Pittsburgh Pirates Roundtable #20

Question #1:
Does Jim Tracy’s managerial style mesh well with the Pirates’ personnel?

Steve from The Parrot:
Yes, I believe it does. There seems to be a familiarity between Tracy and the players this spring, and every quote I’ve read from the manager has been very positive so far. He does seem to have his favorites, like Jose Hernandez, Salomon Torres and Nate McLouth. Jose Castillo and Chris Duffy may be players that Tracy doesn’t necessarily care for (as well as the departed Craig Wilson), and it seems as if that costs them playing time. Tracy’s relaxed, professional demeanor is a huge improvement over Lloyd McClendon’s rages and combativeness, which turned off a lot of Pirate players.
Dave from Bucs Trade Winds:
I have questioned whether Tracy’s style meshes well since the beginning. Tracy likes high OBP guys, good contact batters, low strikeout teams, inning-eating closers. Definitely not this team’s description in 2006. Slowly this team is being transformed into his style of team.
LaRoche is Tracy’s type of player. Who am I kidding, LaRoche is every manager’s type of player. If he isn’t Tracy’s favorite tool, then Jason Bay fits the bill. If a dark horse is being looked for, look no farther than Shane Youman, Tracy loves the guy. If we are looking for someone who fits the word “tool,” Jack Wilson would get Castillo’s vote.
I don’t believe there is a perfect coach for this team; honestly, I am shocked they signed someone of Tracy’s caliber. The only players who can improve their standing in Tracy’s eye with an outstanding spring are Castillo or Bautista.
Matthew from The Diamond Cutter:
Jim Tracy is in a situation this year where he has the opportunity to really make some strides towards the future in Pittsburgh. Now that’s not to say he’s going to lead them to the World Series, but he can make sure other teams don’t take this squad lightly as they did in the past.
Tracy had fairly good success as a manager in Los Angeles before coming aboard with the Bucs before the 2006 season. While only making the playoffs once, he still compiled a record of 427-383 (with a bad final season). But what Tracy didn’t have in LA was a team like the Pirates that was full of youngsters that hadn’t yet reached their potential. Because of this we really don’t know how Jim Tracy, the manager will continue to handle the shaping of this roster.
What would make Tracy’s job a lot easier is if his starting rotation became a little more steady. If he were to have a couple of young guys step up and have a strong spring, it would alleviate a lot of pressure and allow this team to start making further strides towards learning their identity. In turn, if position players such as Chris Duffy or Jose Castillo were to finally take that next step, it would also help in knowing what this team will possibly look like in the coming years.
So for now, it’s tough to say if Tracy is the best man for the job or not. We will know a lot more after this season as Pirates’ management has a better chance to gauge the talent this roster may or may not have.
Mark from Pirates Journal:
I think we’ll find out whether it does this year. He has a young pitching staff who he’ll have to manage correctly if the Pirates are going to take a step forward in 2006. He’ll lean on his two power guys in Jason Bay and Adam LaRoche, and I think we’ll also know where things stand with Jose Castillo. If he gets it done in 2007, Tracy will probably ride him at second base for the next few years. If he falters, he could be shipped out pretty quickly and Freddy Sanchez will move over to second.
Pat from WHYGAVS:
I dunno what to make of it when it comes to Tracy. I’ve written a ton of words about this in the past and I still feel the same way. He was awful in the first half last year, self-serving, throwing players under buses, and on and on. In the second half I thought he did a good job handling the young pitching staff and giving praise where praise was due. So is he the right guy for this team? I have no idea. The fact that he’s been here for a year and I still have no idea is almost certainly some kind of condemnation of his skills, but I’m willing to wait and see if he gives players a fair shake this spring before making any kind of judgment.
Question #2:
Does the move to 104.7 (from KDKA) on the radio dial have a significant effect on the Pirates’ audience?

