Fire Jim Tracy

Monday, May 02, 2005

Speechless

You know, it seems like so long ago that I was contemplating a name change. Jerry had always wanted one. I could never drink the Tracy Kool-Aid, but given the tumultuous off-season and the brain-dead Times, I was amenable to something different. A little less...controversial.

Those times seem very long ago. I do not know how to calculate VORM (Value Over Replacement Manager). But it seems that a manager should be at least helpful to his team's chances of winning, and not provide the other team with two or three run handicaps on a regular basis.

Scott Erickson pitched six shutout innings in 65 pitches. That's good. But there's something about that. Oh yeah. It's Scott Erickson. On a 3-1 count, the leadoff hitter in the seventh singled to center. Time for concern? Certainly not. Time for tea in the dugout. The next batter, Vinny Castilla, walks on five pitches, the fifth pitch being a particularly ugly toss at Castilla's head.

Now here's the dirty little secret. Erickson hadn't really been throwing that well all night. 85 pitches total -- 45 strikes, 40 balls. He kept the ball low, getting a lot of groundouts, but of course, the first thing that happens when you get tired is...

Back to the story. Taking it as gospel that Tracy is going to now walk as slowly to the mound as humanly possible while the bullpen warms up, I brace myself for what is likely to be the bullpen's utter failure. But no. Who's that! It's Colborn! What's Colborn going to say? "Stop throwing balls?" He hadn't been throwing strikes all night! So Brian Schneider comes up. Well, for Schneider, this is like a free at-bat against a guy who has two pitches -- a wild breaking ball, and an 85 mph "fastball" right down the tube. So, of course, Frank Robinson orders a bunt, because he wants to give us an out in the middle of our death throes, as well as give our bullpen more time to warm up. Thanks, Frank. Not so fast. Rather than taking this gift from the Idiot Gods, Jim Tracy orders the infield to get the lead runner. Why? So that the Nats have to run farther for the now inevitable three-run homerun? So on the bunt down the third base line, instead of being there to field it, like a normal outfielder, Valentin is running to cover third, though there's nobody around to actually throw him the ball. Meanwhile, Erickson, who has probably forgotten more than I ever knew about fielding my position, ran back to the mound to face the next batter. The result was the Dodgers acting out the Miller/Hiller/Haller Hallejuah Twist instead of just picking up the ball and throwing it to first where it belonged in the first place.

Now I can probably think of a few guys who I would rather see in a situation with a runner on 3rd, and less than two outs than the guy with the 7 ERA and the K/9 rate of 1.3. In fact, the entire bullpen, even Buddy Carlisle, qualifies as guys I would have rather seen on the mound there. Against Cristian Guzman, who probably has an easier time putting bat on ball against the 84 mph throwing Erickson than say Duaner Sanchez. Groundball to second, force play, Washington scores the run, and we're tied at 1.

So now, Scott Erickson has overstayed his welcome at least two batters, so you figure it's the bullpen to pitch to pinch-hitter Carlos Baerga. Yes, you read that right. But you would be wrong. And as Erickson floats pitch after pitch right around the waist, and Baerga fouls them off, you wonder two things. 1) How embarrassing is this for Carlos Baerga? and 2) How many times can Erickson throw that pitch and Baerga keep missing it? Unfortunately, the answer to that last question was five, since that's the one Baerga lined into right field. Only then did Tracy awake from suspended animation, pull Erickson, and bring in Wunsch. For gravy's sake, Wunsch then struck out good hitters Wilkerson and Johnson, which wasn't really necessary to highlight this particular idiocy, but did help put a capstone on it.

Having given up, Tracy threw Schmoll to the wolves, then Carlyle to ensure defeat. While everyone was focused on Choi's hitting, it also appears that he needs to work on the defense. Not that Shawn Green was Brooks Robinson, but I'd sort of like Choi to just be good on his own, rather than just be better than whatever schlub we just got rid of to improve the team.

