An Open Letter to Jim Tracy

Dear Mr. Tracy,

Thank you for taking time out of your day to read my pathetic ramblings on baseball. I don’t usually do this sort of thing, so pardon me if it is lacking a certain “je ne sais quoi.”

While I’m sure the Rockies’ upper management is a fan of yours, fans love you dearly for 2009’s run, and your players respect you, I have a lot of problems with the way you ran your team during the 2010 season. Let me list a couple of them for you:

1. Miguel Olivo and the Catcher position
I mean, hey, no one can blame you for playing Olivo during his super hot first half, or sending Iannetta down to get him regular playing time, but it never should have gotten that far to begin with.

First, I’m sure you hate strikeouts. Did you know that Miguel struck out more often than Chris did? Yeah, it sort of surprised me, too. Did you know that Chris also walked more and is a better power hitter? Because I sure did. And yeah, Olivo probably did a better job of handling your pitching staff, but can that really make up for his offensive short comings? Come on Jimmy (can I call you Jimmy? I’m going to call you Jimmy), I think you know better.

2. Eric Young, Jr.
EY Jr. is one fast dude, isn’t he? I’m not going to sit here and list off various metrics for you Jimmy, I’m just going to try to plant an idea in your brain: Think how scary a lineup that included EY, Carlos Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler would be! Opposing catchers wouldn’t be able to do a darn thing against your barrage of “the quickness.”

In Conclusion
All of these problems are correctable, Jimmy T, so I’d really appreciate it if you’d take my suggestions under advisement and make the necessary changes to your approach next year. Rockies fans, and baseball fans everywhere, would love you for it.

Thanks a boatload,

Zach Sanders

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Zach is the creator and co-author of RotoGraphs' Roto Riteup series, and RotoGraphs' second-longest tenured writer. You can follow him on twitter.

17 Responses to “An Open Letter to Jim Tracy”

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  1. DrBGiantsfan says:

    Whattheheck? Were you drunk when you wrote this?

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  2. The Boss says:

    Chris Nelson > EY2

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  3. Phil says:

    Sigh. This could have been a great article if a little more time was put into it.

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  4. Joeiq says:

    It would probably be worse if more time was put into it.

    I just want Seth Smith to play somewhere. He was actually better in uzr than Fowler.

    It should be noted that the speedy trio is not without their caught steelings. All 3 are decent but not great and stealing, Cargo doing the best.

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  5. Any fantasy baseball content is better than none at a time in the year when most sites quit writing about baseball in August and decided to shift their efforts to fantasy football.

    In interesting follow up would be the numbers people have come to love from this site backing up Iannetta over Olivo and EYJ over Chris Nelson.

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  6. Steven C says:

    And Jimmy, please, quit playin around with Ian Stewart and give him some consistent playing time.

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  7. GEM says:

    A fine read.

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  8. jlebeck66 says:

    Jim Tracy made me sad all season. I had four Rockies’ hitters on my APBA team (Iannetta, Fowler, Stewart & Smith). Imagine my dismay to see many boxscores without a single one playing :*(

    Now, trying to look at it with a little less emotion… I thought pre-season Tracy said Iannetta & Olivo would split the position so that they’d be strong & rested properly through the season. Then Iannetta gets sent down after 8 games. Meanwhile Olivo is hot and plays full-time, cementing his worth in Tracy’s mind. Tracy continues to play Olivo long after his hot streak is over. Hmm, could the lack of 2nd-half production be a tired Olivo? Think what could have happened had he kept Olivo fresher & given Iannetta more of a chance to get on track. I dunno… just sayin’.

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  9. phoenix says:

    um… so how about we see some numbers to back all this up? and by “some” i mean any. at all. on an analytical site. that prides itself on advanced statistics and the ability to interpret them. please?

