Tag: Jim Tracy

Colorado Rockies’ Move to 4-Man Rotation Is Foolish Move by Desperate Jim Tracy

These are desperate times at Coors Field. 

The Colorado Rockies have allowed more runs than any team in baseball. Consequently, they also have the highest team ERA in the majors.

That pitching staff may well have driven manager Jim Tracy to madness. At the very least, it can’t be said that he’s not trying to be creative in fixing his team’s massive pitching deficiencies. 

As reported by the Denver Post‘s Troy Renck, the Rockies announced that they’ll be going to a four-man pitching rotation. Jeremy Guthrie—who’s been abysmal in his past six appearances—is being moved to the bullpen, and the four remaining starters will be on a 75-pitch limit to compensate for one less day of rest. 

“I felt we had to do something non-conventional,” Tracy told reporters. “I was given the opportunity to tweak this. We are going to see what transpires as we move forward.”

Well, this definitely qualifies as unconventional. The fact that it’s Jim Tracy messing with the conventions of the game is a bit difficult to comprehend. If Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon was doing this, we’d probably be clapping our hands at his desire to zig when everyone else is zagging. Tracy probably felt he had nothing to lose with his “indefinite” contract.

However, Tracy’s grand experiment is already showing some leaks. He says the Rockies are going to a four-man rotation because his bullpen is throwing too many innings. And he’s right. Josh Roenicke’s 41 innings are more than any other big league reliever has pitched. Matt Belisle isn’t far behind him with 36. 

But how exactly will strictly limiting the pitch counts of his starters and asking them to pitch more often going to curb the number of innings the bullpen pitches. Won’t the Rockies relievers actually end up pitching more because of this scheme?

Purple Row’s Andrew Fisher also points out that the Rockies don’t have an off-day until the All-Star break. Not great timing here. 

The puzzling aspect of Tracy’s decision is that it doesn’t seem like he had to resort to such drastic measures. The Rockies have plenty of young pitching that should get a look right now. Why isn’t Drew Pomeranz with the big league club?

Christian Friedrich and Alex White are already in the rotation. Josh Outman is tailor-made for this 75-pitch limit as he stretches out from reliever to starter. Juan Nicasio is working his way back from a knee injury. Surely, the Rockies will go back to a five-man rotation once he returns. 

Yes, you could say that if those prospects had pitched well, the Rockies wouldn’t be in a position to try something so wacky. But this season is lost. Colorado holds fourth place in the NL West, 16 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers. They’re 9.5 games back in the NL Wild Card race.

The Rockies’ best player, Troy Tulowitzki, is on the disabled list, and could be out for a while as doctors try to determine the extent of his groin injury. It would be a shame to waste an excellent season from Carlos Gonzalez and solid numbers from Michael Cuddyer. But if the Rockies can’t hold down the opposition, it won’t matter how well those two hit. 

Yet as wacky as this idea by Tracy is, with the trainwreck fascination it’s creating, it’s something different. Fans often suggest that teams who can’t find a fifth starter should try going to a four-man rotation. Manager sometimes contemplate going to a six-man starting staff. This usually gets shouted down as crazy, maybe stupid. And that’s probably because such ideas are crazy and stupid.

This more than likely won’t work for the Rockies. It could blow right up in Tracy’s face and possibly cost him his job. But it certainly beats sending Jeremy Guthrie (or Jamie Moyer before him) out there every five days to get beaten like pizza dough. That would be the definition of mediocrity. 

It’s little consolation to fans (or those dumb enough to pick Colorado to win the NL West), but if the Rockies are going to stink, at least they’re going to make it interesting. 


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Colorado Rockies Fans Need to Be More Outspoken

The handshake deal.

The discussion about the performance of the Colorado Rockies in the 2012 season keeps reverting to the handshake deal between Dan O’Dowd and Jim Tracy. Was it a clever strategy to help Tracy relax and manage some wins, or did O’Dowd really think Jim Tracy had shown enough to warrant an extension?

As the Rockies sit at 13-21, fourth in the NL West, the question arises: When does the franchise make a change?

Dan O’ Dowd made some interesting comments today in the Denver Post about how he doesn’t intend to make any changes to the current staff. While the comments should anger fans, it should be no shock that this is the mind set in the front office.

