On Tuesday, the Pirates officially announced that Neal Huntington would be the team’s new general manager. Since coming on board, team president Frank Connelly has maintained that the new GM would make the decision on Jim Tracy’s future with the team. That subject was raised several times during Huntington’s first day on the job. Let us take a look at how he responded.
From the Post-Gazette:
For me to speculate on any one individual or any personnel moves or any staff changes or any player changes, I’m not ready or equipped to do that. We’re going to tirelessly gather information. We will thoroughly and fairly evaluate our personnel and how we’ve done things.
I need to learn about the Pittsburgh Pirates — who we are, what we do, how we do it — and at this point to speculate on any one individual, personnel member, staff member, player, I’m not equipped to do that. Out of fairness to all those people, I understand that there is some instability. I understand that instability creates discomfort. It’s my duty to walk through that information gathering and evaluating process appropriately.
From the Beaver County Times:
I don’t think it would be right for me to say on the first day on the job what changes might be made. I’m in the beginning stages of evaluating the organization and I’m excited about assessing our strengths and weaknesses. Usually, changes are made when there is a switch in general managers and I’m sure there will be some changes, some that unfortunately may be quite painful. However, I want to evaluate everything before I make any decisions.
Finally, from the radio broadcast of Tuesday night’s game:
I think to comment on anyone in particular at this point in time is inappropriate, but what we will do is ensure that the process is thorough, ensure that the process is fair. I respect these people as professionals, but…we do have to make some changes. Unfortunately, some good people may be put in different positions or may not continue with us.
It is often said that when a GM gives his manager a vote of confidence, his job is very much in jeopardy. Frequently, this is an accurate notion. However, I suppose that the indication is much more negative when the GM is directly asked and refuses to lend his support to the manager. It appears that Huntington is either not sure on Tracy’s future or simply not making his thoughts public. It also appears, at least by his comments, that he is leaning toward a new manager.
Up until recently, I was apathetic towards Tracy and his future. While I was not particularly enamored with many of his decisions, he did not seem to be the root of the problem. However, as the season winds down, he seems to become more and more illogical. The fact that he has started Nyjer Morgan virtually every day while Steve Pearce and Nate McLouth sit on the bench makes my head spin. Maybe that decision is coming from above, but the way Tracy speaks of Morgan makes it seem to be his choice. His affection for players such as Morgan and Cesar Izturis (and Mike Edwards, and Jose Hernandez, and…) has not helped his cause with Pirate fans. Finally, do not forget his continual insistence on forcing a one-legged Xavier Nady into the lineup during a lost season. Tracy has proven to me that he does not understand the concept of an injured hamstring.
In addition, Tracy seems to have lost much of his authority in the clubhouse. Last week, he requested that both Jack Wilson and Salomon Torres return to the team within two days of the birth of a child. To be blunt, it is insane to ask a man to disregard his family to play in a meaningless September baseball game for a last place team. These players agreed, went above Tracy seeking more time away and found a sympathetic ear. Tracy does not seem to be on the same page as management.
Pat Lackey made an interesting point, that the Pirates might as well leave Tracy alone for a year as they begin rebuilding. Once Huntington can get some talent in place, he could make his pick for manager in 2009. This seems like a decent idea, but I would be cautious that Tracy might not be the right person to lead a young, developing team. His handling of Pearce and Tom Gorzelanny this season, among many other things, has made me very skeptical that he is serving a purpose in this organization.
To conclude, let us take a look at the lineup Tracy sent out on Wednesday night. Izturis, hitting .257/.301/.315, was batting second. Jose Bautista (.259/.345/.422) and Nate McLouth (.256/.349/.457) hit fifth and sixth respectively. I simply do not understand. Neither do many other people.