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Friday, May 29, 2009

Source: Hurdle to be fired

Clint Hurdle’s seven-year run as the Rockies’ manager will end today, according to a major-league source. With an off day to discuss the situation, the Rockies are poised to make a change given that their poor start has begun to affect attendance and fan interest….

ench coach Jim Tracy likely is Hurdle’s replacement. Hurdle has been the Rockies’ manager since 2002, when he took over for Buddy Bell three weeks into the season.

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RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 29, 2009 at 07:24 PM | 38 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: rockies

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   1. Tike Redman's Shattered Dreams Posted: May 29, 2009 at 08:38 PM (#3199139)
I'm so sorry for all you Rockies fans (if there are any here). Jim Tracy is awful.
   2. Brandon in MO (Yunitility Infielder) Posted: May 29, 2009 at 09:34 PM (#3199291)
Guess that AJ Hinch wasn't available
   3. Van Lingle Mungo Jerry Posted: May 29, 2009 at 09:38 PM (#3199299)
Who the hell is handling this for the Rockies? Omar Minaya?
   4. BeanoCook Posted: May 29, 2009 at 09:46 PM (#3199312)
Hurdle never struck me as the kind of guy that could take a team to a World Series. Good move with Tracy.
   5. scareduck Posted: May 29, 2009 at 09:49 PM (#3199316)
And by "good", I assume that either

a) you forgot the scare quotes
b) you are a fan of some other team in the NL West
c) this is some new definition of the word "good" with which I am unfamiliar.

firejimtracy.com is available for sale. Just saying.

It occurs to me that they are trading in a manager who got the team to its first and only World Series for a manager who never won a postseason series. This does not seem like a step up.
   6.     Hey Gurl Posted: May 29, 2009 at 09:52 PM (#3199319)
Wow --- Hurdle was the manager for seven years? I find that impossible to believe.
   7. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: May 29, 2009 at 10:01 PM (#3199328)
   8.     Hey Gurl Posted: May 29, 2009 at 10:07 PM (#3199336)
I find it funny that a witty pun can't detect irony.
   9. JPWF13 Posted: May 29, 2009 at 10:10 PM (#3199341)
Hurdle never struck me as the kind of guy that could take a team to a World Series


Hurdle, when playing, never struck me as the type of guy who'd ever be a coach, let alone a manager at any level.

Then when he was a minor league manager I read an interview, he seemed smart and articulate, he discussed working with young players, strategy etc., and I thought, gee he'll be a really good manager...

well I was wrong, mediocre at every element it seems...
   10. BeanoCook Posted: May 29, 2009 at 10:17 PM (#3199344)
In comment #4 I was being sarcastic. That being said, I can't believe Tracy is now a 3 time manager.
   11. Los Angeles Waterloo of Black Hawk Posted: May 29, 2009 at 10:23 PM (#3199347)
Remember, Dewitty Pun is Gagne_55, who has never detected an instance of sarcasm in his online life.

Here's a question: how many of us have an informed opinion as to whether Hurdle was a good manager? I'll keep my hand un-raised on that one. How about you?
   12. JPWF13 Posted: May 29, 2009 at 10:25 PM (#3199348)
Here's a question: how many of us have an informed opinion as to whether Hurdle was a good manager?


Here's a question why did Hurdle employ so many one run strategies in the early innings of games played in Coors?
   13. shattnering his Dominicano G Strings on that Mound Posted: May 29, 2009 at 11:00 PM (#3199370)
Is it just me, or have the Rockie's hired the exact same manager three times now?
   14. dirk Posted: May 29, 2009 at 11:02 PM (#3199374)
i'll be sure to steal him a sympathy card.
   15. Tom Nawrocki Posted: May 29, 2009 at 11:33 PM (#3199418)

Here's a question: how many of us have an informed opinion as to whether Hurdle was a good manager?


Hurdle certainly had his strong points. He was patient, upbeat and optimistic, always having something good to say about his players. I thought he did a good job building a starting rotation, getting good work out of marginal pitchers like Josh Fogg, Jason Marquis and Jason Hammel. He kept his starters relatively healthy, considering they were working in Coors Field.

