If nothing else, the 2011-2012 offseason has been confusing for Colorado Rockies fans.
On Monday in Scottsdale, the Rockies announced that they have reached a "handshake" agreement with Jim Tracy which will allow him to be the manager of the club "indefinitely."
What does that mean? Well, that is where the confusion comes in. Read through comments on Twitter and the answer is anywhere from it meaning nothing, to meaning Tracy will be the Rockies manager for the next 20 years.
The comments, however, are clear from Dan O'Dowd. He told the Denver Post that the deal "could be until he's (Tracy) using a cane and having trouble getting onto the field." That doesn't sound like the type of statement that comes from a general manager while giving his manager the dreaded vote of confidence.
Comments like that suggest that O'Dowd has hitched his wagon to Tracy and believes that the struggles of 2011 had nothing to do with the theories and strategies coming from inside the managers office, and everything to do with the attitudes and failures coming out of the clubhouse.
The question is, at what point does a manager have to take responsibility for the failures that come out of the clubhouse? At what point does the attitudes that create dissent among teammates need to be squelched by the manager?
The offseason moves were clear. O'Dowd shipped out everyone who he, and probably Tracy, had determined to be a bad apple in the clubhouse. O'Dowd successfully brought in veterans who he believes will help a young superstar like Troy Tulowitzki learn how to lead.
That theory is fine. There is no problem with heading down that path. There are no issues with it when your manager is in the final year of his contract, and if that theory doesn't pan out, his removal can simply be part of the redirection project.
There is another thought that comes into play with the handshake extension. The move also might be a confidence booster for Tracy. O'Dowd may have seen a manager who lost control, and when his confidence was gone, started panicking and pushing all sorts of different buttons to try and make something, anything, work.
If O'Dowd gives Tracy a commitment, it may make the manager feel like he can relax and think thoroughly.
The move also might be the final nail in the coffin for what was a miserable 2011 season. It may be O'Dowd making one final slap in the face to the remaining members of the clubhouse by letting them know that they had better follow Tracy, because he isn't going anywhere. It may be his way of saying that players need to buy into the system, or they need to find a different team to play for.
Regardless of the reasoning for the move it comes as a head scratch-er to fans. Sports management is not a light duty.
Imagine Joe Girardi, manager of the New York Yankees, having a year like the Rockies had in 2011. Imagine him with expectations to win the World Series, then stumbling to a 73-89 record. The fact is, Girardi wouldn't have made it out of November with his job, let alone get an extension.
Look at Terry Francona in Boston. It was evident that he lost control of his clubhouse and he was fired within a week of his team's collapse. Keep in mind, Boston won 90 games and Francona was still shown the door.
What remains to be seen is what a 'handshake' deal really means for Tracy. Is it O'Dowd's way of saying that he is hitching his wagon to his manager, and if ownership decides that Tracy needs to go, then the whole house will be cleaned and O'Dowd will go with him? That might be.
For fans, however, the move doesn't inspire a ton of confidence heading into a season that doesn't look incredibly promising.
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