2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
  • Rockies are losing trust of fans with front-office arrogance

    Wed, October 24, 2012 by admin with no comments


    Following a franchise-worst 98-loss season, the Colorado Rockies are in desperate need for some grace from their fans.

    The issues go far beyond the amount of losses, the trust between the fans and the front office has been broken, something a professional sports franchise can ill afford to have happen.

    The confusion that comes from 20th & Blake is the hardest part for fans to understand. The team loses games, but that doesn’t seem to be of importance to the people running the show. Instead, the more losses that pile up, and the more fans get frustrated, the more the front office seems to get defensive.

    Things seemed to be at their worst when the team cruised into the offseason with the worst record in franchise history. Just three years removed from a playoff appearance, looking like the golden child of the National League West, the Rockies had suddenly become the laughingstock of the entire league.

    It seemed like rock bottom when the season was mercifully finished. News came out that manager Jim Tracy, Dan O’Dowd and Bill Geivett would be meeting to discuss the teams plans going forward. Despite a “handshake agreement” to keep Tracy as the front man for the Rockies indefinitely, it seemed that the promise was only good for a job within the organization. Most fans understood that Tracy wasn’t the whole problem, but his in-game decisions and his confusing lineup decisions seemed to have him on the hot seat. It was assumed by many that Tracy would be relieved of his duties, and while that wouldn’t solve the problems entirely, it would at least be an acknowledgement from the front office that things weren’t going anywhere near what they had expected.

    Instead, the meeting ended with Tracy showing his frustration with the front office meddling. Before the end of the weekend, he had turned in his resignation, turning down $1.4 million dollars in the process.

    Many sources quoted assistant general manager Geivett as being shocked that Tracy would leave. Apparently he thought the discussions went very well. Instead, Tracy’s frustrations were boiling to the point that he walked away from a job that only 30 people in the whole world have.

    Rock bottom quickly became a little lower.

    Geivett was quick to tell media outlets that despite Tracy leaving, the Rockies would continue to manage their manager the way they had done with Tracy. Despite the fact that it drove Tracy mad and made him walk away, Geivett made it clear that he would continue to pull the strings from the office next door.

    The next step came in the form of interviewing for a new manager. The internal names quickly sprung up. Both bench coach Tom Runnells and Triple-A manager Stu Coles were mentioned. Also, in a strange twist, Jason Giambi was an outside candidate.

    The issue for many fans was not that internal names were the first to be interviewed, but rather that outside names didn’t seem to be mentioned at all. Suggestions of names like Sandy Alomar Jr., Tim Wallach, and Brad Ausmus were thrown out by members of the media, but it seemed like the Rockies were content to hire from within. Not until early in the week, nearly two weeks after Tracy’s resignation, did the Rockies even mention interviewing outside candidates.

    Make no mistake, the loyalty is a great thing. It shows those who put in the work within the organization that their efforts will be rewarded. However, not even seeing what else is out there says to the fans that they have a theory at Coors Field and someone from the outside might not like it, and therefore, shouldn’t even be brought in.

    O’Dowd has made it clear on several occasions that he believes if he left the organization that the club would be set back several years. He believes this because after 13 years, he is just starting to understand the effects of altitude on baseball players. With that thought in mind, it can be assumed that he believes the only way to hire is by bringing in someone who already has the same mindset that the front office possesses. Couple that with the fact that it has already been determined that the new manager will be micro-managed, and essentially fans have nothing to get excited about.

    Whether the perception is true or not, there seems to be a stubbornness that comes from the offices at Coors Field. There seems to be a mindset that, despite what conventional logic says, despite what numbers say, despite what anyone else in the game believes, no one understands the game at Coors Field like the guys already in charge. That stubbornness translates comes across to the fans as arrogance. In fact, many times, it comes across as the front office telling their passionate fans that they have no idea what they are talking about.

    The Rockies may be realizing that their fans are slipping away. However, their stubbornness continues to tell them that if they get it right–whether that is in 2013 or 2023–those fans will come back. History says that they are correct. However, the damage that they are doing to their reputation isn’t going to be easily repaired. A year dubbed “Year of the Fan” was filled with some of the least interesting games played at Coors Field. Despite nearly three million fans pouring through the gates, the vitriol on talk shows and social media became more and more fierce.

