This homestand marks the homecoming of two of the most prominent members of the 2004 NL West-winning campaign: Adrian Beltre returned to Dodger Stadium as a member of the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday and promptly proceeded to knock the Dodgers around; Tonight, Jim Tracy returns as the skipper of the woefully awful Pirates. Both men played prominent roles in the downfall of Paul DePodesta. Tonight, we look back at Jim Tracy.
The Buck Stops Here
Writing about Adrian Beltre was easy. Tracy, for me, is hard. My early impressions were vague; he didn't seem all that great, but at least he wasn't a retread from some other team. Fine. I can't say that I was all that engaged during his tenure until the start of 2004. I remember some good times, but these are the things that really stand out to me:
He wore the number 16 after LoDuca was traded to the Marlins. This struck me as remarkably childish for the skipper. The player thing (like Eric Gagne's disgusting salty cap tribute) is OK, but the manager is--surprise!--management, and as such should stand behind organizational moves. If he wanted to protest, he should have resigned. The club made a trade that gave them the best chance of winning the division, and he should have continued to do his job toward that end. (By the way, check out the seasons that LoDuca, Mota, and Encarnacion are having and tell me if you'd trade Brad Penny and half a season of Steve Finley--grand slam and all--for them).
He sulked his way through 2005, butchered Hee-Seop Choi's career, and blamed everyone but himself. This is when I started thinking of him as a complete jerk. Phillips at first base? He can't even hit well enough to keep a catching job. That was asinine. Izturis leading off? How about taking a look at your roster and facing the fact that you don't have a classic leadoff hitter, moron. News flash: guys who get on base less than 30% of the time make crappier leadoff hitters than big fat slow guys who can hit.
He departed acrimoniously, and helped lead to the downfall of Paul DePodesta, who did a pretty decent job of acquiring guys who could play at a decent price. That includes not overpaying Adrian Beltre, Sean Green, and Jose Lime (all of whom I liked better than I liked DPodesta). Dodger Thoughts recently referenced a Pittsburgh Post Gazette article by Bob Smizik who politely points out that JT hasn't lost his propensity to pass the Buc.
I encouraged a warm reception for Beltre, based on respect and fond memories. I find it hard to do the same for Tracy. I won't boo him tonight, but I doubt I'll write any articles chastising fans for their bad form, either. I think I'll just sit back and reflect on how talent finds its depth.