This evening I had the privilege of being on 104.3 The Fan with Sandy Clough to talk about the Rockies and clearly the discussion among Rockies fans is who should be fired? Or should anyone keep their job? Rockies fans are getting so frustrated that they are not just asking for Bob Apodaca or Jim Tracy to lose their job but they want to see Dan O’Dowd, ‘Dac and Tracy ALL get the ax.
Who should get it first?
In years past the Monfort brothers have taken most of the abuse because the perception is that they are tight with their purse strings: not spending the money required to have a contending team. Sure this might be the case but I think they realized (much like the Anaheim Angels just might be finding out with Albert Pujols) that spending a ton of cash in the free agent market isn’t the best use of their financial resources.
But then this last offseason the Monfort’s went and inked not only Troy Tulowitzki to a lengthy and pricey contract but they doubled down by giving an extension to Carlos Gonzalez (which still surprises me considering who represents CarGo).
Hard to pin the blame on the Monfort’s now that they have spent some cash. But the Rockies continue to suck. Someone has to take the fall, right?
Tracy is an easy target; the manager or man in charge always is. While I wouldn’t shed a tear if Tracy were to get canned I just can’t see this entire season being only his fault. The messy handling of Ian Stewart, Chris Iannetta and Dexter Fowler were enough to get him fired in my humble opinion but this year the product he was provided to manage just isn’t up to par. Outside of Tulo and CarGo there isn’t much on the Rockies roster than many other teams would be interested in trading for.
There were rumors sparking today that possibly the Rockies are looking to trade Esmil Rogers (don’t let the door hit ya, Esmil) but who wants him? Who would want any of the barely big league level talent that the Rockies have at almost every position? Guys like Marco Scutaro, Michael Cuddyer and to some extent Ramon Hernandez, Jeremy Guthrie and possibly Fowler would get some interest from other teams but it will be very difficult for the Rockies to get anything of value in return.
O’Dowd has stocked the Rockies 40-man roster with a bunch of fringe MLB talent. He should take the fall if you ask me (and you are reading my opinion…).
I think the likely candidate who gets fired however, is Apodaca. The Rockies pitching is terrible (where is Charles Barkley when you need him or at the very least Frank Caliendo?). I don’t agree with this either.
Looking at the staff of pitchers that Apodaca has to work with this year there isn’t a lot of quality. He has seven guys who could start for the Rockies but none of them are very good.
Guthrie wasn’t great in Baltimore and his style doesn’t fit Coors Field. And speaking of bad fits none are worse than Guillermo Moscoso for Coors.
Jamie Moyer is old and throws soft pitch in the big leagues. The fact that he just might be the most reliable pitcher on the Rockies staff in of itself should be enough to get O’Dowd fired.
The Rockies have a crop of young arms in Juan Nicasio, Drew Pomeranz, Christian Friedrich and Alex White who could all be solid big league pitchers and we will get to them in just a bit.
The two biggest cases against Apodaca are Jhoulys Chacin and Ubaldo Jimenez. Both were looking to be very good pitchers and there was a time late in 2010 and early in 2011 when some were thinking they might be worthy of comparing to some of the other great 1-2 punches in the National League West. Then Ubaldo either forgot how to pitch or was pissed at the Rockies and threw a three month tantrum causing him to be traded (and based on his outings thus far in 2012 he just plain forgot how to find the strike zone and throw hard) and now Chacin is in the minor leagues because he has been awful this year (and not really good at all since about mid-season in 2011).
Are these two prized pitching talents fall from grace all on Apodaca? I don’t think so.
Are the development of guys like White, Pomeranz, Nicasio and Friedrich all on Apodaca? I don’t think so.
By the time a player gets to the big leagues, pitcher or position player, the manager and coaches are mostly shrinks for the players, not teachers. All the teachers in an organization sit in the minor league and the guys for an organization that are going to really shape and mold the players are in the lower levels when the players are still somewhat a pile of Play-Doh waiting to be molded into something good, or if the organization is lucky, something great.
The lack of big league pitching talent from Rockies drafts (with the exception of guys like Jeff Francis and Aaron Cook who were at least serviceable) is not on Apodaca it is on the guys in the minor leagues who are failing to grow their young pitching.
Tyler Matzek is a prime example as a guy who was highly touted going into the 2009 draft and when the Rockies selected Matzek he immediately jumped to the top of their prospects according to sites like Baseball America. Going into 2011 he was the highest rated prospect the Rockies had (some might have said Wilin Rosario) despite a lackluster 2010. Then the wheels fell off. Matzek couldn’t find the strike zone and was getting lit like Uncle Fred on New Year’s Eve (we all have that uncle, don’t we?). It resulted in Matzek taking a leave of absence from the Rockies to go back to work with his old coach.
Matzek is still tooling around in the low level minor leagues for the Rockies and now doesn’t make most experts top 20 list when talking Rockies minor leaguers.
Friedrich lost velocity on his fastball. Greg Reynolds has never developed. The list goes on and on. And these are issues with pitchers that haven’t worked with Apodaca.
I have a hard time pinning the Rockies pitching performance on Apodaca but at the same time can understand the fans burning desire to see a few heads roll and with the current state of the Rockies pitching staff Apodaca does seemingly appear to be the guy who takes the fall.
The Rockies organization has tried the high priced free agents (Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle) and they have tried the long term inking of a home grown talent (Todd Helton and now Tulo) and they have tried trading proven players in an attempt to reel in a king’s ransom in minor league talent (Matt Holliday for CarGo and more recently the Ubaldo trade) and nothing has worked. It is time for a clean sweep and a fresh beginning.
O’Dowd must go. The Rockies need to get a GM who will hire the right people in the minor leagues and player development. And they must do something about the Sky Sox: they need a viable facility where their AAA team can continue player development and Colorado Springs is just too much of a jumping pad (think Coors Field pre-humidor).
Along with O’Dowd I think his right hand man also takes the blame and is fired. Tracy just isn’t helping the team win and all the mental lapses on the field (at least three today in their 7-9 loss) has to be on the coach. It is his job to ensure the team is prepared to play and if they are not he must do something about it. He won’t and the team will continue to make pitiful mistakes.
And if Tracy goes then his staff probably goes, too. Which means Apodaca is looking for a job, Carney Lansford, too.
So I guess the answer to my initial question “who gets fired first” is everyone. Everyone must go. The Rockies aren’t contending in 2012 so let a fresh staff come in and start working with the team and evaluating who they want to keep going forward.
Get rid of O’Dowd. There had been rumors that O’Dowd’s #2 was getting interest in GM positions: Bill Geivett. Give him a shot.
Until massive changes occur I don’t see the Rockies contending anytime soon.
**And before you start throwing names like Don Cooper of the White Sox (Phillip Humber threw a perfect game!?) and Dave Duncan in St. Louis I might remind you how highly praised Leo Mazzone was because everyone said he was the reason guys like Greg Maddux, John Smoltz and Tom Glavine (among others) were so good. But then Mazzone went to Baltimore and his staff didn’t do squat and now he isn’t even in baseball! Last time I checked Maddux was pretty good after he left Atlanta, Glavine too. Guys in the big leagues need little instruction, they need a good shrink.