On Thursday afternoon in Cincinnati, the Colorado Rockies lost another winnable game, 2-1 to the Reds.
It was a typical get-away game for the Rockies, who haven't won the final game of a series in nearly six weeks. It was strikingly similar, but yet, it had it's own flavor as well.
If the Rockies are still in the race, as Jim Tracy continues to suggest, then the manager isn't showing that he believes in them with the way he makes out his lineup.
With the San Francisco Giants desperately trying to give the division to anyone who will take it, the Rockies have their last chance to crawl back into the race. Get within four or five games heading into September and who knows, anything can happen.
The only problem, Tracy will not allow this team to get on a roll.
After winning the first two games of the four-game set with the Reds, the Rockies went back to playing their same old boring brand of baseball that has marked the 2011 season with bitter disappointment. Maybe there is a reason for the boring baseball. Maybe it is because there are so many games simply given away by the man in charge.
With the trade of Ubaldo Jimenez to the Cleveland Indians, the Rockies have officially passed the ace torch on to Jhoulys Chacin. He is their most reliable pitcher, and really, the only member of the current rotation that has his job secure for the next few years.
So, with your ace on the mound, what does Tracy do? He fields a lineup that includes Eliezer Alfonso hitting in the cleanup spot. That's right, in the four hole.
The lineup was not only shocking for who was in it, but also for who was not in it. Troy Tulowitzki, the league's hottest hitter, found himself on the bench. Okay, everyone needs a day off here and there. However, it didn't stop with Tulo. Tracy also gave Todd Helton a day off. And it didn't end there. Chris Iannetta, one of the Rockies hottest hitters since the All-Star break, was also on the bench.
Stop and pretend that the Rockies are actually in the race. With a chance to move to eight games out of first place with over a month and a half of baseball left to play, and a winnable series on the line, the Rockies have their ace on the mound, and what do they do? They go with a junior varsity lineup.
How can anyone expect this team to win? Every fourth or fifth day the team sends out a bunch of guys who are stragglers. Jim Tracy simply cannot help but give consistent starts to every batter on the Rockies roster.
Tracy can't even solidify a position where the Rockies made a trade "to solidify a hole in the lineup." When Dan O'Dowd went out and traded for Mark Ellis from Oakland, it was to bring stability to second base. The move was made to remove all doubt about who the second baseman is. So what does Tracy do? He plays Ellis four to five times a week, and mixes someone else in there the rest of the time.
Chris Nelson and Jonathan Herrera continue to get work at second base, with Ellis taking a seat at least twice a week.
At this point, the lineup changes are ridiculous. Fingers will point to Carney Lansford being the reason for the Rockies failures in 2011, but the one person who needs to take the largest chunk of the responsibility is Tracy. How can a hitter get hot when they find themselves on the bench every fourth or fifth day?
Obviously at this point in his career, Helton needs a breather once a week. That is fine. However, when it is his day off, it probably isn't a good idea to also drop the two biggest run producers on the team since the All-Star break on the bench as well.
The faults are so glaringly obvious. Everyone sees them. Everyone, except the man who continues to write out the lineup card on a day-to-day basis.