Keep in mind that this comes from a man who told the current manager, Jim Tracy, that he can indefinitely be with the organization. While fans and analysts have speculated as to what that exactly means, the fact is that the entire coaching staff was kept around after 2011, the most disappointing season in franchise history.

The Rockies’ struggles begin with Dan O’Dowd. Blame the Monforts for not spending the money all you want, but they have spent big money on a few players through the years—Todd Helton, Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, and let’s not forget the abysmal signings of Mike Hampton and Danny Neagle. Even coming into this season, many argued that the Rockies overpaid for Michael Cuddyer.

The Rockies are in a market that allows them to spend money, but they have to get it right when spending. This is something that simply hasn’t happened under Dan O’Dowd.

Think about all the prospects this franchise has missed on. Think about how Generation-R turned out.

Since 2005, fans were fed the line of “we are building from within.” That is not a bad model by any means, but the 2011 season showed just how overvalued the farm system was. As Ian Stewart, Chris Iannetta, Ubaldo Jimenez and others departed this past offseason, so did the old model of building from within.

Look at this season. Sure, no one expected the Rockies to compete for a division title, but this team is flirting with last place in the division and already appears to be making roster moves out of desperation.

What’s even more disturbing is that Dan O’Dowd completely overhauled the clubhouse—again, just think back to 2005, because he wanted a different attitude from his players. If this team can’t turn around this horrible start, then the Rockies will be failing in the new model O’Dowd promoted.

If that is the case, Dan O’Dowd can then use the possible success of young players such as Rosario, Arenado, White, Pomeranz, Friedrich and Pacheco as reasons to keep him around.

2013 could be Generation-R all over again. Maybe all the veteran players get the boot and all the young players get the start. Fans could potentially be fed the exact same message, with the exact same staff, with the exact same results.

While Colorado is in no means like Boston, New York or Philadelphia in terms of support for its baseball team, Rockies fans should demand more from their club. Let management know that you will no longer support a mediocre product.

Maybe they don’t listen, but then again, this is the Year of the Fan.

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Latest Mile High Miracle: Juan Nicasio Poised to Start in 2012 After Broken Neck

After a horrifying moment last season on August 5, 2011, when Juan Nicasio’s neck was broken after being hit in the temple with a line drive by Ian Desmond of the Washington Nationals. Nicasio suffered a fractured skull and had bleeding on his brain from the impact of the liner.

Team manager, Jim Tracy admires the resilient 25-year old: “To say he has courage … I don’t know if that’s a strong enough choice of words.”

On Sunday, Nicasio made a big impression on teammates and fans watching an intrasquad match where he pitched two innings. The Denver Post reported that: “He threw consistently at 93 to 95 mph (once hitting 97). Of his 35 pitches, 27 were strikes.”

Nicasio didn’t give up a run, allowed just two hits and hit one batter. He had two strikeouts as well in the two innings.

That’s a great sign of progress for Nicasio and the Rockies, who are hoping that he could fill in the fourth slot in the starting roster this year.

Tracy has realistic expectations for the young pitcher, but couldn’t help but gush over where he was at:

“We will see more when he throws against another club,” Tracy said. “But obviously one of the things we were looking for was his reaction as he goes to throw the pitch. Meaning, is he going to finish the pitch? Or is he going to start fielding his position too soon to protect himself? Will you see some recoil or something like that? But there was absolutely none of that. It was actually a better Juan Nicasio than the kid who came to us from (Double-A) Tulsa last year. More mature, more convinced he belongs at the major-league level.”


Last season, some wondered if Nicasio would ever be right again. There were worries that he might never walk again, let alone toss a pitch. Now, he is back and playing at a high level this Spring, the last worry was how he might react when batted balls come screaming back at him. Would he cringe in fear, or stand tall?


There was no change in form or follow-through on Sunday. He was courageous pitching fearlessly.

Asked about it after the session Nicasio was nonchalant and calm: “I understand people are scared. I’m working hard to make the starting rotation. I don’t think about what happened. It is my dream — pitching again.”

He has been working very hard training, lifting weights, pitching BP to condition his body and prepare for the highly competitive position of starting pitcher in Major League Baseball. He is very focused and determined despite last season’s set back.

When he looks back on the day that could have easily ended his career, Nicasio confidently declares, “The next one, I’m gonna catch.” 

