On Monday night, in the biggest series of the season for the club, the Rockies dropped the opener of a three-game set to the Padres 6-4.
It is tough to complain after a 10 game winning streak. However, the Rockies fell victim to their old mistakes in the loss. Once again, they didn't lose to the Padres, they lost to themselves.
Two errors cost them big time. The latter, a base hit to center field that Dexter Fowler mis fielded allowing runners to advance to second and third base. They both scored on a base hit up the middle.
It is tough to be hard on Jim Tracy as well. He deserves credit for pushing the right buttons during the winning streak. However, much of the reason the Rockies were on a winning streak seemed to be because Tracy was allowing the players to play the game. Often times, Tracy finds himself playing around with the numbers so much that he forces it too often. He often micromanages and gets himself in too deep to recover.
Hindsight is 20/20, but starting Jeff Francis in the all-important opener of the biggest three game series of the year was probably not the best of ideas. Obviously the injury to Aaron Cook made the decision a tough one. Esmil Rogers had been working out of the bullpen and wasn't available to start and the other options, most likely Samuel Deduno, has never started in the big leagues.
However, Tracy opted for the veteran, even with a 60 pitch limit.
Taking a look at it, with all of Jim Tracy's tinkering and micromanaging, his biggest flaw may be his commitment to veteran players.
Take a look at when the Rockies really got going. As good as he is defensively, when Clint Barmes was removed from the lineup to give Eric Young Jr. a shot at the starting roll, the Rockies got into a groove. The reason? Instead of having Barmes flail at sliders in the dirt in the eight hole, the club now had two of the fastest players in baseball at the top of the lineup.
Young may not be the best hitter in the world, but his speed makes up for some of his flaws. A routine ground ball to the left side requires a quick transfer and strong throw to avoid a base hit. When he and Fowler are able to get on base, both Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki see better pitches, allowing them to do what they have been doing for the last month.
Instead of giving Young a shot earlier in the season, Tracy continued to stick with Barmes.
It is not a knock on Tracy. His loyalty endears him to his players. It is something that many managers never even think about. However, there has to be a point in time where a veteran player has to continue to produce in order to see his name on the lineup card every night.
On Monday, Tracy rewarded the veteran Jeff Francis with a start, when the reality is, he probably wasn't ready to be out there. Would Deduno have been any better? Maybe not. However, he is coming off a season in which he was the Texas League pitcher of the year in 2009. Talk to Sky Sox manager Stu Coles for one minute and he will rave about Deduno's pitches.
The crazy thing is, the Rockies are still in a great spot. They are 2.5 games out of first place in the National League West and have a very good chance at chipping away at the Padres lead in the next two days. If the Dodgers would cooperate just a little bit and beat the Giants a couple of times in the next three days, the Rockies could be just a game or so out of the race with plenty of baseball left to be played.
It will be interesting.
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