He was never afraid to use a young player. In fact, he was never afraid to use anyone on his roster, at any time; if you played for Clint Hurdle, you saw plenty of game action. I believe this was a key factor in the 2007 hot streak; the regulars were well-rested, and the role players were ready to step up when needed.

This turned into a real problem this year, though, when the Rockies came into the season with four outfielders they wanted to get serious playing time (Hawpe, Spilborghs, Fowler and Seth Smith), as well as five infielders (Helton at 1B, Barmes at 2B, Tulowitzki at SS, Ian Stewart at 3B and 2B and even a little outfield, and Atkins at 3B and 1B). Hurdle never developed any rhythm or set rotation, and even though Atkins has been awful, he's played as much as anyone else on the team. Ian Stewart, maybe their best prospect, has been jerked around, and not coincidentally, has never got his bat going.

The worst game choice, IMO, was on a day when Aaron Cook was pitching; Cook is an extreme groundballer and would benefit from having Barmes, a very good shortstop turned sensational defensive second baseman, behind him in the field, rather than the novice Stewart. To top it off, the Rockies were facing a lefty, yet Stewart, a lefty, was in the lineup rather than Barmes, a righty. The Rockies lost by a run.

The Rockies have built their bullpens in the past out of grizzled veterans like Matt Herges and Jose Mesa, and had a fair amount of success with that in prior years. The pen has been awful this year. I don't know how much this reflects on Hurdle rather than Dan O'Dowd, but it's really crippled the team.

But most of all, the primary reason I'm glad to see Hurdle go, is that this team really does have a lot of young talent on it, and exactly none of it has developed under Hurdle. Tulo has regressed since his rookie year (offensively; with the glove, he's still great), Iannetta took a step back this year, Manny Corpas has completely fallen apart, Stewart has done nothing this year. Dexter Fowler is their big success story, and he's hitting .266/.355/.406.

Some people might look at the team and say, What do you expect Hurdle to accomplish when Ian Stewart is hitting .187? My feeling is, let's get someone in here who can provide the right combination of teaching, encouragement and discipline to ensure that Ian Stewart hits more than .187, because he's sure capable of more than that. One obvious place to start would be to install a strict platoon at third with Atkins, who murders lefties.

Rockies fans will always have a soft spot in their heart for Hurdle for 2007, but it's time for him to go. I don't know what Jim Tracy will be like, but I do know he was considered a promising young manager with the Dodgers, and I hope he learned something from his disaster in Pittsburgh. But the success or failure for this team in 2009 will be not so much how many games they win as whether people like Tulowitzki, Stewart, Corpas and Fowler get their careers moving in the right direction.
   16. Jim Wisinski Posted: May 30, 2009 at 02:23 AM (#3199680)
I hope he learned something from his disaster in Pittsburgh


While I'm not a fan or even a casual follower of either team that Tracy managed, everything I've read either directly about him or opinions of him from fans on here of teams he has managed gives me very little reason to think that he's the kind of person who would have learned a damn thing from what happened in Pittsburgh. Everything I know about him suggests that he will have blamed everyone but himself for every bad thing that happened and will think that acting the same way in Colorado will be the way to go.
   17. Tripon Posted: May 30, 2009 at 02:30 AM (#3199694)
Get ready for Jim Tracy to turn the backup catcher into his starting first baseman.
   18. NaOH Posted: May 30, 2009 at 03:32 AM (#3199732)
While I'm not a fan or even a casual follower of either team that Tracy managed, everything I've read either directly about him or opinions of him from fans on here of teams he has managed gives me very little reason to think that he's the kind of person who would have learned a damn thing from what happened in Pittsburgh.


