March 28, 2003. The Denver news media, not to mention the Rockies themselves, are spending a lot of time trying to convince fans that Colorado can be successful this year because they are similar to the California Angels. The Angels, in case you missed it, won the World Series last year, even though their payroll was roughly comparable to what the Rockies are budgeted for this year.
Seven of the 8 regulars on the 2002 Angels where regulars in 2001 when 9 returning players played in 100 or more games. The 2003 Rockies, on the other hand, have only 5 players on this year's roster who played in 100 or more games last year, and only 2 of them are starters, Walker and Helton. Of the Rockies 8 position players, 5 have never played a single game for the Rockies.
Add to that the fact that the Rockies' current manager, Clint Hurdle, never managed a game on any level before last year, and you have the perfect combination of the blind leading the blind.
If teams like the Rockies expect to win, they have to have three or four great players who can single-handedly win games on any given day , like the Blake Street Bombers, or they have to have great management and teamwork, forged over years of maintaining the same core of personnel and playing philosophy. The Rockies have neither, which, unfortunately, means they don't have a chance.
There is a bright spot, however, because the Rockies do have a very interesting mix of fairly talented players that will certainly make for exciting baseball. If they would only keep the same group together for two or three years, and get a manager, they might really have something!
Proof Hurdle is a Buffoon -or-Why the Rockies Don't Win
Aside from the fact that Mr. Hurdle talks like an uneducated rustic, his job as the hitting instructor was to tell the manager which players should be in the lineup, at least partially based on their performance in batting practice (BP). The fact that he was in that position for many years with the Rockies and had no understanding of his role in the organization brings up two questions, at least: 1) Since he never figured out the hitting coach job, how good a manager is he with less than a year of experience? 2) How are the Rockies ever going to get better when they have no one to train people like Hurdle so that they eventually learn what they need to do to win baseball games?
One of the Baseball Observer's "pet peeves" is watching a baseball team that insists on hiring people with absolutely no experience for key positions, like manager and president. Think of how much better the Rockies would have been over the years if everybody down there on Blake Street knew what they were doing. Think about it...good coaches and managers cost a small fraction of the salary of even a mediocre player.
The way to build a team is to get the best coaches and front office people, then use what's left to get the best players you can afford that fit into the system you design. It works, just ask the Angels, or the Braves, or the A's, or the Mariners, etc., etc. The Rockies don't win because the owners don't know what they are doing - it is as simple as that.
Let's see how a SUCCESSFUL businessman runs a baseball team
Arturo Moreno is buying the Anaheim Angels from Disney. Mr. Moreno grew up in Tucson and graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in Marketing, which coincidentally is the same background as the Baseball Observer. Of course, Moreno happens to have about $700 million more in assets, mostly obtained from his sale of Outdoor Advertising, his billboard company. Something tells us that Mr. Moreno will manage the Angels in a far different way than the unsuccessful businessmen who currently run the Rockies, better known as TruckMan (former bankrupt trucking company magnate Jerry Morris) and the Meatboys (former tainted meat distributors, the Monfort brothers). Moreno has a few advantages over the Rockies owners, besides having successfully run a business - his marketing background and the fact that he actually watched baseball before taking ownership of a team. Already, his first act was to lower some concession prices - certainly a popular move. Stay tuned, we will continue to compare and contrast Moreno's moves with those of the Rockies' brain trust.