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MLB: Colorado Rockies Blast New York Mets in NYC: 5 Keys to the Rockies Sweep

View From the Rockpile: Musings From a Mile High Along the Journey to Rocktober


There’s no bigger stage for a middle-market club than the sparkling new sandlot just a skip, hop and a seven-train jump from Broadway.  Do it here, and media, critics and fans will take notice. 


America, meet the 2011 Colorado Rockies.


The Rockies entered this season demanding better from themselves away from the friendly confines of Coors Field.  Road warriors, they need not be; but 31-50 on the road (as they were in 2010), they cannot be, not if they aim to make their NL West championship dreams come true.


After taking three of four from the Pirates in PNC Park, the Rockies looked to continue to exorcise their road demons at Citi Field against a struggling New York Mets squad. 


Yet, having lost eight straight series in the Big Apple and 22 out of their last 27 in old New York, New York, the Rockies still had their work cut out for them.


Consider those dragons tamed, at least for the moment.  With the Herculean efforts of team leader Troy Tulowitzki, the Rockies fought their way through wind, rain, daily deficits and a doubleheader to an amazin’ four-game series sweep against the Mets.


Just how did the Rockies manage to turn the Mets into the Mess?  Take a look inside to find out…

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Jim Tracy Costs the Colorado Rockies When It Matters Most

Take off the purple-colored glasses for a minute. Forget about the magic of 2009. Forget about the past for a moment.

The Rockies had climbed back into the game on Carlos Gonzalez’s first career grand slam. With the score 8-6, Joe Beimel allowed Stephen Drew, a guy who seems to only hit against the Rockies, to hit a solo home run to right field to expand the lead to 9-6.

Anyone who follows baseball knows that if there ever was a must-win for the Colorado Rockies, Thursday was it.

Apparently Jim Tracy didn’t get that memo.

All of the talk recently has been about the Rockies’ burned-out bullpen. Well, don’t ask Huston Street and Rafael Betancourt if they are out of gas—they haven’t pitched since Sunday.

With the closer and setup man comfortably resting in the bullpens, newly acquired Octavio Dotel promptly served up a solo home run to Chris Young to open the bottom of the eighth, giving Arizona a comfortable four-run lead.

Hindsight is 20/20, but after the Rockies climbed back to within a run of the Diamondbacks in the top of the ninth, those tack-on runs that Arizona added in the seventh and eighth innings sure seemed important.

Shining brightly on the scoreboard for Tracy to see was the score of the Giants-Cubs game. It was clear that a loss would move the Rockies 3.5 games out of first place with 10 games to go. That means that even a sweep of the Giants wouldn’t even put the Rockies in front of them. That means that the Rockies effectively moved themselves from a contender into an extreme long shot in just four days.

When a game means as much as Thursday’s did for the Rockies, it must be treated like Game 7 of the World Series. Instead, Tracy treated it as just a regular season game in May. There is absolutely no sense of urgency from the man calling the shots for the Rockies.

Make no mistake—the bad calls didn’t start in the eighth inning for Tracy. Manny Delcarmen was summoned to pitch the sixth inning for the Rockies after Esmil Rogers had let things get out of hand. Since coming over from the Red Sox, there has been one thing that the right-hander has let everyone know: The trade did not affect his ability to miss the strike zone. He does that very well.

Delcarmen walked a man and gave up two hits and a run…a run that ended up being extremely crucial. He did this with Matt Reynolds, the reliever who has been extremely effective for the Rockies since they called him up in August, comfortably resting in the bullpen.

Someone needs to tell Tracy that the Rockies are 3.5 games behind in the NL West race. The way he is calling the shots, it looks as if he is nursing a four- or five-game lead.

Case in point is September call-up Paul Phillips making the start behind the plate on Sunday with a chance to sweep the Dodgers. Phillips is a good player; he has Major League experience and is not going to be in awe of where he is. That said, he spent nearly the entire season in Triple-A for a reason. He is the perfect example of a journeyman catcher.

Maybe it was coincidence, but in that game Rockies pitchers were charged with four wild pitches. One of those wild pitches allowed the leadoff hitter to get on base in an inning in which the Dodgers scored three runs with two outs.

There is no doubt that players have to rest. Miguel Olivo simply cannot catch every single game. Huston Street and Rafael Betancourt cannot pitch in every game. Todd Helton is another guy who cannot play every day.

However, with Jason Giambi going 1-for-8 since launching a walk-off home run against the Diamondbacks on September 12th, a game in which the Rockies were in a must-win situation was not the time to put him in the lineup.

