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About Jon
Thank You For Not ...

1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
2) personally attacking other commenters
3) baiting other commenters
4) arguing for the sake of arguing
5) discussing politics
6) using hyperbole when something less will suffice
7) using sarcasm in a way that can be misinterpreted negatively
8) making the same point over and over again
9) typing "no-hitter" or "perfect game" to describe either in progress
10) being annoyed by the existence of this list
11) commenting under the obvious influence
12) claiming your opinion isn't allowed when it's just being disagreed with

2006-05-12 11:16
by Jon Weisman

What happens when humbling experiences fail to humble?

I've only been following the mess in Pittsburgh from a distance, not enough to monitor lineups or in-game maneuvers, but enough to see that whatever excuses there might be for the Pirates' losing, ex-Dodger manager Jim Tracy has imported his pattern of not taking responsibility for any portion of it.

Given the resources the Pirates had, it would be wrong to blame all the Pirates' losing on Tracy. But as there was in 2005 with the Dodgers, there has again been plenty of finger-pointing by Tracy everywhere but at himself. And that's, well, that's a little too perfect for those of us who grew tired of his arrogance. Certainly, if the Pirates were winning, Tracy would not be shy about promoting his brand of baseball (with the phony Pittsburgh press appelation "Tracyball") as the reason.

If Tracy can only win when the talent is good, it's fair to ask, what good is he?

Putting any schadenfraude aside ... I am interested in knowing what are the real problems with the Pirates and what are imagined. Which should Tracy be doing that he isn't? What shouldn't he be doing that he is? Some of the Pirates' problems are clearly not Tracy's fault. Which ones are?

And what has Tracy done right? Feel free to make arguments in his defense, besides the aforementioned "it's not all his fault" - that's covered. What proactive moves by Tracy have paid off?

I'm not interested in piling on. I'm interested in objective reviews of the situation.

Comments (80)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2006-05-12 11:38:53
1.   Xeifrank
vr, Xei
2006-05-12 11:46:55
2.   Steve
All's I know is that Dusty Baker must really hate his job.
2006-05-12 11:47:43
3.   Marty
From what I can tell from the Pirate blogs, Tracy is refusing to play Craig Wilson at first even though he is a better player than anyone else he puts there. He's even putting a catcher there who has no business at first.

He's trotting Burnitz out there no matter how badly he's hitting.

Most of the blame is really Littlefield's but Tracy refuses to play his better, younger players instead of the washed up vets they signed this winter.

Plus, the hubris of the man saying that the team just needed to listen to him and Colbert and they'd be competative.

2006-05-12 11:47:49
4.   Bob Timmermann
At first I thought it was something of a joke when the Pirates announcer said "This is where the team really misses Sean Casey." As if not having Sean Casey was a bad thing.

And the absence of Sean Casey means that Craig Wilson gets to play first. That's a good thing. But it also means that the Pirates don't have many other options for right field other than Jeromy Burnitz.

Burnitz leads the Pirates in ABs. Mainly because he's walked just 5 times in 34 games. He has 24 fewer walks than Jason Bay. Burnitz has an OBP of .584.

Tracy needs to sit Burnitz as much as possible. If he didn't have such a big contract, they should just release him. They won't. They're stuck with him. Burnitz is just one big millstone around the neck of the Bucs offense dragging it down to Davy Jones's Locker and keeping them from being able to hoist the Jolly Roger.

The Pirates wasted a lot of money on Joe Randa. I don't see how they couldn't tell Randa would be a bust. Randa was awful after San Diego acquired him last year.

Tracy also hasn't been helped that the Pirates starters have all been bad. Oliver Perez has an ERA of 7.71. They're skipping his turn in the rotation because of a rainout. It's a bad year for 0 Perez's in the majors.

Duke has come back down to earth. Maholm is nothing special. Same goes for Snell.

Oh, and the Pirates don't field well either.

2006-05-12 11:48:42
5.   Bob Timmermann
Plus, the hubris of the man saying that the team just needed to listen to him and Colbert and they'd be competative.

