The current situation the Rockies find themselves in -- 7 games below .500 in May, all but out of the division at 9.5 GB has created a mood among Rockies fans that is very familiar indeed. After this loss that dropped the team to 14-21, 9.5 games back 3 years ago to the day, the Rockies were frustrating enough to us at Purple Row that we started thinking of long-term plans that could fix this team.
My modest proposal back then gave Colorado a 12 step plan to success involving a major reconstruction of the team while Rox Girl's 6 step manifesto talked about the Rockies rebuilding around their young core. Then of course Clint Hurdle was fired, the rest of 2009 happened, and those plans were mostly unnecessary. Maybe that's what will happen this year, but I'm not holding my breath. So let's talk about long-term plans for this mess on our hands.
Two steps both plans had in common were the need for a decision to be made about Dan O'Dowd's tenure (stay or go) and for Clint Hurdle to not be back with the team in 2010. On the former, the Monforts decided that O'Dowd was the right guy to be running the team, while they didn't feel the same about Hurdle. That one turned out pretty well. Will this situation turn out differently with O'Dowd and Tracy? O'Dowd built a team that went to the playoffs twice in 3 years and Tracy helmed the latter team's remarkable turnaround. But both men certainly have their faults.
O'Dowd has had a tendency to overvalue his own prospects and homegrown players (think Brad Hawpe and Garrett Atkins). His post-Tulo draft track record has been shoddy, including the execrable pick of a college reliever at #8 in the 2007 draft. The emphasis on character (which is undoubtedly being influenced by ownership) when looking at free agents and prospects alike might be coming a little too much at the expense of talent.
Meanwhile, Tracy has had the unusual distinction of stirring up feelings of widespread hate in each of the 3 MLB franchises he has led. Some of his myriad faults are listed here in a horribly prophetic article from 2006 (a must-read if you haven't seen it already), and his sordid managerial career is covered in this piece by Chris Jaffe of the Hardball Times.
While it seems unlikely to me that the Monforts will give either of these men the boot in the near future, it might behoove them to sit O'Dowd and Tracy down together and come up with a strategy that the GM will design and that Tracy will implement going forward. It's been a little difficult to ascertain the plan for Colorado of late given some of the personnel decisions that were made both in building the roster (O'Dowd) and in individual games (Tracy). To be honest, I'm uneasy with the thought of those two men planning the future of the organization, but somebody has to make a coherent plan.
While Colorado might not have such an obvious trade piece as they did with Brad Hawpe at this point in 2009, members of this 2012 bridge to nowhere team do have value or will build it leading up to the deadline -- most notably Jeremy Guthrie and Rafael Betancourt. Maybe the Rockies will pull the trigger on selling some of their short-term veteran pieces this summer.
It's also become apparent that giving the myriad young pitching prospects acquired by O'Dowd recently the opportunity to grow into MLB pitchers at the MLB level might in fact give the Rockies their best chance to win now and in the future. Colorado could have a September rotation of Jorge De La Rosa and 4 pitchers 26 and under. Should this be the plan?
As for position players, third base has been the usual sinkhole offensively and so has second base unfortunately. Colorado has a lot of potential options for those slots (sell low on Scutaro? call up Arenado?), but at some point they need to commit to seeing which of their young players is worth keeping in 2013 and beyond. There's certainly value in putting a respectable MLB product on the field (and that's what Colorado is trying to do with these bridge veterans), but as I said on Monday, is what we're seeing now a respectable product?
I'd love to hear your thoughts on a plan that will set the Rockies up for present and/or future success.Christian Friedrich Praise
The Rockies' 1st round pick in 2008 has been extremely impressive in his first two MLB starts, throwing strikes at an excellent rate. Fangraphs has an article about how Friedrich has succeeded thus far.
Patrick Saunders' mailbag deals with the blame game for the 2012 season, Drew Pomeranz's lower velocity, and Troy Tulowitzki's spring malaise.
In Troy Renck's story of last night's
almost loss win, he talks about what the Rockies need to do to dig themselves out of this hole -- most forcefully, that they need to stop being patient and make some wholesale changes.