The Rockies felt the effects of his poor defense when Jonathan Herrera made an errant throw in the fifth inning when the Diamondbacks put four runs on the board. It was a bad throw, without a doubt. However, Helton most likely at least catches the ball and keeps an additional run from coming across.

There simply is no sense of urgency with Tracy. It was not simply one situation where he could be second-guessed on Thursday; it was multiple times.

Mistakes happen. Every manager makes them over the course of 162 games. However, mistakes like Tracy continues to make are mind-boggling. Rockies fans are quickly understanding why Tracy was shown the door in both Los Angeles and Pittsburgh. He makes the same mistakes over and over and never takes responsibility for them.

For the most part, the Rockies’ postseason hopes are over. They essentially need to sweep the Giants in the weekend series at Coors Field and then lose only one of the remaining seven games. It can happen, but the odds of that are highly unlikely.

In fact, if the Rockies fail to sweep the Giants, they may as well pack it in. They need to gain three games in the standings, not one. Losing a single game to the Giants and their three best pitchers simply is not an option.

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The Jim Tracy Honeymoon Is Over for Colorado Rockies

It is September. Usually, that means fans of a team managed by Jim Tracy can let out a sigh of relief.

That is because it means that Tracy can micromanage to his heart’s content and still have enough players on the bench to make it work.

He proved everyone wrong on Tuesday night in a pivotal game at Coors Field.
It would be easy to blame Edgmer Escolona, the Rockies rookie pitcher who forgot to cover first base, for the loss.
That mistake did cost the Rockies the game, as a sacrifice fly scored the winning run. However, look deeper and the blame lies with Tracy.
Is the bullpen short on rest lately? Yes. Do some of the guys sitting out there need a night off? Absolutely.
The bullpen has been taxed in recent days with the shortcomings of the starting pitching. On Tuesday, Jason Hammel gave up 10 hits and four runs in just four innings.
The bullpen is definitely short. However, since when has Jim Tracy cared about saving arms? All season long he has run reliever after reliever to the mound on back-to-back-to-back days.
Matt Belisle has logged the most innings of any reliever in the game. Huston Street has been asked to pitch in non-save situations with the Rockies up by four or more runs in at least four occasions.
For the ultimate proof of Tracy’s taxation on the bullpen, talk to Manny Corpas. If he won’t tell you, ask Thomas Noonan, the surgeon who performed Tommy John surgery on the once-promising righty.
So all of a sudden, with the Rockies in the heat of a playoff battle, Jim Tracy decides it is time to make sure his arms are adequately rested.
Tracy mistake number one; after Manny Delcarmen had worked a phenomenal 5th inning in relief, Tracy allowed him to bat in the bottom half of the inning. It was Delcarmen’s first plate appearance in the big leagues.
The reasoning makes sense. The Rockies had two outs and no one on base, so if they could get another inning out of the right hander it would be very beneficial.
The problem with the logic, however, is that Tracy essentially gave up on the inning with a bench full of potential pinch hitters waiting to take a shot in a one-run ballgame.
Delcarmen quickly went down on strikes and headed back to the mound, where he pitched as well as could be expected for another 1-1/3 innings.
The odds of a pinch hitter coming up and getting a two-out rally may be slim, but why just give away the inning because there are two outs? One swing of the bat from someone on the bench could have tied the game.
Delcarmen batting for himself may have been unwise, but Tracy’s biggest blunder came in the ninth.
With the Padres sporting a two-run lead, Tracy went to Escolona to pitch the ninth. This is the same Escolona who made his Major League debut on Friday night in a blowout win.
Tracy chalked up Escolona’s mistake to being young and getting caught up in the moment. The question for Tracy is simple, why was someone who is young and susceptible to getting caught up in the moment in the game at that point?
The Rockies already faced a tall order in trying to score two runs off of Heath Bell in the ninth to tie the game, now they were forced to score three. That third run proved to be the difference, as the Rockies mounted a furious rally.
Why not go with Huston Street in that situation? These three games against the Padres should almost be treated as postseason games.
Down by two runs in the ninth, a team almost always would act as if it were a tie game and bring in their closer in order to make sure the game gets shut down.
Had Street been able to pitch the ninth and get out flawlessly, the Rockies may have been playing in extra innings on Tuesday.
Instead they went down 7-6, losing another game in the standings to the Padres and failing to gain a game in the wild card race on the Braves.
The Rockies seem to be playing with a sense of urgency, but Jim Tracy is managing as if they have three months to make up the gap.

