The Colorado Rockies are completing their worst ever season. And, despite the fact that Jim Tracy is under contract for 2013, his job is on the line. But not based on what goes down on the field. Rather, what’s said in a meeting:
A meeting this weekend in Denver between Bill Geivett, the Rockies’ director of major-league operations, and manager Jim Tracy will go a long way in determining not only whether Tracy returns, but the coaching staff and the club’s direction. Rockies owner Dick Monfort said Sunday that no decision has been made on Tracy’s future. He pointed to Geivett’s discussion with Tracy this weekend as the important factor.
Geivett: Jim. we’re thinking we need to win more baseball games. You agree?
Tracy: I dunno, Bill. That’s one way to look at it, but I was thinking we should try to lose 97 or more games again. Kinda feels right.
Geivett: Hmm. I see. Well, good meeting, Jim. We’ll let you know what we decide later.
Well, obviously I have no idea what goes on in those kinds of meetings. I do sorta feel like whatever Tracy has to say doesn’t matter, though. Geivett was elevated to his current role in August when Dan O’Dowd was stripped of some of his GM powers, and O’Dowd was Tracy’s major backer, giving him a contract extension last winter.
So maybe the meeting will be more like this:
Geivett: What is it exactly you do around here, Jim?
Tracy: Well-well look. I already told you: I deal with the goddamn customers so the engineers don’t have to. I have people skills; I am good at dealing with people. Can’t you understand that? What the hell is wrong with you people?!
To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.
So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”
When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.
Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.