The Rockies won today despite Jim Tracy’s best efforts to help them lose. We have written plenty on his poor lineup choices and even bad choices on who gets playing time, but today Tracy was at his best.
I have wrote in the past about this and it upsets me to no end each time Tracy does it and he did it again today; he let Aaron Cook bat in the bottom of the fifth when he had no intention of letting Cook come out to pitch in the top of the sixth.
The game was tied 6-6 in the bottom of the fifth and the Rockies had Eliezer Alfonzo on second and Mark Ellis on first with one out and a full bench of pinch hitters including the likes of Jason Giambi and Todd Helton. Tracy sends Cook to the plate and asks him to put down a bunt. First of all, if Cook lays down a successful bunt Alfonzo moves from scoring position to … scoring position. I guess maybe he is scared Cook would hit into a double play, but that is all meaningless if he does what he should have done; pinch hit for Cook. The Rockies had two outs to get a base hit and score Alfonzo (I admit that Alfonzo might not score on every base hit) and isn’t two shots at getting a hit better than one?
This really backfired in Tracy’s face when Cook didn’t even lay down a good bunt and Alfonzo was out at third.
No matter, there is no way Cook should come to the plate if Tracy knows that Jason Hammel is warmed and ready to go and Tracy has every intent of bringing Hammel in next inning. How does a guy who has been in baseball so long not understand that a team only gets 27 outs and giving one up for free is idiotic? There is no reason not to at least give Jonathan Herrera an attempt to drive in Alfonzo and if he doesn’t than you have Eric Young Jr. coming up next. Anyone other than Cook who you are pulling!
That wasn’t Tracy’s only offense today.
With the game still tied 6-6 in the bottom of the eighth the Astros unintentionally-intentionally walk Giambi to load the bases to face newly acquired Kevin Kouzmanoff with two outs in the inning. Kouzmanoff was 0-for-4 going into that at-bat and Tracy still had Helton on the bench, among others. Tracy lets Kouzmanoff bat and Kouzmanoff lines out to short. Helton is still on the bench and the Rockies go into the ninth tied 6-6.
On the radio the rationale was that Tracy would want to save Helton for the ninth in case they need him then? Does anyone really understand how completely idiotic that is? If Tracy uses Helton in the bottom of the inning and even if Helton draws a walk the Rockies HAVE THE LEAD GOING INTO THE NINTH. They wouldn’t even need another at-bat. Even if they don’t score a run in the eighth what is to say they even get another opportunity today to use Helton with runners in scoring position?
The assumptions with this stupidity is that not only will the Rockies NOT score with the bases juiced, but if they do they will blow the lead in the top of the ninth and with those assumptions Tracy and the KOA team would have you believe Helton will be used in the ninth with runners in scoring position.
I know I am not expressing myself clearly but I just don’t understand the need by guys like Tracy to “save” players for late game situations. It is the same as not using your best pitcher (often the team’s closer) at any point during the game unless it is the ninth inning. If it is the seventh inning and the bases are loaded and your team is up by one run who do you want on the mound? Often a manager, Tracy for sure, will use his “seventh inning guy” and leave guys like Rafael Betancourt, Huston Street or Matt Lindstrom in the bullpen. But if it is the ninth inning and the bases are empty with the bottom of the opponents order due up and Tracy has a three run lead, well, that is when you use your best pitcher! It is a save situation after all.
Managers in general, and Tracy in particular, do not value an out and seemingly do not understand that your last scoring chance might come in the sixth inning, you might lose a lead in the seventh inning and saving your best hitter who is getting a day off just in case you need him in the ninth are asinine ways of thinking.
Let’s say the Rockies don’t score in the eighth (actually, they didn’t) and then the Astros take the lead in the ninth by one run. Now the Rockies have Alfonzo and then Ellis leading off the inning. Both Alfonzo and Ellis have on-base averages under .300 in 2011 and the likelihood of them getting on base is less than 30% much less one of them being in scoring position for Helton who presumably would hit in the pitcher’s spot. Tracy was saving Helton in the event the game got to the bottom of the ninth and there was a runner in scoring position, whether the Rockies were trailing or leading.
Why not just try to take the lead in the eighth?
I am rambling at this point and hope my points come across above. Tracy is simply a horrible manager. Horrible.
The next time he brings in Matt Belisle or someone like JC Romero in the sixth with the game tight ask yourself why he doesn’t bring in his best pitcher? The next time Tracy lets a pitcher bat and then in the next half inning he doesn’t even leave the dugout ask yourself why is Tracy still managing this team? And the next time he sends a guy like Ryan Spilborghs to pinch hit in the eighth inning with runners in scoring position and someone like Helton or Smith is on the bench ask yourself why is Tracy still managing this team?
I ask myself these questions almost daily.
Follow me on Twitter and I’ll also mention how dumb it is when Tulo or CarGo attempts to lay down a bunt.