Fire Jim Tracy

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

I Tried

Boy, did I want this to be the year things would be different. Plaschke is furiously typing. Simers will no longer have to resort to ripping on his pregnant daughter for material. We got off to a great start. There were the ominous signs, of course. Weaver pitching to Pedro Feliz in the home opener. Derek Lowe throwing 125 pitches in a game. But we were winning, so why be the fly in the ointment?

This is why. I have no idea how to account for the percentage of each of these games that Jim Tracy is responsible for us losing. 10%? 50%? I know that he is not helping. Tonight's case in point.

I'll give you Tony Clark. I hesitate to give you Tony Clark, because Weaver had just gotten raked in the first two at-bats against lefties at the bottom of the D-Back order, but let's give him to you. Weaver walks Clark. Bases loaded. How in the world can you let Weaver pitch to Craig Counsell? He's thrown over 100 pitches. He's given up two hard-hit singles to left-handed batters already. He's just walked another one on five pitches that weren't particularly close. Weaver then hits Counsell, tying the score. Only now does Tracy turn to the bullpen, as Steve Schmoll gets McCracken to K, but Kelly Wunsch gives up a two-run single to Luis Gonzalez.

You have to get out of that inning before Gonzalez ever comes up. Gonzalez is the guy that is most likely to beat you. The options were:

1) Use Wunsch against Counsell, then keep Wunsch in to pitch to McCracken and ultimately to Gonzalez (if necessary -- Gonzalez only got to bat because Counsell reached) OR
2) Use Wunsch against Counsell, then Schmoll against McCracken, then take your pick (including Schmoll) against Gonzalez.

I will concede that the low-wattage IQs at the Times would have killed Tracy had he brought in Wunsch to face Counsell. "Kelly Wunsch!," they'll say. "How can you take out your ace starter for some guy named Wunsch!" But, Jim, that's why they pay you the big bucks. Weaver was losing it, and you get paid to pull the trigger. Tracy's dithering allowed Arizona to get to the heart of their lineup, and put the Diamondbacks, to borrow a phrase that got thrown around a lot when the Dodgers were winning, "in position to succeed." When Ryne Sandberg was throwing his backhanded compliments the Dodgers way (I can't think of anything good to say about the team, so I'll give their manager credit), I don't think that's what he had in mind when he said that Tracy puts "players in position to succeed."

I can't put a number on this, and I'm not going to try. You saw the result of that this morning. Jim Tracy is the bestest manager in the world because Alex Cora turned a bunch of double plays. And, of course, the players on the field take much of the praise when they win and the blame when they lose. But who can blame Odalis Perez for flying out with the bases loaded? Who can blame Olmedo Saenz for striking out against a right handed pitcher when, last year, he had a .576 OPS against them? And doesn't Tracy share blame with Weaver when, 1) Weaver had thrown over 100 pitches 2) was getting knocked around in the 7th and 3) had just walked the previous hitter and was obviously losing control? Of course he does. How much? Who cares? Presumably managers are there to help, not hurt.

And if I ever, ever, ever see Jason Grabowski at first base again...

UPDATE: You mean, I forgot to mention those ABs Saenz got against right-handed pitchers tonight? That's a lost cause. You might as well criticize Jim Tracy for breathing oxygen. Saenz will get ABs against right-handers all year long. Why? Because when Hideo Nomo started last April with three wins, he bought himself until September before Tracy finally, mercifully pulled the plug. It's all what you do in your first two starts. Or first ten at-bats. Four hits against RHP in April means a lifetime of at-bats against them for Olmedo. Look at Weaver. Shut out the Giants during the opening series (a task that we have since learned is not all that difficult -- though of course, it didn't stop Weaver from giving up eight runs to them a week later) , and now has a longer leash than Lassie. Him and his 6.25 ERA.

UPDATE 2: Or Grabowski. That guy hit a few home runs a year ago, and he's still gravy training off of those.

UPDATE 3: But Nakamura. That guy will get 200 at-bats. Welcome to the random world of Jim Tracy, where we play every righty/lefty matchup for four years, then use the worst batter against RHP on the whole bench against an RHP with the game on the line. And he doesn't manage for the next day's paper...please.

1 Comments:

  • Exactly right. And I get the feeling that sole reason Tracy had such a long leash with Weaver was because he was due to lead off. That is probably what his Managing for Dummies gospel told him to do in that situation. I prayed that he would get kicked out of the game (while arguing over the Counsil at bat) so that he would not have a chance to make another idiotic decision. He didn't get kicked out, then he did let Saenz (the "professional hitter") embarrass himself against a righty. Incredible. Since leaving the game last night, I am still shaking my head over this manager.

    By Blogger Michael G, at 4/28/2005 11:47:00 AM  

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