Dan O’Dowd was always one of those general managers that I felt should be on the short list of general managers to be fired. For whatever reason, he wasn't.
Over the past several seasons he has done a complete 180 and has joined the short list of general managers that I would want for my team. The difference is that he shifted his focus to younger players and committed to developing young pitchers.
The Rockies have become known for their late-season dashes to the playoffs. This season, they surrendered early, but it was one of those once-in-a-lifetime deals they couldn’t afford to pass up. The end result is a team that could be difficult to contend with when 2012 rolls around.
Team Payroll: 88.1 million (14th)
Composite Rank: 13.2
Analysis Score: plus-0.8
Very few teams can claim to be built around their shortstop, but the Rockies are one of them. Troy Tulowitzki is signed through the decade and has the makings of a Hall of Fame shortstop. He is a plus defender (borderline Gold Glove) and a terrific hitter. He is joined in the lineup by Carlos Gonzalez.
Gonzalez is also signed long-term, but I’m not as optimistic about him. He had a monster 2010 season and a good year this year, but his strikeout-to-walk ratio doesn’t bode well for the future.
The rest of the team appears to be in transition. Seth Smith seems to have cemented a job for himself in right field and Dexter Fowler looks good in centerfield, but the infield is a mess.
Mark Ellis came from Oakland to man second, but his contract is up. Todd Helton has been an institution at first base, but like most institutions, most Rockies fans are ready for him to go. Third base is too much of a mess to even describe. Kevin Kouzmanoff may end up being the guy, but chances are it will be either Ty Wigginton or someone from outside the organization. Chris Iannetta is a solid catcher, but his days are likely numbered.
You have to hand it to O’Dowd to figure out that Jimenez wasn’t going to be the ace everyone thought he would be. He got maximum value for him. Alex White and Drew Pomeranz appear to be permanent fixtures in that rotation. Jhoulys Chacin is not a household name, but he has sported a 3.64 ERA in 175 innings. Jason Hammels keeps vacilliating between the rotation and the pen, but he is second in innings. If Jorge de la Rosa is healthy, he and Aaron Cook will round out the rotation.
O’Dowd has done excellent work here so far, but you have to think he isn’t done. They claimed Wandy Rodriguez in August, but couldn’t work out a deal with the Astros. It might be interesting to see if he revisits that this winter. One more solid starter would really round out this rotation for 2012.
The Rockies' bullpen is one of the deeper bullpens in baseball. They don’t have any relievers you would call dominant, but they have a lot of solid ones. Huston Street opened the season as the closer, but he always seems one outing away from getting the boot. He was finally replaced in late August by Rafael Betancourt. Who knows how long that will last.
The bullpen also has former closers like Matt Lindstrom and former starter Matt Belisle to provide depth. The most interesting development has been the resurgence of Kevin Millwood in the rotation. Jason Hammels actually registered a save the other day and if that continues it could provide for a very interesting battle next spring.
Response to Crisis
Dan O’Dowd deserves some votes for Executive of the Year. You have a team that has a history of playing brilliant ball in August and September and he chose to sell instead. The decision was brilliant. Matt McBride was a second-round pick, but looks to be a fourth outfielder or pinch hitter at the next level. Joseph Gardner was brilliant in his first professional season in 2010. He struggled some this year, but picked things up once the trade happened. He could end up being the third starter from Cleveland to make it into the rotation.
The key to this deal was Drew Pomeranz. By himself, he will justify the trade if he lives up to his potential. Alex White isn’t what you would call chopped liver either. Anytime you can get three solid starters and a good bench player for one starter, you do it. O’Dowd has a lot of work to do on the infield in the offseason, and if he does it, this team will be back in contention next year.
Analysis Score: plus-0.8 (15th)
O’Dowd is a middle-of-the-pack general manager when all things are considered. He has made as many blunders as he has brilliant moves. It just seems like the brilliant moves are coming lately. Hopefully it is an indication of growth and not an indication of a poker player on a hot streak.