Here's a Thought: The Quad-A Watch--Andy Tracy

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Here's a Thought: The Quad-A Watch--Andy Tracy
Al Bello/Getty Images

Earlier articles in the Quad-A series:

Indians LF/1B Jordan Brown
Braves IF Wes Timmons
Marlins RHRP Scott Strickland

Also, I'll re-link to my 2008 post about Quad-A, for those unfamiliar with what it means or why the hell I'm writing this "series" of sorts.

Following Strickland is another NL East player who once wore a Montreal Expos uniform: Phillies third baseman Andy Tracy.

Tracy has gotten sporadic playing time in the majors, including token September call-ups for the Phillies in 2008 and 2009. He also played for Colorado in 2004 and those Expos in 2000 and 2001. 2000, his rookie year, saw Tracy appear in 83 games; he's only seen 66 since.

Tracy is a left-handed hitter with excellent over-the-fence power. He mashed 21 homers between High-A and Double-A way back in 1998, and then smashed a whopping 37 in Double-A in 1999. He hit 21 between AAA and the majors in 2000.

In fact, if we remove Tracy's 2005 season, when he only appeared in 12 games (and hell, he hit four homers in those games), and his 2001 (he spent most of the year on the MLB bench), his homer totals since 1998 read: 21, 37, 21, 20, 25, 33, 20, 23, 22, 26.

If you play the guy, he'll pop 20 homers. That's pretty clear.

Once we remember that the minor league season is shorter than the major league season, it's fair to say that Tracy has been about a 30-HR hitter over a 162-game season in his career.

Tracy has a good batting eye to go with his power. He has walked at least 65 times in his past four Triple-A seasons, and he has never struck out more than 25% of the time in that span. Last year, he had a good 110/74 K/BB ratio.

The 36-year-old veteran even brings some baserunning smarts to the table: he's 12-for-13 in steals the past two years.

Tracy brings a plus glove to first base (5 runs above average over the past two years, according to TotalZone), and has good hands at third as well, although his range and arm are below-average for the position at this point in his career.

Of course, that means it's tough for Tracy to get much work behind Ryan Howard, and the Phillies don't seem content to turn third base over to a 36-year-old career minor leaguer with a career MLB line of .231/.306/.422, as they signed Placido Polanco to play third.

It's worth noting that Tracy's skillset itself has worked in the majors: he hit .260/.339/.484 with Montreal in 2000 in his only real opportunity as a starter at the big league level. He slumped horribly in bench stints in '01 and '04 (9-for-71, yikes!), but that's a tough job: many an adequate big league starter has struggled when moving to the bench.

Tracy did manage to go 5-for-12 with the Phillies last September. It's a very small sample, but maybe all the extra experience in the minors has helped his ability to pinch-hit.

I find it hard to imagine he couldn't do Matt Stairs' 2009 job at least as well as Stairs himself (.735 OPS). Instead, the Phillies signed Ross Gload (.729 OPS in 2009) to fill the role, which left me scratching my head. I wouldn't be shocked if Tracy gets a look if Howard, Polanco, or Gload goes down, but it looks like his fate is more in their control than his own.

Tracy is one of the oldest Quad-A guys around, but it's a testament to his ability at the plate that teams find him worthy of a spot (other than "hitting coach") at all at his age. Here's hoping the longtime journeyman finally gets his first fair look in a decade in 2010.

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