DENVER (CBS4) – It sure feels like a long time since the Colorado Rockies played in the 2007 World Series.
It feels even longer since Dan O’Dowd took the reins as the team’s general manager.
If you don’t recall when that happened, ask Jamey Wright.
If you’re asking, “Who’s Jamey Wright?” we understand.
It’s been that long.
In O’Dowd’s first game as the club’s general manager, Wright pitched the Rockies to a 12-7 win over Arizona on Sept. 20, 1999.
Since then, O’Dowd led the club through 15 seasons — 11 of them losing ones — and ran day-to-day operations for 2,443 regular-season games. But the Rockies lost 1,309 of those and never won their division, something O’Dowd couldn’t escape forever. And, on Wednesday, the Rockies announced his resignation.
Here’s a look at the highs and lows of his tenure.
High: ‘Rocktober’ And Playoff Appearances In 2007, 2009
The most amazing thing about the Rockies’ run at the end of the 2007 season is that they really couldn’t afford to lose.
On Sept. 15 that year, following a 10-2 loss to Florida, the Rockies were in fourth place and barely playing .500 baseball. But they strung together 14 wins, including two walk-offs, and lost just once to close out the season. They swept Philadelphia and Arizona in the playoffs for the team’s first World Series berth.
It appeared O’Dowd’s focus on pitching worked. Led by Jeff Francis, the Rockies rotation surrendered no more than five runs in any National League playoff game and gave up just one run in three games and two in two others. The defense also sparkled in 2007. It set a baseball record with a .98925 fielding percentage, a mark broken by two teams in 2013.
Following a down season in ’08, the Rockies returned to the playoffs but exited early against Philadelphia. With 92 wins, the Rockies compiled their best season in club history, and with a young club of solid pitching and hitting, the team looked poised to be competitive for years.
That didn’t happen.
“The incredible run to the 2007 World Series will always be a great memory for Rockies fans, but far too often the team was irrelevant by the All-Star break,” CBS4 sports anchor Mark Haas said, encapsulating fans’ frustration: Why does the team fall out of contention so early?
Low: The Constant Losing
Here’s another common question in recent seasons: Will the Rockies lose 100 games? That concern is often accompanied by the chagrined understanding the team rarely plays baseball that matters late in summer.
It was no different in 2014. The Rockies nosedived to their four straight losing season. Still, it’s been worse. Really, it has.
From 2001 to 2006, the team failed to climb above .500 and finished either fourth or fifth in the NL West every season. With the exception of their playoff seasons in ’07 and ’09, and a respectable finish in 2010, they’ve never finished fewer than 10 games out of first in O’Dowd’s tenure.
Their worst season came in 2012, when they lost 98 games and finished 30 games back — comparable to their inaugural season.
The Rockies were, in fact, inarguably more competitive before O’Dowd. Although they were 21 and 28 games back in 1998 and 1999, the Rockies finished no more than eight games back over a four-year stretch from 1994 to 1997.
High: The Development Of Young Talent
The Rockies under O’Dowd have fielded homegrown stars, notably Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, Matt Holliday, Dexter Fowler and Ubaldo Jimenez. All but Fowler have earned All-Star appearances.
But, as there seems to be with any Rockies positive, there’s a downside. Despite their talent, Tulowitzki and Gonzalez are often injured. Tulowitzki played 91 games in 2014, just 47 in 2012 and hasn’t appeared in more than 150 since 2009. Gonzalez played only 70 games in 2014 and has never taken the field in more than 150 in six seasons.
Meanwhile, the Rockies have dealt Holliday, Fowler and Jimenez to other clubs.
If the team can win with its younger talent in Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon and Corey Dickerson, it will be a bright spot on O’Dowd’s record.
Low: An Inability To Develop Or Sign Quality Pitchers
O’Dowd inked pitchers Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle to blockbuster contracts following the 2000 season, but neither pitcher panned out for the Rockies.
Hampton, one of the more sought-after free agent pitchers that year, signed an eight-year, $121 million deal with the Rockies. Neagle agreed to a five-year term worth $51 million.
Both were disasters.
Over three seasons, Neagle struggled to a 19-23 record and a 5.57 ERA with the Rockies. An injury sidelined him for the 2004 season and he never pitched again.
Hampton fared a little better in two seasons and even earned an All-Star nod in 2001. He finished 21-28 with the Rockies, but his ERAs of 5.41 and 6.15 didn’t merit O’Dowd’s initial confidence.
Draft picks haven’t impressed either. Since 2000, the Rockies have drafted a pitcher with their first pick nine times. But none of them has made any significant impact so far on the roster.
– Written by Tim Skillern for CBSDenver.com