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Blog Entry

Fond memories of Rocktober ... and not much else

Posted on: May 29, 2009 6:56 pm
 

Outside of two fantastic months in 2007, the Colorado Rockies have been as irrelevant as any team in the majors. Whether Friday's sacking of manager Clint Hurdle will change any of that, I don't know.

What I do know is this: Judging from past directional changes in Colorado, odds are, it won't.

Even counting their World Series season in '07, heading into Friday night's series opener with San Diego, the Rockies stood at 117 games under .500 since Dan O'Dowd became general manager in 2000.

They have finished with a losing record in seven of the past eight years and in nine of the last 11. They have finished either in last place or next-to-last in 13 of their 16 seasons. And at a major-league-worst 14 games back in the division right now, they're poised to add to it.

Even under new skipper Jim Tracy.

What got Hurdle gone is that, even measured against this historical sad-sack level of play, this year's Rockies are lagging. Take away the Dodgers, and the rest of the NL West stinks worse than the dumpster outside of a fish market. Yet the Rockies still can't help but belly up to the underachiever's bar.

Both Hurdle and O'Dowd entered '09 in the final year of their contracts, and if Troy Tulowitzki doesn't snap out of his slumber sometime soon, it might be O'Dowd's turn to say the next farewell. Tulowitzki, awarded a six-year, $31 million deal that takes him through 2013, has been awful.

One of the main questions asked all season in Colorado has been, "Is Tulo pressing?" and, whether the answer is "maybe a little" or "Hell, yeah!", there's no getting around the fact that his numbers directly relate to the Rockies' dive and Hurdle's axing: He has just three hits in 38 at-bats with runners in scoring position, and recently just snapped an 0-for-27 skid in those situations. Tulowitzki currently owns a .318 on-base percentage, a .393 slugging percentage, a .227 batting average and 34 whiffs.

He's not alone. Garrett Atkins (.195, three home runs), Ian Stewart (.187), Clint Barmes (.234), former closer Manny Corpas (6.65 ERA) ... the list of culprits is a long one.

And it extends upstairs to the owner's suite: In trading free-agent-to-be Matt Holliday over the winter, the Rockies were implicitly signing a non-compete clause. Again: The NL West reeks. It wasn't going to take that much to stay in contention this summer (especially when building the team last winter, before it was a given that the Dodgers would re-sign Manny Ramirez and bag Orlando Hudson). Clearly, winning is not at the top of the Monfort family's to-do list.

Two years ago, I wondered how the Rockies could justify extending the contracts of Hurdle and O'Dowd through 2009. Six months later, they capped the best season in their history by winning an incredible 21 of 22 games and storming into the World Series.

What that is now, though, is the exception to the norm. And an organization that has changed directions more often than Magellan over the past decade sets sail in a new one yet again.s

Likes: Clint Hurdle is a good man and I hate to see him go. After I ripped the Rockies in the '07 column linked to above, he confronted me a couple of months later and it was the beginning of an entertaining give-and-take, which I detailed in this column from October, 2007. We both share a passion for music and we even exchanged a few CDs after that. I'm listening to one he gave me, Neil Young's Chrome Dreams II, as I write this. In fact, when I last saw him earlier this month, I asked him what he thought of The Hold Steady's Stay Positive. It was after an interview as the Rockies were scuffling, and he misunderstood at first and said, "Oh, I'm staying positive." Knowing Hurdle, he still is today, too. Even as ex-manager of the Rockies.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"You don't care who you aggravate
"You don't care who you alienate
"I'm tired of your heart of stone
"I just want to be left alone
"Lesson learned
"Bridge burned
"That's why
"I say so long, I'm gone, goodbye"

-- Stone Coyotes, So Long, I'm Gone, Goodbye

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