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Colorado Rockies: The Curse of Rocktober

Rocktober is one of the main reasons the Colorado Rockies are in a deep, deep hole
Rocktober is one of the main reasons the Colorado Rockies are in a deep, deep holeHarry How/Getty Images
Kevin LarsonContributor IIOctober 29, 2012

We all remember where we were when Rocktober first began: When Colorado Rockies' Matt Holliday slid his hand across the plate in the bottom of the 13th, stunning a San Diego Padres team that had taken a two run lead in the top of that inning.

Who would have thought that five seasons later that postseason is one of the main reasons that the Rockies are in the mess they've accumulated today.

"But the Rockies made it to the World Series that year!"

Yes, they did. And yes, in 2009 they also won the wild card in a year where many deemed them to be better than they were in 2007. But because of their unbelievable streak in 2007 (21 of 22 leading to the World Series), and because they were motivated by the firing of Clint Hurdle in early 2009, it covered up the real problems the Rockies faced, and essentially bought Dan O'Dowd and The Monforts an extra five years at their jobs.

Let's go back to the beginning of the 2007 season. Remember the site www.MonfortsMustSell.com?

"With love and money, we built the field for a baseball team now owned by Charlie and Dick Monfort. In return, they have slowly destroyed our dreams of seeing the World Series in Colorado."- Mark Kiszla, The Denver Post.

That was written on May 22, 2007 but it reads like it was yesterday's headlines.

"The problem with the Rockies starts with the ownership."

 

"The owners hired a general manager who clearly doesn't know what he's doing."

"The owners haven't produced the funding to get top-quality players."

"It's time for a change in ownership and leadership."

"...the Monfort brothers inexplicably kept faith in general manager Dan O'Dowd..."

It goes to show you that absolutely nothing has changed with the Rockies. We still refuse to focus on pitching because of the pre-humidor failures of Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle. The starting rotation has become so bad since 2009 only Ubaldo Jimenez (19) and Jhoulys Chacin (11) have had more than ten wins as a starter.

Injuries proved that the Rockies weren't ready for this year from a pitching standpoint. With Jorge De La Rosa out and numerous other injuries to the staff during the season they posted an ERA over 5.00 for the first time since 2005 when they accumulated 67 wins (three better than 2012). They were forced to throw in unproven rookies which led to the most unorthodox pitching system ever thought up by none other than Dan O'Dowd, leader of the Altitude Accusers.

With his four man 75-pitch limit, piggyback rotation approach, O'Dowd believed the way to succeed at altitude was by saving arm strength. Yes, it did work for a short period of time but it is not the way to better your team in the long haul. Using a normal pitching system can work at Coors Field, if you have decent pitchers, not just rookies hoping to pan out and washed-up veterans hoping for a second chance.

 

After all, the Rockies aren't the only ones pitching in Coors Field. And it's not as if they're hitting horribly either.

The Rockies in 2012, as bad as their record was, ranked no lower than 6th in runs scored, batting average, on base percentage and slugging percentage. With an offense as dynamic as the Rockies, winning shouldn't be a problem.

This goes to show that they've neglected the pitching side of the game for too long, and it's coming back to haunt them.

O'Dowd and the Monforts can blame the altitude as the reason they haven't gone out to try to find decent pitchers in the free agent market, and instead have focused on offense to overcome their pitching deficiency. They'd rather try to build rookies through the farm system instead of trying to attract pitchers. The fact of the matter is that they have made Coors Field such an undesirable place to play that outsiders are afraid to come in.

Bill Geivett hasn't made things any better in his increased role yet either. Relinquishing the powers of the manager led to Jim Tracy's resignation, and only in-house candidates are realistic options as the next manager of the Colorado Rockies. Tom Runnells is one of only three candidates they have interviewed that has had previous managerial experience, though it's been a very long time since he last held the position (former manager of the Montreal Expos). Jerry Manuel (managed the New York Mets) and Sandy Alomar Jr. (interim manager of the Cleveland Indians in 2012) are the only other ones.

Could you honestly see this team being run well by someone such as Jason Giambi or Walt Weiss?

 

That's how bad it's gotten for the Colorado Rockies. They are serious options now because no one wants this job.

It all starts with the front office. Because of their inadequacy to field a continually competitive team and their lack of spending money on pitching, the Rockies are in a deep, deep hole. They may be better next year with the return of Jorge De La Rosa and Troy Tulowitzki but the division isn't getting any easier.

The Dodgers' acquisitions of Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez has made them a threat for years to come. The Giants just won their second World Series in the past three years. The Diamondbacks and Padres are always problems for the Rockies as well.

It's a tough road ahead for the Rockies if they wish to stay competitive, and it starts with the ownership getting their heads on straight and starting to get serious about winning. But who knows if that day will ever come with the Monforts blinded by their love for O'Dowd, and the money that continuously comes in from the Rockies faithful blindly rooting for the next man up in the box.

Just think about how different things could be now if the Rockies would have won just one less game in 2007. The situation we're in is the result of The Curse of Rocktober.

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