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Jim Tracy Costs the Colorado Rockies Another Game

Hindsight is 20/20.

It is easy to second guess a manager’s decisions, but Jim Tracy makes it easy. The problem with being stubborn is that you are too stubborn to learn from your mistakes.

From the looks of it, Tracy doesn’t realize that a run counts the same whether it is scored in the first inning, fourth inning, or ninth inning. He thinks that only the runs in the ninth count.

On Tuesday in the Colorado Rockies 5-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants Tracy did it again. Down 2-1 in the top of the seventh inning, the Rockies manager sent starting pitcher Esmil Rogers to the plate to hit.

With Rogers’ pitch count barely over 60, there was some reasoning. The problem was not that Rogers shouldn’t have remained in the game to pitch, the problem was that the Rockies needed runs badly and they were running out of outs.

Rogers ended up being the second out of a one-two-three inning and was sent back to the mound to pitch the bottom half. As many fans who have learned the ways of Tracy feared, Rogers gave up a base hit to start the inning and then a single on a hit and run. That is when Tracy did what he does best. He trotted out of the dugout and went to the bullpen.

Matt Reynolds quickly dispatched Pablo Sandoval, and once again Tracy trotted out of the dugout. He went to righty Matt Belisle, who has thrown more innings than any reliever in baseball in 2010. Belisle was able to get out of the inning, looking good doing it. Apparently good enough for Tracy to leave him in the game after Melvin Mora tied it up with a surprise home run to right field in the top of the eighth.

For some reason, Jim Tracy, the matchup mastermind, decided to leave a warm Joe Beimel in the bullpen and allow Belisle to pitch to the left-handed hitting Andres Torres. Torres launched a home run to right field and made the Rockies chances seem very small. The reason Belisle remained in the game? Tracy was saving him for Aubrey Huff two hitters later.

Beimel got to face Huff, but it was too late; the damage was done.

Mistakes are made by everyone who puts on a uniform. Pitchers, catchers, outfielders, infielders, hitting coaches, base coaches and managers. They all make mistakes. The question is whether or not that person learns from their mistakes.

Tracy clearly does not learn from his mistakes. After being guilty of the exact same mistake in the Rockies last loss on Friday night, Tracy defended his move saying that Ubaldo Jimenez is his ace and he would rather have him on the hill than anyone.

What will the excuse be when he made the same mistake with a guy on the mound who has made seven Major League starts? The one thing for sure is there will be an excuse.

The reason that Tracy was out of baseball in 2008, fired by his second franchise in four years, was because it was widely known that he is a stubborn person. In Pittsburgh and Los Angeles instead of admitting mistakes, Tracy made excuses. In 2009, when Tracy took over there were no excuses to be made, the Rockies were 12 games under .500 and 15 games out of first place. No one expected anything out of him.

In 2010, with expectations high, Tracy continues to hold his team back, and instead of admitting that he may have pushed the wrong buttons, he makes excuses. After he makes the excuses, he continues to push those same buttons that didn’t work the last time.

On Tuesday the mistakes cost the Rockies a game in the wild card race. Eventually, the Rockies will not be able to outplay both the opposite team and their own manager.

The Rockies look to take the series on Wednesday with Ubaldo Jimenez taking on Tim Lincecum. Jimenez goes for win No. 18 for the fifth straight start.


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Does Changing MLB Managers Midseason Actually Work?

When the Colorado Rockies fired their manager Clint Hurdle last season, the Rockies were 18-28, and had lost seven of their last 10. The Rockies named Jim Tracy as interim manager and he “turned around” the Rockies, guiding the team to a 74-42 record (.638) the rest of the way and into the 2009 NL playoffs.

It is ironic that Hurdle was replaced midseason, because that is how Hurdle got his first managerial job. Buddy Bell was fired 22 games into the 2002 season, and Hurdle was Bell’s replacement.

Tracy replaced Hurdle at a point where the Rockies were nine games back of the NL Wild Card, but ended up winning the Wild Card by five games.

What really happened though was Tracy did nothing to help his team win, except to let them play ball. Tracy had the benefit that their best player, Troy Tulowitzki, started hitting, as did the rest of the lineup. And the expected good, young pitching began to perform better.

