If Joe goes…

From S.I.:

"Rivera’s contract also is expiring and he is eligible to become a
free agent. He said whether Torre returns will help determine whether
he remains with the Yankees.

"It might do a lot of it," he
said. "I mean, I’ve been with Joe for so many years, and the kind of
person he has been for me and for my teammates. It’s been great. The
thing is that I don’t see why they have to put him in this position.
" (Itals mine)

There is a part of me that agrees with Mariano. It’s sh*tty to make Torre twist in the wind like this. The same thing happened last year. But then you have to wonder about why Joe keeps coming back. I’m not trying to be mean here, but Joe can leave if he wants.

Still, the bigger story here is that Torre’s possible departure might have a big effect on the Yanks’ ability to re-sign free agents. Mo says he might not return if Joe goes. Posada was crying after Game 4. In fact, every player on record wants Joe back.

If Joe goes…

72 comments… add one
  • But then you have to wonder about why Joe keeps coming back.
    Not a hard question to answer.
    A) Great, contending team
    B) Tremendous resources, never lacking for getting players “needed”
    C) Great city
    D) Players familiar to him, been through the mill with
    E) Massive paycheck
    F) Can still do the job well
    G) Baseball is HIS LIFE, and his life for over a decade has been New York baseball. The joy of seeing a team succeed, grow, change, should not be underestimated.
    There are a lot of forces working against Torre just upping and leaving. That’s not to say he won’t resign from job fatigue or to pre-empt the embarrassment of being let go, but my guess is that the Yankees’ skippership has way more going for it than not.

    SF October 10, 2007, 3:14 pm
  • Hey, you’ve been critical of Cashman for sticking around in the past. Why does Torre get the excuses, and not Cashman?

    Nick-YF October 10, 2007, 3:19 pm
  • ??
    I’ve been critical of Cashman, sure. Have I been critical of Cashman for “sticking around”?
    If so, the answer would come from the “meddling” quotient. I think as a GM you face far more meddling from above than does a field general. The manager might live in constant fear of being axed, but the general manager might live in constant fear of having trades executed without his input. One is nerve-wracking, the other emasculating. I think I’d prefer nerve-wracking.

    SF October 10, 2007, 3:28 pm
  • I just proposed this in the thread below, but why don’t the Yankees and Mets just swap managers?
    Duh. Done. Willie comes home, Joe stays in New York with far less pressure and only Spaulding Wilpon to deal with, as opposed to the entire dysfunctional Steinbrenner clan.
    It’s perfect.

    SF October 10, 2007, 3:31 pm
  • It’s a stupid idea to fire Torre if it will hurt the Yankees chances of resigning Rivera or Posada. I disagree with how he manages the bullpen (burning through relievers), but at most it probably only costs them a couple games over the whole season. And the difficulty Yankee starters had in going multiple innings in some ways validates Torre’s strategy. The respect Torre commands from his players raises his value over replacement manager immeasurably.
    If anyone’s scapegoated, it should be Cashman (not that he’s at fault either). The Yankees can find someone else to GM. The youth movement is already underway, and the other moves are pretty obvious (resign A-Rod, whatever the price, bring back Mo and Posada).

    Andrew F (Sox Fan) October 10, 2007, 3:32 pm
  • Isn’t this emasculating? Publicly being hung out to dry, given an undue amount of blame for collective failure? What if you had a boss who told people in your industry that he was thinking of firing you because your architectural design work (you can tell that I don’t understand what you do!) was lacking? Would you stand for that?

    Nick-YF October 10, 2007, 3:34 pm
  • Isn’t this emasculating? Publicly being hung out to dry, given an undue amount of blame for collective failure?
    Sure. That’s where the “job fatigue” comes in. But this is newish. And perhaps Joe knows that Steinbrenner is three sheets to the wind, and forgives him his rants. I don’t know, I think this is a little more complicated than we all know, regarding the Boss.

    SF October 10, 2007, 3:37 pm
  • indeed, I do think there is an aspect of that, but it was very odd timing for the Boss suddenly to become articulate and public again, wasn’t it? I mean I don’t think this is necessarily just the boss sending this message. There are those notorious Tampa people who think Torre is awful. This seems like another grab for power from them. I actually worry about how much this reflects a loss of power for Cashman within the organization. He’s already backed away inhis stance regarding A-Rod opting out. He now says he “strongly recommends” the Yanks not resign A-Rod if he opts out.

    Nick-YF October 10, 2007, 3:40 pm
  • It’s not like Torre started under some benevolent Ray Kroc owner and all of a sudden Attila the Hun showed up and now Joe should maybe take the initiative to walk.
    Joe knew what he was getting into when he joined the Yankees. The freaking owner hired a P.I. to tail his own player for God’s sake! Yeah, Joe could walk, but the conditions under which he is working are no worse than what they were when he joined and are in fact better (I think Steinbrenner made a total of two such obnoxious public statements this entire season) – he used to make that many per week in April. They are only worse in relation to Steinbrenner’s quietude during the 4-WS-run.
    And to underscore the points for staying, Guidry and Bowa both said they would return if invited (read: regardless of what happens to Joe). Guidry: “I’d love to come back next year, especially because of what I’ve seen this year. The pitching staff should be much stronger because of the development of some of our young kids”.
    This team is on the cusp of an exciting several years thanks primarily to young promising pitching. Posada and Mo can say “We’re outta here” but it will be hard for them to walk away, not only from the money and the memories of what they did here, but from what the Yankees are building for ’08 and beyond.
    For me, it’s just nice that they are actually building again.

