Rockies fire Hurdle, name Tracy manager
The Rockies fired Clint Hurdle today, ending his long reign as the team’s manager amid a very disappointing season. Bench coach, who has ample experience managing in the majors, will replace Hurdle on an interim basis.
Hurdle, 51, who was told of his dismissal Friday morning in a meeting with general manager Dan O’Dowd, was hired to manage the Rockies on April 26, 2002, replacing Buddy Bell. At the time, Hurdle was the Rockies hitting coach.
The Rockies, who begin a three-game series tonight with the San Diego Padres at Coors Field, have sputtered all season, unable to gain any momentum and falling to the bottom of the National League West. They were just swept in a three-game series by the Los Angeles Dodgers, dropping their record to a season-low 10 games below .500 and at 18-28, leaving them 14 1/2 games behind the Dodgers, the widest margin in the majors.
The Rockies have had one three-game winning streak this season, and that came April 7-10 in the team’s second, third and fourth games of the season. Since that modest winning streak, the Rockies have won back-to-back games just three times, most recently last weekend at Detroit.
After 4-3 and 3-1 wins over the Tigers on Saturday and Sunday, the Rockies returned home and were outscored 31-13 in three losses to the high-flying Dodgers, who have won eight of nine games from the Rockies this season.
As is the case with losing teams, the performance can be traced to a myriad of reasons. Third baseman Garrett Atkins, who is hitting .195, and shortstop (.227) have failed to hit as expected. The team is a combined 6-14 in games started by and , the top two starters. The Rockies bullpen, which is 4-9, has a 5.65 ERA, higher than any team in the National League except the Washington Nationals. The pitching staff alone has made nine errors. And it has become common to fundamental mistakes, such as outfielders throwing to the wrong base.
Hurdle, aware of the urgency of the situation, changed closers twice in the first two weeks of the season.
Hurdle has removed slumping players like Atkins and Tulowitzki from the lineup to let them try to work to recapture their swings, without having to try and simultaneously implement those changes in a game. And Hurdle, imposing discipline, benched Tulowitzki in a punitive measure on May 20 at Atlanta. The night before, Tulowitzki swung at the first pitch in his final at-bat in the eighth with the Rockies trailing 6-1 and grounded into a double play after had led off with a walk.
Under Hurdle, the Rockies went 534-625 (.461) and had one winning season. That was in 2007 when the team finished the regular season 90-73 and reached the World Series for the only time in franchise history. The 2007 Rockies went on an unprecedented hot streak that resulted in a 21-1 surge leading up to the Series, where the Rockies were swept in four games by the Boston Red Sox.
Hurdle, who was in the final year of his contract, has been a member of the Rockies organization since 1994 when he became the roving minor league hitting coordinator. He held that job for three seasons until former Rockies manager Don Baylor added Hurdle to his staff as the hitting coach. Hurdle held that role under Baylor, who is now the Rockies hitting coach, and under Jim Leyland in 1999, the one season he managed the Rockies, and under Bell, who replaced Leyland.
Tracy, 53, was hired as the Rockies bench coach after the 2008 season. Tracy has said what appealed to him most about joining the Rockies was that the first call he received from anyone in the organization came from Hurdle, rather than anyone in the front office.
Tracy was out of the game last year after managing the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2006-2007. Tracy also spent five seasons managing the Dodgers from 2001-2005. Under Tracy, the Dodgers won the NL West in 2004. His record as a major league manager is 562-572 (.496).