    For the Rockies, they may have to learn the hard way that the honeymoon in Denver is over. Sure, fans will always go to games because Coors Field is a great venue, but instead of being the No. 1 pick for summertime hangouts, it might drop to fifth or sixth. It might become one of many options, instead of the crown-jewel of Denver that it is today.

    Who knows. The Rockies may have it figured out. They may be on to something with the altitude concerns. However, following a 98-loss season, it certainly doesn’t seem like the people calling the shots and have been since before the turn of the century, have any clout when it comes to decision making.

    The Rockies are losing the trust of their dwindling fan base quickly. They need to do something to get fans to buy in. If they don’t the indifference could quickly turn into passionate anger from fans. That is something no franchise wants to have to deal with.

  • Why not just make Geivett the manager instead of from behind the scenes

    Wed, October 17, 2012 by admin with no comments


    The Colorado Rockies continue to spin in circles.

    Assistant General Manager Bill Geivett and General Manager Dan O’Dowd are in the process of interviewing for their open manager position after Jim Tracy let them know that he couldn’t handle the reins that they were putting on him. He passed up $1.4 million instead of being held down by the decisions being made within the Rockies front office.

    Anyone who follows this Rockies organization knows one simple truth. There would be no big-names talked about in the search. There is zero chance that the Rockies would look to lure Joe Torre or Tony LaRussa out of retirement. They weren’t going to look at hiring Ryne Sandberg, who is being groomed for the job in Philadelphia. Those who have any knowledge of how the Rockies front office works, knows that the odds are, the team would either go with someone from within the organization, or someone who has no managerial experience.

    The reason they would make that pick? Simple. Predictability. Tom Runnells is someone this organization has known since 2004 when he managed the Tulsa Drillers. Working up the chain, Runnells went to Colorado Springs before being promoted to bench coach after Clint Hurdle was removed as Rockies manager and Tracy promoted in his place.

    The latest news suggests that the Rockies are planning on interviewing Jason Giambi. The slugger who has been with the club since 2009 is ready to trade in the cleats for a stopwatch if a team is willing to give him a shot.

    So far, the decision seems to be between Runnells and Giambi, with Runnells being the clear favorite.

    However, the decision isn’t one that is exciting for anyone. While the idea of Giambi becoming manager seems like a fun story to follow, the reality is, the name on the back of the jersey of the next Rockies manager won’t make an ounce of difference.

    It simply doesn’t matter who the front office hires to take over for Tracy. Their stance is clear. Bill Geivett has already told the media that the next manager will still be under the same constraints that were handed down to Tracy. The front office will dictate pitch-count, rotation decisions, and essentially everything else that a field manager usually dictates.

    So the question is simple. If the Rockies are looking for someone to simply take instruction and do as they are told, why not make Geivett the manager? If the front office is going to dictate when the manager has to take out his starting pitcher, they are essentially dictating the way the entire game is managed. It prevents a manager from using the bench the way he would like to because he is forced into awkward pinch-hitting situations early in the game, and forced to extend relievers in order to bridge the gap to the back end of the bullpen.

    The Rockies would like everyone to believe that the field manager will still make in-game decisions, but the reality is, the pitching limitations take the cards out of the manager’s hand. He is short-handed from the beginning of the game.

    If Geivett and O’Dowd truly believe that baseball has to be played 100 percent different in the altitude, then why not put their money where their mouths are? If they want to go down the path of exploring what it is going to take to win at Coors Field, why have someone else be the fall guy while the strings are being pulled behind the curtain?

    The answer is simple. O’Dowd and Geivett simply must have a fall guy for when their plan doesn’t work. If the Rockies lose 98 games once again in 2013, the two guys running the show can insist that they hired the wrong guy, or that he wasn’t as committed to the system, and blame him, buying themselves more time.

    If Geivett were to strap on the purple pinstripes, he and O’Dowd will have lost their buffer. They will no longer be able to point their finger at someone else for their failures. So the simple answer for them is to hire a traditional manager, but not someone who will push back on them. They must hire someone who will say yes to everything they want him to, while shouldering the questions from the media and taking the spotlight off of the front office.