I had this same thought. Then I thought of other retread managers who actually succeeded at a later managerial stop after previously doing poorly. First to come to mind were Joe Torre with his success in New York and Terry Francona in Boston. Just based on their previous teams' records people wouldn't have thought these managers would end up as respected as they've become. Torre had a losing record in 9 out of 14 seasons before NY. Francona had no winning seasons during 4 years in Philadelphia and much of the talk when he came to Boston was that it was part of the team's effort to lure Schilling.** In Leyland's 11 years in Pittsburgh, he only had a winning season 5 times. Bobby Cox's first managerial tenure yielded 1 season over .500.

Basically, I'm not certain that a manager's history is indicative of future success. Rather, I think the key is finding a manager who has the people skills and baseball skills to match the overarching philosophies of an organization. For all I know Jim Tracy is the worst pick for Colorado, and just the same he may be perfect. But I don't think we can really be certain based on his past work in Pittsburgh and LA, especially since the Pirates were not well-run at the time and the Dodgers, while respectable on the field, had a reputation for a dysfunctional front office.

**I happened to notice while looking up Francona's hiring in Boston that the other candidates were Joe Maddon, Glenn Hoffman and DeMarlo Hale. Maddon and the Boston media would have made for an entertaining relationship.
   19.     Hey Gurl Posted: May 30, 2009 at 03:35 AM (#3199733)
Has this been announced yet, or is it just the worst kept secret ever?
   20. Tripon Posted: May 30, 2009 at 03:50 AM (#3199743)
Its been announced.
   21. Dr Love Posted: May 30, 2009 at 05:21 AM (#3199784)
In addition to what was said in #16, Tracy also publicly went toe to toe with his GM (Depodesta) over a contract extension and lost big time. His situation is not like the managers listed in #18, there's not a lot of reason to think he'll spontaneously turn the corner.
   22. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: May 30, 2009 at 06:05 AM (#3199809)
Jim Tracy isn't just a garden variety bad manager. He's a bad person, too. I've never seen a boss, in any context, who was more about grabbing all the credit in times of success, or more about blaming and backbiting in times of trouble. Whenever the team won, it was because of his plans, and when the team lost, it was because they didn't execute his brilliant plan.

He also had a really creepy fixation on the Dodgers team he took to the playoffs, to the extent that he tried to make various Pirates players modify aspects of their game and personality to match their counterparts in Los Angeles. It was ridiculously disturbing, like watching a guy have hookers dress up in his ex-wife's old clothes. Or his mother's. And he pleaded and whined and moaned until the team added every last ####### ex-Dodger on the market, from Cesar Izturis to Mike Edwards to Number One Stepson himself, Jose K.

Tactically, he had some serious limitations, and unfortunately for the Rockies, the biggest was probably his handling of the bullpen (though his disastrous input when constructing a bench in the spring was right up there, too). He also had bizarre, arbitrary preferences for certain players - he did his level best to flat-out bury both Nate McLouth and Ryan Doumit (behind Chris Duffy and Joggin' Ronny Paulino, respectively), and he hated, hated, hated Craig Wilson. There was actually one stretch of a couple months while Shawn Casey was hurt, where he made Jose Hernandez the team's regular 1B, just to spite Craig.

The Pirates have had bad managers before Jim Tracy, but never one that I liked or respected less. Someone like Lloyd, may not have known how to choose a pinch-hitter or when to reach for the sac bunt, but he was basically a likable and hard-working guy being asked to do something beyond his capabilities, like a dog set in front of a piano. Tracy isn't like that. He's a selfish, narcissistic, disloyal, arbitrary, backward-looking jackhole, and I wouldn't pee on him ifbhe were on fire. God help Colorado.
   23. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: May 30, 2009 at 06:08 AM (#3199810)
I should also note that as far as ex-Pirate managers go, Pete Mackanin has twice done a very solid job as an interim manager in a bad situation, and that it's disgusting to see an incompetent, delusional martinet like Tracy get so many bites at the apple when Pete can't even get a sniff.
   24. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: May 30, 2009 at 06:16 AM (#3199813)
So what was worse, Jose Hernandez as starting 1B for the Pirates, or Jason Phillips as starting 1B with the Dodgers?

