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Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Jim Tracy's Missouri Week

I've been skeptical of Frank's intentions and abilities; now I'm just skeptical of his abilities. But this isn't going to be the week for that.

No, this is the week for the team to prove some things. Dodger bats have to prove they can still hit Giants pitching. Dodger pitchers have to miss Giants bats. That's because Paul DePodesta's wondering whether he'll be a buyer or seller at the trade deadline:

General Manager Paul DePodesta said he still planned to be active before the July 31 trading deadline, but the team's performance this week might change his thinking.

"I said earlier that we would be aggressive if we were in contention, but we haven't played well in this stretch," DePodesta said. "If we lose six in a row again, that could change our approach [toward the trade deadline]."

What's left of value? Well, on the pitching staff, Odalis Perez and Guillermo Mota have the most value. Adrian Beltre, now that he's becoming the star we thought he would be, is eminently moveable. The infield combination of Alex Cora and Cesar Izturis are hitting well; of those, a strong case could be made for trading Cora now, since his inconsistent play in years past is cause enough for that.

Somewhere in the middle is Milton Bradley, but he's definitely not the solid middle-of-the-lineup bat the Dodgers needed; his .281/.367/.421 line doesn't exactly instill fear in opposing pitchers. Likewise Juan Encarnacion, whose .248/.297/.451 doesn't impress favorably as a corner outfielder.

But this year doesn't have to end in futility. I believe this team can win. It has won, as recently as April. This is the weakest the NL West has ever been in my memory. Victory is achievable. Achievement of that victory now rests on Jim Tracy. He must make the right lineup decisions, decisions he hasn't successfully made so far this year. We've been over this before: Green must not bat in the heart of the order until he proves he's earned it. Nomo must not start until he can prove he's up to it, preferably from the pen.

The team has a chance, but the margin of victory is so thin that Tracy can't afford to coddle onetime Dodgers stars whom injury has ravaged.

It's time, as they say in Missouri, for him to show me.

Otherwise, Tracy might find himself looking for a job, and sooner than anyone thinks.


Right on, right on, right on! It's show and tell time.

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