Fire Jim Tracy

Monday, October 25, 2004

Fire Jim Tracy FAQ

Q: Who are you?

A: My name is Steve. I am a Dodger fan. I taught my daughter that the Giants kill kitties, and that Barry Bonds puts them in his soup.

Q: What are your qualifications?

A: No more or less qualified than any other fan. Know enough to know that Nomo at Coors Field in September is a bad idea, which is more than our current manager.

Q: How do you have so much time to devote to your (heroic, lunatic) struggle?

A: A series of happy coincidences. The third year of Law School does not quite have the time requirements of the first two years. Constant access at home and school to wireless internet. Plenty of time while sitting at desk and putting kids to bed to opine. And of course, the desperation that comes with knowing that if we don’t act now, we’ll have several more years of spinning between barely mediocre and almost decent.

Q: Are you serious that you want to get rid of Jim Tracy? Or is this some elaborate way of making people angry?

A: When I want to make people angry, I tell them I am voting for George Bush. That usually does the trick, and more quickly.

Q: Why are you so strident about it?

A: Three years is long enough to prove one’s ability. Jim Tracy has not proven his ability. He deserves to be replaced. At the very least, the possibility should be discussed. Currently, I have read many mainstream media and blogosphere pleas for Tracy to be re-signed, but they couch the conclusion with:

1) Non-existent (Plaschke and Newhan simply making bald, unsupported assertions)
2) Mistaken (Tracy “supports” his players; “juggles” his lineup)
3) Incomplete (Tracy gets the “most” of his players without discussing Ross, Dreifort, et. al) AND/OR
4) Meaningless (Tracy “fits” with the team; good “chemistry;”)

premises.

On top of that, Jim Tracy is a leftover from the Fox Era.

Q: But you know that Paul DePodesta and Frank McCourt is going to extend him a new contract after the World Series, right?

A: That I do.

Q: So what’s the point?

A: 1) Going on the record so that I can say I told you so 2) Gearing up for a massive documentation effort starting next April as to Jim Tracy’s terrible roster management and game-decision-making (I should have been writing it down all along.) 3) Tracy gets a free pass in the media from major reporters covering him (Simers only calls names) 4) A vain effort to cut through the complete nonsense that passes for analysis of managers. Managers are paid large sums of money and routinely hired and fired for their win-loss records. But it has become apparent to me that no one, including me, knows what the hell they do.

Q: But Tracy wins, right?

A: Wins what? I don’t see any rings on our fingers, but besides that, if we don’t make two ninth-inning comebacks in a week, either one of which was unequalled in the prior
100 years, the Giants (and Astros) finish 92-70, the Dodgers 91-71. Fox has inured us from real winning, and left us like desperate beggars feeding off the crumbs of the National League West. Pathetic.

Q: But his players like him, right?

A: Kowtowing to players will generally get you a favorable response from them.

Q: Now that’s a generalization without proof.

A: Just from this year, Shawn Green, Juan Encarnacion, Milton Bradley, Jason Grabowski. If Jim Tracy can’t bench Jason Grabowski, who can he bench?

Q: But he uses a roster well, right?

A: That IS a generalization without proof. If you call Scott Stewart pitching to the heart of the Padres’ order progress, fine.

Q: Everyone else wants to sign Jim Tracy. What makes you so smart?

A: I could flip this question right around, but that would be rude. Let’s just say that fascination with Jim Tracy (not to mention Guillermo Mota) is somewhat irrational.

Q: But isn’t it the players who play, not the manager?

A: Jim Tracy’s defenders are muddled on this point. They are quick to point out positive contributions and give Tracy credit for them, but slow to give him blame for underachievement.

Q: Huh?

A: His defenders love to bring up Beltre, but hate to bring up Ross.

Q: Oh. So it’s Tracy’s fault that Ross sucks?

A: No. It is not Tracy’s achievement that Beltre had a great year. They are two sides of the same non-issue coin. Or alternatively, any credit for one is cancelled out by the other.

Q: But these guys are on the roster. The Dodgers give him people to play and he plays them. So?

