Dan O'Dowd resigned as general manager of the Rockies yesterday, ending a fifteen-year run -- the fourth-longest tenure in the league -- as Colorado's head man. The Rockies' record during O'Dowd's stint -- a .464 winning percentage with only two playoff appearances -- left his job security thinner than Denver air. Win less than half of your games over enough years to get a learner's permit and see what that does to your job's standing.
The Rockies needed a change, that's for sure. But despite O'Dowd's poor track record, he actually made some surprisingly deft moves in Denver. Although for every cheap veteran signing or below-market-value extension, there were high-priced arms tossing batting practice bombs into the Coors Field air. Let's take a look at three things O'Dowd did well, and three things he did O'Didn't.
The smart moves
Traded Matt Holliday to Oakland for Carlos Gonzalez and Huston Street. Holliday was not going to resign with Colorado when his contract ended, so O'Dowd sent him to Oakland for CarGo and Huston Street. Gonzalez has been an MVP-caliber player when healthy, and the club got three positive years out of Street.
Drafting and extending Troy Tulowitzki. O'Dowd and his scouts have a pretty nice track record on draft day (there are exceptions! We'll get to those), notably choosing Tulowitzki seventh in a loaded 2005 first round.
In 2010, the team signed their star shortstop to a massive ten-year, $134 million extension, taking Tulowitzki through his age-36 season.
Tulo is often hurt, and $134 million is a lot of dollars, but with other aging stars getting hulking deals that take them into their forties, this O'Dowd deal was one of his good ones.
Traded for and re-signed Jorge De La Rosa. De La Rosa came to Colorado in 2009 to fulfill an earlier trade with the Kansas City Royals. O'Dowd has twice extended De La Rosa (just last month the club gave him $25 million and two more years), who is Colorado's winningest pitcher in franchise history, inarguably among the best Rockies hurlers since the club's inception.
The not-smart moves
Their names are Denny Neagle and Mike Hampton. In 2000, desperate to prove that good pitchers could succeed at Coors Field, O'Dowd gave Neagle and Hampton a combined thirteen years and $172 million, instead proving that you could, with great focus and determination, give Denny Neagle and Mike Hampton thirteen years and $172 million.
Selecting Greg Reynolds. Greg Reynolds is a pitcher you might have heard of. The Rockies picked him with the second pick of the 2007 draft. The Rays chose Evan Longoria next. You've heard of him. Then, in the next dozen picks, Clayton Kershaw, Tim Lincecum, and Max Scherzer were selected. Bet you've heard of them, too. Reynolds carried a 7.47 ERA in 94 Mile High innings -- he was recently released by the Seibu Lions in Japan.
Injuries. Though clearly not the ex-GM's fault, the latter part of O'Dowd's tenure will surely be remembered by all that promise taking up space on the disabled list. The two franchise cornerstones, Tulowitzki and Gonzalez, combined to play in just 161 games this season. For his career, Tulowitzki has averaged 117 games per season (not even three-quarters of the games); since 2010, Gonzalez has averaged the exact same, less-than-75-percent figure.