    If the Rockies actually believe their plan, if they don’t actually believe that it is simply an excuse for ineptitude, they wouldn’t be afraid to completely own their ideas. Instead, they must put someone else in place to be the fall guy, buying them one more chance to hit the reset button and avoid being fired.

    The Rockies should do their fans a favor and own up to their theories. They can start by putting Bill Geivett in a uniform and calling him the manager, instead of simply having him pull the strings from behind the scenes.

  • Tracy resignation shows deeper front-office issues

    Mon, October 8, 2012 by admin with no comments


    It should have been a good day for Colorado Rockies fans. They got their wish. Jim Tracy is no longer the manager of the club. Instead, the move sheds light on just how deep this franchise’s issues are.

    Assistant General Manager Bill Geivett met with Tracy all day on Friday. The meeting was centered around the team’s desire to bring Tracy back as their manager for 2013, despite posting the worst record in the 20-year history of the team.

    The meeting, as the Denver Post so very well articulated, went further than Geivett simply giving Tracy the seal of approval. Instead, it focused on Tracy’s role continuing to diminish. When Geivett took over for Dan O’Dowd on Aug. 1, Tracy’s duties were limited to in-game management and talking to the media. What that amounts to is similar to that of the Wizard of Oz.

    Tracy, by all accounts a very nice man, put his foot down with the organization. He wasn’t going to be the guy who was simply a puppet. He wanted more control of the team, to actually be the manager. The fact that nothing was going to change made Tracy realize that he would continue to simply be the guy who looked like a fool in front of the media while the team allowed him to look like the guy making the poor decisions.

    Perhaps the most telling comment came in the ESPN.com article. Geivett mentions that he was surprised by Tracy’s decision. However, he goes on to say that no matter who the Rockies hire, the situation will remain the same, essentially meaning that Geivett will continue to micromanage the manager, choosing the lineup and only handing over the reins for the actual game itself, which essentially means bullpen decisions. Even that, however, is dictated by the front office as they continue down the path of strict pitch counts.

    The statement regarding a new manager falling under the same protocol is telling. It would make sense if the Rockies and Geivett had put Tracy on notice. If they felt that he was failing the team and that he needed a guiding hand, a move to micromanage makes a certain amount of sense. In a sense, a move like that is similar to an action plan. It holds the manager accountable and takes steps to get him back on the right path.

    However, Geivett’s statement says that the micromanagement had nothing to do with Tracy or the job that he was doing. The new manager will also be micromanaged. Even before the guy who takes over is interviewed, it is clear that the role of the manager of the Colorado Rockies will simply be to talk to the media before and after games. He won’t be deciding the lineup, he won’t have a say in the roster. Essentially, the guy the Rockies hire will simply be a guy who puts on a uniform and physically goes and takes the ball from the pitcher after that pitcher hit a designated number of pitches that the organization determined was his limit.

    Of course, finding someone who is willing to take that job won’t be hard. There are plenty of people willing to do just about anything to be the manager of a big league ball club. The Rockies will have no shortage of candidates willing to interview. However, the odds of them getting a proven leader, someone who has had success in a clubhouse and on the field is extremely unlikely.

    Most likely, the team will hire someone who has no big league managing experience. They will hire someone from within the organization who understands the system and is willing to be a puppet. Generally speaking, that is one of their current minor league managers. It also could be a long-time scout, a move similar to when the Diamondbacks hired AJ Hinch.

    The bottom line is that the Rockies were able to pawn off the entire horrible season onto Tracy. It buys both Dan O’Dowd and Geivett another season to show that they are incompetent and that they had a huge responsibility for the lack of success this team has had in the past two seasons.

    Make no mistake, Tracy was a horrible manager. His poor decisions went well beyond the 2012 season. He constantly tinkered with the lineup, generally over thought everything, and made in-game decisions that often led to scratching of the head and bewilderment. However, Tracy wasn’t the root of the problems. He was part of the problem, but he wasn’t the whole problem.

    The sad news for Rockies fans is that no matter who this team hires as manager, the lack of leadership and the micromanagement from the front office is going to sabotage that person. The front office has been full of excuses all year long, and clearly that mindset is going to continue to the point that the team is trying new things and coming up with crazy theories to justify their poor decisions.

    Jim Tracy revealed just how deep the Colorado Rockies issues are when he resigned on Sunday afternoon. Until this team cleans out the front office and demands results instead of excuses, this team will continue their free fall. They must get rid of the excuses or the downward spiral will continue.