A: This is true of any manager, and makes it hard to judge managers as a whole. But the question is not who plays, but the context in which they play. Tracy often plays as if baseball is poker, and he’s bluffing. As if everyone didn’t know that Scott Stewart was a 2-7 off suit.

Q: Why are you so taxed by his use of Hideo Nomo?

A: Because he was quite obviously the worst pitcher in the National League for much of the year after April. Jim Tracy handed the Giants two games in late June, then turned around and pitched Nomo in Coors Field in the middle of the pennant race, where Nomo had an ERA of over 9 since 1997, not to mention with an 80 mph fastball that he couldn’t throw over the plate. Our record was 93-62 with about seven losses that we simply gave away.

Q: But who were the other options?

A: I will now dig my eyeballs out with spoons.

Q: Can you give us your main grievances against Jim Tracy with something approaching brevity?

A: 1) He is a book manager when the situation calls for unorthodoxy, and an unorthodox manager when the situation calls for the book. He gave Alex Cora the green light on a 3-0 pitch. This is the action of a complete baseball dunce, or at least someone who has lost complete objective judgment.

2) He remains loyal only to certain players (Nomo, Green, Grabowski) while tubing other players who are performing equally well or better (particularly Ishii, whose significant problems paled in comparison to Nomo’s guaranteed losses.). He acts like the team has a Little League rule of playing everyone (Stewart, Flores, Grabowski), then not only benches Choi, but has him shot and dumped in the Los Angeles River.

3) He manipulated the trade for personal gain, first openly pining for LoDuca, then benching Choi when it was assured that Choi’s numbers would show that the trade caused us to miss the playoffs (thereby taking the heat off of him), then pretending that he would have used the pitching staff differently had Mota still been L.A. beyond simply pitching Mota in every situation where he otherwise pitched Brazoban.

4) Tracy’s strange idea that there are “starting” pitchers and “relief” pitchers and that one must be either one or the other. Usually, this is a harmless superstition, along the lines of not stepping on cracks, but it directly led to multiple Nomo-related disasters. David Weathers, one of the worst relief pitchers in baseball, proved this particular nonsense wrong by knocking the Cubs out of the playoffs in a spot start. Pitchers regularly pitch in strange spots in the playoffs when games are must-win.

5) When you are one or two games up or down in a pennant race in September, you may or may not like it, but you’re in the playoffs. Time to start managing like it.

Q: So he makes decisions that don’t work out? Doesn’t everyone do that?

A: The issue is not decisions that don’t work out. The issue is decisions that are destined for failure. Dan Miceli to Albert Pujols level decisions. Jim Tracy makes these decisions all the time. Another litany of them would break my promise to be brief. Such decisions are easily avoidable and constantly made in the Tracy Administration.

Q: OK, smart guy. You don’t like Jim Tracy. Who do you like?

A: I suspect that the number of people who can manage major league baseball teams is much larger than MLB thinks it is. Proof of this should be inherent in the fact that Jim Tracy has a job managing a Major League Baseball team. With players and everything. The number of people who would not have started Hideo Nomo in Coors, or twice against the Giants, probably numbers in the millions. Any of them would have sufficed to win the division.

Q: Is there anything Jim Tracy can do to make you happy?

A: Of course. Jim Tracy the man is not the issue. Jim Tracy the manager is the issue, and I expect that Jim Tracy the manager can change. If he stops making bad decisions, and starts making good decisions, then I will be very happy, and I can change the name of this blog to “Elect Jim Tracy to the Baseball Hall of Fame.”

Q: What should we worry about next year?

A: That he reads Alex Cora’s win shares and takes them seriously, bats him cleanup instead of Adrian Beltre, and has him play both first and second base.

Q: What about Paul DePodesta?

A: Well on his way. Won in 2004 while creating the financial flexibility to compete in ’05, ’06 and beyond. We are going to be better in the future, one reason why I would hate to squander that on a bad manager.

Q: But he traded Paul LoDuca!

A: Sigh…….


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