Can Jim Tracy Effectively Manage a Bullpen?

It was a great night to be Matt Capps, that’s for sure. Two innings, two saves, two game-ending strikeouts against elite left-handed bats. Even though he admitted after the fact that his legs “got kind of wobbly a couple times” in the nightcap, Capps never wavered. As Lanny says, there was no doubt about it.
But I’ll be perfectly honest: I’m not sure Capps should’ve been allowed to succeed in game two.
Capps labored in throwing 27 pitches to earn his first save on the night. Over the weekend, he threw in three consecutive games, tossing four innings and 50 pitches. Even after two days off—Sunday and Monday—I’m not certain I would’ve sent my closer out for the second time in one night. All told, Capps hurled 39 pitches on Tuesday.
It’s a question I’ve got to ask: How well is Jim Tracy managing his bullpen? I don’t have an answer, but it’s something that’s worthy of discussion, I think.
His past two closers—Mike Gonzalez and Salomon Torres—have missed significant time due to injury. His general manager keeps finding him new toys to play with, so many in fact that a shuttle service has been started between Indianapolis and Pittsburgh to keep up with all the back and forth. The Pirates even went so far as to draft a major-league ready relief pitcher fourth overall in June’s draft, presumably in an effort to provide Jimbo with another late-inning weapon.
While Damaso Marte has been quietly effective all season, and while John Grabow has been steady over the past month or so, the work of Shawn Chacon and Salomon Torres has left something to be desired. For every Franquelis Osoria, there’s a Jonah Bayliss. Every reliever on the 40-man roster may not be a stud, but there should be enough talent to surround Capps, Grabow and Marte with four capable colleagues.
Is it something you’ve noticed too, or is it just me? Coming into 2007, I counted on the bullpen to be a strength of this Pirate team. Without looking at the numbers, it seems more effective so far in the second half—but at the same time, it’s been a roller-coaster ride getting to this point.
Is Jim Tracy’s micromanagement doing more harm than good? Is he riding his horses too hard, potentially risking ill effects in the long-term? Does he try to get too fancy, or is he too short-sighted?
Again, I don’t know—I’ll look at the stats and trends later, now now.
What I do know is when Capps took the mound twice Tuesday night, I grimaced a little, and that’s not an isolated experience.

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3 Responses to “Can Jim Tracy Effectively Manage a Bullpen?”

  1. PirateFool Says:

    Actually, Tracy’s last three closers have been injured, if you count Eric Gagne.

  2. PirateFool Says:

    Actually, Tracy’s last three closers have been injured, if you count Eric Gagne.

  3. Cory Humes Says:

    Good point, PirateFool. I was only looking at his time in Pittsburgh, but I suppose if go more in depth on this subject, I should probably take a look at LA, too.


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