Jump to content

Sibling rivalry for Rockies, Marlins


Recommended Posts



Two ballclubs share more than just the same age

By Thomas Harding / MLB.com


DENVER -- The Rockies welcome the Marlins to town Monday night much the same way they'd welcome a twin brother. Their separate paths since their births 12 seasons ago cross every now and then, and invariably the meetings are tinged with sibling rivalry.

The Rockies have their bragging points. They've had a constant ownership situation since the franchise began play and outstanding fan support, even though that has been tempered by recent, unsuccessful seasons. However, the Marlins have two not-so-little items on their fingers that end any argument: World Series rings for 1997 and 2003, each achieved through different means.


For now, other than the three-game series and another three games at Pro Player Stadium in late August, the Rockies are not focused on what their more accomplished twin is doing.


Colorado is 8-10 and fighting to keep pace in the National League West while the Marlins are swimming in the NL East lead. But fifth-year Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd said his club is doing what it takes to get to where the Marlins have been.


"I just think we have everybody on the same page," O'Dowd said. "The results might not be exactly what we want day in and day out, but everybody is pulling on the same end of the rope with the same idea of what we're trying to do.


"We're not panicking with our decisions, and we're trying to create the right kind of environment where people are comfortable and can perform in, but at the same point in time we're also getting to the point where people have to perform."


Florida followed two distinct title paths. It accumulated a star-studded lineup in 1997 -- two years after the Rockies made their only postseason trip as a Wild Card qualifier. Last year, the Marlins used a combination of players they received in trades that they used to dismantle the '97 club, strong scouting and player development, and timely deals that improved the squad while keeping the payroll under control.


Colorado never had the resources to gather stars as in '97. The Rockies will see if the current path -- similar to Florida's, only without the windfall from trading superstars for the right youngsters -- will bring similar results.


A few signs of success are starting to appear.


Left-handed pitcher Joe Kennedy (3-0), leadoff men Aaron Miles and Luis Gonzalez, and bullpen standouts Brian Fuentes and Javier Lopez are guys with three or fewer years of experience going into this season. All were obtained from other organizations through trades and the Rule 5 draft.


The Rockies hope outfielder Matt Holliday, batting .414 in nine games through Sunday, is the beginning of a position-player crop. All-Star first baseman Todd Helton rose through the organization and became a star, but others are few.


But when it will all come together is a fair question for the Rockies. However, the Marlins provide a living example that it can happen at any time.


Florida had planned on the development of a young pitching rotation and some of its young players, and received another when it sent outfielder Preston Wilson and catcher Charles Johnson to Colorado and received outfielder/leadoff man supreme Juan Pierre. But neither those developments nor the signing of catcher Pudge Rodriguez made Florida a fashionable pick to win a title.


With the Rockies at Pro Player Stadium on May 11, 2003, no one in South Florida was mapping a World Series parade route. That was the day Florida replaced manager Jeff Torborg with Jack McKeon.


However, the development of prospects Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis and the late-season acquisitions of veterans Ugueth Urbina, Jeff Conine and Lenny Harris spurred a transformation that let the current Rockies know anything is possible.


"They didn't know what direction they were going when the managerial firing happened in May, but from the middle of May on, they became a new ballclub," Johnson said. "You just need something to jump-start a team sometimes. I feel like we've got a good ballclub here, a ballclub that's going in the right direction."


A difference between the Marlins last season, before the acquisitions, and the Rockies today is Florida was youth. Colorado is dominated with 30-somethings who are carrying the load while the prospects undergo their necessary finishing touches.


Another difference is Florida's talented stuff -- Willis, Josh Beckett, Brad Penny and A.J. Burnett, who missed most of last season because of elbow surgery that he's still recovering from, are the basis of the club.


Most of Colorado's homegrown pitchers are experiencing growing pains. Jason Jennings is 1-2 with a 10.45 ERA, Aaron Cook and Jason Young are learning in Triple-A and Chin-hui Tsao is battling shoulder pain.


Rockies pitchers have to do it at difficult Coors Field. Nonetheless, all will have to join closer Shawn Chacon as success stories from the farm system if the Rockies are to realize their dreams.


"You can have success in this park -- they made it to the playoffs before, so it's not like this will never work," said Wilson, who remembered watching the Marlins' pitchers grow. "It's like what they're trying to do in Texas. They're trying to get some pitching over there. They realize they're playing in a hitter's ballpark, but it doesn't matter. You have to have pitching.


"If you're scoring eight but giving up 12, guys' baseball cards are going to look good offensively, but at the end of the season, nobody's going to be happy."


For now, the Rockies harbor dreams that the return of Wilson (knee surgery) and Admin Walker (groin strain) and more consistent pitching will make them a success story.


"In looking at us, we've got to get people healthy and we've got to get better starting pitching," O'Dowd said. "Our bullpen's been pretty solid, we've caught the ball, we've hit the ball pretty well on the road and at home."


What the Rockies aren't wasting their time with is envy of the Marlins.


"I look at those guys, even guys that went to other teams that aren't with them anymore, and it's kind of like guys that you were good friends with in high school that you see have done well for themselves," Wilson said. "It's somebody you're happy for."


In fact, manager Clint Hurdle put to an end any discouraging word about Florida.


"That might be the ring you can wear on your finger or around your head," Hurdle said of the rings, impressive in design and sheer size. "God bless 'em.


"Somebody made the comment that it was a bad ring. I took him in a room and blew him up. I said, 'Are you kidding me? There's no World Championship ring that's a bad ring. And who are you to judge the quality of World Series rings?' I just didn't get that at all. Say things like that, good things aren't going to happen."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Moneyball

we may have what they want in a WS title , but we want what they have A STADIUM. the rockies are sort of an unknown team to casual fans, most people can't even name a player from colorado. hell some might not know a team is in colorado, that team is so under the radar.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

we may have what they want in a WS title , but we want what they have A STADIUM. the rockies are sort of an unknown team to casual fans, most people can't even name a player from colorado. hell some might not know a team is in colorado, that team is so under the radar.

Great point

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...