In an article just published in the latest issue of Big Leagues Monthly, I outlined the history of the Colorado Rockies and it painted a pretty grim picture. That history of franchise futility peaked this season with their 98-loss debacle of a season. One of the recommendations I made in that article has already come about as Jim Tracy resigned as the team’s manager. That news seemed innocuous enough on face value. But the Yahoo Sports story on Tracy’s resignation gave some insight to the inner workings of the Rockies that were…well…just shocking. After reading Yahoo’s piece, it is no wonder that Tracy would get the heck out of there and makes you wonder what established manager in his right mind would ever take the job. Here is the money shot:
“Things changed for Tracy on Aug. 1 when Geivett, the assistant general manager, was given an office in the clubhouse and began focusing on roster management, particularly as it related to the pitchers, and evaluating the coaching staff and the rest of the players. Tracy’s responsibilities were narrowed to game management and meeting with the media.”
Okay, we know that the Rockies try to think outside of the box. That 75-pitch, four-man rotation fiasco proved that. But one thing has always remained static in baseball. The front office did its thing and the manager ran the clubhouse and managed the team. Over the years, there have been meddlesome owners that called the managers every hour dictating moves and such. That was a known hassle for managers. And managers have been known to tussle over personnel moves with their general managers. But to have a front office guy actually move into the clubhouse to take a direct role in day to day operations of the team? Unheard of. Shocking.
The Geivett mentioned in the piece is Bill Geivett whose titles also include, “director of major league operations.” Geivett is a front office guy. The article mentions that Geivett and Tracy have worked together for three different organizations. Working together is one thing. That develops common ground and a common history. But moving into the clubhouse? Unbelievable.
How can any manager thrive in that kind of situation? How can whatever team effort a manager tries to build with his players thrive when there is this other guy lurking in the same clubhouse who is basically the manager’s boss? How can the players relax and be themselves when a front office guy who has a part of the players’ baseball careers in his hands there every day? I can’t think of a positive answer for any of those questions.
Perhaps I am being over-sensitive here. I lived through a similar situation in my last career when I managed a customer service department for a software company. Those were my people. Suddenly, a new sales manager came in and convinced the company’s owner to put him in charge of sales and service. And his office was put right next to mine. Suddenly, my people had two bosses. They didn’t know who to listen to. As hard as I tried to be a team player, my people never came to trust this interloper. That has to be how Jim Tracy felt.
That doesn’t really let Tracy off the hook. The guy probably should have been fired even if he did not resign. The team was not succeeding under his management and a change was needed. But still. All indications were that they were not going to fire Tracy. The article linked says that Tracy still had the job and was still going to be the manager. And why not? Who else besides the guy who was already in the situation would live with an interloper in his clubhouse and his pitching rotation and stuff messed with by others besides himself? No one. That’s who.
The article also has this quote:
“Geivett said that structure will remain in place next season but he said he didn’t think that would be an issue in his search for a new manager, either.”
Get your head out of the sand, Geivett! Are the Rockies going to be able to sign any established manager under those conditions? Will Geivett be able to say to anyone with experience that, “Oh, by the way, all you’ll do is make out lineup cards and put up with the media. I’ll do everything else and be in the clubhouse.” The only kind of manager they will be able to entice is a guy who is looking to get his foot in the door and a big league job on his resume. Why doesn’t Geivett just manage since he is already doing everything else anyway?
This reveal by Yahoo show just how hosed the Rockies’ organization is right now. Dan O’Dowd has been allowed to roam that front office through years of failure and now this? Until the Rockies get their organization in shape and hire the next young wiz general manager and start to model their pitching development based on the Rays and Athletics, the Rockies are doomed to more years of dismal failure. That’s okay, though, because in the end, we can all blame Coors Field for their failures anyway.