|Jim Tracy continues to manage the Rockies out of wins.e|
Don't buy a ticket on Sunday's. In fact, don't bother to even watch the game on TV, listen on the radio, or pay attention at all. There is no reason. There is no plan for the team to win the game. It is viewed as an exhibition game, giving non-starters a day to feel like they are getting a chance to play in a big league game.
The latest example came on Sunday. Tracy took the momentum that the team had built up with two very impressive come-from-behind victories, and threw it away, allowing the Diamondbacks to have an easy victory.
Tracy used the pathetic excuse of a team that was tired from a rain-delayed game from the previous night to roll out a lineup that is more fitting for Colorado Springs than any Major League park. Todd Helton, the hero from the previous two nights, was on the bench. Ramon Hernandez, the catcher who had homered in two straight ball games, on the bench. Marco Scutaro, the second baseman who inspired energy from the bench after getting plunked in the 9th inning on Saturday, on the bench. Dexter Fowler, searching for his swing and in need of consistent at-bats. On the bench.
In all, five regular starters were out of the lineup as the Rockies weakly attempted to sweep their division foes.
The most ridiculous part of Tracy's decision is that it always seems to come at the expense of a pitcher who should understandably have an extra amount of nerves.
Last Sunday, the JV lineup came at the expense of Juan Nicasio. The right-handed Domincan was making his first start on the mound since taking an Ian Desmond liner off the head, causing him to fall and break his neck. Instead of honoring the hard work that Nicasio, who should never have been expected to throw another pitch, let alone pitch within a year of the accident, Tracy sent out a lineup that included his five least productive hitters.
When Nicasio had still kept the team in the game, Tracy failed to put defensive replacements into the game to help secure it. The Rockies lost 3-2 on a defensive error by a catcher playing third base and an outfielder playing first base.
In the most recent version, Tracy didn't back up his rookie starter, Drew Pomeranz, who was making his first start for the Rockies all year long. While Pomeranz clearly didn't have his best stuff, speculation could suggest that having the majority of regular starters out of the lineup might have led the rookie to feel that he had very little wiggle room.
After the game, Tracy was asked about fans feeling like they got ripped off by going to a game without many of the stars in the lineup. Tracy seemed very defensive, saying that it this team has guys on it that need rest so that they won't be completely burned out by August and September.
The irony of Tracy's words are that it certainly won't matter how fresh the regulars are in August and September if the team hasn't won enough games by then for it to matter. How many fans will care if Todd Helton is in the lineup on September 15th if the team is 15 games out of the race?
Suggesting that players don't take days off is slightly ridiculous. Of course a player like Helton, who will turn 39 in August, is going to need some days off along the way. However, take a look at his week. He had last Sunday off, played on Monday in the opener, had a scheduled off-day on Tuesday, was in the lineup on Wednesday, was off on Thursday, played Friday and Saturday, then off again on Sunday.
Of course Saturday night was a very late game in the cold weather, so it could make sense for some guys to have Sunday off. The only problem is that this team is not a team that can afford to give any games away. This is a team that is going to have to claw and scratch for every single win. They simply do not have the luxury of giving games away.
The other issue with the Tracy playing the non-regulars on Sunday is that the Diamondbacks had newly-acquired Trevor Cahill on the mound. Coming from the American League, very few Rockies have seen him. Taking Sunday off means that players like Helton, Scutaro, Ramon Hernandez and Dexter Fowler will be starting from scratch the next time the Rockies face him, which will give Cahill a huge advantage the next time around as well.
Tracy's motives might be in the right place. He wants to keep his bench feeling fresh, and have at bats so that when they are called upon, they are ready to go. The problem is that when a manager tries to keep 12 hitters fresh, he usually only accomplishes the opposite, and keeps them all from getting into a rhythm.
If bench players know that they are bench players, and might only come in for a late-night pinch hit and the very occasional start, they can prepare for that. They can get in a mindset that they might only get a few at-bats a week and they have to get in the batting cages more often to keep themselves from getting stale. If they feel that they are going to get two or three starts a week, there routine gets out of whack.
While fans feel frustrated by the continual lineup tinkering, Tracy continues to believe that what he is doing is best for the team.
The only logical conclusion for fans is that they are going to have to live with these decisions, and hope that the talent on the field can win in spite of Tracy, instead of because of him.
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