Mark from Pirates Journal:
I’m a transplant and I listen to all of my games on Gameday Audio so I don’t know if there was a signal issue or not. Regardless, I can’t see the shift being that big of an issue. Several teams have made the move although some have transitioned by having the games both on AM and FM. I also think as more and more games are on TV, radio will slowly decline. I’d rather listen to the game, but I might be in the minority.
Matthew from The Diamond Cutter:
For someone who doesn’t even live in the state of Pennsylvania, the best way for me to watch or listen to Major League Baseball is XM Radio and MLB.TV. Given the fact that the Pirates are virtually never on ESPN or Fox, I have no choice but to watch them on the MLB.TV package.
But to address the AM/FM part of the question: I know for my hometown Minnesota Twins, I really don’t ever listen to them on the AM dial. They too just switched radio channels, but given the fact that I have XM Radio in my vehicle and can watch them on TV and the Internet, I really never listen to them on their flagship station.
With the day and age that we live in, AM/FM radio is slowly becoming more and more obsolete. With the introduction of so many other mediums, AM/FM is going the way that newspapers currently are. There are just better options now to get coverage of your favorite teams that people are distancing themselves from the norm.
Pat from WHYGAVS:
Yeah, it affects the audience a ton. My parents only live an hour away from Pittsburgh and we’re not sure we’ll be able to find the games on the dial when I’m at home this summer. Lots of people have satellite radio or MLB Gameday Audio now, but not everyone. Someone like my dad, who likes to work in the yard on summer nights and listen to the Pirates on a radio, will be unable to do so now that the Pirates have made this shift. As a matter of fact, I’m sitting at home right now on spring break without much to do and I can’t listen to the games on the radio.
Dave from Bucs Trade Winds:
Since I no longer live near Pittsburgh, I always needed the night to set in before I could get reception. Living in another time zone killed that concept even more. This year I finally bit the bullet and purchased an XM Satellite Radio; following the games online through gamecasts really sucked last year. I never liked MLB’s gamecast and ESPN ruined what was a decent interface. They have a habit of improving interfaces to unusable states: look at their fantasy games.
The great thing with XM is I can sneak out and listen to some of the game when I have my late nights at the job or during day games. I purchased a mobile device with the headset antenna so I can listen and mow during the summer.
The thing I will miss from KDKA is knowing I will hear Lanny. Now I have a 50-50 shot.
I will not purchase the cable baseball package. I would hate to get used to it only to have it go to Direct TV in a coming season.
One of the more entertaining ways to follow the game is through my favorite message board, PiratesLive. Ran and the crew do a great job of describing the action and entertaining all who read. It is a highly recommended experience; if you have a chance, check out the action.
Steve from The Parrot:
As I am an expatriate from the Steel City, I can’t tell you. I would assume that the move might cost the team some listeners at first. The only people I remember listening to most Bucs games on the radio growing up (the ‘70s) were of the senior set–Grandpap on the front porch listening to a still wet-behind-the-ears Lanny Frattare. Are any of these codgers aware that there is FM radio? I was raised in front of the TV set, and a lot of games were on Channel 2 then, before Fox Sports Net. AM radio also carries farther: Now folks sitting in their cars on a hot summer night in Maryland or Ohio can’t pick up the games. I dunno, something good and grass roots seems to be lost now in the almighty search for advertising dollars.
Two things have let me continue my lifelong love affair with Pirate baseball: cable and satellite. (This Internet thing is gravy.) I moved to California in the ‘80s and only saw my hometown team when they played the Mets on WOR, the Braves on WTBS or the Cubs on WGN. I’ve also been a SportsCenter addict since the early eighties, as I could see highlights there and nowhere else.
Now that I live close to Washington, D.C., my Extra Innings package from DirecTV is a godsend. A lot of times I see Bucco games produced by the network of the team they’re playing instead of FSN Pittsburgh, which is pretty interesting to get other points of view (and a lot less of Bob Walk never hurts). I see six games out of every seven, I’d guess.

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Randy Linville

Randy is currently living and thriving in suburban Dayton, OH with his wife and two kids. He was raised in Cincinnati, OH and attended Anderson High School. He went to Miami University (Ohio) and received a degree in Paper Science Engineering from MU. He is a devout Christian and a pop culture buff. He coaches his son’s baseball and basketball teams and his daughters softball and basketball teams. Randy has been a Pirates fan since the late 1970s and has fond memories of the 1979 World Series team. He began blogging for Most Valuable Network in 5/2004 after stumbling across a help-wanted sign for a Pirates blogger. He wrote for Pittsburgh Lumber Co. until the site merged with Pirates Prospects in 2/2011.

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