The Rockies finished off a brutal division road trip, going 2-6 along the Pacific coast. The overall poor play was typified by a lackadaisical approach rife with errors, both mental and physical. The apparent lack of accountability was frustrating to watch and intensified calls for Jim Tracy’s removal as manager. This week, we discuss possible replacements for Tracy, Tyler Colvin’s role, and surprises with the pitching staff.
(Editor’s Note: Kevin is currently globetrotting after a very successful attempt at law school. So I, the liege lord of Blake Street Bulletin, will be taking his place until he returns.)
Assuming the Rockies eventually grow tired of Jim Tracy, who should be the next manager?
Brendan: Ryne Sandberg. “Ryno”is currently managing the Phillies’ AAA affiliate after working his way up through the Cubs’ organization. Sandberg would bring a hall of fame playing career and instant credibility intoa clubhouse in dire need of some new blood (not to mention being a favorite with all those obnoxious Cubs fans in Denver). He was rumored to be in line for the Chicago job, but Theo Epstein wanted a manager with big league experience and never considered the former Cub. It is always safer for teams to go with a retread (Bob Brenly is available, ugh), but someone will eventually give Sandberg a shot and hopefully it is the Rockies.
Ned: This is a very difficult question for me because I firmly believe that Jim Tracy is an excellent game manager who puts his players in the best position to succeed. The ideal manager is a guy who is a baseball chess player—he anticipated the opposition’s moves, and is prepared to parry these moves well in advance. The ideal manager is also a guy the players respect, and who is not afraid to administer the “tough love” that is occasionally necessary when even the best players dog it. What we don’t need is a “hunch” manager in the mode of Tony LaRussa. Other than Don Baylor, the Rockies have always gone for the retread managers. I suggest changing the retread approach, and consider someone like special assistant coach Vinnie Castilla.
Logan: Any chance Joe Madden will be available? As much as I’d like to see Tracy hit the road, I’m also terrified about whom the Rockies will tab to replace him. Based on current organizational track record, it probably won’t be a great choice. This team could really benefit from a forward thinker that can find the right combination of keeping players relaxed and still holding them accountable. I’ll throw one out there — with acknowledgement that this will likely never happen – current Tampa Bay bench coach Dave Martinez. I’d love to see them bring in someone from the Madden school and Joe apparently loves Martinez. He will be managing somewhere next season. Also, his beard is awesome.
Do the Rockies need to find a place for Tyler Colvin in the everyday lineup?
Brendan: Everyday? No, but he needs to be on the field on a regular basis, especially if he finds his power stroke he showed in Chicago in 2010 (20 HR in 135 G). There just is not room for him to play every day – CarGo and Cuddyer are not going anywhere, Fowler has been improving, and Helton is not quite ready for full time bench duty. However, the Rockies have 125 games left and 2 positions (CF and 1B) for 3 players. Barring injury, that leaves 80 or so games for each player with Colvin splitting time between OF and 1B. Colvin has been a very nice addition to the team and his ability to play 1B is an underappreciated part of his game that the Rockies need to utilize more.
Ned: Without a doubt, the answer is yes. Colvin is a real baseball talent who can play well at all three outfield positions and first base. The Rockies are 37 games into the season, and Colvin has played in 30 of them with 73 at bats—enough of a sample to make an informed evaluation of him. The conclusion is that Tyler Colvin is very good: .315 batting average and .877 OPS. His average leads the club, and his OPS is second only to Cargo (.923 OPS). As a left-hander who stands 6’3”, the Rox finally have a clear successor to the aging Todd Helton at first base. Tracy seems to recognize Colvin’s ability, and has recently been finding a spot for him in the lineup every day. Tyler Colvin has all the hallmarks of an excellent, long-term contributor to the Rockies. By the way, as of last night Ian Stewart was batting .203 for the Cubs. Good trade, Mr. O’Dowd.
Logan: He needs to be playing a lot, but not at the expense of Dexter Fowler. Instead, Colvin needs to be playing over Cuddyer against righties. Cuddyer hasn’t had an OPS over .750 against right-handers since 2009 and Colvin is a much better defensive right fielder. It will never happen, obviously. However, the Rockies best lineup against righties does not include Cuddyer. Colvin and Fowler have better numbers in virtually every category against RHP and the Rox need to make run prevention more of a priority. Tracy needs to do a better job of playing matchups with the three outfielders.
Which is more surprising: the demotion of Drew Pomeranz or the continued success of Jamie Moyer?
Brendan: Pomeranz being optioned to AAA. He failed to live up to the lofty expectations, but I thought he had been improving with each start. His K/9 was a respectable 7.83, but he struggled with his command (BB/9 of 5.87) which led to an inflated WHIP (1.74) and early exits. As it turns out, Guthrie needed a roster spot and the Rockies wanted to get a longer look at Alex White so Pomeranz was the odd man out. Since his demotion to the Springs, he has started one game for the Sky Sox: 6 scoreless innings while giving up 5 hits, 0 walks, and 5 strike outs. If he can work out his control issues he will be a nice option in case of injury or if one of the remaining first round amigos struggles.
Ned: Call me paranoid, but I believe something physical is wrong with Drew Pomeranz. His fastball velocity is down, and his breaking balls are not biting like they should. Like the rest of us, last summer I read the “power lefty” reports on Drew Pomeranz. We a have seen glimpses of a power leftie, but something is clearly wrong. We can only hope that his problems are correctable. His demotion is disappointing, but not surprising. In contrast, Jamie Moyer has been the “feel good” story of the season for the Rockies. For the most part, he has demonstrated precise control which allows him to go after batters with his 70mph stuff. Pitching is not exclusively about the player’s arm–the legs are critical to the success of any pitcher. Moyer’s sprint to first base this week on his two RBI infield single showed me that his legs are still surprisingly strong and quick at 49+ years of age.
Logan: Without a doubt, Moyer’s continued success is more surprising to me. Pomeranz has barely over a 100 career minor league innings under his belt, so growing pains are to be expected. Moyer, on the other hand, continues to blow me away. Just the fact that he has been able to go out and provide the Rox with some above replacement level pitching has been somewhat of a godsend.
Have a different take? Let us know in the comments below.
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