Tulo hit only .226 for the first two months that year with a dismal .314 SLG. For the final four months, he hit .351 with a .643 SLG. That production helped boost the entire team, and when your big guy is pounding the ball, wins usually come in bunches.

Another factor for Tracy is that he appeared laid back and did not change much; he just let the guys play. That tactic is the positive theme for the majority of good team turnarounds after managerial changes.

Since 1987, there have been 81 midseason managerial changes, one of which was in 1996 when Tommy Lasorda retired as Dodger manager after suffering a heart attack. Of those 80 changes due to firings, only 19 teams played better than .500 baseball after the change was made, some just barely.

This does not include the changes that were made too early or late in the season to have a definitive impact.

And only five teams made the playoffs following that change: the 1988 Boston Red Sox, the 1989 Toronto Blue Jays, the 2003 Florida Marlins, the 2004 Houston Astros and last year’s Rockies.

Just six percent (5/80) of those teams which switched managers since 1987, made a good enough turn around to make the playoffs. Prior to 1987, there were 183 midseason changes (those not including the first or last 20 games of a season), with about 24 percent improving to a plus .500 team after the change.

Only two teams have made it to the World Series after making a midseason managerial change, the 1978 Yankees and 2003 Marlins. Both times, a more controlling manager was replaced with a more laid-back guy.

In 1978, Billy Martin constantly fought with players and management, and was replaced by a more subdued Bob Lemon. In 2003, Jeff Torborg’s hands-on approach was replaced by “let ’em play” Jack McKeon*, who at 72 was the oldest manager to win the World Series.


* It is interesting to note that McKeon has replaced THREE different managers after a midseason firing, and all three times has led that team to a BETTER than .500 record. In 1988, Larry Bowe was fired by the San Diego Padres after a 16-30 start, and McKeon came in and lead the Padres to a 67-48 record.

In 1997, Ray Knight was let go by the Cincinnati Reds after a 43-36 start, with McKeon finishing up at 33-30. Finally, in that magical Marlins season, Torborg went 16-22 before being canned and having Trader Jack take over.

Similarly, Steve O’Neill did the same thing for three different teams. And Cito Gaston has turned around the Blue Jays on two separate occasions.


Other teams making the World Series were the 1932 and 1938 Chicago Cubs (both obviously lost), the 1981 Kansas City Royals (strike season), the 1982 Milwaukee Brewers (Harvey’s Wallbangers) and the 1983 Philadelphia Phillies.

In almost every case, the team changed from a more hands-on guy to a more laid-back guy. But in most cases of a team making the playoffs after a midseason firing, the team was already pretty good.

For example, the Marlins team that McKeon guided to the 2003 World Series was 79-83 the year before but added Ivan Rodriguez behind the plate to guide the young pitchers. Plus, many new faces were on the 2003 team, and McKeon was helped midseason by the call-up of a 20-year-old Miguel Cabrera, fortifying an already decent lineup.

Also, the 1977 Yankees were coming off a prior World Series title in 1977.  The 1988 Red Sox, who were 43-42 under John McNamara, changed to Joe Morgan who led the Sox to a 46-31 record the rest of the way and a playoff berth. Those Red Sox were coming off a down 1987 season, but had made the World Series in 1986.

All other playoff teams were already good, but did need that push of less stress and turmoil in the dugout. However, those teams that flat out stink and change managers, well, they really don’t get better. They just stink with a different guy calling the shots.

That just goes to show that good managers are usually a product of their team’s talent. Terry Francona managed four seasons in Philadelphia, but never had a winning record there. He is a flat out genius in Boston, though.

Casey Stengel was a much better manager when he had Mickey Mantle on his team when he managed the Brooklyn Dodgers and Boston Bees in the 1930’s and Boston Braves in the 1940’s.

Many of the great managers in the game have been fired and then hired midseason to replace someone else. Tony LaRussa and Sparky Anderson were both hired and turned around teams, but LaRussa was also fired, too, in midseason as were most good managers.

So were Jack McKeon and Steve O’Neill, those two guys who turned around three different teams midseason.

I have always thought that stability in the manager’s job is a key to consistent winning baseball. While most new in-season managers last less than four seasons, and most don’t even get to keep the job the following year, seven different managers have been hired in midseason and ended up managing that team for 10 plus seasons.