Rockies fans, learn to love your new first baseman, Steve Finley. Don't worry, it'll all make sense someday.
   25. Tripon Posted: May 30, 2009 at 06:19 AM (#3199816)
There was actually one stretch of a couple months while Shawn Casey was hurt, where he made Jose Hernandez the team's regular 1B, just to spite Craig.

Dodgers fans note this well, with Jason Phillips and Hee Seop Choi in 2005. And this was after Choi smashed 6 homers in 3 games. Jim Tracy is just a weird guy that gets a lot of chances.

You're right Vlad, he isn't a nice guy, he's the biggest phony this side of Holden Caulfield.
   26. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: May 30, 2009 at 06:23 AM (#3199817)
Games started at 1B, 2005 Dodgers:

78 Hee Seop Choi
52 Olmedo Saenz
18 Jason Phillips
10 Jeff Kent
2 Brian Myrow
1 Nohiriho Nakamura
1 Jason Grabowski
   27. Tripon Posted: May 30, 2009 at 06:37 AM (#3199821)
[26] check Choi's gamelogs.

After July 27th, Tracy basically just used Choi as a pinch hitter, when the season was already over, and it was time to evaluate players for the next season. Instead, he decided that Choi wasn't good enough to play for him and used everyone but Choi the rest of the season. He got screwed over badly by Tracy that year.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/gl.cgi?n1=choihe01&t=b&year=2005
   28. Dag Nabbit is a cornucopia of errors Posted: May 30, 2009 at 06:57 AM (#3199827)
While blundering through insomnia, I just wanted to say that post #15 is the best post I've read on this site in a while.
   29. Tom Nawrocki Posted: May 30, 2009 at 04:23 PM (#3199951)
Thanks, Dag.

What I'd like to see from someone is a similar, evenhanded assessment of Jim Tracy. While I respect Vlad's opinion of Tracy as both a bad manager and a bad person, the fact remains that he was quite successful in his first four years with the Dodgers. How did he manage to pull that off?
   30. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 31, 2009 at 03:49 AM (#3200635)
Someone like Lloyd, may not have known how to choose a pinch-hitter or when to reach for the sac bunt, but he was basically a likable and hard-working guy being asked to do something beyond his capabilities, like a dog set in front of a piano.

That is an outstanding line.

Joe Maddon with Boston management would have been a real interesting combo.

I don't know if Jim Tracy is a good or bad manager, but as an impartial observer, he seems very mediocre, but the enmity he seems to generate from the fans leads me to believe that he's either a huge dick to the media or to his players, is really poor at communicating, or is a really awful manager. Sorry Rockies fans.
   31. Dan Posted: May 31, 2009 at 04:56 AM (#3200707)
Joe Maddon with Boston management would have been a real interesting combo.

As a Red Sox fan, I was outraged at the choice of Francona over Maddon. It really seemed like it was just to lure Schilling. Obviously Francona has worked out as far as results, but I think Maddon was the preferred choice of most other "stathead" type fans too, if I recall correctly.

I don't watch a lot of Rockies games, but in the playoffs in 2007 I watched Hurdle let pitchers bat several times and then lift them after facing 0, 1, or 2 additional batters. Yes, I'm almost certain he at least once let a pitcher bat and then lifted him without having him face another hitter.
   32. Tom Nawrocki Posted: June 07, 2009 at 04:33 PM (#3209349)
My feeling is, let's get someone in here who can provide the right combination of teaching, encouragement and discipline to ensure that Ian Stewart hits more than .187, because he's sure capable of more than that.


To follow up on this... I don't have any idea to what extent Jim Tracy is responsible for this, but Ian Stewart has been otherworldly lately. In his last four games, he is 10 for 17 with three singles, three doubles, four homers and 12 RBI. Just one walk, though; gotta get that walk rate up, Stew! That's .588/.621/1.471. And the Rockies have been on the road all week, so it has nothing to do with Coors Field.