Now, we got problems everybody. I am not buying Valentin. I don't care if DePo walks on water. We can walk, but we seem to have forgotten that whole thing where you swing the bat and hit the ball. Grabowski is still on the roster. As usual, we ran out of the only rally we got all night, J.D. Drew wasting an out and killing an inning getting thrown out at third on Jeff Kent's RBI single. Certainly, Tracy does not deserve all the blame for this (though he probably deserves ultimate blame for all of this baserunning nonsense -- probably babbles a lot about taking the "extra base" and all that rot).

But how much does he deserve? Does this improve his VORM? Of course not. Is making Scott Erickson pitch in that situation to Carlos Baerga "putting him in position to succeed?" Don't make me laugh. He didn't put Wunsch in much of position to succeed, instead dinking around with Erickson so long that Washington got to the top of their order. To Wunsch's credit, he got out of the inning in fine form.

Jim Tracy is making decisions that are costing us runs. They are costing us outs. They are costing us baserunners and opportunities to score. They are costing us the currency with which baseball is played. For what value added? "He gets the most out of his players?" Which ones? Grabowski? Nakamura? Carlyle? We're back in our old circular logic machine. I'm told on one hand that it's Weaver's fault when he hits Craig Counsell, but on the other hand "Jim Tracy gets the most out of his players." It can't be both!

And so we soldier on, attempting to again win the division with this handicap of a manager, who basks in the bromides of the idiotarian press while taking a flamethrower to common sense. Which is why, you figure, he basks in the bromides of idiots like Bill Plaschke and Joe Morgan. He speaks their language.

3 Comments:

  • man, i was at the game tonight, and you better believe i was looking forward to a classic FJT rant when i got home.

    the thought actually crossed my mind about possibly pinch-hitting for erickson back in the fifth, with bako on first and two out, but that's not really a reasonable expectation. however, after the 6th, having gotten through that many innings with erickson unscathed, it was definitely time to pull him. even if tracy wanted to press his luck a little further, he should have pulled erickson at the first sign of trouble. there is NO EXCUSE for him not pulling erickson with the bases loaded and nobody out. i was screaming for sanchez to come in and blow guzman away. at the very least, wunsch could have faced baerga. why must wunsch only face good hitters?? even after baerga, wilkerson and johnson are still going to come up directly afterward. what's wrong with putting wunsch in right then?? gah, i was so mad.

    is there some sort of major league credo that your starting pitcher always has to have the benefit of the doubt, unless he's gone more than 7 innings or given up a mess of runs? can't erickson be a 6-inning pitcher? i don't really care if it hurts his pride to be taken out after six. i would have been thrilled to get 6 innings of shutout ball from him and hand it over to the pen. why was it not enough for tracy?? gah. anyway, thanks for eloquently expressing what must be the feelings of many. and also having a forum for venting too.

    -vishal

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5/03/2005 01:02:00 AM  

  • So I'm sitting in my living room listening to the game while I play MVP baseball on my PS2 (using a revamped Dodger roster, no Hee Seop, no Valentin) and the 7th inning is about to start. I figure we'll go to the bully since we were already pushing our luck with Erickson throwing 6 shutout innings. To my surprise, Erickson comes out to start the 7th and I could already see the writing on the wall. Sure enough, the first two batters get on base and then I lose my connection to the stream of the game. I didn't even try to reconnect because I already knew what was going to happen and I didn't want to witness it first hand. My mom would have made that pitching change and she still thinks Orel and Gibson are still on the team. What's the deal?! This month is going to be interesting with all of the tough opponents that we'll be facing. I'm hoping that we do well, but not too well the DePo doesn't do anything with the team. Thankfully, Gagne and Alavarez are close to coming back as well as Werth. We need one more starter (Edwin has been pitching well lately) and at least one more hitter at 1B or 3B. Those are both complete black holes on the team. Every other slot is fine. Gammons said that Sweeney would "love to come here." I don't know if that will happen, but we could sure use his stick.

    All I know is that if Depo doesn't do anything in June or July, we're going to be in for a long summer...at least I'll have all of my downloaded Arrested Development episodes to watch again and again...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5/03/2005 12:45:00 PM  

  • great site .

    By Blogger jenny, at 11/22/2005 01:04:00 AM  

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