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Tuesday Rockpile: Has Dan O'Dowd forged MLB's best small market model?

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Locking down leading men

Yesterday, Patrick Saunders suggested the Rockies would ink GM Dan O'Dowd and manager Jim Tracy to multi-year deals this week.  This morning, the Denver Post strengthened their wording on the issue a bit.  Now, a "major league source close to the situation" said the Rockies will sign both leading men to long-term deals, per Saunders and Troy Renck.  Okay so that's not a shocker.  They do mention the entirety of the MLB coaching staff will return in their current roles, again not surprising after the best regular season in franchise history.

But oh yeah - Tracy Ringolsby already reported that Sunday night.


Dan O'Clown or Bozo Beane?

There's room to argue the sense in giving an MLB contract, but there can be no legitimate beef with Dan O'Dowd.  At the time of the Holliday trade in November, some exhibited worry that O'Dowd was playing with fire (Beane) and would likely get burned (Encarnacion/Ortiz/Belitz).  It looks like Beane ought to be worried about O'Dowd now.

To further illustrate this point, I'll point you to Fangraphs, where RJ Anderson writes of the Problem with Oakland.  Quite frankly, the Athletics just haven't drafted well, and their top prospects haven't panned out since Moneyball.  Anderson identified the Rays and Rockies as two teams taking the torch in the small-market-internal-development game, so he compared the three clubs' top 10 prospects (from Baseball America) from 2004-07:

"The Rockies have an extraordinarily high retention rate* of 72.5% while the Rays/A's are equal with 42.5%."

*Retention rate is defined as percentage of prospects still within the organization at the start of 2009.

Moreover, all ten of the Rockies' top ten prospects from 2007 were within the organization this past March, while Oakland and Tampa only had five.  That could be part of why the Rockies have two playoff appearances since 2007 to Tampa and Oakland's combined one...

Now time for commentary:  Jason Hirsh and Jeff Baker were traded for scraps this season and no one is calling Dan O'Dowd late at night in hopes a brandy-filled evening will allow him to loosen his grip on Greg Reynolds or Chaz Roe.  Those four represent an issue with representing small market success by retention rate.  Retaining dud or uninspiring prospects isn't really worth rewarding.  The Rays lost their top prospect from 2005-2007, but flipping him for Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett was unquestionably the right move.  Then again, after a decade drafting in the top five, they had the best prospects at their disposal for a long time, and the Rockies were drafting higher than Oakland in the time frame.  

So what does this all tell us?  The Rockies indeed develop players well, though mostly, it tells us Dan O'Dowd likes holding onto his prospects.  That's all.  The only top prospects from those four years that were traded prior to 2009 were Matt Holliday and Ryan Shealy (unanimously good trades).  It tells us the Rockies seem to hold more firm to the developmental segment of the organization than their peers, which is partly why we fans latch onto our players so much.  It also tells me that Dan O'Dowd would really have to break the mold to bring in a Brian Roberts.


Last cold links

Rox look to build on strong second half | News
Thomas Harding breaks down the roster position-by-position.  Included is the contract issues to keep an eye on.  It's a good reference point if you haven't been reading the Row every day.

Mopping Up in 2009 | FanGraphs Baseball
Josh Fogg was mop up man in 2009 - his "MOP score" placed him second in MLB behind Luis Perdomo, who allowed Clint Barmes' inside-the-park home run last month.