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Friday Rockpile: The Trust in Dan O'Dowd

Dan O'Dowd was hired by the Monforts on September 20, 1999. While Bill Geivett has been given greater responsibility, O'Dowd is still the one making the radio show rounds with Dick Monfort.

Fans thought Dan O'Dowd had run out of solutions in 2002.
Fans thought Dan O'Dowd had run out of solutions in 2002.
(Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

As the Rockies have been largely silent this offseason, except for minor signings like Tommy Manzella yesterday, there has been little news to use for inspiration in morning Rockpiles. Fortunately, Jonah Keri had a piece posted this morning for Baseball Prospectus titled "When Good GMs Go Bad" which focuses largely on O'Dowd.

The Rockies' Dan O'Dowd has seemingly tried everything... He broke up the Blake Street Bombers, chucking Coors-inflated sluggers Vinny Castilla and Dante Bichette. He paid astronomical sums to sign Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle. He's tried assembling speed and defense. He's made an ungodly number of trades and player moves, some of which...even suggest a reversal back to the home-run derby days.

Seems accurate. Keri goes on.

To his credit, O'Dowd made the Rockies younger and cheaper, building a strong core up the middle and a decent group of secondary players that could compete in the near future. He also deserves some caveats for the team's struggles... Playing mile-high baseball may be the toughest challenge any team has faced in decades. He may need to turn pitcher usage on its ear to build a winner. He may need to hire a team of shamans.

That first sentence is definitely true, as Rosario, Tulowitzki and Fowler are a team strength, and the team has definitely gotten younger and cheaper. The last half of this passage has certainly been a hot-button issue in 2012.

But how long will ownership wait? The team went from 73 to 64 wins last year...The Rockies may be the team worst equipped to win (the NL West). They tired of Alex White. Todd Helton is getting older. Michael Cuddyer may be untradeable due to his contract.

Aside from the obviously misguided assumption that ownership is capable of tiring of O'Dowd, this all seems right on. Now for the scary part? That article was originally published ten and a half years ago. Yes really, it is from April 25, 2002. Every word was re-displayed exactly as it originally appeared, although I took the liberties to update the last passage to current times, replacing 84, 73, Ben Petrick, Larry Walker and Hampton/Neagle with 73, 64, White, Helton and Cuddyer.

So little has changed. Given Colorado has had only fleeting success in the decade since, with the current direction decidedly downward, there is very little to support Dick Monfort's notion that O'Dowd is one of the best general managers in the game.

It should be noted that despite the consistency between 2002 problems and 2012 problems, O'Dowd has avoided a completely consistent status quo of late. Project 5183 followed Keri's suggestion of turning "pitcher usage on its ear." The Rockies will have a new manager, hitting coach and pitching coordinator. Some changes have been made.

But as O'Dowd continues to be the man at Dick Monfort's side on the radio show circle, it is apparent O'Dowd is still chiefly responsible for the Rockies' direction, if not completely directly, at least through the disciples that have worked under him for several years.

The NL West has gotten much more difficult to compete in this offseason, by several orders of magnitude. The engineer of the past decade still has no answers, and now that the problem is more difficult, it is understandable for fans to have little hope the current leadership cracks the code. Hopefully Bill Geivett has more control and different vision. I am hopeful in spite of myself, but it is difficult to imagine the Rockies competing in the New AL East without fresh, new, outside vision.


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