The Pirates need to watch the Colbert Report every night?

2006-05-12 11:49:41
6.   bhsportsguy
First off, there is no question that even if he had all of his players, their talent would put them at the bottom of the division. But even if the guys he mentioned were playing everyday, you could not expect them to have more than a few more victories.

I never felt that there was a "Tracy" brand of baseball. In 2003, the games they won was based on good starters and great bullpen, I recall that they won something like 80% of the games where they scored 4 runs or more, unfortunately they could not score enough runs. In 2004, they won because of another good year for the bullpen and improved offense (Beltre, Finley later) while overcoming mediocre starting pitcher.

This year he has no starting pitching, an offense that wasn't going scare anyone even if Casey, Burnitz and Randa were producing and a very untested bullpen. But with the lowered expectations and football training camp 2 months away, he'll survive this year.

2006-05-12 11:51:03
7.   Marty
5 Yes, in fact everyone does.
2006-05-12 11:51:12
8.   Jon Weisman
Who should be playing instead of Burnitz?

The other question is, which Littlefield player signings did Tracy influence? We know he wanted that power.

2006-05-12 11:53:09
9.   Underbruin
4 - "Burnitz has an OBP of .584." OBP or OPS? Because I'd like a guy who gets on base nearly 60% of the time to get as many at bats as possible, really...

As to the original post - "What shouldn't [Tracy] be doing that he is?"


2006-05-12 11:56:26
10.   Bob Timmermann
Yeah, that should have been OPS for Burnitz.

I can't imagine Tracy wanted Burnitz after managing him in 2003 in L.A. The only guys Tracy influenced were Jose Hernandez and Mike Edwards. And apparently he didn't have enough pull to keep Giovanni Carrara in the minors.

Maybe there's somebody in the minors to play right field. Somebody there has to be better than Burnitz. Anybody.

2006-05-12 11:56:37
11.   Marty
Pirate blogs are advocating giving right field to someone named Bautista in place of Burnitz.
2006-05-12 11:57:32
12.   Steve
As to the original post - "What shouldn't [Tracy] be doing that he is?"


Geez, that's good. I'm out of practice.

2006-05-12 12:02:56
13.   SCRocks
Jason Bay has also been pretty terrible this year. He has come up too many times with RISP and failed to produce.

It is early and once he gets hot he will carry that offense for awhile.

2006-05-12 12:12:08
14.   Bob Timmermann
The Pirates are playing the Marlins this weekend.

Plenty of good seats available.

2006-05-12 12:15:01
15.   D4P
12 could just as easily have read

As to the original post - "What should [Tracy] be doing that he isn't?"


2006-05-12 12:17:04
16.   D4P
To me, this thread raises a question that has never been answered to my satisfaction. To wit,

What positive contribution does a manager make to the team's success?

2006-05-12 12:20:55
17.   Bob Timmermann

I don't think you can identify something positive that Jim Leyland has done in Detroit and something negative Jim Tracy has done in Pittsburgh other than that the Tigers have good players now.

The Tigers young pitchers are, for the most part, pitching very well. The Pirates young pitchers are all pitching very poorly.

Is Clint Hurdle a better manager now? I doubt Bad Altitude would agree. The Rockies have happened to find some good pitchers. (But they still have Tom Martin.) But Hurdle still wants to play for one run at Coors Field.

2006-05-12 12:28:11
18.   D4P
It seems very difficult (if not impossible) to isolate the manager's influence from everything else. The manager's most obvious influence is to put the lineup together everyday. When to pinch-hit and change pitchers are also important decisions to be made. Beyond that, a "good" manager (from the standpoint of the Sabre Philosophy™) really shouldn't do much other than sit there and let the players play.

Seems to me that just about anyone could be a manager. Most of the people on this board would be at least as good (if not better) than people like Jimbo at putting the lineup together, and could probably do just as well at replacing players.

