Organizational Rankings: #7 – Colorado

When we talk about player development machines, the Braves and Twins are usually the first two organizations everyone mentions. However, the Rockies have one of the most home grown teams in recent history, and their core of players developed from within look to be ready to put their stamp on the National League.

On days when Seth Smith starts over Carlos Gonzalez, every single position player on the team will be playing for the only organization they’ve ever known. And of course, Gonzalez was acquired for Matt Holliday, who the Rockies developed internally. Dan O’Dowd and his staff should be incredibly proud of the work they’ve done in building this team from the ground up.

Of course, you don’t win a title for having the most players come up through your farm system, but the Rockies are certainly contenders for the big trophy handed out in November. They are a well balanced club that is capable of winning in a lot of ways. They have good hitters, good fielders, and a really good starting rotation. The bullpen is a question, but it’s also the easiest thing to fix. On paper, the Rockies are right there with the Dodgers as co-favorites for the NL West title, and they could make all kinds of noise in October if they earn a playoff berth.

However, for all the things the Rockies have done well, I still question whether they’ll make the right moves to capitalize on their window. Their management does far more good than bad, but some of the bad things are just head scratching. Why is Brad Hawpe still on this team? Why won’t they let Chris Iannetta play more often? Why does Huston Street, frequent visitor of the disabled list, get a three year deal? Why spend $3 million on Jason Giambi and Melvin Mora, but ignore opportunities to bolster the bullpen in a market where relief pitching was cheap?

The Rockies have a real opportunity to throw a parade with the core they have in place. To cash in and win it all, however, they’ll need to maximize their return on investment, and that hasn’t been a strength of the front office. With a few minor tweaks, this could be the best team in the NL – I’m just not sure why those tweaks weren’t made this winter.



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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Yardsma
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Yardsma
6 years 4 months ago

agreed

Yardsma
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Yardsma
6 years 4 months ago

It was bad enough when they started Torrealba over Iannetta half the time, but Olivo could be even more frustrating since there is nothing he does better than Iannetta.

Eli
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Eli
6 years 4 months ago

He’s better at making outs?

Chris
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Chris
6 years 4 months ago

He’s much better defensively and assuming that Grienke insisted on Olivo calling his games for all but two of his starts I’d be willing to wager that he’s better at calling too. Given more playing time Olivo could easily knock in 30 HR’s, especially in Coors Field.

And frankly if your in a play off race you have to start you hot hand and not hope that your hometown favorite finally gets himself right.

Not to mention that Olivo bats right handed, and the Rockies needed a right handed power bat.

DavidCEisen
Member
DavidCEisen
6 years 4 months ago

“On days when Seth Smith starts over Carlos Gonzalez, every single position player on the team will be playing for the only organization they’ve ever known.”

haha, direct shot at some Yankee fans or just sweet poetic justice?

Kevin S.
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Kevin S.
6 years 4 months ago

I’m not sure why that would be directed only at Yankee fans – no other contending team can say this.

DavidCEisen
Member
DavidCEisen
6 years 4 months ago

in the Phillies thread, there was a Yankee fan who was pissed at Dave for saying that the Yankees building through free agency and kept going on about how no other playoff caliber team had nearly as much home grown talent as the Yankees. Even went on to argue that even A-Rod was gotten using homegrown talent.

Kevin S.
Member
Kevin S.
6 years 4 months ago

Ah, gotcha.

As usually is the case when people talk about the Yankees, the truth lies somewhere in between the two camps lobbing bombs at each other. The Yankees get a lot of their talent through trades, but how much of that is using their own talent, and how much is using their money? The Yanks aren’t much of a home-grown team, especially in terms of young talent, but it’s really not like they just sign FA at every position, either.

Omar
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Omar
6 years 4 months ago

Wait, Alex Rodriguez wasn’t acquired using homegrown talent? Was Soriano a free agent or something…yeah the Yankees use their budget in trades, so do lots of teams, but you’re saying things that simply aren’t true when you say that Alex Rodriguez was acquired as a free agent. Sure they re-signed him after he opted out…but they originally acquired him for Alphonso Soriano and Joquain Arias. Soriano an IFA and no one gives a shit enough to look up how Arias was acquired.

Jross
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Jross
6 years 4 months ago

I know this isn’t a trade blog, but would the braves want hawpe?

