Fire Jim Tracy

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

The Inevitable Is Upon Us

As Rob suspects, I am disappointed.

But there are silver linings in this particular cloud. While it is not terribly impressive that DePodesta did not break and offer Tracy the moon (he had all the leverage), he held the line on a two year contract with a raise (the Times says the terms weren't disclosed, but call it a "$1.8 million" contract. This may or may not include whatever buyout exists on those final two option years.) All this foolishness about McClendon's and Garner's contracts seems to have had little effect on DePodesta, suggesting that he's not going to let the Nationals set the Dodger market for talent. Very good. Most importantly, this doesn't look like the kind of contract that we can't get out of if Tracy runs out of miracle comebacks in 2005 or 2006. Perhaps the biggest amelioration of my tormented soul is that if the cost of winning the Division and going to Game 3 of the NLDS was two more years of Jim Tracy, then that is a cost worth bearing in the short term.

It is also possible, of course, that Jim Tracy will prove himself in the next two years and we will have ourselves a long-term manager. People have a hard time believing this, but I would not mind that. It's just a matter of making good decisions that will work out more times than not (since good decisions often don't work out). Starting Nomo 20 times last year does not fit into this category. That goes back to one of my very first posts here -- that's not second-guessing. That's obvious.

There is, by the way, another meaningless platitude to beat on for a while: the concept that a team can be "better on the field than they are on paper." As far as I can tell, teams are 0-0 on paper. These sorts of pre-conceptions about the quality of a team are the reason why college football consistently screws up the BCS rankings and National Championship virtually every year -- pollsters are more interested in perception than reality. I would say that on the whole, it is very difficult to say whether the Dodgers outperformed, or even underperformed, what might otherwise have been. It was a strange year. On the one hand, there were the numerous comebacks, some of them miraculous, that suggest we overperformed (though Tracy's role in those comebacks is somewhat dubious, and in some, the comebacks were required because of some bonehead thing he did). On the other hand, there were the Nomo starts that never should have been, Dreifort being used past his expiration date, that other power hitter's whining that Bill Plaschke didn't mention, and the other situations I've covered before that suggest we underperformed.

And as far as the last four years, anybody who thought before the season last year that we would lead the Major Leagues in ERA, then suffer through an 86-76 season with an offense worse than the Tigers, is simply lying to support their Tracy-flavored Kool-Aid served at the Church of Bill Plaschke state of mind. To have watched that, then watch people rave about how great Tracy has done with Beltre and Cora, is too much to bear.

In any event, on to 2005. Whatever mistakes Jim Tracy has made are in the past. His contract has been renewed and what's done is done. We're now hoping to do something that I haven't ever seen before, and I think it would be informative. I want to lay his record bare in 2005. Jon Weisman suggested a point-counterpoint of every game (162 might be too great a load, but it depends on whether we can get anyone else involved in this. Plus there are 11-2 games where whoever is managing simply doesn't matter), and that idea has a lot of merit. To be honest, I'm not sure whether Jerry wants to be counter-point or whether we need to find someone else (or more, given the task at hand) to play along. And we would have to find a counter-point who doesn't use the word "chemistry" because the spoons are close. Always close. Stay tuned for details.

In the meantime, stick with us through the off-season for commentary on what should prove to be an interesting Hot Stove season.

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