2006-05-12 12:30:59
19.   Jon Weisman
I think it's probably fair to say that the best managers have the fewest screwups. Or maybe on the real tossup decisions, the ones for which there are real arguments on either side, they find a way to get them right more often than not.
2006-05-12 12:32:17
20.   Jon Weisman
18 - Could I get Odalis Perez to focus?

This is how I would do it.

"Odalis, please focus."

2006-05-12 12:32:27
21.   vito
Early in the season, the Pirates were losing high scoring games because the pitchers really stunk and the offense hit some homers. Now, the starters are pitching somewhat better but the offense is nonexistent, largely because of Bay's slump and Wilson's disappearance.
2006-05-12 12:37:39
22.   sanchez101
I think of Tracy as a pretty vanilla manager, in that he's not going to make his team much better or worse than it is on paper. Like many baseball lifers, his best skills seem to be knowing the right people in the right places and deflecting blame away from himself. But quite frankly, no one could look good managing the Pirates.
2006-05-12 12:38:22
23.   Underbruin
12 - Even a blind mouse finds the cheese every once in a while, I guess. =P

I rather like 15's twist, as well.

2006-05-12 12:39:42
24.   bluetahoe
Milton Bradley and Jose Valentin liked Tracy.

Tracy did some good things. He had the foresight to move Gagne to closer and he realized Hee Seop Choi and Antonio Perez were not good players. Tracy's handling of Jayson Werth in 2004 was phenomenal.

2006-05-12 12:43:43
25.   Pat
The biggest problem we've all had with Tracy can to this point be summed up by the fact that he figured the best way to boost offensive production was to put Ryan Doumit, a catching prospect with a very good bat, at first base (a position he'd never played in his life before), sit Craig Wilson, and keep Burnitz in the lineup. Meanwhile, Hernandez still starts like twice a week, Ronnie Paulino has been anointed our "catcher of the future" because of anectodal evidence that he's better calling games and better defensively than Doumit (Doumit's bat is much better), and Casey and Randa will likely both be re-inserted in the starting lineup when they come back. With no regards as to how this affects the team long term (which is the only thing anyone should care about in Pittsburgh at this point).

It's not all his fault, Bay's slump isn't his fault (though protecting him with Burnitz isn't helping), the mystery that is Oliver Perez isn't his fault, the terrible first couple turns of the rotation weren't his fault, but because of the arrogant way he assumed that "Tracyball" would fix all of our problems and now his arrogant "You didn't play, you wouldn't understand what I'm doing" interviews, he's making a lot of us Pirate fans unhappy.

2006-05-12 12:46:27
26.   sanchez101
24. Why does Tracy get credit for Gagne? I think Gagne should get credit for putting everything together when the team needed him. If anyone gets credit for that decision, it should be Dan Evans for not spending money on a "Proven Closer" and letting a couple guys battle for the position in ST. Tracy was just lucky to be around when that happened. As for Choi and Perez, Im not going to get into an argument here, Ive been in more than my share, but at the very least the assertion that they arent good players is highly debatable and the idea that Tracy handled their situation well is laughable.
2006-05-12 12:46:41
27.   regfairfield
Here's how the Pirates should probably work:

They effectively have three players who can hit for power: Bay, Craig Wilson, and Ryan Doumit.

Doumit is a catcher but he got the Antonio Perez "he can't play defense" tag on him. Doumit also can play right field, so they should stick him there, with Wilson at first.

2006-05-12 12:50:07
28.   Jon Weisman
25 - Thanks for that.

I'm sure at some point, the Pirates will put together some run of .500-plus ball, however brief, and Tracy will say, "See?"

2006-05-12 12:50:42
29.   scareduck
7 - I would think that would make Bush supporters' eyeballs melt, wouldn't it?

In arrgh, me mateys news, the problem is Dave Littlefield, who is the most aptly named GM in the game outside of the Yankees' Brian Cashman. But more importantly, I think the problem is the McClatchey's, who are probably the targets of the complaints issuing from New York and Los Angeles that revenue sharing funds aren't being used to improve bad teams.