The talk around Garrett Atkins now is clearly just that the Rockies need to get his hitting stats up to the point where he has some trade value again. If I were the Rockies, I'd have him play every time a lefty faced the team - half the time at first spelling Helton, half the time at third spelling Stewart. But I'd never have him start against a righty again.
   33. greenback calls it soccer Posted: June 07, 2009 at 05:51 PM (#3209381)
From the AP today:
Ian Stewart(notes) took a called third strike in his first at-bat then got an earful from Colorado Rockies manager Jim Tracy, who wants him to be aggressive when he sees a pitch to hit.

“If I have an at-bat like that he kind of jumps me: ‘Come on, swing the bat. It’s a weapon, use it. What are you doing?”’ Stewart said. “I kind of like that. He’ll pull me aside and get on me a little bit.”

It just goes to show what you can accomplish when you're a total psychotic.

And the Rockies have been on the road all week, so it has nothing to do with Coors Field.

That's a fair statement, but I would just as soon not see much more of Jess Todd and Todd Wellemeyer pitching for the Cardinals.
   34. puck Posted: June 07, 2009 at 06:33 PM (#3209435)
But most of all, the primary reason I'm glad to see Hurdle go, is that this team really does have a lot of young talent on it, and exactly none of it has developed under Hurdle. Tulo has regressed since his rookie year (offensively; with the glove, he's still great), Iannetta took a step back this year, Manny Corpas has completely fallen apart, Stewart has done nothing this year. Dexter Fowler is their big success story, and he's hitting .266/.355/.406.


A lot of Rockies fans say stuff like this. Tulo hit last year after he came back from his injury. Iannetta regressed for April. Somehow guys like Holliday, Hawpe, Atkins, Spilborghs, Smith, Francis, Fuentes and Cook managed to develop under Hurdle.

I don't have a problem with the firing, but it seemed to me the reason for it is that organizations can't sit around all year and watch the team lose, and the manager is usually the first to go. He wasn't a good tactician--the move Dan points to in #31 seemed to be his specialty. But I don't think Hurdle forget how to deal with young players all of a sudden*. Small sample size and all that, but Tulo has a .435 OPS under Tracy. Hurdle didn't shoot the albatross though perhaps he was the cursed one anyway.

As for Stewart--well, he's still getting jerked around, playing 2nd some days (including behind Aaron Cook), 3rd others. Including today's plan, in 10 games under Tracy, he'll have 6 starts: one at 3rd, one in LF, and 4 at 2nd. He is now starting because his sudden hot streak is forcing Tracy's hand.

[*Edit: there's probably as much evidence that they miss the old hitting coach plus Quirk (bench coach) and Gallego as there is that Hurdle forgot how to handle young players.]
   35. fra paolo Posted: June 07, 2009 at 06:39 PM (#3209444)
I should also note that as far as ex-Pirate managers go, Pete Mackanin has twice done a very solid job as an interim manager in a bad situation

Wow, another Mackanin fan. We should form a club. Do you think we could get signed pictures?
   36. Tom Nawrocki Posted: June 07, 2009 at 06:47 PM (#3209457)
Small sample size and all that, but Tulo has a .435 OPS under Tracy.


Tulwitzki got hit on the hand by a pitch on May 13, when he was hitting .240/.344/.462. That's mildly disappointing, but with his defense, it still makes him a very valuable player.

But since that HBP, even though Tulo refused to come out of the lineup, he went .175/.243/.238 in 17 games. Finally, earlier in this week, he admitted his hand was hurting too bad for him to be in the lineup, and he sat out a few days.

There's a definite downside to being a "gamer."
   37. puck Posted: June 07, 2009 at 06:51 PM (#3209463)
I wondered if he got hit by a pitch...I never heard how his hand got sore in the first place. I thought Tulo was turning it around in May, but the HBP would explain why that stopped.
   38. Tom Nawrocki Posted: June 15, 2009 at 01:15 AM (#3219401)
Jim Tracy isn't just a garden variety bad manager. He's a bad person, too.



Hey, thanks for the head's-up, guys.

With their eleventh win in a row today, the Rockies are now just five games back of the Dodgers in the all-important Pythagorean standings.

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