O'Dowd, Hurdle extended for two years

O'Dowd, Hurdle extended for two years

DENVER -- Believing scouting and development are strong and wins will come, the Rockies announced two-year contract extensions for general manager Dan O'Dowd and manager Clint Hurdle on Monday, hours before the 2007 season opener at Coors Field against the Diamondbacks.

O'Dowd, the Rockies GM since October 1999, and Hurdle, who replaced Buddy Bell as manager April 26, 2002, were entering the final year of their deals, which had been extended before the 2006 season. Now they're covered through 2009.

The Rockies' last winning season was 2000, O'Dowd's first year with Bell managing, but they enter 2007 with higher expectations. Monday's move might eliminate the contract status of two key leaders from the pressure equation, but the Rockies insist their aspirations of contending this year are the same.

In addition to contract security for O'Dowd and Hurdle, the decision gives security to the front office, scouting and player development personnel that have helped the Rockies build a young lineup and a promising farm system.

"Obviously, the [important] result is up here at the Major League level, but organizationally, the leadership and the organization as a whole was really what we focused on," Rockies club president Keli McGregor said. "There is a relationship, and it's been talked about, to this season.

"But for us, we really felt like the course we're on organizationally, we believe in this thing from the top, and we believe in Dan and Clint."

Seven of the nine players in Monday's starting lineup were originally signed and developed by the Rockies, whose farm system was judged second best in baseball by Baseball America during the offseason.

The contract status of both has been bantered about in the media at times since the end of last season, but the extensions happened quickly.

McGregor discussed it with Rockies principal owners Dick and Charlie Monfort, and signed O'Dowd on Friday. O'Dowd, who evaluates Hurdle, offered the extension to the manager that same day, after the Rockies lost to the Triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox in an exhibition game.

"Clint and I are in this thing together," said O'Dowd, who holds the title of executive vice president in addition to GM. "For me, it was part of an understanding that if we were moving forward, Clint would be moving forward with me."

Hurdle, 352-436 (.447) with the Rockies -- the only team he has managed in the Majors -- going into 2007, said he wasn't feeling pressure heading into the final year of his contract, and his aspirations haven't changed.

"I am humbled by the opportunity to manage this ballclub," Hurdle said. "Everyone in uniform knows we have unfinished business. I feel empowered by the confidence from the ownership. I am looking forward to helping take this team to the next level."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.