It's Tracy

Jim Tracy is the Pirates' new manager. Here's what I wrote about him last week. Here's an interesting editorial on Tracy's departure from the Dodgers, from the San Bernardino County Sun (via Dodger Thoughts):

Tracy at least subtly, and sometimes actively, thwarted the will of [GM Paul] DePodesta. Tracy rarely played Hee-Seop Choi, the first baseman DePodesta likes for his ability to get on base and hit for power - and Tracy loathed for his batting average and lead glove.

Is that any way to run a team? With a GM procuring Players A, B and C . . . and the field manager not playing them? Is it unreasonable for a GM - whose job also is at stake - to expect the guys he brings in will get at-bats and innings?

A basic concept at work here: The clash of Old School baseball vs. the Stat Wonk academicians. Tracy was firmly grounded in the former camp, as are most sports journalists. DePodesta in the latter.

The Old School guys believe in "chemistry" and "intangibles." They talk about a guy's value to the clubhouse and believe leadership somehow translates to victories.

The modern Stat Wonk isn't interested in a guy's ability to quip in the face of adversity. He wants to know how often he gets to first base, how often he scores and how many runs he drives in. Baseball's masses of numbers lend themselves to computer analysis - much to the chagrin of the anti-modern romantics, who prefer to count on their fingers and toes. Bright guys such as Oakland GM Billy Beane understand that. Such as DePodesta, too.

Yikes. After I last posted on Tracy, an anonymous commenter said:
Did you like Brad Eldred and Craig Wilson? Too bad, they'll never play again.

Do you want your young talent to get a fair shot? Not going to happen, all player evaluation is based entirely on the first ten plate appearances. Unless of course, there is an arbitraty decision tht he plays "bad defense", in which case, no matter how good they are offensively, they will never play again.

It seems this person might be right.

Here's a good blog article on Tracy:

Tracy engineered effective platoons. He gave us Game Over. And more. It was a good four years...

But I no longer believe Tracy is making us better than we would be without him... With their walk-heavy offense and strikeout-deficient pitching, the Dodgers now have different strengths and weaknesses than they have ever had under Tracy, and he hasn't shown a clear ability to manage them effectively - even taking the team's injuries into account...

Without the bedrock of believing he is making our big picture being better, little moments like failing to remove or pinch-hit for a tiring pitcher before the damage is done, picking the wrong reliever for a given situation when the right one did not need further rest, or greeting a baserunner in a tight game by having your No. 3 hitter - a man with plate discipline, batting skill, power and speed, a man who has grounded into a double play only 37 times in a 3,103 plate-apperance career (once every 83.9!), someone who does strike out but otherwise is almost all dividend with no risk - having that player bunt - you don't want to go to bed with that manager anymore...

...[W]hen one of your best hitters has been sitting most of the week, and stands before you in need of anything but a rest, yet you still find a way to keep him out of the lineup to start one of your worst hitters - as happened Sunday with Hee Seop Choi and Oscar Robles - add it to the list of reasons I don't want to be with you anymore...

The more I read about this, the less I like it.

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