Baseball Toaster Mike's Baseball Rants
This is my site with my opinions, but I hope that, like Irish Spring, you like it, too.
Frozen Toast
Google Search
Mike's Baseball Rants


10  09  07 
06  05  04  03 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
Links to MBBR
Rockie Decisions
2006-02-06 21:58
by Mike Carminati

The Rockies announced today that general manager Dan O'Dowd and manager Clint Hurdle were given contract extensions through the 2007 season, and I am left wondering what a guy has to do to get fired in Colorado.

This is a team that has witnessed one winning season in the last eight and that hasn't made the playoffs in the last ten. They have seen their attendance slip from first in the NL in their first 7 seasons (and as high as 4.5 M in their inaugural season) to fourteenth in the 16-team NL last year with their first attendance mark under two million for a season.

O'Dowd has held his job over six seasons and has job for over six seasons and has registered one season (barely) over .500 and that was over five years ago (82-80 in 2000) and has never had a team finish higher than fourth in a five team division. Since O'Dowd took over no Rockie team has finished within 15 games of first and his teams have finished on average 21 games out. And it should be mentioned that the Rockies fell from first in attendance in his first full season as GM and have been falling steadily since.

Here is the Rockies' record in the years prior to O'Dowd:

199366795.414 63 99 .39037
199435364.453 53 64 .4516.5
199527767.535 72 72 .5011
199638379.512 81 81 .4998
199738379.512 82 80 .5077
199847785.475 78 84 .48421
Total 3.71 507552.479497562.469 15.50

Now, here is their record under O'Dowd:

1999-O'DowdNA57.417 4 8 .339NA
200048280.506 87 75 .53515
200157389.451 82 80 .50919
200247389.451 70 92 .43525
200347488.457 78 84 .48026.5
200446894.420 73 89 .45325
200556795.414 70 92 .43115
6+ yrs 4.33 442542.449 465 519 .472 20.92

Even though they were an expansion club in the first table above, they outperformed the later edition of the team by a decent margin.

You may also note that they O'Dowd's teams consistently performed worse than expected (and recorded one winning season instead of the two expected) while the Rockies before O'Dowd consistently outperformed expectations. And if you think that the high scores at Coors had something to do with it, keep in mind that all but two or the pre-O'Dowd seasons were played outside of Coors.

As for Hurdle, he simply has the worst record with his club of any manager active in 2005 who wasn't fired by his club or wasn't in his first season:

Bob Schaefer19912005KCA612.333
Alan Trammell20032005DET186300.383
Buddy Bell20052005KCA4369.384
Tony Pena20022005KCA198285.410
Lou Piniella20032005TBA200285.412
Sam Perlozzo20052005BAL2332.418
Mike Hargrove20052005SEA6993.426
Lloyd McClendon20012005PIT336446.430
Dave Miley20032005CIN125164.433
Clint Hurdle20022005COL276350.441
Ned Yost20032005MIL216269.445
Pete Mackanin20052005PIT1214.462
John Gibbons20042005TOR100112.472
Bob Melvin20052005ARI7785.475
Lee Mazzilli20042005BAL129140.480
Bruce Bochy19952005SDN863901.489
Buck Showalter20032005TEX239247.492
Eric Wedge20032005CLE241245.496

And these are the men who get contract extensions?!? Maybe the intention was to ensure that they were not worried about their jobs going into the season, but sheez, shouldn't they be worried?

The more I looks at this franchise the more I think they will be ready to join their expansion-mates, the Marlins, as the two clubs being bandied around after next season when the inevitable contraction rumors start to spread.

2006-02-07 07:01:21
1.   Mike from Hoboken
It's the thin air. Hurdle and O'Dowd actually earn a lot less money at sea level.
2006-02-07 07:37:38
2.   Murray
Mike, Mike, Mike--the Rockies got a new stadium less than 10 years ago! There's no way they're a contraction candidate.
2006-02-07 10:16:50
3.   rbj
O'Dowd & Hurdle have embarrassing photos of the Rockies owners.

I wonder if the effects of pitching at altitude has scared off any decent starter. Has the quality of free agent starters the Rockies have signed gone downhill so much and that's why the Rockies stink?

2006-02-07 16:22:37
4.   Mark T.R. Donohue
A couple of things:

Coors Field opened in 1995, and in the two years before that, Mile High Stadium played as just as much if not more of a hitters' park.

After the Rockies landed O'Dowd, they went out and signed Denny Neagle and Mike Hampton. This ended up being a colossal waste of money from which the franchise just extricated itself this year.

Since then, the only notable free agent starter they've signed was Shawn Estes, who was mysteriously 15-8 with an 86 ERA+ in 2004. Wisely, the Rockies decided not to outbid Arizona to retain Estes.

So why are they bad? Well, in my understanding the team topped itself out payrollwise with diminishing won-loss returns while building around veteran slugger types in the mid-to-late 90's. They rightly figured there was no way they were ever going to win a playoff series with no decent starters, so they foolishly committed a lot of money to Hampton and Neagle. That went so disastrously that now the team is completely unwilling to lay out any money whatsoever for free agent starters, and perhaps free agents themselves are loathe to sign in the ERA-destroying rarified air of Denver.

So they're building from within, which they really should have done in the first place. Ownership has decided after his failure as a big-market free agent recruiter to let O'Dowd try his hand as an organizational guy. He seems to have a more coherent plan than the franchise has ever seen before, which is not saying much. There's a few more years left before guys like Matt Holliday and Jason Jennings reach free agency, so O'Dowd has until then to start producing results on the field.

The team's payroll has gone rather rapidly from about $80 million three years ago to around $40 million now. The product on the field however is no worse and perhaps even a little better (the team was really massacred by injuries last season, which you wouldn't expect from so young a team but there you have it). The hope is that two or three of the Jennings/Aaron Cook/Jeff Francis/Ubaldo Jimenez/Dragon Lo group become legit major league starters before Todd Helton gets bored, and then they'll have some money to spend to fill the holes they have no answers for in the system (fifth starter, power-hitting outfielder, catcher if Chris Ianetta doesn't pan out).

I doubt Clint Hurdle will be the manager when and if the Rockies start contending, but O'Dowd has a good chance to stick around. Under the current regime's spending mandates I don't see how anyone else could do any better. They even re-signed Byung-Hyun Kim, making him before the season even starts the single greatest free agent starting pitching acquisition in franchise history. Yes, the bar is low.

2006-02-07 18:07:52
5.   Mike Carminati
True, and I should have mentioned that the Rockies have flip-flopped approaches about every two years. Go after pitching. Well, that failed, so go after sluggers. That failed, so go after defense. Power pitchers. Junkball pitchers. submarine pitchers.

Also, their payroll hasn't fluctuated as much as that, though it dipped quite a bit last year:

Yr Payroll
1993 $10,353,500
1994 $23,887,333
1995 $34,154,717
1996 $40,179,823
1997 $43,559,667
1998 $50,484,648
1999 $61,935,837
2000 $61,111,190
2001 $71,541,334
2002 $56,851,043
2003 $67,179,667
2004 $65,445,167
2005 $47,839,000

2006-02-07 20:41:42
6.   Samthefan
As i understand it, the ownership of the Rockies doesn't get baseball. One of the head owners in the organization said after an opening day win in 2005 that "The rockies will win the NL West" (paraphrased). I get the sense, being in colorado, that the ownership group gives o'dowd a top spending limit and o'dowd just makes due. Clint Hurdle kept his job by not complaining about the ridiculously low player quality during the season. Seriously, Dustan Mohr is terrible.

Comment status: comments have been closed. Baseball Toaster is now out of business.