  • So long 2012 season, it’s good to look forward to 2013

    Wed, October 3, 2012 by admin with no comments


    Congratulations! The Colorado Rockies season is over, and you made it through. It took a long time, it was painful to watch, but in the end, the Rockies avoided 100 losses and are faced with inevitable change heading in to 2013.

    The Rockies ended on a positive note, winning both their final game and their final road series of the season. Despite that fact, the team still recorded 98 losses, a record for the franchise that was set in both 1993, the inaugural season, and 2005, the height of the “GenR” movement that eventually led to the 2007 World Series appearance.

    It is easy to get negative about this team. Bring up the front office with a group of Rockies fans and it almost certainly will bring agreement that significant change needs to happen. Bring up management and many believe that Jim Tracy is just as big of an issue as Dan O’Dowd and his front office team.

    However, in an otherwise terrible season, there were positives that give hope for a brighter future, one that might be good enough to extend a season in the near future beyond game 162.

    Jordan Pacheco was perhaps the brightest spot for this franchise. Initially he was seen as a stopgap at third base, a guy who would allow Nolan Arenado, the club’s top prospect, more time to get better at the Double-A level. Pacheco had never played third base, but the Rockies figured they could put him there and deal with some bad defense.

    No one imagined that a rookie, playing a brand new position, would be able to block out the mental stress of both of those factors and go on to hit .309. That batting average was good enough to lead the Rockies and finish ninth overall in the National League.

    The questions about his defense? He ended up being better than expected and continued to get better as the season went on.

    Another rookie, Wilin Rosario turned heads. His record-setting 28 home runs were the most in Rockies history. He logged 71 RBIs, doing all of that with only 392 at-bats. Given 500 at-bats, Rosario might have done enough to garner the Rookie of the Year award, despite playing for a last-place team.

    In addition to Rosario and Pacheco, Chris Nelson broke through and showed that he can be of significant value in the big leagues, Tyler Colvin got a fresh start and showed a great swing in a Rockies uniform, and DJ LeMahieu has shown that the depth in the infield is very good.

    Overall, however, the last game of the season comes with a certain amount of excitement. It is an opportunity for the team to take a step back and see what they are doing. They can evaluate their talent and their way of going about things without the distraction of a terrible season going on right under their noses. Changes are sure to come. The depth of those changes may end up determining how many Rockies fans return in 2013. However, the good news is that those changes are on the horizon, they are no longer something that will be talked about as a future event. Rockies fans can bury their memories and move forward.

  • Rockies continue letting relievers hit, continue nose dive

    Wed, October 3, 2012 by admin with no comments


    The Colorado Rockies have been writing the same story over and over again. With one night left in the season, there was no reason to change the script.

    The game ended on a walk-off 3-run homer off the bat of Aaron Hill, but the turning point came much earlier than that.

    With starting pitcher Jhoulys Chacin rolling along, Jim Tracy removed him from the game once he hit 75 pitches. Chacin was throwing a shutout. His stuff was working and the Diamondbacks had barely even made a threat. He gave up three hits, walked two and struck out four in his five innings of work.

    Chacin gave way to Guillermo Moscoso with a 1-0 lead. Moscoso, who has been anything but spectacular in his first season as a Colorado Rockie. Tuesday night was no different. In his first inning of work he was able to wiggle out of a two-on-no-out jam. Then, in the top of the 7th inning, the Rockies had a runner at third base with two outs. The Diamondbacks elected to walk Jonathan Herrera to face the pitchers spot.

    Earlier in the season the move would have caused outrage among Rockies fans. However, in game 161 this has become the norm. Tracy allowed Moscoso to hit for himself. With very little chance, the pitcher struck out after Herrera had stolen second base. The move essentially gave up on two insurance runs that the team quickly realized they needed.

    Moscoso, who clearly wasn’t on his game in the previous inning, then trotted back to the mound in the 7th inning and promptly gave up a double and a home run to give up the Rockies’ small lead.

    Of course, the bench is short. There is no reason why the bench should be short, considering the fact that clubs can carry 40 men at this time of year. However, even with a short bench, there is no reason not to use a pinch hitter in that situation. None. The reality is, in a nine-inning game, a team only gets so many chances with runners at second and third base. A base hit would have put the Rockies up 3-0 and changed the course of the rest of the game.

