The Coors Effect

September 24, 2009 11:45 PM

Tracy needs to get back to what works

Why did the Rockies begin playing better once Clint Hurdle was fired and Jim Tracy took over?  That's a difficult question to answer.  Several Rockies started playing better after slumping for much of April and May, and that just happened to coincide with Tracy's elevation to manager.  But one thing that Tracy did was to start using a consistent starting lineup.

Okay, Tracy didn't exactly send the same eight guys (plus pitcher) out there every single day.  But he did start being more consistent with the team's daily lineups.  Ian Stewart was allowed to stick at third base, rather than shifting between second and third.  That meant that Clint Barmes was allowed to play every day.  In the outfield, Tracy began playing Gonzalez, Fowler, and Hawpe most of the time, giving Spilborghs a few starts against lefties and giving Seth Smith the occasional start as well.

And now?  While injuries have had something to do with it, Tracy's been shuffling his lineups around a lot over the last couple of weeks.  Tracy is falling into the same trap that Hurdle was: we have four outfielders who should be starting, so let's try to give all of them some starts instead of just sticking with the same guys every day.  On paper, it seems like a decent idea; after all, everybody gets some rest along the way, and we can bench or play guys based on who's hitting well.  Yet paradoxically, it seems to have the opposite effect.  If a guy knows that he might wind up on the bench after a bad game or two, he's going to press... and he's not going to play as well.  And somewhat strangely, the one outfielder who seems to be the most entrenched, Brad Hawpe, is having an awful month.

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