Tracy Has Rockies Flying a Mile High on Seven-Game Win Streak

Rich KurtzmanSenior Analyst IJune 11, 2009

For the first two months of the season, the Colorado Rockies were to the MLB what they have been for most of their history, the laughing stock of the league.

Then, on May 29, the fate of the Rockies was changed by GM Dan O'Dowd, as longtime manager Clint Hurdle was fired.

Hurdle, who was in his eighth year as the Rockies' head man, his 13th overall with the club, was a mostly mediocre coach, as the Rockies were perennially basement dwellers. To wit, Colorado finished fifth twice, fourth four times, and third and second once each.

Under Hurdle, the Rockies started 18-28, 14.5 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West. Hurdle's firing was justified, although he had play the hand he was dealt from O'Dowd, and he was subsequently replaced by bench coach Jim Tracy.

Tracy, who previously managed the Dodgers and Pirates, has seven years experience, and holds a 49.7 winning percentage in his career.

Tracy is making O'Dowd look like a genius now, as he has led the Rockies to an 8-4 record in his first 12 games. The Rockies now sit at 27-32 overall, but are still five games under .500, and 12 games behind the hot Dodgers.

This win gives Colorado seven wins on a road trip for only the fourth time in its 17-year history.

For the Rockies, this current road trip, and this game in particular mean more than wins though, the games show good signs of things to come.

Both Brad Hawpe and Troy Tulowitzki had huge days, as both hit home runs, propelling the Rockies to a 4-2 victory against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Tulowitzki went 1-for-3 with his homer, and Hawpe went 2-for-4, as his average bulges to .339. At this point, Hawpe should be getting consideration for an All-Star Game start.

The game was dominated by the Rockies' young pitcher, Jose De La Rosa, who only gave up four hits and two runs, while striking out eight in six innings pitched.

After the game, Tracy spoke on the Rockies new found competitiveness.

"The great thing about the last eight to 10 days is that they're having success and their confidence is growing," said Tracy talking about his Colorado players.

What's great for the Denver faithful, is that the Rockies have responded to the coaching change.

I remember 1991 and everyone in Denver being excited for Colorado to get its own MLB team, and the sellouts at old Mile High stadium in 1993-95. But years of mediocracy and horrible teams, backed with "better buy a program" lineups has all but jaded the Rockies' faithful. 

The greatest thing to happen for the club was going to the World Series in 2007, and it has seemed to restore baseball's popularity in Denver, but now there are higher expectations for the team.

The Rockies can no longer just be Colorado's MLB team, they must be one that competes for a division title, if not the National League pennant.

It seems though, that Tracy, with his lineup changes, and more laid-back demeanor, has immensely helped the young Rockies.

Colorado players have said that under Hurdle they had to perform to perfection, while Tracy just stresses to go out and play the game. Also, Tracy has elected to play Ian Stuart, who had three great defensive plays tonight and has hit three home runs himself this week, ahead of ex-favorite Garret Atkins.

At the very least this team can now compete, and at best, they could chase down the Dodgers, although that is a longshot as of now.

But the season is still young, with many games to be played.

If the Rockies can come close to the success they have enjoyed during Tracy's brief reign, and win 60 of the 104 remaining games, they would enjoy their best record ever, and could actually make the playoffs again.

We can all agree to one thing though, baseball allows us all to dream, and if we are going to dream, why not dream big?

The Rockies will make the playoffs, as the NL's wildcard team, and Tracy will manage Colorado for six more years, only to be replaced by former Yankee, Derek Jeter.

The Yankees got Girardi from the Rockies, why not Jeter in Colorado pinstripes?