Jim Tracy Loves the Dodgers

Wow, is this bizarre:

Quite curiously, the shortcomings that Tracy had in personnel or instructional matters seemed to originate from his never-ending emotional tie with the 2004 Los Angeles Dodgers, the $100 million team he managed to the West Division title.

He spoke about them incessantly, to the media and to the players. He even tried to recreate them, it seemed.

Before Tracy had donned a Pirates uniform, in the winter of 2006, he met with center fielder Chris Duffy and told Duffy he should play like Dave Roberts, the Dodgers' leadoff man, even though all Duffy and Roberts had in common was being fast. Among the instructions: Duffy, a line-drive hitter, was told to pound the ball into the ground. He failed miserably, quit baseball for a month and has yet to recover.

Tracy told shortstop Jack Wilson, a three-time runner-up for the Gold Glove, that he did not like his approach to ground balls, that it should be more like Cesar Izturis of the 2004 Dodgers. Wilson had his worst defensive year in 2006 and, at Tracy's behest, Izturis was acquired from the Chicago Cubs this past July. It was at Tracy's urging that Wilson nearly was traded to Detroit in late July, after which Wilson batted .401 in the season's final two months.

There was more: Jose Castillo was told to be like Adrian Beltre. Bench players were told to be versatile like Jose Hernandez, who also was acquired. Even Tracy's batting orders were modeled based on profiles of the 2004 Dodgers.

All that stepson stuff us bloggers said about Hernandez, Mike Edwards and Franquelis Osoria was completely true, it sounds like. And what's up with Tracy's use of the 2004 Dodgers offense as a model? That wasn't a good hitting team - Adrian Beltre carried them, and they were only one year removed from scoring only 574 runs.

There's certainly nothing wrong with learning from one's past successes, but it seems that Tracy went way over the line and into clueless nostalgia. Why would you want Wilson to play like Izturis? And what use is it to try to make Castillo more like Beltre?

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