SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Jim Tracy has worked to build a unique culture in his clubhouse and in the Colorado organization, so it only seems fitting that the Rockies would reward him with an equally unique recompense. Sitting alongside Tracy and members of his coaching staff after the team's first official workout Monday at Salt River Fields, Colorado general manager Dan O'Dowd said that he and Tracy have reached a "handshake agreement" to keep Tracy on board as the club's manager indefinitely. Tracy's three-year, $4.4 million contract lasts through this season, and O'Dowd saw it as a way of showing his faith in the 56-year-old skipper, who is entering his fourth year with the club.
"Quite honestly, it could be whatever number of years Jim wants it to be," O'Dowd said. "We understand how difficult it is to create a culture in a world that that is valued only on performance, but we believe that we're going to build a culture of value, and we believe that Jim's the right person to build that value. We believe in him completely with what he stands for, and the key to this thing is we're creating the kind of authentic relationships around here where it's a handshake." Tracy, who was hired as the Colorado bench coach in November 2008, was named the Rockies' manager midway through the '09 season after a Clint Hurdle-led club sputtered to an 18-28 start. Tracy's takeover saw immediate results, as Colorado completed a remarkable comeback to reach the playoffs as the National League Wild Card team. He was named the NL Manger of the Year.
The Hamilton, Ohio, native is 230-210 in three seasons with the club, after previously spending five years at the helm of the Dodgers and two with the Pirates."It's gratifying, and it means an awful lot to me, because obviously I've been in two other places prior to here," Tracy said. "I'm at ease here." It can certainly put Tracy at ease coming off a bleak 2011 season -- on Monday he said, "We learned a very valuable lesson the hard way," and he accepted responsibility for the disappointment -- that many figured would see another Rockies' playoff berth. Instead, injuries and lackluster play dropped the club to fourth in the NL West, 21 games back of the division-champion D-backs. "It took a step backwards last year," Tracy said of the atmosphere he's trying to build and the winning culture he hopes to promote in Denver. "And that hurt more than anything. Quite frankly, I don't want to see that happen again." The agreement -- which Tracy said was reached this past week in Scottsdale -- essentially leaves the door open for Tracy to retire with the Rockies, while Tracy said it ensures him the stability to manage without having to second-guess the way he handles his players. "There's two types of people in our games -- survivors and difference-makers," O'Dowd said. "Survivors try to hold onto their jobs, while difference-makers show up every day with intent to try to create relationships based on substance. Jim falls into that category. It's hard to find those characteristics in life in general, not just in sports." Tracy and O'Dowd both acknowledged the rarity of such an accord, but both insisted that the gist of understanding is indefinite or, as O'Dowd said, "It could be until he's using a cane or if he starts looking really bad in a uniform." "I have a contract," Tracy said. "I am completely flattered with what it is that I'm doing and the way that I'm treated. Why would you want to go anyplace else?"