Last night, the Dodgers' manager Jim Tracy left his post "by mutual agreement" with General Manager Paul DePodesta.
I had no love for Tracy. My Dad hated him as a manager, but my Dad is frustrated by a lot of things with the Dodgers these days. Talking to him about the team makes me feel sunny and optimistic. But I did think that he was a good man who did a good job. I don't think his Dodger teams ever underacheived, and I think last year's playoff club played better than their talent. Even this year's awful team was awful at a level appropriate to their talent and luck. This team did not fail to reach its level, 71-91 was its level.
But he was not on the same page with DePodesta, and publicly disagreed with the G.M. as Kevin Roderick points out. Roderick thinks that Tracy was no great shakes and doesn't see anything wrong with a GM getting his own guy. In the Times this morning, Bill Plaschke makes a big deal over Tracy not having heard from owner (loan holder) Frank McCourt and goes on about the differences between DePodesta's statistically based approach and Tracy's more "old school" perspective, as well as taking some gratuitous shots at DePodesta's age. (Go follow the links on Roderick's post for a better discussion)
This leaves me somewhat torn. I'm someone who likes hard data, and one who has always been troubled by assertions and commonplaces which are based more on custom than on demonstrable facts. This probably can be traced back to my first year of playing high school football. I played just at the time when science, which said that drinking lots of water while practicing was a good thing, was replacing an older football culture which said that having infrequent or no water breaks built character and asserted that too much water was bad for you. And so, we would open the paper and read how the Rams now had unlimited water on the practice field and then go to practice and get one water break in three hours - if we had earned it.
So I would like to be supportive of the Billy Beane/Paul DePodesta approach. I think you can and should find things out by research and analysis, but the actual phenomenon of watching Hee Seop Choi play baseball gives me pause, and makes me think that old school guys like Tracy know something, too.
So... I don't know.
But at least they knocked the Angels off the front page today.