2006-05-12 12:51:55
30.   scareduck
28 - and thus we have, in a sentence, Tracy's entire major league managerial career.
2006-05-12 12:57:01
31.   sanchez101
can anyone decipher this quote for me, "We have some people who, resume-wise, wouldn't be suggesting that we have some guys in that lineup that are doing what they're doing right now offensively, In some cases, it's not real good." I honeslty have no idea what he's saying here, Ive read it over and over again and I just dont get it. Who are the people with resume's? Who suggesting what to whom? What's not real good, the lineup or the suggesters or the people with resumes?
2006-05-12 13:07:14
32.   Xeifrank
16. He can put the best 8 hitters (see 1B/J.Phillips) out on the field on a consistent basis (a day off here and there is reasonable). He can not bunt his two best power hitters. Basically, (1)proper in game strategy, (2)playing the players that give you the best chance of winning, (3)managing your pitching staff properly. I think #1 and #2 are the easiest to do, with #3 being the hardest. I think Tracy managed to botch #1 and #2 pretty bad with the Dodgers. #1 deals alot with philosophies like "Smallball", "Moneyball", "Smartball" and the fiasco that is "Tracyball".
vr, Xei
2006-05-12 13:09:39
33.   Steve
Like many baseball lifers, his best skills seem to be knowing the right people in the right places and deflecting blame away from himself.

Lots of good thoughts in this thread, but this one is another that rises above the crowd. That's exactly right.

2006-05-12 13:14:49
34.   Steve
Neifi, like Fur-kel, is not really in a position to be giving the other team a lot of runs on defense.
2006-05-12 13:19:00
35.   the OZ
Copied from the other thread:

here's a link to the rambling, meandering, slurring Rick Sutcliff video from the Padres game the other night:

It's gloriously terrible and amusing, and a little bit sad.

I found the link first at FJM.

2006-05-12 13:19:28
36.   King of the Hobos
Dave Roberts just passed Khalil Greene as the Padres OPS leader at .798, and they will likely be 4 games over .500 at the end of this game. How?
2006-05-12 13:25:06
37.   Underbruin
36 - Tracyball?
2006-05-12 13:26:28
38.   sanchez101
36. Bochyball
2006-05-12 13:27:06
39.   Sam DC
Hey Nate -- I added a comment to that Hochevar Thoughts thread on the Dodgers blog.
2006-05-12 13:29:51
40.   Underbruin
36 - Alternatively, a 3.92 ERA (3rd in the NL, 5th in MLB) - though goodness, they have the worst team OPS in baseball at .675... Yikes.
2006-05-12 13:30:13
41.   Bob Timmermann
I think you should look at the Padres players OPS during the month of May. They were so bad in April.
2006-05-12 13:30:20
42.   ToyCannon
Position Players on the Pirates I wouldn't mind on the Dodgers:
Jason Bay - no brainer
Craig Wilson - can play LF, RF, 1st and catch in an emergency. Is below average defensively everywhere but I'd get him in the lineup against LHP everytime somewhere.
Freddie Sanchez - Burbank High graduate can play 2nd,SS, 3b and would be an excellent utility player. Much better hitter then Ramon or Robles.
That is it. This is a bad team at the moment and can only play decent baseball when Bay is banging. If he's not hitting, they are going to look like the worse team in the NL.
2006-05-12 13:31:08
43.   ToyCannon
Exactly right.
2006-05-12 13:33:48
44.   sanchez101
35. I dont find it sad. Sounds like he was having a good time at the ballpark and got pretty buzzed. He's not the first person to say something stupid after a few drinks, but why would anyone put him on the air in that condition, he's obviously drunk. Whoever thought, "hey lets put this drunk guy on the air and see what happens" should deserve as much blame.
2006-05-12 13:36:02
45.   Underbruin
41 - Still 18th in the major leagues at .749. It's still their pitching. Team ERA for May? 2.53 - far and away the best in the nation (the DBacks are second with 3.15).

#1? The Los Angeles Dodgers, with a team OPS of .884! Power outage? What power outage? However, the squad's pitchers (mostly the relievers, if I had to guess) have been letting the team down, serving up 5.22 earned runs per game. It's a testament to the offensive prowess the team has displayed in the last 10 games that they've gone 5-5.

