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An Evans-Tracy Standoff?
2003-09-12 09:01
by Jon Weisman

"Dodgers general manager Dan Evans and manager Jim Tracy barely speak these days, blaming each other for the offensive woes. Third baseman Robin Ventura is caught up in the power struggle and has barely played since being acquired."
- Bob Nightengale, writing "The Buzz" in this week's USA Today Sports Weekly

This item surprised and puzzled me, to say the least, but if it's true it's a big deal. This morning, I sent Nightengale an email that raised the following questions:

1) How is Evans "blaming" Tracy for the Dodger offensive woes? Is he saying that he's playing the wrong guys? Setting the wrong lineups? Not teaching them how to hit?

2) Ventura isn't playing, true, but that's because Tracy is playing another Evans' acquisition, Fred McGriff, and the Dodgers' hottest hitter, Adrian Beltre. In general, half or more of Tracy's lineup is composed of acquisitions by Evans: Jeromy Burnitz, Dave Roberts, Cesar Izturis, McGriff, and sometimes Jolbert Cabrera. And I don't think anyone's suggesting that Green or Lo Duca should be benched. How is it that Ventura being on the bench is reflective of a power struggle? Does Evans want Ventura to play over either McGriff or Beltre?

3) Finally, if it's possible for you to answer this, did this item come from your own observations, or a source or more within the organization, or somewhere else?

Nightengale replied a few hours later:

The source is a high-ranking Dodger official, and yes, Evans is blaming Tracy if they don't make the playoffs, and Tracy is blaming Evans if they don't make the playoffs. Evans would like Ventura to play more, but Tracy doesn't want him playing...

It has turned into a nasty situation...

I still find it incredible that Robin Ventura could be the camel-breaking straw. (And I wish this wasn't based on an unnamed source.)

In any case, I had always assumed that the fates of Tracy and Evans were tied together. Ultimately, any split that has materialized between them is the result of excessive expectations from others, and/or from themselves, that they should reach the playoffs in 2003.

No matter what happens this season, if the Dodgers can clear away the bile, they have every reason to enter the 2003-04 offseason more optimistic than they entered the last one. They know more clearly what their problems are, they will have some dollars to spend, and they have a farm system that is a year closer to contributing significantly.

Put simply, the simple act of "blaming" is counterproductive at this point.

But if the bond between Tracy and Evans is in jeopardy, the long-awaited calm that has come to the Dodger staff is in danger of disintegrating.

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