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Past & Present: The problem with Dick and Dan

Addressing a common, but largely unfair, criticism of the Rockies ownership and discussing some of the real issues with Rockies management.

Jay Alves (left) along with Bill Geivett and Dick Monfort introduces new Rockies manager Walt Weiss.
Jay Alves (left) along with Bill Geivett and Dick Monfort introduces new Rockies manager Walt Weiss.
Doug Pensinger

The Monforts are cheap.

That is the most common criticism, whether directly stated or implied, of the way the Rockies are run by fans and a large part of the local media. However, it is a criticism that is largely unwarranted.

Unless something drastically with their revenue streams, the Rockies will never be a team like the Yankees or Dodgers with an unlimited budget, they won't even be in the class of the Red Sox, Tigers and Cardinals for that matter, the finances just don't work.

However, according to Cot's Contracts, the Rockies' opening day payroll reached as high as $84.2 million in 2010, though it has slipped to slightly under $74 million in 2013.

Also consider the cases of Todd Helton, Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, three players who the Rockies have paid, or committed to pay, a sum of nearly $400 million to play for the club. Try telling one of them that the Rockies are cheap. They will also be paying $10.5 million to Michael Cuddyer in 2014 as well as $11 million to Jorge De La Rosa provided his option is picked up.

Consider off-the-field costs as well, such as the upkeep of Coors Field, outside observers consistently remark on the cleanliness of Coors compared to other ballparks and there is almost always some sort of significant upgrade in facilities as each new season dawns.

This is not to say that there aren't valid criticisms of Rockies ownership and management, just that cheapness isn't one of them. It would be more accurate to say that the Rockies are risk-averse, insular, and loyal to a fault at times.

Those traits collided last month when the team made the decision to keep Cuddyer in the organization rather than trade him in the midst of a career year. They did not want to risk the players they got in return not panning out, but did want to maintain the status quo and keep Cuddyer, by all accounts a good guy and teammate, in the clubhouse when it may have been better to move him.

The Rockies', especially Dan O'Dowd's, risk-aversion likely stems in part from the fact that one of O'Dowd's first moves as general manager was to give $175 million to Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle, who were both spectacular flops in a Rockies uniform. After those deals, a measure of caution is certainly understandable, but it's been 13 years, you can step out on a limb again, Dan.

You can also attribute the Rockies' risk-averse nature to the fact that Project 5183, which had been in the works for some time, was not implemented until 2012 was a lost season and the team had nothing to lose. It was also likely a factor in the saga that was the Ubaldo Jimenez trade.

With the risk-aversion aspect of the Rockies' philosophy comes a certain insularity and a tendency to be overly-loyal to employees. This was epitomized in the fact that they were willing to keep Jim Tracy on as manager after the disastrous 2012 season despite the fact that the team won just 64 games and the team's winning percentage dropped from .638 to .512 to .451 to .395 in his four seasons as manager.

When Tracy did resign, who did the Rockies turn to as a replacement, former player and special assistant to O'Dowd, Walt Weiss. Jason Giambi, a Rockies player in 2012, and Tom Runnells, the team's bench coach then and now, were among the finalists for the job as well.

Another recent personnel decision was the one to add a Director of Pitching Operations for the organization. Who got that job? Mark Wiley, a friend and former colleague of O'Dowd's. Who represented the team at the 2013 Draft? Pedro Astacio and Walker Monfort, a member of the Rockies scouting department. If that last name sounds familiar, it's Dick Monfort's son. Insular and loyal as ever.

Also, the Monforts don't tend to fire people, just re-assign them within the organization. as they did with Bob Apodaca and, to an extent, O'Dowd when they named assistant general manager Bill Geivett the Director of Major League Operations.

However, there is an upside to the Monforts' loyalty. When you're loyal to others, they tend to return the favor, as Tulowitzki and Gonzalez did when they signed lengthy contract extensions at below market value.

There are issues within the Rockies organization, that much can't be denied, but it is important to correctly identify the problems so you can come up with the proper solutions. Throwing money at the problem could fix things, but a better idea would be to take a few more risks and bring in some people from outside the organization with a different view of things.