In an offseason defined by change, general manager Dan O'Dowd made a stunning commitment to stability Monday, naming Jim Tracy the team's manager "indefinitely" with a handshake agreement.
Tracy was entering the final year of his three-year, $4.4 million deal signed after guiding the Rockies to the playoffs in 2009. O'Dowd said there's no term attached the extension, though it covers at the minimum the 2013 season.
"Basically what I am saying is that I should never have this conversation with you again," O'Dowd said. "To say it extends just beyond 2013 would not do justice to Jim. It could be until he's using a cane and having trouble getting onto the field. Quite honestly, it can be for whatever number of years Jim wants it to be for."
Last September, O'Dowd indicated that the club wasn't prepared to revisit Tracy's contract following the team's 73-89 finish. But as part of the cultural makeover, O'Dowd challenged the coaching staff to attack problems differently this winter, to establish "more authentic relationships with each other and the players." That process strengthened ownership and O'Dowd's belief that Tracy fit the organization's team-first mantra moving forward.
"It's very, very flattering given the love affair I have built with this organization," Tracy said. "There's still things that we would all like to accomplish. I hadn't thought about (an extension) because I was more concerned about what we had to do."
"This is where I would like my career to end," Tracy said, "in this place."
When the Rockies abandoned convention on Aug. 1, the chances of Jim Tracy remaining as manager decreased dramatically. As the newly appointed director of major league operations, Bill Geivett moved into the clubhouse, his desk, coffee maker and eraser board roughly 40 feet from Tracy's office in a conference room at Coors Field.
In the end, it wasn't one issue that prompted Tracy to resign Sunday, walking away from $1.4 million to manage the team in 2013, but a confluence of factors that began to manifest over the final two months following the dramatic front-office shift.
"Let me put it to you this way, I really don't feel that I am the right man for the job any longer. A lot of situations have changed since I was first asked to manage this club. It changed quite a bit from May 29 (2009) to the present," Tracy said late Sunday in a phone interview. "I am not the right man for this position."
Tracy had concerns even before Friday's long discussion. He wondered about the team's direction, his authority being usurped and the lack of input on who his coaches would be. Major changes on the coaching staff are expected. Tracy declined to get into specifics on Sunday on what caused him to leave.
Managers, as the saying goes, are hired to be fired (or to feel forced out), and the era of good feeling between field staff and front office generally lasts only as long as a team is making perceptible progress. The only way for a manager to avoid a fairly short shelf life is to be his own boss. Unfortunately for Tracy, owner/managers went out with Connie Mack.*
*Or maybe more accurately, Ted Turner.
Note: I've contacted Not Jim Tracy for comment. Stay tuned.
*Update* Not Jim speaks!