Tom Runnells, born in Greeley, graduate of Northern Colorado, long time Rockies system coach, should know better than to accept the Rockies management job. He's been through this before when then Expos general manager Dave Dombrowski handpicked him to replace Buck Rodgers in 1991 to save an under-achieving franchise from ruin. His players and fans were skeptical, the media was antagonistic, and the end result was a trainwreck. Now, 20 years on, he's in a very similar situation in Colorado, where an unpopular general manager and ownership seem singularly focused on hiring him for his system ties rather than truly opening a search for the best possible candidate for the job. This sort of situation will have the the tiniest sliver of a margin for error for Runnells, as every mistake will get magnified in the press and whispered about in the clubhouse.
Patrick Saunders at the Post points out the parallel someone like Runnells would have with A.J. Hinch in Arizona a few years ago and it's a good example of how a lack of trust and confidence will quickly poison the chances that a manager will succeed in a situation like that.
Enough, for now, with the future, though, let's reminisce about the recent past, since that was so great and everything. It seems Denver Post writers such as Woody Paige really liked Jim Tracy. Jim Tracy was a likable manager. He is a good man. He just wasn't a very good manager and I don't know if there's any way to get around that fact unless we're making it a popularity contest among players. He was predictable, transparent, and seemed unaware that the rest of the division's managers were running circles around him because they knew what was coming while Tracy would wait to react until after the fact.
In four seasons in Colorado, Tracy finished with a 117-149 record against the NL West (a .440 win percentage compared to his .493 record overall while here,) including an abysmal 56-88 record against divisional foes in 2011 and 2012. It's a very bad sign when common opponents are getting better when playing against you while you can't do the same against them, as there's normally a regression toward a .500 record in these series. The Rockies awful advance scouting under O'Dowd is certainly partly to blame, but the manager has to bear some responsibility for that as well.
Okay, so if Runnells isn't the right replacement for Tracy, who is? What about Jason Giambi? Carney Lansford's dismissal and the attention on Giambi as potential manager material had me wondering if he might be in line for the Rockies hitting instructor position with an aim to groom him for management down the road. As Renck mentions, the Rockies or any other team likely won't give him an MLB management post as his first post playing days coaching gig despite the success of Mike Matheny and Robin Ventura, but a hitting coach is a common starting path. Later on in that same column Renck states that Rene Lachemann is the favorite for the hitting coach post, though, so there goes my theory.
Of all the people mentioned as candidates, I'd prefer for both the team and the manager himself that the Rockies choose from outside the organization (such as Tim Wallach or Sandy Alomar Jr) rather than from within. Does this make the front office's job more difficult to identify an external candidate that buys into their program? Yes, but it will make the future manager's job easier by getting rid of some of the scrutiny and skepticism that will come with an inside man being chosen, and when it comes to turning this team around, the Rockies will need to make their next manager's job as easy as possible.