In 2009, Jim Tracy was a chess master when he took over as the Colorado Rockies manager in late May. He moved his pieces around the board and turned the Rockies from an 18-28 team (.391 winning percentage) to a 74-42 team with a .638 winning percentage. After three seasons without a playoff appearance and management breathing down his neck, Tracy decided he no longer wanted to be moving the pawns.
Tracy resigned as manager of the Colorado Rockies under the cloud of the franchise’s worst season in history. This came just eight months after an indefinite agreement to keep Tracy on as manager, as announced by General Manager Dan O’Dowd. Of course, it has been an uneasy eight months in the Mile High City for the baseball team fell apart and the club’s management decisions left Tracy powerless.
Rockies management left Jim Tracy with an inexperienced and worn out pitching rotation to start the year. Instead of admitting their error in judging their personnel, they instituted a four-man starting rotation with a 75-pitch count limit. This revolutionary system, which the team announced it will give up on, included long relievers picking up the slack after the starters hit their pitch limits. Thus relievers became affectionately (or not so affectionately) known as piggy backers. This revolutionary idea from O’Dowd forced Tracy to wear out his bullpen night after night.
As the sinking ship continued to fall, the Rockies promoted Bill Geivett to director of major-league operations, which was a bridge between the General Manager and the Manager for the Rockies organization. With Geivett breathing down his neck, it appeared that Tracy’s role was reduced to in-game moves while Geivett dictated the rest of Tracy’s job to the manager from behind his desk. In the end, Tracy did not want to submit to the Rockies organization if his role was to be so reduced.
Tracy, perhaps the only voice of reason in the madhouse that is Rockies management, is not the reason the Rockies failed miserably in 2012. He was put in an impossible situation and should be credited for the development of a number of young players over the season including Jordan Pacheco, Willin Rosario and Josh Rutledge. He made the right decision to leave the Rockies to find a new manager who will not argue. However, the Rockies will turn his departure against him and blame him for the team’s mistakes, as they do to every person who leaves the Colorado organization.