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    • jlebeck66 says:

      phoenix, he told the story, you could look up the numbers, but since you’re too busy being snarky…

      “I mean, hey, no one can blame you for playing Olivo during his super hot first half”

      You can pick a different measure if you want, but using the thumbnail stat of OPS, Olivo posted a .925 1st half OPS. Sounds ‘super hot’ to me. (BTW, am I just not seeing Fangraphs’ 1st half/2nd half splits?)

      “Did you know that Miguel struck out more often than Chris did?”

      Season: MO 29.7% vs CI 25.5%
      Career: MO 27.8% vs CI 26.8%

      “Did you know that Chris also walked more…”

      Season: MO 6.3% vs CI 13.5%
      Career: MO 4.1% vs CI 13.1%

      “…and is a better power hitter?”

      Using ISO
      Season: MO .180 vs CI .181
      Career: MO .181 vs CI .201

      “EY Jr. is one fast dude, isn’t he?”

      Fangraphs has him with a 7.0 speed score, which places him 21st out of everyone with 180 or more PA

      “Think how scary a lineup that included EY, Carlos Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler would be!”

      Gonzalez comes in 18th (min. 180 pa) in speed score at 7.2 & Fowler at 28th with a speed score of 6.8.

      Zach told an accurate story. I am amazed at how some people seem to no longer be able to click a link to a stat page; gotta be fed every effin’ stat in an article to believe it.

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      • Zach Sanders says:

        I don’t believe we have actual first/second half splits. I just consider April/May/June to be first half.

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      • Gul Cratt says:

        Am I missing something or are all of those (particularly the season splits) except for the BBs close enough for the handling of the staff/chemistry/etc. to play a significant part in deciding playing time? I appreciate that the narrative is that Tracy is insane to not play Ianetta and that he’s crazy to play such a strikeout monster in Olivo, but really, the numbers don’t seem to support the narrative all that well. We jump on McCarver when he talks about how Vlad is the best bad-ball hitter even though he ranks thirtieth on O-Swing%, but we still push things like this even though the numbers don’t really support this kind of a reaction. Yes, Olivo never walks. Yes, Ianetta has better upside. No, we don’t have accurate defensive metrics for catchers to tell us if Olivo is really that much better than Ianetta there. But the numbers that Olivo put up were, all told, essentially equivalent to what we could have expected from Ianetta. When the difference appears to be close to negligible, and the manager believes in the other player, perhaps there is a reason. Now, maybe there isn’t, but, looking at the numbers, it really doesn’t look like there’s enough complaint-fodder here. It seems like we’re just grasping at tiny straws in order to reinforce our idea that Tracy is awful.

        Don’t even get me started on pushing EY2 based solely on speed. Aren’t we supposed to have moved past seeing pure speed as enough to justify playing time?

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  10. Mandeville says:

    Seriously, what’s the point in trashing an article like this?

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  11. jlebeck66 says:

    @ Gul Cratt (no reply link for the specific post)

    I agree with you that there are intangibles, especially at the catcher position, that factor into real-life managers’ choices. I kinda wish managers were less politically correct and just let it fly with their opinions on players. Something like a quote from Tracy saying “The only pitcher on the team that likes throwing to Chris is a reliever with a 5.50 era… that’s why I don’t play him you idiots!”

    That being said, comparing Olivo & Iannetta pre-2010 & post-2010 are two different things. 2010 really closed the career gaps, but before 2010 they had triple-slash lines of:

    CI .242/.361/.446
    MO .243/.278/.423

    Even as it stands now, Iannetta has had two seasons better than Olivo’s peak. So going into 2010 there was a clearer narrative; however, Iannetta did nothing this year to further his own cause.

    And just to further the appearance of me being the biggest Iannetta apologist… my concluding thought is this: 2010 BABIP CI = .212 & MO = .346… Maybe Chris has no idea how to square a ball up or something, but I think those are some wacky numbers.

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  12. enemyoftheworld says:

    Seems like a lot of creative energy to spend on 2 minor suggestions. Why waste the time and space on “Can I call you Jimmy?” More baseball, less amateur comedy hour.

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