2006-05-12 13:38:33
46.   Underbruin
Ooh, interesting note on-topic - for all of Jim Tracy's bellyaching, his Pirates have the 3rd-best team ERA in the country in May (3.33 in 9 games). The team's record during that time? 3-6. Yeeouch.
2006-05-12 13:43:48
47.   Penarol1916
45.-46. Isn't the prefered term when refering to profesional sports league rather than country? When referring to the top pitching in the country or nation, I think of college ball. Sorry to nitpick, I just found it incredibly odd.
2006-05-12 13:45:24
48.   Kayaker7
After the last of the embers from the 2006 season dies, the Pittsburgh media will realize that Jim Tracy had a lot to do with making the 2005 Dodger fiasco worse than it could have been. Probably will help Paul DePodesta's job prospects.
2006-05-12 13:48:44
49.   Underbruin
47 - Well as you might or might not be able to guess from my chosen username, I prefer college sports (UCLA going for national championship number 99 in the upcoming women's water polo NCAA tournament - the team is the defending national champion, and is seeded 3rd behind USC and Stanford)
2006-05-12 13:49:33
50.   Bob Timmermann

I would have to agree. That just seemed weird. Probably because in the U.S., we call NCAA champions "National Champions".

Of course, we also call the World Series winner the "World Champions", so who knows?

Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2006-05-12 14:01:45
51.   Underbruin
50 - That despite the fact that the team from the US didn't get within sniffing distance of the championship game in the WBC.

And like I said in 49, I'm a college guy first and foremost. It's a habit. Sorry to have offended. =P

2006-05-12 14:03:51
52.   Penarol1916
49. I tend to prefer college sports as well, that's why such a college term just sounded so out of place to me. You hear about some college qb leading the nation in yards passing, but those times that I watch the NFL, it's always the league leader.
2006-05-12 14:05:33
53.   jystakes
I haven't assessed the situation enough to know what Tracy SHOULD do, but I know what he SHOULDN'T do, and that is he shouldn't bat his franchise player anywhere in the lineup other than 3rd or 4th. Bay is a stud, and yes, he's been average thus far. But there are certain players that you don't move from the heart of your lineup, and Bay is one of them. To move him down to 6th is ridiculous and a slap in the face to Bay. Maybe he should concentrate more on getting better players around him.
2006-05-12 14:05:45
54.   the OZ
Speaking of college sports, the UCLA-USC baseball series is being played at Jackie Robinson Stadium this weekend. First game is tonight at 6, both Sat/Sun games will be shown live on one of the Fox sports networks, I think.
2006-05-12 14:16:50
55.   blue22
53 - What was the opinion of Pittsburgh fans on keeping Eldred in the minors this year?

He's got good power, but little clue of the strike zone (77 K's in 190 AB's last year). Still, could he be any worse than Burnitz?

2006-05-12 14:18:15
56.   blue22
55 - Of course, he's out for the year I believe, so the point is moot.
2006-05-12 14:18:23
57.   Penarol1916
Anyone read the Matt Kemp-Hunter Pence prospect smackdown over on minorleagueball? That guy grover seems to have the same view of Dodger prospects as our good friend scareduck, only that guy is really obnoxious.
2006-05-12 14:23:30
58.   Sam DC
Reason #64357 why the Dodgers are better than the Giants, from Plaschke's mom's day piece about Brett Tomkoa and his mother: "Donna then found some blue and white pajamas, because, well, on days he pitches, she always wears his team colors. 'I'm glad he's no longer with the Giants; every fifth day was Halloween," she said.'"
2006-05-12 14:30:57
59.   thinkblue0
this Tracy thing is making me chuckle...these poor Pirate fans had NO idea what they were in for. Jason Bay sixth? really? This isn't a joke?

Sure the GM shouldn't have spent the money on Randa or Burnitz...but Tracy needs to take the initiative and sit Burnitz down..he's terrible protection for Bay.

