The calls across the Rocky Mountains come spinning into Coors Field each night after a loss – fire Colorado Rockies Manager Jim Tracy. Above general manager Dan O’Dowd, pitching coach Bob Apodaca and owners Dick and Charlie Monfort, Tracy seems to be the biggest target of fan apathy in Colorado. However, Tracy’s managerial style led the Rockies on one of the best runs in major league history in 2009.
Jim Tracy has an aggressive, unconventional managing style for major league baseball. He takes risks early and sometimes allows batting opportunities to pass him by as he’s constantly calculating moves later in the game. It’s a style that would not work in a powerhouse market with a chance to legitimately compete for a pennant, but for the Colorado Rockies, mile high magic is all they have to go on.
The Rockies have had two magical runs to make the playoffs in the last five seasons. In 2007, it was 20 wins in 21 games that propelled the Rockies to the World Series. In 2009, the Rockies started out 19-29 before Jim Tracy took over. Tracy managed 72 victories in 114 games to lead the Rockies to the playoffs. It was a new attitude in the clubhouse coupled with Tracy’s aggressive moves that was largely responsible for the Rockies’ improvement.
That 2009 team was far more talented than the 2012 version. The Rockies have the bats to compete, but General Manager Dan O’Dowd’s inability to adequately address a young rotation, and that rotation’s inability to perform, has left them shell shocked. Their starting rotation is on pace to have the worst ERA in major league history, currently held by the 1930 Philadelphia Phillies. The bullpen has to pitch too many innings as the starters struggle and the players don’t hit well on the road. Still, Tracy tries everything to turn the ship around.
It is apparent that there is a divide in the Rockies organization. The fight over reliever Esmil Rogers was finally resolved after Tracy took him out in humiliating fashion after Rogers blew a game wide open and needed only one more out. However, O’Dowd takes shots at Tracy and Tracy takes shots at the pitching staff assembled by the Rockies. O’Dowd offered Tracy a handshake agreement contract for life to start the season
No one could succeed in this environment. Perhaps Tracy does not deserve to keep his job, but for the team with the third worst record in baseball, help will not come from changing the man on the bench. The entire front office needs to go. Preaching patience will not solve the major issues that have led to the Rockies having the third worst record in baseball – they are currently on pace for just 63 victories in 2012. The solution may not be coming for the Rockies, but using Tracy as a fall guy will not solve their biggest problems.