When All Else Fails, Blame The General Manager
"It ain't my (bleeping) fault. Campanis is the (bleeping) guy!"
--Tommy Lasorda (radio outtake, circa 1980s, replayed incessantly by the legendary radio broadcaster Jim Healy)
Add it all up, and you have the perfect fall guy for the Dodgers' swoon of 2005. It's not (Tracy's) fault, but when did that ever matter?
For whatever reason, Keisser obviously has an axe to grind here. I think this type of "analysis" is proof that (many of) the oldtimers are uncomfortable with the changing of the guard within the executive suites of major-league baseball. To say it is disappointing in the case of Keisser, a member of the Society for American Baseball Research, is an understatement.
On occasion, Keisser has shown that he "gets it." But, more often than not, he reverts to criticizing DePodesta in a less than objective manner. He uses the cafeteria approach by picking and choosing his spots, pointing out the failures and ignoring successes.
First of all, to write that "Tracy won in spite of DePodesta's moves" last year is irresponsible. And then to go on and say that he's now "losing because of them" is pretty outrageous.
I mean, Keisser talks about the (poor) team Tracy inherited, especially as compared to Walter Alston and Tommy Lasorda. But what did DePodesta inherit? A ballclub that was still reeling in some respects due to bloated contracts from the Kevin Malone era and moves (or lack thereof) from the pending sale of the team by FOX. Vladimir Guerrero, anyone?
DePodesta has been on the job 18 months. I'm not sure how much credit he should get for last year or how much blame he should get for this year. But to not give him credit for last year while blaming him for this year is unfair, to say the least. I'm not even trying to defend DePodesta per se. To be honest, I'm not convinced he has the shrewdness yet of Billy Beane, and he certainly doesn't have the luxury of a budget the size of Theo Epstein's Boston Red Sox.
Keisser says "Phillips can't throw anyone out." Granted, Phillips has only thrown out 20% of base stealers this year, but LoDuca has thrown out just 29%. The difference between the two is about four or five stolen bases for the year. I'm sorry but that is not statistically significant.
I give Keisser credit for pointing out the decline in Brad Penny's strikeout rate, but he doesn't mention that the loss in Ks has been offset by a lower walk ratio while importantly increasing the number of groundballs vis-a-vis flyballs.