I don’t like writing articles like the one I wrote yesterday. I don’t like suggesting that people need to lose their jobs, particularly people I respect. But after a year and 6 weeks of waiting for the Rockies to show any sort of sign that Rocktober 2007 wasn’t anything more than the happiest accident in franchise history, I’ve reached the point where I feel like changes are necessary.
The thing about Clint Hurdle is that he’s always on this even keel – never too high after wins, never too low after losses. And the more I think about it, that’s why he was a good fit for the ‘Gen-R’ teams of 2004-2006. A steady manager like Hurdle could reassure the young players that were part of those teams that they didn’t need to put any pressure on themselves, that they weren’t in any danger of losing their jobs, and as long as they kept plugging away, good things would happen for them. In effect, the Rockies were non-contenders the moment they took the field in those three seasons (though 2006 was interesting into August, at least), so there were no expectations, and Hurdle handled it well.
Then came 2007… and you know something, I don’t know that any other manager could have gotten the Rockies through that 20-1 run to the NL Pennant any better than Clint Hurdle. Just as the 04-06 Hurdle helped the young Rox stay positive through loss after loss, the 07 Hurdle helped keep the clubhouse from combusting in the excitement of the frantic stretch run.
Under Clint Hurdle, every game is business as usual. That works in a rebuilding process. It worked in an improbable pennant race. But in the last two seasons, there have been real-live expectations for this team, and as the team has limped out of the gate in 2008 and now in 2009, the prevailing emotion from the manager remains the same. “We’ll be alright.” “We’re coming around.” “We’re not far away.” There’s no chance Hurdle’s going to go Howard Beale in “Network” and “Get mad, damn it! Get mad!”
Maybe Clint Hurdle’s right, and maybe the Rockies will hit a stretch where they play some really excellent baseball. Hell, the probabilities of a 162-game season practically demand it. In 2008, over the season’s final 98 games, the Rox were four games over .500 at 51-47. That’s a .520 clip, roughly an 84-win pace if sustained over 162 games. Not terrible by any means, and if the Rox had managed 84 wins last year through all the injury difficulties, I think most fans would have taken it. But if you go 23-41 over the first 64 games of the season – a 58-win pace – that finishing ‘kick’ doesn’t do a whole lot of good.
Through 30 games this season, the Rox are 12-18 – a 65-win pace. It’s not acceptable, and not good enough. The Rockies organization has two options. They can wait for Clint Hurdle to be right, or they can acknowledge that even if he is, it’s not terribly likely to get this team to where its talent level, on paper, suggests it belongs.
There are no sure bets. The Rox could fire Hurdle and get hot. They could not fire him and get hot (they did win today, after all). They could fire him and finish like crap. They could keep him and I could hang myself by June 30th when the team is 15 games out of first place.
We’ll keep coming back every day to find out, though, because, as Joaquin Andujar said, “Youneverknow.”
To the commenter who suggested Grady Little as a potential future Rockies manager: NO.
Matt Daley in the seventh, Alan Embree in the eighth, and Huston Street to finish things off today. I can dig it. Are we done freaking out when Street comes in the game yet?