it doesn't sound like he is planning on doing anytime soon, then he needs to bring someone from the outside in. O'Dowd, in nearly every public interview, has sounded tired and burned out. Maybe he is trying too hard without someone to rein him in. Maybe he needs a voice in his ear to ask him why he is doing some of the things he is doing. Sometimes when a person has done a job for so long, they start doing things out of routine and habit. If no one is there to call them on it, they will continue with those habits, even if they are bad. If everyone within an organization thinks the same way, there is no balance.

O'Dowd doesn't have anyone who is questioning his moves. Everyone who works for him seems to hold the same theories and beliefs. Maybe it is time to bring someone in who can challenge those theories and make O'Dowd explain why he believes what he believes.

Even if the new face is wrong on every level, it will help O'Dowd to regain some of his edge. Instead of being burned out, the new face can make him think from a different angle and look at things with a new perspective. It could be a breath of fresh air to a once pretty decent general manager. In fact, it may lead to some success from the organization quicker than a complete rebuild of the front office that would certainly come with some growing pains.

I still believe that if O'Dowd and his whole team were told to pack up their belongings and go home that it would be a great thing for the organization, but maybe that isn't the only answer. Maybe the Rockies can bring in a strong voice who isn't afraid to challenge the current regime. Those two can bounce ideas off of each other and learn from the knowledge that each one has.

Right now, O'Dowd can't see the forest through the trees. He is too entrenched to see the bigger issues and that leads to excuses. It is time for the Rockies to either relieve him of his job, or find someone who is able to take some of the responsibilities off of his shoulders and give him a chance to see baseball from a new perspective.

There are plenty of names out there that Monfort could look to. There are some very strong baseball minds that have been passed over for general manager jobs that might be a great place to start. Kim Ng, the former Dodgers and Padres front office member could be a good place to start. Paul DePodesta, former general manager of the Dodgers and current assistant GM for the Mets is another person worth interviewing. Those names might not be the right fit, but they would be decent places to start.

The reality is, the Rockies have to do something. Ownership cannot ignore the cries of the fans. At some point, they will be forced to make some sort of move, and this might be the most comfortable one that they could make.

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  1. Checked the NL West standings this morning to see that the Padres have jumped the Rockies for third place. Checked the National League standings to see that the Rockies have the 3rd worst record in the National League. Checked the overall MLB standings to see that the Rockies have the 5th worst record in all of baseball.

    This team is BAD. Injuries or no injuries this team is not a .500 squad. The pitching staff is atrocious. The best pitcher on the staff, De La Rosa, is a 3rd line guy at best on most other teams. No depth, not mentally tough, can't consistently win on the road, make excuses like they are going out of style. Fans are now buying in to the delusion and saying "The schedule in June was really hard." These are professional athletes. Good teams can handle tough stretches in a schedule...which every team will go through. Wake up Rockies fans. Ownership and the front office has failed you again. They are pulling the wool over your eyes again. This group is incompetent. NOTHING will change unless a complete overhaul occurs. However, Dick Monfort won't do anything because he doesn't see a problem. Just bad luck.

  2. Personally I would start with a new team President to take over from Dick after the passing of Keli McGregor.

    Let this person decide on the direction of the franchise and what is needed to move forward. Let this person decide on a new GM and see about the pathetic culture this organization exhibits. Like was mentioned, it seems losing is ok as long as you have an excuse.
    Unfortunately, that is the mantra for the franchise and it will take alot of cleaning to wipe it away.

    I lived in Tampa during the Buccaneers decades of losing. This was never changed since it was the same thing year after year. Change finally happened with the passing of the owner and then the hiring of a solid GM who brought in Tony Dungy who helped re-shape the culture. The same thing is needed here....a cultural change and it needs to happen ASAP.

    The last thing I feel like hearing is the never ending parade of excuses every off-season with no accountability. For example, blame the injuries but you knew full well that both Chatwood and Anderson were injury prone. You knew Nicasio is not an MLB starter, you knew Cargo had a lingering injury, you knew what Morales brought to the table but you moved forward and are shocked and disappointed when things turned out the way they did? If that's the case you are just dumb expecting different results when history shows otherwise.

    1. ^ Hit the nail on the head. Nicasio and Morales are prime examples of how this organization is run. "He was terrible last year, but maybe this year he will FINALLY pan out and put it together." Then they act shocked when Nicasio struggles or Morales pitches like Morales.

  3. Tulo should go to a contender, not a pretender. This franchise is a Big Joke for us fans. Every year we get told that this is going to be a great year. I don't know where Drew and George get the strength to stay positive day after day. Don't go to anymore games folks. This franchise is like the Cubs. Go to the games to see the ballpark, not to win ball games. Go ahead Mr. Monfort move this franchise out of Denver you big loser. I'll ROOT for the Avs.