They are John McGraw, Bill Terry, Jimmy Dykes, Earl Weaver, Tom Kelly, Bobby Cox and Tony LaRussa. Except for Dykes, all the other managers have multiple pennants under their belts. They may not have won every season, but they did not become terrible managers when they did not win titles, and eventually came back and won titles again.

While good players make good managers, baseball front offices are usually quick to pull a trigger on the manager. As Todd Helton said when Hurdle got fired, “he was the scapegoat, but he didn’t give up the big hit while pitching, and he did not strike out with men on base.”

Good managers usually cannot make really bad teams better, but some bad managers can win with enormous talent. So far this season, the Baltimore Orioles have performed well under new manager Buck Showalter, but the Florida Marlins and Arizona Diamondbacks are basically the same teams with different managers. While the Marlins have some bigger stars, namely Hanley Ramirez and Josh Johnson, I believe the Orioles have more overall talent.

Before a GM wants to make a managerial change, he might want to evaluate the on-field talent first. If you are a good team, coming off a winning year or recent title and were thought to challenge again this season, then changing managers might be a good idea. Those teams that made the playoffs after a change are great examples. 

Just have that manager be laid back to just let the players play and not try and do too much. Tracy, Gaston, Lemon and even Jerry Manuel for the 2008 New York Mets and also, do it early enough to give the team time to adjust to the new manager.

But if you are a bad team, and you believe a change in manager will help “spark the team,” it might be wise to get some better players.

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Colorado Rockies Walk Off with Victory, Despite Jim Tracy’s Blunders

The Rockies walked off with a win on Sunday. Their fans walked off sick to their stomachs.

It was, without a doubt, the worst walk-off victory in the history of the Colorado Rockies.

If the Rockies would have ended up on the wrong end of the score on Sunday, there would be only one person to blame. No, not Huston Street. Not Clint Barmes, who looked like a little leaguer chasing after an infield fly ball that nearly cost the Rockies the game.

The person to blame for Sunday’s meltdown at Coors Field is Jim Tracy.

The reigning National League Manager of the Year has made some interesting decisions throughout the course of the year. However, it is hard to question the man who led the Rockies to a record setting comeback after taking over in late May of 2009.

Despite his success in the past, Sunday’s mistakes cannot be ignored.

Tracy’s first mistake? The starting lineup. With Miguel Olivo mired in a 0-for-25 slump, he was slotted in the seven hole. Following Olivo was the pull-happy Barmes, followed by the pitcher’s spot. With Ian Stewart in from of Olivo, the Rockies were even more strikeout heavy at the back end of the lineup than normal.

Although Stewart had a great day at the plate, blasting a home run in the fourth inning, he is still a strikeout threat. That is exactly what he did in the bottom of the eighth inning with the bases loaded and no one out.

Following Stewart were Olivo and Barmes who took horrible at bats. Olivo would have been lucky to make contact, let alone put the ball in play. Needless to say, the Rockies left the bases loaded and had to settle for a two-run lead.

The next mistake Tracy made was putting runners at first and second in motion in the 6th inning with one out and Clint Barmes at the plate with a full count. Barmes, as mentioned before, has been in a huge slump and is far too prone to the strikeout.

He swung through the pitch and Melvin Mora was a dead duck at third base, running the club out of a chance to at least get through Ubaldo Jimenez’s spot in the lineup. Aggressiveness is something that clubs need when they are slumping, but it needs to be smart aggressiveness, not unwise running.

The last move that Tracy made was the most head-scratching. After pushing Ubaldo Jimenez through eight innings despite his pitch count sitting at 99 through seven, instead of allowing Jimenez to finish the game after a quick eighth inning, Tracy went to Huston Street for the third straight day, and after Street threw two innings on Saturday.
As Mark Townsend from Heaven & Helton pointed out earlier in the week, Mariano Rivera—the New York Yankees closer, the best closer the game has ever seen—has pitched three straight days exactly zero times in 2010. Zero. That’s right, with all the Yankees’ wins, with all the opportunities to gather in saves, Rivera has not pitched in three straight

all season long.

Throw in the fact that Street has been struggling for the last two weeks and you have a boneheaded decision. If it was alright for Street to pitch in three straight games, and four innings in three days, why would it have been a bad decision to simply let Jimenez finish what he started? Especially considering the Rockies have an off day on Monday, allowing Jimenez an extra day of rest.