2006-05-12 14:42:02
60.   Daniel Zappala
58 Only 1179 more and we are going to need more than 16 bits to keep track of all those reasons.
2006-05-12 15:06:58
61.   trainwreck
Yeah, I read the smackdown. People forget that our "uber" prospects have not gotten the chance to play a lot in majors yet. How can you call them busts yet?
2006-05-12 15:11:00
62.   Bob Timmermann

We weren't offended. We were just confused.

2006-05-12 15:12:13
63.   Bob Timmermann

That joke took some research for me to understand.

But it was worth it!

2006-05-12 15:28:21
64.   Uncle Miltie
Not sure if it's been posted but Bill Mueller is going on the DL and Robles will be recalled. I'm guessing Wilber will be in the starting lineup. Since the Dodgers are playing the Giants, I will be able to watch all 3 games, but I think they might conflict with the Clippers games. I'll be sure to watch Bonds and Wilber though.
2006-05-12 15:32:04
65.   Marty
I'm glad they are admitting Mueller is hurt instead of trying to gut it out. Interesting (definitely not ironic) how all these older guys are getting banged up.
2006-05-12 15:32:42
66.   Bob Timmermann
My mother told me on her deathbed "Son, if the Clippers are playing a playoff game and the Dodgers are playing the Giants, you should watch the Dodgers game."
2006-05-12 15:34:03
67.   Daniel Zappala
63 Well, at least someone appreciates me. Some binary trivia: there are 128 bits allocated to IP addresses in IPv6. At an assumed world population of 6,515,481,332, that makes 5.22674267 * 10^28 IP addresses per person in the world, or pretty close to one IP address for every atom in your body, depending on your mass.
2006-05-12 15:35:18
68.   underdog
I think this is good that Mueller is DL'd in the sense that a rest obviously will do him good. I hope he comes back in good shape because we'll need his bat. But I like Aybar, especially against the Giants, whom he owned last year (over brief period, admittedly). Hope he can fill in as capably as we expect him to.
2006-05-12 15:35:44
69.   Daniel Zappala
Bob, your mother obviously never met folks like me who switch between games, not just at the commercials, but after every pitch.
2006-05-12 15:38:46
70.   Marty
69 Yes, since you can't use picture in picture because you inevitably cover up the basket or batter's box at the wrong moment.
2006-05-12 15:39:06
71.   Jon Weisman
Thanks, guys. You can't check Inside the Dodgers enough times in a day - that really is the first place Dodger news strikes, and you never know when ...
2006-05-12 15:42:01
72.   Bob Timmermann
My mother, like me, was of the school of "We don't watch NBA games until they're almost over."

However, I can sit through an entire college basketball game with no trouble.

2006-05-12 15:43:50
73.   trainwreck
Is our injury problem already looking worse than last year?
2006-05-12 15:45:36
74.   Marty
My father was the same way. He always said there was nothing to watch until the final two minutes. I disagree, but never told him that. He also said "Never take up golf. That's for rich people". It's hard to call what I play golf, so I kind of followed that advice.
2006-05-12 15:47:54
75.   Kayaker7
74 I tried to use the same logic to skip foreplay, but didn't work.
2006-05-12 15:50:57
76.   JoeyP
Is our injury problem already looking worse than last year?

Only if JD Drew goes down.
If he goes down, then its time to sell at the deadline.

2006-05-12 15:55:57
77.   scareduck
57 - my opinion is that I want to see some of these guys do well beyond a single good year in AA. That seems to be happening now, for the first time, I might add.
2006-05-12 15:59:53
78.   Jon Weisman
Game thread is open.
2006-05-12 16:41:42
79.   Suffering Bruin
What, only 78 posts so far? If only you put the words "Choi" in the post...
2006-05-14 17:50:00
80.   charlie
Pardon me in advance for pimping my own blog, but I'm a Pirates fan and I just did an interview with Andrew from Dodger Math about Jim Tracy in which we both talk about the... uh... talents he's exhibited with both our teams. It may be of interest to some of you. If not, carry on...

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