Fire Jim Tracy

Saturday, April 09, 2005

First Tracy-ism Of The Year

Since Rob doesn't like it when we traverse into non-Fire Jim Tracy ground, letting Kelly Wunsch hit to leadoff the seventh? Just to pitch to Shawn Green? Giving up the leadoff out?

No. If it's Eric Gagne, yes. If it's functional, replaceable cog in the bullpen, you try to score runs. Especially in the bandbox that is Arizona.

UPDATE: Yes, sir.

UPDATE 2: Let's see if Bob Melvin can beat Jim Tracy at his own game and bat for Bruney.

UPDATE 3: Let's make this perfectly clear. Jim Tracy can not control how his bullpen pitches. Whether to leave Schmoll in there is a quibble, and Troy Glaus can hit a homerun off anybody. Who would you bring in? But he can control giving up at-bats to keep some lame pitcher in the game WHEN THE TEAM HAS KEPT TWELVE OF THEM! IF YOU'RE NOT GOING TO USE THEM, WHAT THE HELL ARE THEY DOING ON THE ROSTER?!!?!? And they certainly shouldn't be hitting leadoff in the seventh inning of a close game in Phoenix. For Shawn Green? We gave up an inning to throw a LOOGY at Shawn Green? A LOOGY named Kelly Wunsch? A coin flip? Unbelievable.

UPDATE 4: And now batting for Olmedo Saenz, Yhenzy Brazoban! YAYYYYYYYY!!!

UPDATE 5: I've seen this before. Tracy screws up, we score four in the ninth. Wild. (Not that this is a complaint...more of an observation)

UPDATE 6: LESSON: I was wrong about Valentin and right about Tracy. Plaschke is wrong about both. I'm comfortable with that.

Also, great to see Brazoban come in and shut them down 1-2-3. Not exactly the heart of the lineup, but it will be a good confidence builder after San Francisco.

I'm facing my music, Plaschke. Will you? Tune in tomorrow...

UPDATE 7: By the way, the Best "Friends with the LA Sportswriters" Organization in the city lost to the mighty Royals 6-2. Their vaunted phone-call returning skill has returned exactly 14 runs in 4 games to date. Expect very little hand-wringing from Tim Brown in between Arte Moreno shoeshines.

UPDATE 8: Jon responds (I think -- he doesn't mention us by name) to my criticism here. This seems to boil down to giving Tracy credit for results -- Jim Tracy does not "get" good or bad results out of anybody. Perez could have just as easily gone 0-4 and so could Saenz, just as Steve Schmoll could have shut down the D-Backs in the eighth or Kelly Wunsch struck out Shawn Green. It's just as easy to say that Tracy put players in a position to "fail" as to say he put them into position to succeed. The players succeed or fail on their own. The bullpen is the bullpen. We have to deal with that. Schmoll/Carlyle/Houlton/??? are all capable of giving up a three-run homerun to Troy Glaus. That's why I don't blame Tracy for results, but he doesn't get credit for them either. Jerry is on the intentional walk issue, and while I also would have pitched to Gonzalez (you have to get someone out), I think that is within the realm of reasonable discretion. You also have to pitch to somebody -- the difference between Gonzalez, Glaus, and Green seems not so much.

Had Kelly Wunsch been hit by a pitch, would that have made it a better decision? Because that's what happened last year, when Alex Cora was allowed to hit against a pitcher who was 1-27 against him (Woody Williams) with the bases loaded. Williams hit him. It was a terrible decision; it worked out. The same thing when Tracy sent Flores up to bunt instead of Cora, who was sitting next to him on the bench. We won the game, and heaven knows I'm happy about that. But that was a double-brainless decision; 1) bunting at Coors and 2) using Flores. Mistakes like that have to be overcome, and this team appears excellent at doing so.

That move's very obviousness is the whole problem. When talking about playing Saenz, Choi, Perez, Kent at 2nd or 1st, you are talking about gradations -- the same problem that Jerry has with his intentional walk argument. At some point, you have to play someone, and just because you did one thing, doesn't mean something else would have worked that well or better. What about starting Valentin at Third Base in the first place? Here, you have something that was glaringly dumb, would never have worked, and wasted the leadoff out of a pivotal inning (a two-run lead in Arizona with our bullpen? Please.). The equities do not balance.


  • Hey Steve -

    I chose to write about Wunsch on my own - it was obviously a bad move. I get to write about Tracy too, you know :)

    As far as decision vs. result - all results come from decisions. No, even if Wunsch had homered that would have been a bad decision to let him bat. On the other hand, choosing Saenz over Choi may very well have been the right decision if there is a higher probability that Saenz will be more productive than Choi.

    We can agree to disagree on this and you can have the last word - particularly since I'm going to bed. But I don't see the Saenz/Perez-Choi decision as an obvious one. I see it as a choice of some difficulty, and the more I think about it, the more I think Tracy chose well.

    By Blogger Jon, at 4/08/2005 11:56:00 PM  

  • Steve, I'll quibble with your assertion that there's not much difference between Luis Gonzalez and Troy Glaus. A *healthy* Glaus is three times the hitter Gonzalez is. Gonzalez has not been that good for a while now.

    By Blogger Jerry Fors, at 4/08/2005 11:57:00 PM  

  • Jerry,

    Four games into the season, it is hard to say. Both came off the DL, both have had huge games early. I agree with you, but not with your conviction.


    One of this year's New Year's resolutions was to play nicer with the other kids.

    I think the best thing Tracy did tonight was give Perez some at-bats. Kent at first and Perez at second might be the answer (one of the reasons I like this roster is because there are a lot of interchangable parts), but Kent has to be moved to do it, and I don't think third is the answer for him (I love ya, Jeff -- just trying to make it easier on you).

    I don't see these decisions as obvious either, because there are combinations that might or might not work on any given night. All I know is that there was one incredible botch, and these have to stop.

    Bottom Line: I think we could argue for six hours about whether he should have walked Gonzalez, or who should have played first base or third base tonight (he certainly has plenty of options to choose from). But there is, again, (1) no argument about batting Wunsch and (2) no argument that losing that leadoff out is a huge loss compared to what we got out of it (Wunsch pitching to one batter in the seventh inning). I don't bring this stuff up to argue about it, no matter what anyone thinks. I only bring it up because I want the obvious bonehead stuff to stop.

    By Blogger Steve, at 4/09/2005 12:15:00 AM  

  • By the way, Jon, I agree with your other points 11 for 11. I wanted to get rid of Grabowski in Spring Training, not Saenz.

    By Blogger Steve, at 4/09/2005 12:18:00 AM  

  • But there's also a problem with judging him on the "quality" of his decisions rather than on the "results" those decisions produce, and that's that we'll be judging him based on *our* interpretation of what is a good and bad decision.

    I understand that there's an accepted "othodoxy" about how a manager should call a game. But just because that's what decades of baseball strategists and sportswriters have determined is a "sound" strategy is not necessarily true. What if the orthodoxy is wrong? What if the stolen base or the sacrifice bunt or the hit and run aren't really as important as people think? Or what if they're more important?

    I'm not saying you're wrong, and I do think you're on to something. It's just that it goes back to establishing the right metrics to identify what we're looking for and basing those metrics on objective quantifiable data, not subjective adherence to an orthodox strategy that (no matter how right we think it is) can never be 100% correct.

    By Anonymous Bobby, at 4/09/2005 01:42:00 AM  

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