Yes, the Rockies can do worse than Hurdle

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As if things weren’t bad enough in Colorado, the Rockies have gone and replaced the mediocre Clint Hurdle with the incompetent Jim Tracy.

Tracy’s resume includes a 562-572 record, which is exactly the kind of
near-.500 record the Rockies have aspired to achieve in most of their
years in existence. He got that record by taking the NL West’s most
talented team in the Dodgers to the postseason once in five years.
After being let go by Los Angeles, he quickly landed the job in
Pittsburgh and went 135-189 in two seasons before being ousted.

Tracy plays favorites, as Chris Duffy and Nate McLouth can attest.
He loves his smallball, regardless of the composition of this team. In
2003, his Dodgers got a combined .242/.300/.317 line out of their top
two hitters, who combined to score 150 runs all season. When Hee Seop
Choi thrived as a No. 2 hitter in 2005, Tracy refused to leave him
there, going to such players as Oscar Robles, Jason Repko and Antonio
Perez instead.

Bullpen management, at least, looked like a strength early in
Tracy’s career. However, he never got a whole lot out of a Pittsburgh
pen that featured Matt Capps, Salomon Torres, John Grabow, Damaso Marte
and Mike Gonzalez for the first year.

If the Rockies fail to turn it around, Tracy’s stay could be a short
one. GM Dan O’Dowd has to be on a short leash now, and if the Rockies
make a change there over the winter, the new GM will likely want to
bring in a manager of his own.

Jorge Soler diagnosed with strained oblique, Opening Day in doubt

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Royals outfielder Jorge Soler has been diagnosed with a strained oblique, making it likely that he begins the regular season on the disabled list, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reports.

The Royals acquired Soler from the Cubs in December in exchange for reliever Wade Davis. Over parts of three seasons with the Cubs, Soler hit .258/.328/.434 with 27 home runs and 98 RBI in 765 plate appearances.

When he’s healthy, Soler is expected to find himself in the Royals’ lineup as a right fielder and occasionally as a designated hitter.

Report: Cardinals, Yadier Molina making “major progress” on contract extension

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Cardinals and catcher Yadier Molina are making “major progress” on a contract extension. Molina told the team he won’t discuss an extension during the season, hence the rapid progress.

Molina is entering the last guaranteed year of a five-year, $75 million contract signed in March 2012. He and the Cardinals hold a mutual option worth $15 million with a $2 million buyout for the 2018 season. The new extension would presumably cover at least the 2018-19 seasons and likely ’20 as well.

Molina is 34 years old but is still among the most productive catchers in baseball. Last season, he hit .307/.360/.427 with 38 doubles, 58 RBI, and 56 runs scored in 581 plate appearances. Though he has lost a step or two with age, Molina is still well-regarded for his defense. The Cardinals also value his ability to handle the pitching staff.