Thursday, September 23, 2010

Jim Tracy costs the Colorado Rockies when it matters most

Take off the purple colored glasses for a minute. Forget about the magic of 2009. Forget about the past for a moment.

The Rockies had climbed back into the game on Carlos Gonzalez's first career grand slam. With the score 8-6, Joe Beimel allowed Stephen Drew, a guy who seems to only hit against the Rockies, to hit a solo home run to right field to expand the lead to 9-6.

Anyone who follows baseball knows that if there ever was a must-win for the Colorado Rockies, Thursday was it.

Apparently Jim Tracy didn't get that memo.

All of the talk recently has been about the Rockies burned out bullpen. Well, don't ask Huston Street and Rafael Betancourt are out of gas, they haven't pitched since Sunday.

With the closer and setup man comfortably resting in the bullpens, newly acquired Octavio Dotel promptly served up a solo home run to Chris Young to open the bottom of the 8th, giving Arizona a comfortable four run lead.

Hindsight is 20/20, but after the Rockies climbed back to within a run of the Diamondbacks in the top of the 9th, those tack-on runs that Arizona added in the 7th and 8th innings sure seemed important.

Shining brightly on the scoreboard for Tracy to see was the score of the Giants-Cubs game. It was clear that a loss would move the Rockies 3.5 games out of first place with 10 games to go. That means that even a sweep of the Giants wouldn't even put the Rockies in front of them. That means that the Rockies effectively moved themselves from a contender into an extreme long shot in just four days.

When a game means as much as Thursday's did for the Rockies, it must be treated like game seven of the World Series. Instead, Jim Tracy treated it as just a regular season game in May. There is absolutely no sense of urgency from the man calling the shots for the Rockies.

Make no mistake, the bad calls didn't start in the 8th inning for Tracy. Manny Delcarmen was summonsed to pitch the 6th inning for the Rockies after Esmil Rogers had let things get out of hand. Since coming over from the Red Sox, there has been one thing that the right hander has let everyone know, the trade did not effect his ability to miss the strike zone. He does that very well.

Delcarmen walked a man and gave up two hits and a run...a run that ended up being extremely crucial. He did this with Matt Reynolds, the reliever who has been extremely effective for the Rockies since they called him up in August, comfortably resting in the bullpen.

Someone needs to tell Tracy that the Rockies are 3-1/2 games behind in the NL West race. The way he is calling the shots it looks as if he is nursing a four or five game lead.

Case in point is September call up Paul Phillips making the start behind the plate on Sunday with a chance to sweep the Dodgers. Phillips is a good player, he has Major League experience and is not going to be in awe of where he is. That said, he spent nearly the entire season in Triple-A for a reason. He is the perfect example of a journeyman catcher. Maybe it was coincidence, but in that game the Rockies pitchers were charged with four wild pitches. One of those wild pitches allowed the leadoff hitter to get on base in an inning in which the Dodgers scored three runs with two outs.

There is no doubt that players have to rest. Miguel Olivo simply cannot catch every single game. Huston Street and Rafael Betancourt cannot pitch in every game. Todd Helton is another guy who cannot play every day.

However, with Jason Giambi going 1-for-8 since launching a walk off home run against the Diamondbacks on September 12th, a game in which the Rockies were in a must-win situation was not the time to put him in the lineup. The Rockies felt the effects of his poor defense when Jonathan Herrera made an errant throw in the 5th inning when the Diamondbacks put four runs on the board. It was a bad throw, without a doubt. However, Todd Helton most likely at least catches the ball and keeps an additional run from coming across.

There simply is no sense of urgency with Tracy. It was not simply one situation where he could be second-guessed on Thursday, it was multiple times.

Mistakes happen. Every manager makes them over the course of 162 games. However, mistakes like Tracy continues to make are mind boggling. Rockies fans are quickly understanding why Tracy was shown the door in both Los Angeles and Pittsburgh. He makes the same mistakes over and over and never takes responsibility for them.

For the most part, the Rockies postseason hopes are over. They essentially need to sweep the Giants in the weekend series at Coors Field, and then lose only one of the remaining seven games. It can happen, but the odds of that are highly unlikely. In fact, if the Rockies fail to sweep the Giants, they may as well pack it in. They need to gain three games in the standings, not one. Losing a single game to the Giants and their three best pitchers simply is not an option.

For more on the Rockies visit RockiesReview.com

This article is also featured on INDenverTimes.com

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