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Thursday, March 09, 2006

AP: Pirates learn to walk Tracy’s way

It’s Tracy’s way of telling you
Something’s wrong, something’s wrong, something’s wrong

Through eight exhibitions, Pittsburgh has drawn 33 walks, tied for fourth-most of any team in baseball this spring. That’s an average of more than four per game and a big increase from last season, when they averaged fewer than three.

“I’m not advocating we take the first pitch every time we walk up there,” Tracy said. “But, if you’re going to take a swing at a first pitch, have it be a really good swing. If we keep preaching that, there won’t have to be a whole lot said if you make a weak out on a marginally bad first pitch. It’s not the way you play winning baseball.”

...Tracy pushed patience at the plate while with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and has made it a priority in the early part of spring training. During batting practice, he applauds when he sees a hitter taking a pitch out of the zone. During games, he is at the top step to congratulate anyone displaying his preferred approach. By contrast, his greatest displeasure has been shown when a player hacks at a high fastball on a 2-0 count with a man on third.

Repoz Posted: March 09, 2006 at 08:04 PM | 13 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: pirates

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   1. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: March 09, 2006 at 08:21 PM (#1890845)
"Do we want Jason Bay walking if a pitch is an inch outside and there's a man on third? I'm not so sure," Manto said. "There's a time to walk and a time to understand what's going on."

I'd listen to Jeff Manto. He hit .800/.857/1.800 his last year.
   2. WTM Posted: March 09, 2006 at 08:27 PM (#1890864)
Next thing you know, the Pirates will sign a free agent who's an upgrade over the player he's replacing.

And then Kevin McClatchy will shell out the money to sign a top Dominican prospect.

And Dave Littlefield will trade a veteran off to a fluke great start in June, before he starts to suck, for a high-ceiling prospect.








Nnnnnnnaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh.
   3. ECBucs Posted: March 09, 2006 at 08:35 PM (#1890885)
Its too bad the Bucs had such a lousy hitting coach in Gerald Perry last year. Its hard to believe he even had a major league coaching job. I guess somebody had to do it.

Combination of Tracy, Manto and Colbern = contending status for any team lucky enough to have them.

Milwaukee, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Houston and Cubbies had better watch out!

What would happen if Tracy ordered the hitters to never swing? That alone would probably have improved the 2005 offense.
   4. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 09, 2006 at 08:58 PM (#1890921)
I wouldn't be totally surprised if the Pirates pull a Royals of 2003 type season. They have pretty decent arms and if things break their way, they could make a nifty run in what I think is a weaker division than past NL Central divisions. I can easily see them winning 82 games, gaining false hope, signing Sean Casey to an extension, signing Bernie Williams, and losing 100 games in 2007.

Yes, I'm still bitter!
   5. "Catching Dianetics" by Dr. L. Ron Karkovice Posted: March 09, 2006 at 09:15 PM (#1890948)

I'd listen to Jeff Manto. He hit .800/.857/1.800 his last year.


Yeah, but that season he played his home games in Coors field as a member of the Colorado Rockies. Just about any medicore ballplayer could put up a .800/.857/1.800 line in that park....not to mention that Manto's final season (2000) was the height of the "steroid era". If Manto wasn't on the "juice" and was playing at RFK, I guarantee you he doesn't bat above .600/.750/1.450 in 2000!
   6. RichRifkin Posted: March 09, 2006 at 09:53 PM (#1891029)
It's eerie how similar this article is to one I read about Felipe Alou:

"I'm not advocating we swing at the first pitch every time we walk up there," Alou said. "But, if you're going to not swing at a first pitch, and it didn't bounce up to the plate, then go back to where you came from. If we keep preaching that, there won't have to be a whole lot said if these guys never draw a walk. It's the way you play winning baseball."

Alou pushed hacking at slop while with the Montreal Expos, and has made it a priority in the early part of spring training for the Giants. During batting practice, he applauds when he sees a hitter swinging at a pitch out of the zone. During games, he is at the top step to congratulate anyone displaying his preferred approach.

