Results tagged ‘ Jim Tracy ’

Don’t the Dodgers need to sign Colletti long-term? The answer is Blowin’ in the Wind

I’m usually loathe to start any bit of prose with a question. But with the Dodgers having clinched the playoffs for the third time in the last four years, is it not time for management to re-up Ned Colletti? After all, he’s been the GM there for that entire period.

Or is the answer to this question the same as the answer to all nine questions in the quintessential Bob Dylan song that was the anthem for an entire generation?

“The answer my friend is Blowin’ in the Wind. The answer is Blowin’ in the Wind!”

Those nine questions were asked by Dylan when he penned the song in 1963. Forty-six years later, none of them have been answered. Probably the best cover version of this song was done by a folk group called Peter, Paul and Mary. That became germane this week because of the death of Mary Travers, the female soul of the group, which kept performing well into this decade until Mary’s maladies made it impossible for her to sing any longer. Now they are gone, their ashes are Blowin’ in the Wind.

But I digress. Colletti and the Dodgers have a mutual option on a contract for the 2010 season. Colletti probably will not come back unless he is offered a multi-year deal. There’s no reason to blame him. At 93-63, these Dodgers will finish with the club’s best record since 1988, the last year it won the World Series. Last year, Colletti’s team, playing within the blush of the Manny Ramirez acquisition, went to the National League Championship Series for the first time since that 94-win, championship season. They lost in five games to the Phillies.

This is the type of progression that management has to love after adding a guy who had never been a GM prior to his hiring by the Dodgers after a disastrous 71-91, 2005 season. Coming a year after they made the playoffs for the first time since 1996, that season of internal conflict cost GM Paul DePodesta and manager Jim Tracy their jobs. And perhaps that’s the way it should have been.

But with Colletti as the GM and Joe Torre as manager, the Dodgers have thrived. Torre clinched his 14th consecutive season managing a playoff-bound team, the first 12 with the Yankees where he won four World Series titles. Torre has a year to go on his contract and says flatly that he will retire at 70 when the 2010 season ends.

Thus, more than ever, the Dodgers need some continuity and Colletti will provide them that if he’s given a long-term deal. Actually, I’m not sure what the arguments are against it. He spent too much money on Jason Schmidt, who came up with a bad arm? He took a chance on Andruw Jones? With the Dodgers trying to save money, Colletti acquired Ramirez from the Red Sox in ’08 and Jon Garland from the D-backs last month and both opposing teams paid the balance of their contracts. One should offset the other.

In baseball, its all about numbers and success, and no matter how far the Dodgers go in the playoff this year, here’s this season’s most important number: 3,601,611 — the top attendance in the Majors, coming in a down economy. That means Dodger fans think that Colletti has put together and Torre is managing an entertaining team. End of story. The decision is a no-brainer. How many cliches can I give you?

But sometimes answers aren’t as easy as asking the questions. And at 57, I never thought some of these nine would still be left unanswered:

How many roads must a man walk down before they call him a man?

How many seas must a white dove sail before she can sleep in the sand?

How many times must a cannon ball fly before it’s forever banned?

How many years must a mountain exist before it’s washed to the sea?

How many years must some people exist before they’re allowed to be free?

How many times must a man turn his head and pretend that he just doesn’t see?

How many times must a man look up before he can see the sky?

How many ears must one man have before he can hear people cry?

How many deaths will it take ’till he knows that too many people have died?

The answer my friend is Blowin’ in the Wind. The answer is Blowin’ in the Wind.

Rockies go home with fate in their own hands

PHOENIX — The Rockies return to Coors Field on Tuesday night to open a nine-game homestand against the Padres in control of the National League’s Wild Card race. By virtue of back-to-back Chase Field victories over the D-backs while the the Giants lost consecutive games to the Dodgers in Los Angeles on Saturday and Sunday, the Rox lead the Lads by 4 1/2 games with 12 left to play.

It’s not time to pop any corks yet. “There’s nothing finished,” said Rox interim manager Jim Tracy. “We have to keep plowing forward.”

But if the Rox hold their own at Coors against the Padres, Cardinals and Brewers, a second trip to the postseason in three years will be theirs. Like 2007, when they were swept by the Red Sox in the World Series, the Rockies will win the NL Wild Card berth. This time it should happen without the drama of a one-game playoff. Two years ago, they had to come from behind in the 13th inning to beat Trevor Hoffman and the Padres.

It still is up to question whether Matt Holliday actually touched the plate when he scored the winning run that October night. “Do you think I did?” Holliday asked somewhat rhetorically when I asked him about it again earlier this season. I covered that game and my answer was “no” then and it remains the same today. Holliday just gave me that little glint of a smile, leaving the question open for all eternity. The plate ump called him safe and that’s all that counts.

This time, the club has ridden Tracy’s managerial expertise. The Rox are 67-37 since Tracy took over for the deposed Clint Hurdle on May 29. And someday soon one suspects that GM Dan O’Dowd is going to remove the interim tag from his title with a nice, fat contract extension.

Tracy was a good manager with a Dodgers team that he managed into the 2004 postseason, but he’s even better now, riding the percentages and his own intuition to make effective moves. On Saturday night, he pinch-hit Ryan Spilborghs in the seventh inning against Clay Zavada. Spilborghs contribued an RBI-double and remained in the game to add another in the ninth. In that final inning, Tracy sent up Jason Giambi as a pinch-hitter and the former Yankee and Oakland star smashed a three-run homer.

On Sunday, both Spilborghs and Giambi were in the starting lineup. Spilborghs replaced the slumping Brad Hawpe with the added incentive of being 9-for-21 lifetime against D-backs starter Dan Haren. Tracy wanted to give Giambi some work at first base while resting Todd Helton. Spliborghs had a big single off Haren in a three-run seventh inning that put the Rox ahead to stay. Giambi went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer.

Giambi’s simply 6-for-15 with a double, two homers and 11 RBIs since he was taken off the scrap heap by the Rockies after his release by the A’s.

“I wasn’t healthy there,” Giambi said about the end of the line in Oakland. “But I’m excited to be here. It’s great to be in the race. I talked to a lot of people about Tracy and he’s a big reason why I came over. I’m glad I’m here.”

The Giants come into Chase on Monday night to open a three-game series against the 85-loss D-backs with the season on the line. They’ve lost three out of their last four at the season’s crucial time and can’t afford to lose any more. Still, if the Rockies hold their own it won’t much matter anymore what the Giants do.

“We’re at the great point in the season where we hold our fate in our own hands,” Tracy said. “If we do what we’re supposed to do, we’ll be playing meaningful games in October. If we don’t we won’t have anyone to blame, but ourselves. There will be no excuses.”