Monday, July 5, 2010

Mixing & Matching Is For Losers

According to Rockies commentators, Jim Tracy is the master of mixing, matching, and setting his team and bullpen up to win.

He's always "one step ahead" as they like to remind all the freaking time.

Really? Then why do a high percentage of his moves backfire?

And beyond that, why do Rockies fans see the backfires coming when Jim Tracy doesn't?

No, it really has little to do with Rockies fans having a negative attitude about the team, it's just easy to see moves like repeatedly sticking a struggling Franklin Morales or fatiguing Manny Corpas into tight situations not working. Yet Jim Tracy continued going to those wells until they past dried up, and the number of games it's cost his team can't be counted on one hand.

Morales is now in AAA, so Tracy doesn't have that option anymore. Corpas is still around, but he's been running on fumes for the past two weeks or so. Tracy recognized that yesterday by refusing to use him in a 15-inning game.

Corpas started the year as a long reliever -- a role he was used in a ton when Aaron Cook and Jason Hammel struggled through rough stretches. He then spent a month or so in the closer role, which added some high stress innings to his arm. Now he's in limbo as a Rockies middle reliever which, with Jim Tracy in charge, means you could pitch 3-4 days in a row routinely.

That's clearly not what Manny needs. It's not what Matt Belisle needs either, but so far he's managing to hold up. We've already seen Matt Daley succumb to the workload. To me this says we need a little less mixing and matching from Tracy going forward.

Yesterday was a perfect example of what bothers me and what is wrong with Jim Tracy.

He allows Jason Hammel to start the 8th inning wiith 105 pitches. That move was debatable on its own, but here's what happens next.

Matt Belise 1/3 IP
Joe Beimel 1/3 IP, 1 BB, 1 ER
Rafael Betancourt 1/3 IP, 2 H

Three different pitchers to get three outs. Granted, it was a one run game at the time, but the three relievers combined to allow that run. All it amounted to was losing the lead and losing your top three setup men in one failed swoop.

Betancourt had to rush his warmups to be ready to face his hitters. I think the fact he allowed two very well hit basehits to start his appearance indicated he may not have been warmed up. Besides that, relievers who are used to starting an inning often struggle when asked to clean up another's mess. Especially a guy like Betancourt who is used to the 8th being his and his only.

Without his three setup men available, and without Corpas available, Tracy had to use the freshly off the DL Street to throw two innings. I can tell you right now I had an uneasy feeling all night and almost expected to wake up hearing about soreness or fatigue from Street.


Jim Tracy should never find himself in a position like that again. In order to avoid that, he needs to make an honest effort to organize his bullpen. He may thing his mixing and matching is organized, and maybe it would be in the playoffs, but you can't manage this like the playoffs. It's too soon. Arms will be dragging.

I want to start seeing roles be definied and pitchers be trusted to handle their assigned roles. Mixing and matching just creates chaos, and it's usually reserved for team's with awful bullpens. This is not an awful bullpen. This is a damn good bullpen that is being fatigued and minimized by an overactive manager. The chaos is completely unnecessary.

Huston Street is the closer. That's settled. Absolutely limit him to one inning for the forseeable future.

Now... settle on a freaking setup man. Mixing and matching is doing nothing but adding apperances and pitches (warmup pitches) to these guys totals. Every time they simply warm up you're adding wear to their arm, so pick a guy. Pick Betancourt or pick Belisle. Pick one. The 8th is theirs and theirs only.

Whoever isn't your 8th inning guy, becomes your primary 7th inning guy. Beimel and Flores can be used in situations here or even to handle the 7th. Esmil Rogers is your long man. Then all you need to do is figure out who your 7th reliever is between Corpas, Buchholz, possibly Chacin.

An off day like today is a good time to think about this. It wouldn't take long to figure it out. Hell, it only took me 10 minutes to jot these thoughts down.

Get on it, Jim Tracy, Get your house in order!