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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