Woody Paige: Rockies' player, manager woes start at top of organization

Paige: Owner, GM to blame for Rockies' woes
Posted at 1:28 PM, Oct 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-07 15:28:50-04

The Rockies need more than a manager.

They could use a bullpen and a dumpster.

But, first, a manager. I’ve been on the record since joining Denver7 that Walt Weiss should be fired and replaced by Bud Black. The first part was satisfied; the second part likely won’t be. The reason I recommended months ago that Weiss be fired then was because Black, the former Padres manager, already was being courted by the Atlanta Braves, who, like the Rockies, have a young pitching staff and understand, unlike the Rockies, that the manager should be a pitcher.

The Rockies probably will end up with Glenallen Hill or somebody else out of the organization because of (A) Dick Monfort’s loyalty -- it’s disloyal to the 2.5 million people who show up at the ballpark every year and watch the same losing product and (B) Jeff Bridich came up through the Rox system and is expected to reward someone he worked with.

Rather, the Rockies should look externally at the best possible prospects who aren’t locked into what’s always being wrong with the franchise. That’s why Jim Tracy was such a great manager for the Rockies until Dan O’Dowd started messing with the pitching staff and with Tracy’s head – not giving him a contract extension when he was Manager of the Year, making him use that piggy-back system of pitchers (Oink! Oink!) and installing an assistant general manager in the office next to Tracy’s so he could spy on the manager and the players. Finally, Tracy had enough and bolted.  Even the ever-faithful Weiss was fed up and would have left if he hadn’t been shown the way out.

The Rockies are forever dysfunctional, and remain one of the worst 10 franchises in Major League Baseball annually.  If it weren’t for the 1.5 million who buy tickets because of their dedication to the visiting teams (Cubs, Cardinals, Mets, Dodgers, Giants, etc.), the Rockies would be among the bottom-feeders at the gate, too.  As it is, the Rockies have a top-11 attendance, but don’t spend like it.

And the money they do spend is stupid. That’s why they’ve got to figure out how to do a payroll dump in the off-season – after getting a manager.

If not Black, I’m on record supporting Mike Maddux, pitching coach of the Nationals, or Dave Righetti, pitching coach of the Giants, or Orel Hershisher, a Hall of Fame pitcher who is a color analyst on the Dodgers games.  All three work for teams that are in the postseason, and all three are pitching-oriented, and, of course, pitching is the on-going issue with the Rockheads of LoDo.

And the bullpen, especially, now that they’ve managed to discover several young starters of note.

Bridich is skating with the media even though he was primarily responsible for bringing in three mediocre relievers – Jake “The Flake’’ McGee ($3.5 million), Jason Motte ($4.5 million) and Chad Qualls ($3.0 million).  That was $11 wasted million this season. Guess what?  They all have contracts for another year.  The Rockies have to find someone who is stupid enough to take that trio, or they will be stuck again.

At least Jorge De La Rosa and his $12.5 million will be gone.  George served the Rockies well for years, but was kept a season too long.

And, of course, there’s Jose Reyes and the minimum $26 million the Rockies still are on the hook for -- $22 million next year and a $4 million buyout in 2018, even though he’s been finished here since the beginning of the season after the domestic abuse allegations filed by his wife. Reyes was last seen playing third base for the Mets in the wild-card game Wednesday night. The Mets are paying him $500,000, and can again next year.

Monfort, if he were talking, would say that the Rockies can’t increase their payroll because this is a “small-market’’ team and he’s already spending close to $100 million. Well, Denver is not a smart market. This is not Omaha.  Again, the attendance is 2.5 million. That’s a “big-market’’ number. And the Rockies squandered $45.5 million on lousy players in the 2016, and another $6.2 million if you count (and I do) Gerardo Parra’s salary.  More than half the payroll was devoted to six players who can’t play – all because the Rockies wanted to get rid of Troy Tulowitzki, who was last seen Thursday night still participating in the postseason.

Let’s face it. The Rockies are dunces. But they get away with it because the homers who do the broadcast – and wouldn’t even admit toward the end of the season that Weiss could be fired. They’re from the speak-no-evil school because they are so afraid of losing their jobs. And the fools who listen and watch them, forgive them, because they don’t know any better – because they obviously can’t read newspapers or watch TV stations that aren’t beholden to the Rockies.

Since the Rockies can’t find a dumpster that will accept their overpriced (lack of) talent, they again won’t sign the first-class free agents. For instance, Colorado’s own Mark Melancon, one of the top three relief pitchers who will be available.  He had 47 saves this season. He received $9.65 million. He will command about $12-$14 million a year. Too rich for the Rockies’ cold blood.

So, Bridich will be forced to grab more people like Motte & Qualls (sounds like a mortuary).

I end with this story:

More than three years ago, when the Rockies were searching for a first baseman to succeed the retiring Todd Helton, I told Dick Monfort go sign the affordable Cuban refugee – Jose Abreu.

Monfort, president and owner of the Rockies, said: “I never heard of him.’’

Well, he must have asked somebody because the Rockies finally did underbid on Abreu’s services. He signed with White Sox for six years and $68 million.

In three years he has a .299 batting average, 99 home runs and 265 runs batted in.  Imagine what he could have done in Denver at altitude. 

And the Rockies wouldn’t be looking for a first baseman every year.

The Rockies never sign a Cuban player or an Asian pitcher.

No wonder they can’t win 80 games or play in, as Bridich claims he wants, “meaningful September games.’’

How about a meaningful manager first?


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