Sunday, April 8, 2012

Jim Tracy in mid-season form as Colorado Rockies drop series in Houston

It didn't take Jim Tracy long.

Many of the Colorado Rockies fans were ready to turn the page from a failed 2011 season. Many were ready to give Tracy another chance to prove that he is a good manager. Many were ready to chalk up his losing ways to him managing a group of players who would rather have been doing something else instead of being at the ballpark. Many were ready for an April in which Tracy showed that with a group of veterans, he could push the right buttons.
Jim Tracy cost the Rockies a win on Sunday.

Instead, Tracy dashed the hopes of fans before the team ever arrived in Denver.

On Sunday, Tracy was in mid-season form. Three games into the brand new season, he decided it was a good time to give a couple of guys a rest. And by a couple of guys, he meant half of the lineup.

Todd Helton was on the bench, Marco Scutaro was on the bench, Chris Nelson, on the bench, Dexter Fowler, on the bench, Ramon Hernandez, on the bench.

With the Rockies up 2-1, thanks to a phenomenal outing by miracle-boy Juan Nicasio, Tracy pulled the trigger that ensured a loss.

Usually a manager brings in his top defensive players late in a close ball game in order to lock down the win. In the finale in Houston, Tracy baffled everyone watching the game. Instead of bringing in slick-fielding Chris Nelson to man third base Tracy stuck with still-converting-catcher Jordan Pacheco.

Then, instead of bringing in the arguably the best defensive first baseman in baseball, Todd Helton, Tracy chose to move right fielder Michael Cuddyer to first base.

The decisions proved to be fatal. With two runners on and two outs, a ground ball came Pacheco's way. He fielded it down the line and made a long throw to first. The throw should have pulled Cuddyer off the bag, but, clearly looking un-polished at first, didn't come far enough off the bag and let the ball skip passed him, scoring two runs and giving the Astros the lead.

It makes sense to give guys days off. Everyone realizes that Helton is no longer a 162-game per year player. With veterans close to Helton's age, mixing in different players is very wise. However, the way Tracy does it makes no sense whatsoever.

This is the third game of the season. The Rockies had a day game on Wednesday and a day off on Thursday before landing in Houston. The club also has a day off on Tuesday immediately following the home opener. With that in consideration, does it really make sense to put all of those players on the bench at the same time?

As painful as it may be, think back to 2011. Remember the Sunday losing streak? Remember when the Rockies lost on 17 Sunday's in a row? Was that just coincidence? Or was it the fact that Tracy decides to use a Junior Varsity lineup on Sunday's? Does he over think the idea of losing a battle to win the war?

The thing about it is that it seems as if Tracy doesn't realize that day games count the same as night games in the standings. Also, games in April are worth the same as games in September when it is all said and done. It certainly seems that the way Tracy manages would suggest that he isn't aware of that fact.

This Rockies team has a good chance to contend. They have veteran players who are hungry to win and know how to win. However, they have to play well early. This is not a team that is going to be crawl back from way behind in the standings late in the season. They have to stay within striking distance.

Losing two-of-three to the Astros, whether that happens in April or May or September, is something that a true contender shouldn't do. These Astros are a very bad team. They will probably lose in the neighborhood of 100 games. Certainly the Astros will take series from other good teams throughout the course of the season, but it isn't a good way to start a season.

The Rockies return home for the first time with their new cast of characters. The home opener is always a celebration of baseball's return. The Rockies have a chance to show the Giants that they are serious about contending. Winning a series at home would be a good way for the team to wipe away a bad first series in Houston.

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  1. Just proves once again(to me anyway!) that last winter was another example of the club's hierarchy passing the buck. It is always somebody else's fault, never management. Until ownership wants to win as goal number one, instead of buddy-buddy relationships at the top, we'll continue to see this kind of stuff happening. It's been said before but imagine how long Dan O'Dowd would have lasted in NY!

    1. J T , You are SOO RIGHT. TRACY SUX and O DUDD does Nothing to Help..
      Retsjaw. Looking at a 65 Win Season for the LOWLY ROX.

    2. Call me a homer, but I really don't think that this is Dan O'Dowd's fault entirely, I think he puts together as good of a team as he possibly can with what ownership gives him. I think ownership wants to win, but is running a business and wants to make money first. Can't say that I blame them. There is definitely a sense of apathy. No accountability for Jim Tracy, and O'Dowd as well.
      I don't think its panic time yet though. They are still good for 80 wins.

  2. I really want to fight with Jim Tracy when I watch games and see how inept he is. You have a young kid on the mound coming back from a near life threatening injury and you put that lineup on the field? Are these guys really exhausted this short into the season? He is going to have a really fresh bench in October to watch the playoffs on TV with the other teams that don't make it. Sorry, you make $400K+ per year to play baseball. Get on the field. If you have a 5 or 6 game lead, great give some guys a rest. They would have, and should have started off the season with a road series win which would have been great for the psyche. This guy is destroying a promising with his tinkering. How can the management not see this?

    1. Your words say it all. Thanks for the comment. Good to see a Rockies fan with a lot of passion for the team. The idea of having to rest this early--with a day off on Tuesday, is stupid...plain and simple.

  3. By the way...Great article Dave!

  4. I do not want to see the Rockies out of contention before April even ends. As I posted on the Rockies page, there is no excuse for batting .180 to start the season.

    If the Rockies are not at least 4-6 by game 10, and 9-11 by game 20, then Jim Tracy, the batting coach, and Dan O'Dowd all three need to be fired.

    Maybe we as Rockies fans cannot demand a playoff contender, but expecting to at least be competitive is only fair

  5. Anna-
    I'm not sure I agree with that. (I suppose I think Jim Tracy should have been fired before the season). However, I wouldn't panic about a 1-3 record. After all, it's the same record as the Yankees, Red Sox and Giants. It's too early to look at batting averages. These guys will hit. The question mark is the starting pitching and Jhoulys Chacin needs to be the guy to step it up.

  6. As someone who lives in Rifle, I sometimes wonder if my thoughts are out of step with other fans. I was at the first home opener, the second, the 2 Coors, All-Star game and World Series. I do pay attention. My question is why the Rockies cannot field the same team, game after game. I grew up watching the lowly Cubbies. besides them losing on a regular basis, you knew who was playing where, game after game.
    Why in the world did Jim Tracy have that line-up on the field on Sunday? That was my thought exactly when I saw the line-up posted for the start of the game. I am glad to see that I am not alone in questioning this decision. As far as other questions and discussions on this site, I have asked the same questions (to myself) as to why we still have the same pitching and batting coaches as last year. What's that Einstein quote about the definition of insanity?

    1. Craig-
      Thanks for commenting and thanks for reading. Jim Tracy's moves are baffling. However, even more than that is that it doesn't seem like the front office would agree with that statement. I think they really have bought into Tracy, and his flaws seem so blatant. They must really believe that he brings something to the club that we don't see. Who knows. I don't get it.

      Thanks for the comment. Feel free to comment anytime...agree or disagree.

    2. David,
      I spend most of my non-working time taking on political issues. Fighting the urge to get wrapped up in the Rockies' decision making progress would probably make my head explode. Its bad enough I have numerous scars from scratching it for a number of years.


    3. I can understand that feeling! Trust me! Thanks for the comments and thanks for reading.