Matt Klaassen
Member
Member
6 years 4 months ago

Probably. I haven’t heard a thing about who the Braves might start in right field, so there is probably a big hole there that could be filled a 31-year old dude with $8M left on his contract who can’t field.

Teej
Member
Teej
6 years 4 months ago

I hear they already have a pretty exciting right fielder. Plus this one can catch a fly ball.

Hawpe should probably be DHing somewhere.

pounded clown
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pounded clown
6 years 4 months ago

In Seattle

Steve
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Steve
6 years 4 months ago

Yes, Seattle could use a 4th DH

philkid3
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philkid3
6 years 4 months ago

I think you’re overrating the Rockies. CBS Sports doesn’t even think they exist: http://www.cbssports.com/mlb?tag=globalNav;mlb

(Scroll down to the poll.)

Resolution
Member
6 years 4 months ago

there’s a reason their acronym C B S. Jerks…

adohaj
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adohaj
6 years 4 months ago

Ha I voted for the Padres out of spite

Jay
Guest
6 years 4 months ago

To be fair, Iannetta got the reasonably priced three year contract, not Olivo or Torrealba.
The Rockies want to win in 2010, and they thought that Mora would be a better utility guy than Eric Young-for this year-with the bat and glove.
I’m not a fan of the Giambi move (I was hoping Hawpe would spell Helton at first; it would keep his good bat in the lineup without him having to touch outfield grass). But, if you want a good pinch hitting threat in late innings, it doesn’t get much better than Giambi.
These are mostly just quibbles though. The Rockies have good depth at every position, and virtually no holes. They are well situated for now and the future.

JR
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JR
6 years 4 months ago

Hawpe is a huge, huge hole in the field. I agree with you otherwise, but watching him play flies or balls off the fence in right is brutal.

I could see him going to the Yankees if Nick Johnson goes down with an injury, or to the White Sox or Tigers if they find themselves contending. Someone still must ignore defense or want a DH-only out there.

Jeremiah
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Jeremiah
6 years 4 months ago

In a discussion at the Purple Row, it was pointed out that Hawpe is better suited for the Rockies than most teams that don’t need a DH because of the relatively low FIP of the rotation. The starters tend to produce more strikeouts and ground balls than fly balls. I think this probably reduces the negative effect he has, but I’d still rather see Smith get the starts and Hawpe exchanged for something else of value.

Kevin S.
Member
Kevin S.
6 years 4 months ago

The problem with this (and with Nats fans saying they’re going to flip Adam Dunn) is that the AL teams aren’t even paying for quality DH bats on the FA market, so why are they going to give up a prospect AND take on the salary?

Chris
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Chris
6 years 4 months ago

I don’t think it is a big deal that the Rockies could have a lineup featuring all in house developed players. It is also important to find players that other teams have given up on. Look at the Phillies, who found Victorino and Werth. They got good, productive, cheap players through good scouting.

Jeremiah
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Jeremiah
6 years 4 months ago

Well, beyond the players they developed themselves, you can point to Jorge De La Rosa, Jason Hammel, and Carlos Gonzalez as players that their previous teams had given up on or didn’t have room for. That’s 9.5 WAR last year, slightly more than the Phillies got from those two.

Matt
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Matt
6 years 4 months ago

Cardinals are starting 5 homegrown players (pujols, skip, Ryan, rasmus, molina) one minor league vet (ludwick) with Freese(Jim Edmonds, who was got with Adam Kennedy I believe) and Holliday (Wallace) indirectly home grown. In otherwords, when Filipe Lopez sits, the cardinals won’t starts any Major League Free Agent signinees from other teams.

GrenadeLobbin'Yankee
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6 years 4 months ago

Actually, the AUTHOR made the comment, yesterday, out of the blue, on the Phillies thread, that the Yanks BUILD their teams by dumping money on free agents, which is WRONG. When I responded, the AUTHOR suddenly required the discussion to re-focus.

ARod was acquired in trade for Alfonso Soriano, drafted from a 2-year stint with the Hiroshima Carp. Soriano spent two years in the Yankee system before the call-up.

BTW The Yanks, in addition to trading native talent for ARod, even got Texas to pay a portion of ARod’s contract.

And, let’s not forget, that the $1M/year difference between what was offered to Mark Teixeira by the Yankees and Red Sox was hardly a deal-breaking sum.

