Rockies’ Jim Tracy hopes to return in 2013
October 4, 2012
DENVER – Jim Tracy wants a chance to put the pieces back together.
The manager of the Colorado Rockies will meet with Bill Geivett, the team’s director of major league operations, Friday to discuss the direction of a club that just completed its worst season ever.
The Rockies’ 98-loss debacle featured a historically awful starting rotation that won just 20 games at Coors Field, a realignment of their front office, a pitching coach that quit midseason, devastating injuries to Todd Helton and Troy Tulowitzki, among others, and an uncertain future for Tracy.
“Ace” acquisition Jeremy Guthrie, who was brought in to eat up innings, went 1-5 and flirted with a 10.00 ERA at Coors Field before being traded to Kansas City for Jonathan Sanchez, who posted an 8.59 ERA at home.
Jhoulys Chacin, Jorge De La Rosa and Juan Nicasio, who are expected to anchor the rotation in 2013, spent most of this season on rehab. And the two prized prospects the Rockies obtained from Cleveland in the Ubaldo Jimenez trade, Drew Pomeranz and Alex White, both went 2-9 overall and 1-5 at home.
The Rockies were so desperate that they adopted a four-man rotation and a 75-pitch limit for two months and placed Geivett, the assistant general manager, in the clubhouse while GM Dan O’Dowd refocused his energies on the minor leagues.
There were a few bright spots, like youngsters Jordan Pacheco, D.J. LeMahieu, Jose Rutledge and Wilin Rosario, who logged a lot more innings behind the plate than planned because of Ramon Hernandez’s injury-plagued season.
Rosario’s power – 28 homers – was offset somewhat by 20 passed balls, hurting his chances of winning NL Rookie of the Year.
The loss of Helton to a hip injury and of Tulowitzki to a groin injury for most of the summer and Michael Cuddyer to a right oblique strain in August softened the Rockies’ lineup and its chances of weathering all that poor pitching.
“That was the hardest part, all the injuries,” slugger Carlos Gonzalez said. “It’s hard for any team when you lose your shortstop, your right fielder, you first baseman, your top three guys in the rotation. That’s hard.”
Gonzalez said he’s so eager to get this bad taste out of his mouth that “I won’t rest. Maybe a couple of weeks and then start working again, start thinking about next year, about being better as a player and make this team better.”
It’ll take a lot more than the determination of their All-Star outfielder.
The Rockies will look for upgrades all over but they also hope all the innings logged by their youngsters will pay off next season.
“This is a better place to learn. There is no better,” Pacheco said. “The game is quicker and comes at you fast. I think we’ve all taken our bumps and bruises this year and know what to expect next year.”
The rebuilding of the Rockies, whether or not Tracy is in charge – he’s under contract for next season at $1.4 million – will most likely begin with changes to the coaching staff and then the front office will focus on fixing the pitching problems, then a porous defense and a lack of run production.
“It’s going to be an interesting offseason,” Tulowitzki said. “Obviously, what we had in this locker room did not work. With that being said, in professional sports there are usually changes. … And there should be moves made after a year like this.”
Tracy is hoping he’ll still be in charge after this weekend so he can get a chance to turn things around next year.
“There’s been a lot that’s taken place here this year, yet … we don’t lose baseball games from a lack of effort or intensity,” Tracy said. “The growth that has taken place in relation to several of the younger players on this team, offense is not a problem here. And it won’t be next year. It won’t be a problem if there’s nothing added; that’s how good these young players are.”
The pitching, now that’s another story.
The Rockies have to retool their rotation and hope Pomeranz and White become the workhorses they envisioned when they parted with Jimenez, who tamed Coors Field like no one has since.
“There’s been a lot of guys who have become special pitchers who were 2-9 after five months of service time at the major league level,” Tracy said. “You go to the Atlanta Braves staff with (Steve) Avery and (Tom) Glavine. Go back and look how they did their first five months and it became a year after year after year type thing.”
Veteran position players such as Cuddyer and Dexter Fowler could be trade bait as the Rockies seek more starting pitching so they can avoid another free-fall in 2013.
“You don’t get an opportunity to play baseball in the month of October if you screw it up in April, May, June,” Tracy said. “And that’s what we did.”
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