Sunday, May 15, 2011

Rock Bottom: Jim Tracy manages Colorado Rockies out of game yet again

The Colorado Rockies have reached a new low.

After giving up a six-run lead on Saturday, the Rockies came out with a lackluster performance on Sunday ended in a 8-2 loss, dropping their six straight series.

The offense once again failed to show up, but the reason for the pressing at the plate has become clear.

Jim Tracy is showing exactly why he was fired in Los Angeles and Pittsburgh. His bullpen management is awful. When the Rockies are on the negative side of the game, they may as well pack it in in the late innings.

Tracy is a man who is extremely detailed. He thinks of every possible scenario long before it ever comes to play. That was an endearing part of his game when he managed the Rockies out of the hole that they dug when he took over in 2009. Now, it seems to be his most annoying characteristic.

On Sunday, Tracy thought deep enough into the game that he wanted starting pitcher Jason Hammel to be able to pick up a win. Chris Iannetta has struck out to end the sixth inning, so, with Hammel due up to lead off the seventh, the manager decided that he could pinch hit for him and that he would have a chance to pick up the win if he just made it through the seventh.

That move makes sense if the guy is throwing a shutout, or has given up one run and his offense hasn't gotten going. However, Hammel was laboring through his outing. At the 100 pitch mark, Hammel had thrown just 60 strikes. That isn't a terrible ratio, but by no means was he dominant.

By giving Hammel a chance to win the game, he ensured that he would lose it.

After Hammel gave up a couple of hits, Tracy went to the bullpen, calling on Franklin Morales, who promptly served up a two-run double to Will Venable. One pitch and Morales was done. Tracy went to the other gas can in the bullpen, Felipe Paulino. Paulino gave up three hits and one run, plus the run that was on base charged to Morales. Suddenly, with a five-run seventh inning, the Rockies were down 8-2 instead of 3-2.

More baffling was the fact that Tracy went to Matt Reynolds in the ninth inning, when the game was over. Why not go to Reynolds when the club is only down by one? Why trust Morales any longer to face lefties?

To Tracy's credit, playing with a five-man bullpen is next to impossible in the big leagues. He has to put some faith in the Paulino and Morales, simply so that Matt Belisle and Matt Lindstrom's arms don't fall off. However, in the past two weeks, those two pitchers have pitched the Rockies out of four games. Continuing to go back to them in pressure situations is simply stupid.

The excuse for keeping Morales and Paulino around is that they are out of options. That means that in order to get them to the minor leagues, the Rockies have to expose them to all of the other teams first. At this point, however, why allow them to continue to pitch their team out of games simply because they want to keep them in the organization? It makes more sense to let someone go for nothing and not have them be a risk on the field, then to simply let them play horribly and hurt the team. Those decisions are tough to make, but at some point, they have to be made.

There is no excuse for the hitter's lack of production. However, an offense that is already scuffling is going to feel that much more pressure to put up a huge number when they are down by a run or two because the bullpen pitchers that are going to be coming in, even with a one or two run deficit, they feel like they have to score six or seven runs to be in it.

This team is reeling, and Jim Tracy making the same move that contains no logic over and over again is not going to endear him to the players in the clubhouse. It is time for whoever is pulling the trigger on the Morales-Paulino combo to be called out, whether that is O'Dowd, or Tracy, and that decision needs to be made. It's either that, or risk throwing away the season.


  1. Tim Terrific starts Monday nite. This little two game series is going to be huge. If the rockies fall on thier asses tomorrow nite and the next, then they are done unless Jim "Mr. Rogers" Tracy and DOD make huge trade changes to this club (like David Wright). I honestly don't think they have the stones to do it. Well, the 2011 season was fun while it lasted.

  2. Rocky-
    I think tomorrow night will be a telling night for the Rockies. Throw out the rest of the season, good or bad. If they can't step to the plate and find a way to beat Lincecum and the Giants, then they may as well forget about it. These are the guys who they will be facing in October, if they get no more excuses. Time to get the job done.

    I agree that the club needs to make huge changes, and right away. No more messing around in the bullpen. If you can't get the job done here, find somewhere that you can give up runs and pitch there. The Rockies can no longer accept mediocrity.

  3. Tracy has been terrible w/ his approach w/ runners on third base. Give us some small ball. Learn how to sacrifice bunt. Also when they pull the shift w/ a left handed batter, bunt the ball.

  4. I hate to be-labor the point. But, sorry it is a point of great importance, I think. The Rockies have talent, no doubt about that, but the chemistry is fouled up somehow. It seems to me they need a new ingredient, meaning one more hoss in the bullpen, starting in the rotation(maybe a real ace),or playing 3rd BASE! This week could be a real disaster, Gnats and Phillies. The Phillies know how to put thier foot on the throat of an opponent.

    It's too late to say it's early. It's later than you think.

  5. Oh my god really? We have roughly 125 games left to play. We are less then 2 games out of first and everyone in Colorado is hitting the panic button. We are in the same division as the World Series Champions. Did you fans think when we started off hot out of the gate San Fran was just gonna pack it in May 1st and go oh well its over. My point is their will be peaks and valleys in every season and yes this losing streak as of late is not good but we are only a game or so out and a bunch of ball left to play. Relax rockies fan and let the team find their strengths and weakness and make the adjustments for the last 100 games. We really won't get a clear indication of what we have here till the All Star break. As for now I will gladly take where we sit in the standings I'd like to be in first but as long as we are within a good weekend series from first then we are fine for now.

  6. From the perspective of it being only the middle of May you make a great point. Plenty to be OK with at this early point in the season(only 1.5 back). But, if you've followed this team for a while, it's impossible to ignore the direction they are heading. I see the same signs of packing it in that they showed last September. Hanging on to guys like Morales and Paulino til the bitter end, bad off season mistakes betting the 3rd base farm on Stewart and letting Mora go, not signing Beimel, re-signing Giambi. If you think it's all gonna just work itself out, I can't agree. But, I hope you're right. I would love to be wrong.