And finally, let’s not forget the $16.5M/yr check for A.J. Burnett is precisely the same amount of money dropped on John Lackey by you-know-who.

In fact that NY organization is still reaping the rewards of home growns 15 years later, which in itself is a testament to “building from within.”

Jim
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Jim
6 years 4 months ago

I wasn’t aware of a draft taking place between the Japanese professional leagues and MLB.

But then again, I wasn’t aware you could trade Phillies’ pitchjers to Japan, either. ;)

Eriz
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Eriz
6 years 4 months ago

shut up shut up shut up shut up.

Yankees “traded” for a-rod because it was a salary dump by texas. The only teams in the running for a-rod were teams with money to spend on free agents. Fact #1

The yankees for a long time have not had such a hot farm system. That’s been turning around recently. Most of the yankess you site as home grown are like 10+ year veterans. Fact #2

Why do you keep talking about the yankees on posts not about the yankees? There’s a reason people keep voting your posts down.

So shut up please

Omar
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Omar
6 years 4 months ago

To be fair, people are saying things that are untrue about the Yankees…lets try something:

The Cardinals are an offensive powerhouse with home grown aces.

Now, if anyone points out that things that I just said were untrue, are you going to yell at them and vote their posts down?

philkid3
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philkid3
6 years 4 months ago

Only if you’re psychotic about it and cant use the reply button.

philkid3
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philkid3
6 years 4 months ago

Still haven’t figured out the “Reply” button I see.

philkid3
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philkid3
6 years 4 months ago

‘In fact that NY organization is still reaping the rewards of home growns 15 years later, which in itself is a testament to “building from within.”’

And also a testament to having the money to keep players in the organization.

Andy
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Andy
6 years 4 months ago

I’m not certain that even the most ardent Yankees supporter wouldn’t at least acknowledge that the team’s ability to spend — and spend heavily — money on free agents has a direct effect on their ability to contend. And I think most teams would gladly trade positions with them.

The Yankees aren’t the only team that seems to resort to free agency (oddly enough, the Royals seem to love doing it, too), they’re just the biggest, baddest and most famous.

Le Noir Faineant
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Le Noir Faineant
6 years 4 months ago

Dave, I think you do great work and I agree with most of what you have to say, including this post. I read the USSMariner frequently even though I’m not a fan of the Mariners. I think the Mariners are heading in the right direction and have made some great moves. Having said that, the Mariners are in the top 6? Really?

Ted
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Ted
6 years 4 months ago

Rockies, Phillies, and Cardinals all below Seattle and Texas? Wow, this is just awful. I thought this was about the organizations ability to win a championship within the next few years, guess not.

philkid3
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philkid3
6 years 4 months ago

Well that was your mistake.

Andy
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Andy
6 years 4 months ago

I would guess that Seattle is No. 6. And I would guess competing in the AL West would be a big reason why they’re as high as they are.

Maybe wait until the post is, you know, posted before judging? Just a thought.

Reuben
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6 years 4 months ago

The Rockies are the only organization that I would put ahead of the Mariners of those three. Cards and Phils are pretty top heavy, and neither org’s FO would make the top 10. Both have fairly weak farm systems as well.

Omar
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Omar
6 years 4 months ago

Yes, but both have good chances of making it to the World Series *this year,*the Mariners have two players with a shot of cracking an .800 OPS, and after Cliff Lee they start: Ryan Rowland Smith, Doug Fister, and Ian Snell. It’s not like Seattle has a farm system as good as the Rangers or the Rays that’s going to produce a possible Cy Young candidate or an MVP caliber hitter, granted they could draft someone or acquire someone through the IFA market, but they haven’t been very big on the IFA market. Overall, this team looks quite a bit like it did after they acquired Erik Bedard, except they got a much better pitcher and gave up less than half as much, weak offense, solid D, and not much after their two starter. When Jarrod Washburn is a major upgrade in the rotation, you’ve got problems. Right now the line up looks like:
CA: Rob Johnson (career .589 OPS)
1B: Casey Kotchman (career career .742 OPS)
2B: Jose Lopez (career .715 OPS, but he was at .762 last year)
3B: Chone Figgins (career .751 OPS)
SS: Jack Wilson (career .684 OPS)
LF: Eric Byrnes (career .763 OPS, .669 last season…moving to a tougher league and a bigger park)
CF: Franklin Gutierrez (.764 OPS, flat out fantastic defense, his defense with a league average bat may provide a roadblock for Ackley in CF)
RF: Ichiro! (.851 OPS last year career .815 OPS)

DH: Milton Bradley (career .821 OPS)

I listed Bradley as a DH, because if the Ms FO is as good as everyone here thinks they are they’d realize Bradley needs to DH in order to have a shot at 130+ games, which they sorely need.