    Instead, the team had to battle back, get a clutch hit from Jordan Pacheco to score two runs, and then eventually gave up a walk-off three run homer to lose the game.

    Games like Tuesday night’s are what those following the Rockies all season long have had to deal with. The logic is simply missing. There is no explanation for some of the moves that the Rockies have been making all season long. The moves may be being made by Jim Tracy, or they may be decided by those above him. Bill Geivett and Dan O’Dowd very well may be deciding what Tracy decides in that situation. However, Tracy has to be the one to take the fall for it. He is the one who pulls the trigger and must take some blame for it.

    This weekend’s meeting between Tracy and Geivett will tell whether or not these are the last days of Tracy allowing his relief pitchers to swing the bat. Rockies fans can only hope that whatever changes are made, they will end up making a difference in the way the team goes about things.

    The Rockies conclude their worst season ever on Wednesday night in Arizona. The end is finally here for a season that crashed and burned before it ever got out of the blocks.

  • Ownership needs to go back to drawing board

    Tue, October 2, 2012 by admin with no comments


    It came down to the last series of the season, but the Colorado Rockies have avoided their first 100-loss season in franchise history.

    On Monday night, after the Rockies had battled back against Rookie of the Year candidate Wade Miley, Rafael Betancourt came in to finish off the Diamondbacks and send the Rockies back to their hotel certain that they wouldn’t cross the 100-loss threshold. However, Betancourt gave up a home run to Paul Goldschmidt, picking up a blown save and sending the game to extra innings.

    When Goldschmidt launched the home run, it seemed like fate was whispering in the Rockies ears that it was meant to be. This team was supposed to lose 100 games.

    However, the Rockies decided that wouldn’t be the case. In the 13th inning Tyler Colvin hit a deep fly ball to the left-center gap, which bounced once and landed in the crowd. Chris Nelson, who has been phenomenal since returning from the disabled list, singled up the middle to score Colvin. The flood gates opened and the Rockies ended up putting up four runs, ensuring that they would win for the 63rd time in 2012, bailing them out of the black eye that is losing 100 games.

    Many fans were cheering for the Rockies to lose 100 games. Those fans strongly believe that the stigma of losing 100 games would be the silver bullet to get Dick Monfort to pull the trigger on a clean sweep of the organization. The reality is, if the embarrassment that has come from the 2012 season, whether the Rockies lose 97, 98, or 99 games isn’t enough for ownership to see that a major overhaul is necessary, then 100 losses wouldn’t do the trick. In fact, 110 losses might not have done the trick either.

    The reality is, fans hoping for change might be in for a huge disappointment. Based on the way the Rockies have hesitated to talk about Jim Tracy’s future, it seems almost certain that he will manage only two more games in a Rockies uniform. However, he very well may end up being the scapegoat for a terrible season.

    Tracy deserves his fair share of blame, but for a team to perform this poorly is a result of the culture that has been created not just in the clubhouse, but one that has run throughout the whole organization. If this franchise wants a quick turnaround, they simply must figure out how to quit making excuses and how to separate a friendship from a job that must be done.

    The sad thing for Rockies fans is that a mini celebration broke out when the team nailed down their 63rd victory. Ironically, the game was played exactly five years to the day of the Rockies magical play-in game against the San Diego Padres, and three years to the day that they clinched a playoff spot in 2009.

    In just a few short years, this franchise has turned into a train wreck. After the Rockies put a disappointing 2008 season behind them and proved that they were for real, they seemed to be primed to make a long run at the playoffs. Maybe they wouldn’t win the National League West consistently, but they would be a factor in the race. At the time, that seemed obvious, the Rockies were a good, young team.

    Suddenly, the franchise finds itself not only among the worst teams in baseball, but beyond that, some of their theories have made them the laughingstock of the game.

    Bottom line, it is time for change. This ownership group needs to tip its cap to the fans and go back to the drawing board. Firing a few coaches, or even firing Tracy, simply isn’t good enough. This team needs serious change. It needs people who won’t make excuses, but will find ways to win. The current group isn’t cutting it, and the bad part is, they have the talent to win.