The Colorado Rockies: They Can Be Fixed
They Can be Saved
The Colorado Rockies are a mess, we all know that, and I'm sure we will continue to talk about that. Today, however, we are looking at a solution. Let's assume for our purposes today that the Rockies are sold to an owner who cares about winning and will do what it takes. I'm not talking about a New York Yankees type payroll, just a competitive one. This owner is really smart and hires me as the General Manager for the Rockies, I can fix them and here's how.
The first thing I need is at least a seven or eight year contract because my plan is going to take a while but it will work, promise. Now to be fair the plan I am going to present today was actually tried on a smaller basis by the Rockies first General Manager, Bob Gebhard but he did not go far enough. Playing 81 games a season at Coors Field is different, it just is and if you are going to build a winner in Denver then you have to accept that fact. The Rockies have been drafting pitchers for years and almost none of them have panned out, so let's dare to be different.
The following plan addresses everything from the manager to hitting to pitching, and it is something that you are probably not going to see anywhere else. The Rockies can keep banging their heads against the wall if they want but so far all they have gotten is a bloody nose. It might be time to try something else.
It should be noted that I am only talking about a philosophy, not specific players.
Walt Weiss is fine as the manager for right now, in fact, in some ways he is the perfect fit. He was with the Rockies when the Blake Street Bombers were at their peak. Weiss has seen this approach work.
Having said that, if I had been hiring the manager after Jim Tracy resigned I would have gone after Terry Francona. Of course, he is now with the Cleveland Indians but he would have been the perfect manager in my plan. Francona won with the Boston Red Sox and there is no place in baseball where the manager is more under the microscope than Boston. He handled it better than those before him and we saw what happened after he left. If my approach is going to work, I need a manager who is experienced at doing things differently, and doesn’t care about criticism. That’s Francona but he’s no longer available, so Weiss will do.
I would draft hitters, more hitters and then I would draft more hitters. It's time that the Rockies start building a team that fits Coors Field, as they did with the Blake Street Bombers. I would have power hitters at first base, third base, left field and right field. In addition, every other position would be able to hit above .300 at home and provide the occasional home run.
Now the argument is going to be that a team like that may win a lot at home but will struggle on the road, and they would be right. History suggests that's what would happen but I'm willing to take the trade-off and here's why. When the 1995 Rockies went to the playoffs, they were dominant at home. Under my plan, the goal would be to win 55 games at home every season. By winning 55 games at Coors Field, the team would only have to win between 30 and 35 games on the road to contend for a division title or wild card spot. The idea would be to outscore teams at home and win enough games on the road to survive.
So now I have the offensive team I want and the manager I want but what about pitching? I'm not a fool, I know that we are going to have to have pitching but remember what I said earlier about thinking differently? The first thing is this, I would never draft a pitcher in the first five rounds. Pitching in Colorado is taxing and even pitchers with talent are only going to last two seasons at Coors Field before it takes its toll. Instead of fighting that as they have done for 20 years now, just accept it. I would completely change the pitching staff every two to three years and I would never sign a big name pitcher
What I want is a five-man rotation of number three and four starters who consistently give up less than five runs at home and less than four on the road. If the opponents are scoring five or fewer runs at home, then I am confident that the team I have built will score more than five at least 55 times a season. I am also confident that we will hit just enough on the road to win 30+ games a year. My ideal pitcher would give me 150-175 innings, win 10 15 games and have a mid 4 era. Once they have pitched two seasons for the Rockies, I will find another average pitcher to give me two more years. That's the starters, what about the bullpen?
As often as I would turn over the starting staff, I would turn the bullpen over even quicker as in every season. Bullpens in baseball are tricky to begin with, they can be great one season and terrible the next even with the same players. I would not wait for my bullpen to implode; I would change at least 75 percent of it every single season.
Now with the pitching staff we have, the ball is going to be put in play a lot. So every player I would draft, sign or trade for would have to be able to catch and throw. They all do not have to be Gold Glove winners but they must be able to field the ball and throw it to the correct base. As a team we already know that we are going to give up runs with the way we are built, we can’t give teams extra outs.
In short I would spend most of my money on hitters and I would lock them up with long-term contracts and I would never spend big money on pitchers, or sign any pitcher for longer than two seasons. Does all of this sound crazy? Of course, it's crazy but I'll bet you it would work. Coors Field plays differently than any ballpark in baseball history and trying to play the game the way every other team plays it is trying to shove a round object into a square hole. You may jam it in there once every few years but it won't go in there on a regular basis.
Baseball at altitude is different; it's time to think about it differently. Give me the job and I'll prove it!
Follow me on Twitter @Jemorrone7