That line up is a cornucopia of terribleness, they have three flat out putrid hitters (if you think Byrnes regression is for real, four if you take into account the fact that Kotchman offense relative to his position), and it’s gonna take more quite a bit more than Dustin Ackley to fix this. Yes, they’re a fantastic defensive team, they’ll instantly shave a half a run off any pitcher’s ERA, but at a certain point you need to score runs. The Mariners are not in a very good position to do that. Given that Cliff Lee is a free agent this year, maybe they’ll re-sign him…Seattle’s a very nice place and I can see why Cliff would enjoy playing there and they did spend big to lock up King Felix, but there’s a good chance that he ends up somewhere else, and there isn’t much talent in the farm to fill the 3-5 spots let alone replace the production that he’ll provide this season.

Back to the original point, I don’t see how teams with a legit shot of making the World Series ***THIS YEAR*** and next year, are in worse shape to win a WS than the Mariners. All that being said, Dave was awfully bullish on Jack Zduriencik last season, and I was critical of him at the time…he has inside info on the Mariners organization that most fans only dream about, and he was right about them as an organization. They were in that blob of mediocrity and did a pretty good job of separating themselves from it. However, he might be right and I might be wrong, again.

Side note: I’m not accusing Dave of being biased towards the Mariners here, there’s other people that do that already, but…is it really fair that he has inside info to the Mariners organization and knows their thought process well enough to be bullish on them…but there aren’t representatives from other team blogs that know their favorite teams FOs extremely well too? Just a thought…enjoyable series though so far.

Side, side note…to the assholes who get mad at disagreeing, that’s the fun of the internet…where’s the fun in talking sports if we all agree?

Eriz
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Eriz
6 years 4 months ago

on topic… this is a good time to be a rockies fan. So much better as a fan than when they used to make horrible FA acquisitions season after season

Boomer
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Boomer
6 years 4 months ago

Nice, generally balanced writeups so far. Any nits I have to pick are just that. We’ll see if the Mariners and Rangers can justify their annointment.

Good luck entering the minefield that is the AL East!

Le Noir Faineant
Guest
Le Noir Faineant
6 years 4 months ago

It’s always good to be on topic. I thought the analysis in this piece was right to the point, particularly regarding the fact that they haven’t moved Brad Hawpe. Failing to trade him and keeping a crowded outfield makes no sense. Contra Ted, this is not “just awful.” I wondered in my previous post if the Mariners were being overvalued given that they have just recently righted the ship. Even if I am right Dave is doing Yeoman’s work.

Omar
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Omar
6 years 4 months ago

Back on topic, the Red Sox were looking for a big bat this offseason, why didn’t the Rockies attempt to trade Hawpe to them? Same goes for the Rangers, they’re in position to contend this year, and Hawpe as a DH would be worth parting with some talent. Bullish on the Rockies, but they’ve made a quite transformation, and I feel that this write up on a team has been the best so far.

Eriz
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Eriz
6 years 4 months ago

I think Hawpe hasn’t been moved because teams are getting wise to the fact really quickly that almost all of his offensive value is lost in the field. That and the market for DH type players (all bat no glove, see Adam Dunn) is depressed. The rockies aren’t exactly the most SABR savvy organization, and instead rely on (mostly excellent) scouting. They overvalue Hawpe, many other teams value him less, therefore no trade.

pounded clown
Member
pounded clown
6 years 4 months ago

Great team…scares the shit out me if we meet them in the postseason, but for christ sake put a friggin’ retractable dome on that park…

Jeremiah
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Jeremiah
6 years 4 months ago

I don’t know how a retractable dome would help. The weather is usually pretty nice in Denver (sans the occasional late October snowstorm; do the playoffs really need to be that long?) and a dome wouldn’t increase the air density. The ball is going to travel farther at altitude than sea level no matter what you do to the ballpark.

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