Was the decision based on what the three hitters due up in the ninth had done against Jimenez throughout the game? That might be a good reason to go away from Jimenez. However, the three due up in the ninth were combined 0-for-9 with four strikeouts on the day.

The decision made no sense, and it cost Jimenez his 18th win and nearly cost the Rockies the game. Moves like that can be excused every now and then, but with Jim Tracy they are becoming far too frequent.

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Carlos Gonzalez Is Having The Best Season No One is Talking About

In the mile-high city, there is an outfielder having the best baseball season you haven’t heard about. 

His name is Carlos Gonzalez, and he has been a menace to National League pitching this season.

Gonzalez, 24, is a tall, lean lefty with a sweet swing. 

Originally from Venezuela, Gonzalez is in his second full year with the Colorado Rockies. He came to the Rockies in the Winter of 2008 when the Rockies dealt Matt Holliday to the Oakland A’s. 

Gonzalez has made A’s general manager Bill Beane regret this trade. 

In 2009, Gonzalez spent the first two months of the season dominating the Pacific Coast League for the Rockies Triple-A affiliate in Colorado Springs. 

On May 29, the Rockies fired manager Clint Hurdle and replaced him with Jim Tracy. A week later, Gonzalez got the call to the majors.

Gonzalez struggled at first, posting a .607 OPS in June. He quickly improved that to an .860 mark in July. Since August 1, 2009, he has been one of the best hitting outfielders in baseball. 

Gonzalez hit 11 home runs and batted .330 over the last two months of 2009. In the playoffs, he hit .588, homered, stole two bases and scored five runs as the Phillies defeated the Rockies in four games.   

This season, he has continued to hit at almost the same astounding level. 

Consider his numbers: 135 hits, six triples, 25 home runs, 77 RBI, 75 runs, 18 stolen bases, 239 total bases .327 BA, .355 OBP, .579 SLUG, 136 OPS+.

These numbers equate to him being second in hits, sixth in triples, fourth in home runs, third in RBI, fourth in runs, first in total bases, first in average, third in slugging, and sixth in OPS among National League hitters.

Among outfielders, his numbers demonstrate why he is now one of the finest hitters in baseball.

Gonzalez leads all NL outfielders in average, home runs and RBI—winning the outfielder batting triple crown. 

He is also first in slugging and OPS. Among all major league outfielders, he is second in home runs, tied for third in RBI, second in batting average, third in slugging, and third in OPS.

Among all outfielders, Gonzalez trails Josh Hamilton and Jose Bautista in most of those categories—two players whose fantastic seasons have drawn them plenty of notice. However, Gonzalez easily trumps Bautista in batting average (by 67 points) and speed (four more triples and fifteen more stolen bases). 

The title of, “Best Outfielder in Baseball” is a debate between Gonzalez and Hamilton.  

Since July 1, Gonzalez has staked his claim to the title by playing out of this world baseball. 

In the six weeks since that date, he has stroked 12 home runs, hit .388, posted a 1.170 OPS and swiped six bases. On July 31, Gonzalez hit for the cycle against the Chicago Cubs. He saved his best for last, smashing a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Gonzalez has also been one of the most versatile outfielders in baseball. He’s played 52 games in center field, 35 in left, and 24 in right. He’s made only one fielding error this year. 

The only thing Gonzalez doesn’t do well is take walks—he has 19 on the season.  

Despite all this success, Gonzalez has received little attention.

Gonzalez barely made a blip in the NL All-Star voting, and was not named as a reserve by the players or NL manager Charlie Manuel. He was chosen as one of the five players for the “Fans Final Vote,” but he finished third.

As previously demonstrated, Gonzalez has maybe the best all-around numbers of any outfielder this season, yet he doesn’t even get total recognition from fantasy baseball players. In Yahoo! fantasy leagues his ownership is 93 percent.   

However, ESPN’s Fantasy Player Rater ranks Gonzalez as the best player in all of baseball (for the standard fantasy categories). But, he still isn’t owned in all ESPN fantasy leagues.  

Carlos Gonzalez should be getting a lot more attention.

His statistics clearly demonstrate why he’s having one of the best offensive seasons in baseball. 

Joey Votto has had an MVP-type season for the NL Central-leading Reds, but Carlos Gonzalez should not be forgotten in the discussion about the National League’s Most Valuable Player. 

In fact, Gonzalez should be at the top of that list.

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