Pittsburgh Jim Tracy is moving from one of baseball's biggest markets to one of its smallest, from a team that spends big and thinks big to one with more modest expectations following 13 consecutive losing seasons.
To Tracy, who signed a three-year contract Tuesday to become the Pittsburgh Pirates' manager after five mostly successful seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, it's not the size of the city or the payroll that matters most but the talent. And he sees the same kind of young talent in Pittsburgh that he saw in Los Angeles in 2001.
"Challenges are something that I like very, very much," Tracy said. "I like hearing people say or maybe think that this is a situation you don't have a chance to succeed in, I'm very challenged by that."
Some might view the Pirates' situation as hopeless following a 67-95 season, but Tracy sees players such as Jason Bay, pitchers Zach Duke, Paul Maholm and Oliver Perez, center fielder Chris Duffy and second baseman Jose Castillo as being ready to win.
Real soon, too, once they learn the difference between what he calls "the teams that go out and play baseball and those that go out and play winning baseball."
"I'm looking forward to spearheading this ballclub back to some of the days when the Pittsburgh Pirates were somebody you really had to deal with," said Tracy, who watched the Reds-Pirates rivalry while growing up near Cincinnati and playing college baseball at Marietta College, about 120 miles from Pittsburgh.
"I'm very anxious in making the players understand there is history here, history for them to be proud of and history for them to follow up on," he said.
It hasn't been recent history, with no winning seasons or championships since three consecutive NL East titles in 1990-92. Since then, the Pirates have floundered amid several failed rebuilding efforts, poor personnel decisions and an inability to compete against richer clubs for free agents.