Thursday, October 9, 2014

O'Dowd and Geivett Out - Who Now Shall We Hate?

I woke up Wednesday morning to a text message from my mother (of all people) alerting me to Dan O'Dowd resigning as GM of the Colorado Rockies.

It wasn't long until the twittersphere exploded with commentary on the situation (relatively speaking of course, as these playoff things are still happening), with reactions ranging from overjoyed to apathetic. I truthfully can't think of anybody who wasn't at least "meh" on this topic.

Dan O'Dowd has been a source of so much ire for Rockies fans over the past 15 years, and rightly so. The franchise has had 4 winning seasons in that timeframe, 2 playoff appearances, and 0 division titles. Clearly change was needed. So why am I not any happier about the state of the Rockies?

For starters, the Rockies have already appointed Jeff Bridich, former senior director of player development as the team's new GM. I'm not inherently upset about this appointment, but it seems very sudden. One major thing that the organization has been lacking over the past several years is a new team president. Since Keli McGregor's passing in 2010, the organization has been in a sort of disarray with seemingly no proper liaison between the front office and the players. We've seen attempts to rectify this, including Bill Geivett moving his office into the clubhouse and Dick Monfort appointing himself team president. If player quotes are to be believed, nobody has any idea who's in charge or what's going on, and the mood is... maybe "insurrectionist" is a poor choice of terms, but I really wanted to type the word "insurrectionist".

As a quick aside, I should make mention of Bill Geivett here. I haven't mentioned him yet because frankly, I can't point to him for anything the Rockies have done. Was Justin Morneau a Geivett signing? Was Boone Logan? I honestly just don't know. If the Rockies had kept Dan O'Dowd and Bill Geivett had resigned, Rockies fans would remain as livid as before, citing this as merely a rearrangement. Dan O'Dowd is the name that Denver fans want to strike from the organization, deserved or not. Bill Geivett has been a friend to Purple Row and from what I've heard a friendly and approachable person. No disrespect or dismissal intended here.

So it would seem, to me at least, that it would behoove an organization to have a proper team president in place to perhaps aid with the GM selection. This sort of leads to a bigger point, however. One of the major complaints that people have about the team (once you get past the opinion that not trading for Clayton Kershaw shows that the Rockies are incompetent) is that they simply refuse to open their doors to outside influences, citing "Culture". I have a handful of problems with that, given that a losing team is almost guaranteed to have a poor "culture" anyhow. Is anybody honestly convinced that the 2nd worst team in MLB which hasn't cracked 75 wins since 2010 has such an amazing culture bred into it that bringing in outside perspectives will destroy it? Sounds pretty fragile.

Furthermore, if culture is the number one concern here, wouldn't it make more sense to first find a team president whom the players can relate to or at least follow, and THEN perhaps maybe hiring a GM, preferably external, with the president's input into the decision?

The fact remains that the Rockies' ownership is not great. I don't mean in the context of screaming "CHEAPSKATES" and shaking my fists miserably, but as you've already seen on this site, I'm not a fan of the way that Dick Monfort runs this team. I've made no secret about my distaste with his meddling and poor fan interaction. As long as Dick Monfort runs this team - not owns the team, mind you, but attempts to run it - we're going to have to be content with mediocrity and the occasional magical season of health that takes the team to wild card contention.

This is what infuriates the fanbase. The fans are sick of a consistently losing team, and at this point, no number of exciting young players coming up through the system are going to sway people. How many times have you brought up exciting prospects with a disgruntled Rockies fan only to have them get upset about how they're sick of prospects, sick of the promises of having an awesome player in just a year or two? They're just sick of supporting a losing team. Most of us are sick of supporting a losing team.

The fact that Dan O'Dowd resigned from the Rockies rather than getting tossed out by his coattails almost ruins any "goodwill" Monfort potentially had with this disgruntled fanbase. Actually firing O'Dowd would have told the fans that his guys aren't working out anymore, that he's dissatisfied with their job performances to the point where he's going to actively seek new fresh faces, that he's recommitting himself to owning a winning team. Instead, O'Dowd's resignation tells the Coors faithful that Monfort was still so enamored with O'Dowd and was still so convinced that he was the right man for the job that he would continue to hand him the keys to the car despite the .427 winning percentage over the past 4 seasons. The fans wanted blood. Instead, they got an awkward breakup.

That's going to make life very hard for Jeff Bridich, but regardless of his actions, I think the next few seasons (good lord, a few more years at LEAST?) are going to shine a bit more of a spotlight on Rockies ownership, especially if we keep hearing about how Dick Monfort sticks his nose into trades and drafts thinking he knows how best to get this Major League Baseball club back into contention. Maybe, just maybe, it'll become apparent to everyone (if Bridich can't do anything better with the team) that the commonality here isn't the manager, isn't the GM, but rather the one person who's always there, the owner.

To conclude, I can't say that I'm excited about the Dan O'Dowd/Bill Geivett/Jeff Bridich news. I've numbed to the Rockies situation to the point where I just don't see the situation improving, new GM or no, without Dick Monfort relinquishing most, if not all, control of actual baseball operations. With that X-factor still in play, I just can't help but expect Bridich to have a short leash, not a lot of freedom in decision making, and kind of an awkward relationship between a stagnant front office and an unsatisfied clubhouse. It will certainly be interesting to watch unfold, as there's still the entire offseason ahead of us (not to mention 2 more rounds of playoffs - GO ROYALS).

All said and done, here's to hoping that Jeff Bridich can put together a team whose aspirations soar beyond "Well, if everything goes right and everyone stays healthy, maybe we'll be in contention for the 2nd wild card spot!"

Good luck, buddy, you're going to need it.

Nice work on the scoop, Mom.

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