Thoughts on Jim Tracy

UPDATE: Dave Littlefield says he will talk to Tracy soon; Tracy looks to be the front-runner for the job.

Jim Tracy has left the Dodgers and is now a leading candidate to replace Lloyd McClendon in Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, Jim Leyland might be headed to Detroit.

Anyone have an informed opinion on Tracy? I've watched the Dodgers probably fifteen or twenty times in the past fifteen months or so, mostly at the end of 2004 and the beginning of 2005 (I live in Southern California, and my former roommates are Dodgers fans), and I've never seen him do anything I thought was a bad idea tactically - the sorts of things, like bunting in the tops of innings of tie games at Coors Field, that I'd see McClendon do on a daily basis. (Some people who watch Tracy more closely don't agree, however.)

Baseball Prospectus has praised Tracy in the past for getting great work from part-time players (such as Marquis Grissom and Alex Cora in 2002; Dave Ross and Jolbert Cabrera in 2003; and Jose Hernandez, Olmedo Saenz and Jayson Werth in 2004). He's had all kinds of problems with those sorts of players this year, but injuries forced his hand and left him with inferior talent. (Still, though, he probably relied on folks like Mike Edwards, Jason Repko, and other players named Jason more than he needed to.)

He seems willing to go with youth when he needs to, although I'd quibble with his use of Hee Seop Choi this year - there's no good reason to bench Choi when you have the likes of Jason Phillips playing first.

The Los Angeles Times explains that there were "disagreements" between Tracy and general manager Paul DePodesta on the matter of how to use Choi and infielder Antonio Perez:

Some of the disagreements have been clear. DePodesta believes first baseman Hee-Seop Choi and infielder Antonio Perez can be productive everyday players. Tracy is partial to players such as shortstop Cesar Izturis and former Dodger Alex Cora, whose contributions aren't necessarily reflected in statistics.

Reasonable people can surely disagree on this issue, since Izturis and Cora are very good defensive players. But if someone like DePodesta tells me to play Antonio Perez, I'm going to trust him - not because he's clairvoyant or because he knows how to measure 'the little things', but because he has a track record of getting extremely good results from unexpected sources of talent. Those unexpected sources are the kinds of sources the Pirates need to be exploring, and Jim Tracy probably isn't going to succeed in Pittsburgh with a bunch of aesthetically-correct, throwback types of players. If Tracy doesn't want to play Hee Seop Choi, what is he going to think of Craig Wilson, another slugger who strikes out prolifically and has less of a ballplayer's body?

Thoughts on Jim Tracy? Anyone?

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