Look at this man. See how he brings his massive intellect to bear on his lineup card, searching with all his might for any small advantage. Few people in history have been so universally praised for their tactical insight as this fellow. Patton? Perhaps. Sun Tzu? Maybe. But it is only names like these that deserve to call themselves peers of the man you see before you. Yes, this is Jim Tracy, the baseball skipper so renowned for his insight that Colorado GM Dan O’Dowd recently announced that Tracy can darn well manage the Rockies for however long it pleases him to do so. O’Dowd went on to admit that he didn’t believe in contracts, but his word was as strong as oak, so Jim Tracy need not waste even a tiny portion of his considerable brainpower pondering his future.
What’s that? You’re a Colorado fan who went all Oedipus Rex on your own peepers last summer because you could no longer bear to watch another inexplicable in-game decision? That can’t be right, because someone like that wouldn’t get an “indefinite extension.” You took out your eyes for no reason. If Jim Tracy was as bad as all that the Rockies wouldn’t be steadily improving under him, as they have since he became manager.
Jim Tracy took over as manager of the Rockies in late May 2009, moving up from bench coach after Clint Hurdle was fired. That year the Rockies won 92 games and Tracy was named NL Manager of the Year. In 2010 they won 83 games. Last year they won 73. Wait. That doesn’t support my narrative either. So Tracy makes poor in-game decisions, and his team keeps getting worse. Why does Dan O’Dowd think so highly of Tracy again?
“We understand how difficult it is to build a culture in a world that’s valued only on performance, but we believe we’re going to build a culture of value and we believe that Jim’s the right person to build that value. We believe in him completely with what this stands for.”
Oh. right. These ******* people. Back in 2006 there was a minor flap when it was revealed that everybody in the Rockies organization up to the owner was big on bringing in character guys, in building a character organization. In practice this meant bringing in good Christians first, good ballplayers second. Dave Zirin even went so far as to argue that there might be a whiff of racism to the proceedings, but that guy’s a libbity liberal so let us not take him overly seriously. When the Rockies turned around years of ineptitude with their improbable 2007 World Series run this story took a more positive spin (doing well on the field, always helpful) but the Rockies seem to have regressed back to their natural state of mediocrity. Nonetheless it appears that Jim Tracy has Dan O’Dowd’s faith because Jim Tracy has faith, and no amount of on the field failure appears able to dissuade him.
Dan O’Dowd went back to what brung him this offseason, once again going out to get character guys (though religion is wisely not mentioned, at least not in anything I read). In practice this means a bunch of elderly white dudes and one elderly latin dude were brought in and some presumably godless heathens were shipped out. Whether this means the Rockies will be any better in 2012 is a matter of conjecture, but since that’s what we do here I’ll take a crack at it.
The infield is gonna be so very old. Todd Helton, 38, will again man first base after something of a bounce back season for him last year. Should his creaky back cause him to falter Jason Giambi, 40, continues to inexplicably hold a spot on a National League roster, so no worries. Marco Scutaro, 36, was acquired from the Red Sox for mostly failed prospect Clayton Mortenson in what appears to have been mostly a salary dump on the Red Sox part. He’ll man second base adequately. Troy Tulowitski will once again ooze awesomeness at short. He’s also the only starting infielder under 35, at least until/if the third base situation gets cleared up. Colorado traded Ty Wiggington and former hot prospect Ian Stewart in the offseason so it looks like Colorado will start the season with Casey Blake, 38, manning the hot corner. Nolan Arenado, whose official name appears to be “Arizona Fall League MVP Nolan Arenado,” makes the skivvies of many a Colorado fan all tight and there will be calls for him when Blake inevitably sucks and/or breaks. Arenado was ranked 26th on Keith Law’s Top Hundred Prospects list and Kevin Goldstein named him a five-star prospect so the hype is real, though he isn’t really expected to be ready until at least late 2012. Finally, Ramon Hernandez was brought in to catch. Yes, he’s 35 and the last couple years he’s split time behind the plate in Cincinnati, but by gosh Chris Iannetta did something horrible to somebody so he had to go. Willin Rosario will probably back him up and there is hope he’s the future at the position.
The outfield will be composed of Micheal Cuddyer, Dexter Fowler, and Carlos Gonzalez. That’s a good outfield. There is hope that Fowler will take the next step this year, but even if he doesn’t the dude was worth 2.9 fWAR last year, and that’s a player you can go into battle with. Carlos Gonzalez disappointed with a season that was merely very good after his breakout 2010, but he’ll also do. Cuddyer was the ultimate culture move in the offseason, getting a three year 31.5 million dollar contract to play the outfield despite the fact he can’t actually play the outfield. He’s also 33 and seems dangerously old man skill oriented, but the move to the easier league (and the move to Coors Field) should do him some good. If I had to pick one player I’m certain occasionally flits across Buster Olney’s mental field during coitus it would be Micheal Cuddyer.
The Rockies will win or lose (mostly lose) in 2012 because of the pitching staff. Faced with a lack of quality they’ve gone with quantity, and that doesn’t usually work out so well. Their ace is Jhoulys Chacin, and he’s all fat. Behind him you’ve got Jeremy Guthrie, who the Rockies pretty much stole from the Orioles for Jason Hammel and Matt Lidstrom. Guthrie isn’t a true ace by any means but he’ll compile some decent innings for you, and that’s something this staff will desperately need… because after that you’ve got a whole lot of who the **** knows to man the last three spots. You’ve got some young prospects with actual upside in Drew Pomeranz and Alex White, but Pomeranz probably isn’t ready and White went and got booked for “extreme DUI” the other day. I particularly enjoy that they’re trying to portray him as manning up and accepting responsibility while his blood alcohol content appears to have been more than double the legal limit and he maintains he’d had two drinks. They also have young Tyler Chatwood, acquired when they dumped Chris Iannetta on the Angels, but unfortunately he is no good. Other options include that asshole Kevin Slowey, the rehabbing Juan Nicasio, and the poorly named Josh Outman. Finally, Jamie Moyer is in the mix as he tries to come back from Tommy John surgery at 49 years young. If you aren’t rooting for Jamie Moyer you’re a soulless abomination. Oh, and Jorge de la Rosa is expected back sometime in midseason from surgery of his own but who knows what they’ll end up getting out of him this season.
The Rockies had a plan and they executed it this offseason. Unfortunately I don’t think it was a very good plan. We’ll see if they prove me wrong.
76-86, fourth in the NL West