By contrast, his greatest displeasure has been shown when anyone takes a high fastball on a 3-0 count with a man on third.

Even patient hitters such as Steroid Bonds and Ray Durham are being less selective.

"People are still rusty at the plate, but I think you're seeing it spread through our lineup already," infielder Lance Niekro said. "We know Felipe's stressing it, and we're starting to make it happen."

Hitting coach Luis Pujols is stressing hacking, too, but he is being careful not to make the case too forcefully for fear of having his players lose their minds and draw a walk.

"Do we want Randy Winn hacking if a pitch is a foot outside and there's a man on third? Yes, I'm sure we do," Pujols said. "There's a time to hack and that time is now."
   7. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: March 09, 2006 at 09:57 PM (#1891044)
Yeah, but that season he played his home games in Coors field as a member of the Colorado Rockies. Just about any medicore ballplayer could put up a .800/.857/1.800 line in that park

Manto had an interesting home/road split that year. Coors helped his average and OBP (1.000/1.000/1.667) but he hit for more power on the road (.500/.750/2.000)
   8. Gainsay Posted: March 09, 2006 at 09:57 PM (#1891046)
So far Tracy seems to be making more of an impact than I thought would be possible. It's amazing to see some of the really negative things the Pirates have said in the press about Mac now that he's gone.

It remains to be seen if what Tracy is preaching actually translates into an on-field improvement. One indication to me will be how many ABs Craig Wilson actually gets. He seems like a guy who understands the value of taking pitches/waiting for a good pitch to hit.

Either way I think the Pirates are probably going to only win 70-75 games this year. They've still got a pretty lousy offense, and their young pitching is going to probably be expected to do more than it will be able to. Between Wells being hurt and Williams + Fogg being gone they need to replace an awful lot of (mediocre) innings with unproven arms. At least some of the young arms are probably going to struggle to at least be mediocre.
   9. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: March 09, 2006 at 10:19 PM (#1891093)
It’s Tracy’s way of telling you
Something’s wrong, something’s wrong, something’s wrong


That's the Spirit, Repoz.

We all missed "Nature's Way" in the hippie lyric thread a while back.

I'm really curious to see if Tracy makes an impact. He seemed to get a lot out of some mediocre Dodger teams until it all went south (that was with Depo, was it not?)
   10. Walt Davis Posted: March 10, 2006 at 08:22 AM (#1891903)
This is the guy who wouldn't play Choi regularly?

Anyway, I generally thought that Tracy's Dodgers teams did better than their talent (2005 aside ... and even then a lot of that was injuries). Given I don't see him regularly, that's my top criterion for thinking someone's a good manager.
   11. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: March 10, 2006 at 08:34 AM (#1891913)
Its too bad the Bucs had such a lousy hitting coach in Gerald Perry last year. Its hard to believe he even had a major league coaching job. I guess somebody had to do it.

It's the A's turn this year. How bad is he? Kendall swore by him. I suppose that's not that impressive anymore though.
   12. s.zielinski Posted: March 10, 2006 at 03:49 PM (#1892100)
Re: #11

Perry had ex-hitting coach and noted control freak Lloyd McClendon looking over his shoulder during his time with the Pirates. McClendon was known for his aggressive approach when he was hitting coach. McClendon was Perry’s boss. Thus...

So, I’m inclined to cut Perry some slack.
   13. ECBucs Posted: March 10, 2006 at 04:09 PM (#1892121)
I don't think Perry is a bad hitting coach. He had a good reputation coming to Pittsburgh.

I think the problem is that he didnt' have much talent to work with.

Burnitz is fairly patient (or maybe he walks more because he sees more pitches because he swings and misses more than other players)

I just think that no matter what Tracy preaches in Pittsburgh the big difference is not going to come because of what he does but because the players perform better.

Tracy can provide information and advice to help them do better but the bottom line is the team's overall talent needs to improve.

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