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
Photos: Rockies' Top 10 worst losses
Tracy's stunning decision to resign leaves the Rockies waking up this morning conducting their first managerial search since Jim Leyland resigned following the 1999 season.
Rockies bench coach Tom Runnells and Triple-A manager Stu Cole are in-house candidates with the search likely to expand soon. Veteran slugger Jason Giambi would retire as a player if he was considered, according to a source close to the player.
"Jim Tracy's resignation is something I truly regret," said all-star outfielder Carlos Gonzalez. "I always believed he would have a chance to be with us next year."
Players felt it was possible after Tracy's team meeting last Wednesday on the final day of the season. They weren't naive to his challenges and frustration all summer, but saw a man that appeared ready to embrace the difficult challenge ahead.
Tracy made it clear he wanted to come back, but not unconditionally. He met with Geivett for several hours on Friday, a sweeping evaluation of personnel and his role going forward. Geivett asked Tracy to return,
The Rockies gave Tracy time to think about things, telling him they could wait to hear back from him early this week. Instead, Tracy picked up a phone early Sunday afternoon and told Geivett he was stepping down.
"I was surprised. Knowing Jim as long as I have it was not something I sensed would happen, " said Geivett.
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.
"This was probably the most difficult decision I have ever had to make," Tracy said. " A close second would be the decision when I took the job because of the circumstances at the time." Tracy was then a bench coach for Clint Hurdle, who was fired.
The Rockies could replace as many as three coaches, including both pitching and hitting instructors. The club has asked for permission to speak with Marlins scout Mark Wiley regarding the new director of pitching operations position. Wiley, if hired, would likely have input on who the big league pitching coach would be. If Bo McLaughlin is not retained, Bob McClure, who spent several years in Triple-A Colorado Springs before serving as the big league coach for the Royals and Red Sox, could be a candidate.
Tracy showed signs that the job was wearing him down in May when the club spiraled out of contention, losing 16 of 20 games. The job became more challenging when the Rockies switched to a four-man rotation on a 75-pitch count with accompanying piggyback relievers. Tracy was never comfortable with the idea, and it showed as he struggled to articulate the plan from the outset.
The Rockies went back to a five-man rotation on Aug. 21 when Jhoulys Chacin returned from the disabled list, and made it official on Sept. 14. However, the pitch count issue remained vague — it will be a case-by-case scenario going forward — and that concerned Tracy, though it was not the reason he left.
Over the past two weeks, Tracy spoke of being energized by the team's young players. Something, however, clearly didn't feel right after Friday's long meeting with Geivett. Those who know Tracy well believe he just couldn't come to grips with having the front-office so involved on a daily basis. He and Geivett have always had a good relationship, but for a manager with two playoff berths and a decade of managing in the big leagues, it was an awkward working arrangement.
The Rockies went from a World Series contender for five months in 2010 to bottoming out the last two seasons, setting a franchise record with 98 losses this year. Tracy received an indefinite contract extension last February, but that guaranteed only the 2013 salary and reflected the Rockies desire to keep him longterm in the organization, but not necessarily as their field boss.
He never lost the clubhouse, which is why the Rockies fired Hurdle and replaced him with Tracy in May of 2009.
Tracy was the fifth manager in team history. He led the Rockies to a 294-308 (.488) record in his three-plus seasons as the club's manager. Tracy was named the 2009 National League Manager of the Year after leading the Rockies to the 2009 National League Wild Card and a franchise-best 92-70 record.
"There are so many people in this organization that I love. And I mean love," Tracy said. " It would be hard-pressed to duplicate that feeling anywhere else."
A look at the highs and lows of Jim Tracy's tenure as Rockies manager:
May 29, 2009 — After beginning the season as bench coach, Tracy takes over for manager Clint Hurdle and leads the Rockies to a 74-42 (.638) record and the National League playoffs.
Tracy becomes the first manager in major-league history to lead a team to a record at least 20 games over .500 after being at least 10 games under .500 in the same season.
The Rockies lose in four games to the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2009 National League division series.
Tracy is named 2009 National League manager of the year by the Baseball Writers' Association of America and by Sporting News.
On Nov. 18, 2009, Tracy agrees to a three-year, $4.4 million contract to manage the Rockies through 2012.
Tracy leads the 2010 Rockies to an 83-79 record. After a 12-2 victory at Los Angeles on Sept. 18, the Rockies move to within one game of the lead in the National League West. However, the team then implodes, losing 13 of its last 14 games.
The Rockies open the 2011 season 17-8, the best start in club history. But they quickly fade and finish 73-89, the club's fewest wins since 2005.
Tracy was given an indefinite contract extension last spring, but it guaranteed only his 2013 salary, $1.4 million, that he forfeited by resigning Sunday.
The 2012 Rockies, crippled by horrible starting pitching, are bad from the beginning. On June 19, with a 25-41 record and 16 games out of first place, the Rockies institute a four-man rotation with three "piggyback" relievers. Tracy is not fond of the plan and expresses relief when the team goes back to a five-man rotation late in the season.
On Aug. 1, Bill Geivett takes over as Rockies vice president of major-league operations and moves into an office in the Coors Field clubhouse next to Tracy's.
The Rockies finish 64-98, the worst record in franchise history.
Sunday, two days after a meeting with Geivett, Tracy resigns as Rockies manager after posting a 294-308 (.488) record in three-plus seasons.
Patrick Saunders, The Denver Post