Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Giambi delivers two-run homer...with Colorado Rockies down by three

One night after Jason Giambi delivered a walk-off, no doubt home run to right field, manager Jim Tracy decided to play that card again.

This time, however, Tracy forgot that the club was down by three runs when Giambi stepped to the plate instead of Chris Iannetta in the bottom of the ninth inning.

The logic of the move is the latest in a long list of head scratching moves from the Rockies manager, who got a free pass from fans in 2010 after leading the nearly lifeless Rockies of 2009 to the playoffs.

With the Rockies down by three runs, Todd Helton led off the ninth inning with a single to left field. That was followed by two outs, one on a long drive to center field off the bat of Seth Smith, and then a strikeout from Jonathan Herrera.

With two outs and Helton still at first base, Tracy decided to use Giambi in place of Iannetta. The move was questionable for more than one reason.

First, Iannetta has been one of the best hitters for the Rockies since the All-Star break. Despite going 0-for-3 in the game before being pinch-hit for, the catcher still is one of the club's best options for the team at that point.

The second reason it was a bad idea is because Giambi is in the game for one reason. He did exactly what he was in the game for, and that was to hit a ball over the fence. The problem is that the home run didn't tie up the game, it only put the club within a run.

There is no guarantee that Iannetta would have continued the inning, but with a base hit, or even a home run from the catcher would have put the Rockies in a position to use Giambi in a spot where he could have tied the game with a long ball. Instead, he was wasted in order to bring the game to within a run.

The confusing moves continue for Tracy, who is clearly doing anything he can possibly think of to get the Rockies some wins. The problem is that his strange moves end up costing the club more than they help.

It seems to be all negative for the Rockies lately, but in a tough season like the team is in the midst of, there simply isn't much to be positive about.

On Tuesday night, Jhoulys Chacin, the Rockies new ace, struggled once again. He wasn't locating any of his pitches and didn't seem prepared. As the Marlins batted around in the first inning, Chacin clearly didn't have his best stuff. As a 23-year old pitcher, he isn't expected to be in the best form every time he takes the hill.

However, Chacin should be taking steps forward. He should becoming a more mature hitter. Instead, he seems to be regressing as the season progresses. The league is bound to make adjustments, but the problem is, Chacin isn't making the adjustments on his side to keep the opposition on their toes.

At some point, looking at the starting pitching, Bob Apodaca's practices have to be called into question. For years he has been able to play the card that he has the toughest job in baseball, trying to get results from pitchers at Coors Field. That excuse, however, is long since been obsolete. The humidor has greatly reduced the Coors Field effect. It is still a hitter's park, but there are parks in the big leagues that both give up more hits and home runs. The Coors Field effect has been greatly neutralized.

Under Apodaca, the Rockies have seen regression from Aaron Cook, Jason Hammel, and specifically Ubaldo Jimenez. At some point, the club has to question what is being taught from the man in charge of the pitchers.

The Rockies have so many issues. They cannot blame injuries for their problems because they have had plenty of opportunities to overcome injuries. There isn't a single answer for their struggles in 2011, but one thing is for sure, the struggles have been hard to live through.

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