If Rockies rebound, talent will be the reason - SweetSpot Blog - ESPN
Clubhouse culture. Those two words have been intertwined with every single move that Dan O'Dowd and the Colorado Rockies have made this offseason. The issue has been debated - is it Dan O'Dowd and the front office's fault for not putting together a deep enough/talented enough roster? Were there too many cancerous players in the clubhouse? Should Jim Tracy and guys like Troy Tulowitzki/Todd Helton/Jason Giambi have been able to quell the apparently incessant moping, me-first attitudes that performed a hostile takeover on the Rockies' clubhouse?
For years, sabermetrics types and old-school types have been arguing about whether or not stuff like clutchiness and leadership matters. From what I gather from his piece, ESPN.com's David Schoenfield seemingly takes the talent-over-intangibles stance, which is generally where I sit as well. Regardless of which side of the fence you place yourself, my bold statement is that the 2012 Rockies are going to prove once and for all who's right. Guys such as Ian Stewart, Chris Iannetta, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Seth Smith - players who are all viewed as moderately-to-extremely talented on a baseball field - were jettisoned in favor of gritty/gutty (but talented in their own right) performers, and in some cases ageless wonders, such as Casey Blake, Ramon Hernandez, Jeremy Guthrie, and Michael Cuddyer.
I'm not as big of an O'Dowd detractor as many on this site (or elsewhere, for that matter), but for the first time in a long time, it looks like he could be in a position of true accountability for what happens on the field. Jim Tracy might as well be sitting on a bonfire, as well. Come to think of it, the heat on the GM and manager hasn't been this intense since the beginning of the 2007 season. Might that fear of consequence motivate the much-maligned duo to get the best out of their roster?
The negative attention focused upon the team's leaders isn't the only parallel to the start of the 2007 season. That team had a couple of talented mainstays atop the rotation (Jeff Francis and Aaron Cook), as does this team (Jhoulys Chacin and Jorge De La Rosa). A wily ex-Oriole (Rodrigo Lopez) was brought in to help shore up the rotation after the team traded its best-ever homegrown pitcher to that point in controversial fashion (Jason Jennings). Same thing happened this year, with Guthrie being brought in after the club dealt Jimenez. And, down the stretch, the Rox counted on a couple of supremely-gifted youngsters in Jimenez and Franklin Morales to shoulder the load, as they could be in the position to do this year with guys like Drew Pomeranz and Alex White, or even Chad Bettis and/or Edwar Cabrera.
No matter the result, I truly believe that it's going to be a fun ride. Without the expectations of 2011, failure won't be as hard to handle (although for a guy like me, it'll still be mind-numbingly frustrating). However, any surprises the team could have in store performance-wise would make it all worthwhile. One thing is for sure, though: if the product does not improve on the field after all of the drastic changes made by Dan O'Dowd, we could be seeing an even more unfamiliar ball club heading into 2013 - one without their long-time GM and incumbent field manager.
One more link after the jump...
2012 Prospect Watch | MLB.com: Prospects
MLB.com has posted their top 20 prospects for each organization, and this one differs quite a bit from what guys like Kevin Goldstein and Keith Law have unveiled. For starters, Zach Putnam comes in at number 9, while Danny Winkler - who wasn't on either of those lists or our PuRPs list, checks in at number 18. Good stuff overall, though.