Of course Tracy was not the only reason why the Rockies lost. He never touched a bat or a ball all night long. What he did do, however, was fill out the lineup card.
For the second straight time, Tracy played his entire bench with 22-year old Jhoulys Chacin on the mound. That's right, a night after Seth Smith and Ian Stewart collected five out of the Rockies six RBIs on long home runs, they both found themselves on the pine on Saturday.
Before the game it was explained that Todd Helton would be taking a couple of days off in order to clear his head and try to get his swing back without the distraction of the game to get in his way. While that move makes some sense-Helton simply cannot play everyday-it was a deciding factor in the club losing on Saturday.
After Dontrelle Willis recorded a hit to lead off the third inning for the Diamondbacks, Chacin got Kelly Johnson to hit a ground ball to Jason Giambi at first base. An easy double play was foiled when Giambi airmailed the throw to second base into left field. Instead of two outs and no one on base, Chacin had to battle the heart of the D-Backs lineup with no one out and two runners on. Chacin limited the damage, but gave up a run on a single by Stephen Drew.
Tracy also elected to put Chris Iannetta behind the plate so that Miguel Olivo did not have to catch a day game after a night game. Tracy understandably likes the way that Ubaldo Jimenez and Olivo play together, so he is keeping them together.
Iannetta is the most polarizing figure in a Rockies uniform. His fans love his on base percentage and his ability to hit for power. Those who are not in his corner suggest that he strikes out too much and tends to pop out when it counts.
On Saturday, Iannetta showed another weakness in his game. Chacin had done a magnificent job of getting strike outs with his change up and his slider. In the sixth inning with an 0-2 count on Chris Young, a hitter who has shown time and time again that he struggles with offspeed pitches. The FSN Rocky Mountain cameras did a phenomenal job of capturing what might have been the biggest issue that Iannetta struggles with, pitch calling.
The camera zoomed in to show Iannetta calling for a fastball up on the 0-2 count. Chacin shook it off. Iannetta immediately went back to the fastball up. Chacin once again shook him off. Iannetta called time and walked to the mound. The next pitch was a slider low and away for ball one. Immediately went back and called a high fastball. Chacin shook him off and threw another slider. After ball two, Iannetta again called for the high heat. Chacin looked frustrated and launched a fastball well over Young's head for ball three. Chacin then walked Young and a three run inning broke out.
As a catcher, Iannetta's job is to call pitches. His job is also to calm the nerves of a 22-year old pitcher and keep him in a steady rhythm. When Chacin had to continually shake off Iannetta he lost his pace and rhythm, which turned into a big inning that led to a Rockies loss.
Wanting to keep a good thing going, by putting Olivo behind the plate when Jimenez is on the mound is a good idea. That resulted in Tracy not wanting to wear his number one catcher out by putting him behind the plate in a day game after a night game. That is a good thought, except for the fact that Olivo is not the kind of guy who needs to take every fifth day off. This is a guy who passed a kidney stone in the middle of a game and did not miss a pitch. That, combined with playing in the air conditioned confines of Chase Field would suggest that Olivo would be just fine strapping on the gear in such a situation.
The fact is, Jim Tracy has a tough job to do. He must balance keeping his best lineup on the field while getting his bench players enough at bats to stay sharp and ready when called upon. However, that does not entail playing the entire bench one game a week. It is acceptable to play one or two guys in a particular game, but when it turns into four bench players it starts to disturb a the tempo that the lineup has been working to build over the first two months of the season.
It is fine if Tracy wants to get his starters rest, but what are they getting rest for? If the club does not start playing the way that they are capable of, the starters will have all of October to rest up. Maybe Tracy should think about putting his best team on the field everyday until his team is actually leading the division, rather than pretending that they are in good shape.
It's time for Tracy to quit tinkering with all of his toys and put the best team on the field for the Rockies day in and day out.
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