    IronHorse (yf) October 10, 2007, 3:42 pm
  • Honestly, Nick.. I’d quit, if I were in a position liek Torre. Its so.. disrespectful and I have real issue with being dissrespected by a manager/boss. The fact that Torre has put up with what he has for so long is probably a testament to the same loyalty to his veterans that is often cited as his downfall at times during the season. Really, thats the only thing I see keeping him in NY. Winning and the money couldnt motivate me to put up with being treated like that.
    In a way, I’d take the MOST pleasure in the Yankees deciding, fianlly, to keep Torre and them him essentially saying “You know what? Screw it. I’m outta here.” Not just because of the obvious negative impact it’d have on the Yankee team (possible loss of key players – already discussed ad nausem in the media).. thats icing on the cake. Id just love to see someone slap Steinbrenner down like that. LOVE it. It’d be like delicious candy.
    That said.. I dont think any of that happens. I dont think Torre gets the chance to stay and am sure he would if offered the chance.

    Dionysus October 10, 2007, 4:00 pm
  • Mariano Rivera is my favorite baseball player.
    That being said though, I hate these “if he goes, I go” threats, now matter who is making them. If that’s really the way Mo feels, then he should go. I respect that. Airing this kind of statement to exert your will on the organization is something else, entirely. Spare your fans the drama…

    Andrews October 10, 2007, 4:01 pm
  • “and them him essentially saying “You know what? Screw it. I’m outta here.” ”
    If you think that is even remotely possible, then you know absolutely nothing about the man.

    Andrews October 10, 2007, 4:03 pm
  • See.. thats why I love Papelbon. He’s TOO insane to ever make such a ‘he goes, I go’ implication.
    If he ever tried, it’d go somethign liek this…
    Paps: “If lowell goes…
    Random Sox Official: *turns on music*
    Paps: *fist pumps, removes pants.. does irish jig*
    Seriously.. we have the most batshit insane closer in baseball. Between the pants-off dance-off, the crazy faces and jumpin around in ALDS celebration, Cinco Ocho.. and bestial screaming. That boy’s nuts.

    Dionysus October 10, 2007, 4:06 pm
  • I KNOW its impossible Andrews. I’m just saing.. I’d love to see it. Like a fantasy. Like sleeping with Kiera Knightly.

    Dionysus October 10, 2007, 4:06 pm
  • Are players supposed to be above management on the class scale? If an Owner makes ultimatums through the press (a bold, classless move) about his manager’s job, should we expect the employees of said company to act differently? The example is set by the man/woman in charge, and in this case that example is Steinbrenner. Though we optimistically desire our playing heroes to be dignified, beyond reproach, the reality is that they are human beings, sometimes of average intelligence, who aren’t so disciplined that they don’t react.
    Rivera was just reacting, I think. And maybe negotiating, too. I don’t have a real problem with him airing his grievances, and I understand completely what generates them.

    SF October 10, 2007, 4:07 pm
  • Or even better.. Eliza Dushku. While she’s wearing a Sox jersey.

    Dionysus October 10, 2007, 4:10 pm
  • I’m with those who think this isn’t even really a Steinbrenner ultimatum. Didn’t anyone else read this Portfolio story?

    Jackie (SF) October 10, 2007, 4:16 pm
  • It’s easy to say that one would not put up with something, but I think there are elements we just can’t know about and likely none of the regulars here can relate to that might factor in enormously in Torre’s decision to put up with this stuff and so in my view, I cut both Torre and yes, even Steinbrenner, some slack here:
    1. Related to Jackie’s point, Steinbrenner is a very sick man. I fully expect that the thing he whispered to Clemens to urge him back to NY (and which Clemens never shared) went along the lines of “I’m not gonna be around much longer and I’m handing over the reigns to my kids – I so want one more championship before I go”. Even if that’s not what he told Clemens, I think it has got to be what people around him feel. Steinbrenner has been a hotheaded jerk for much of his career owning the Yankees but he also has put his entire heart and soul not to mention money into trying to make the team great again and people in the organization and fans respect that. And someone like Torre might have a bit of forgiveness and grace in considering the latest rants from an owner who has done all that and is watching his grasp on his team and perhaps even life slip away. Sound dramatic? That’s because it is. I love Torre too and want to defend the guy when people blame him for things that are not his fault. But I also appreciate what Steinbrenner has meant to the Yankee organization and I suspect Torre does to. And it might be a bit hard for Steinbrenner, toward the end of his life, to see all the credit in the world for Yankee success go to a manager who has been here for 12 years while he has been here for 3 decades and put at least as much and in fact much more into the team. So
    Torre = Saint and Steinbrenner = Devil
    might be a bit too simpistic and even Torre might realize that when he is weathering ill-considered comments from the Boss.
    2. Then there is the human side for Torre. He is closer to the end of his life than the beginning and baseball has been all of his professional life. I suspect none of us can relate. For him, a shot to go out on top, with a great organization – arguably the best in sports – is something for which he is probably willing to put up with a lot. I’m reminded of the great scene in The Insider when Mike Wallace (Christopher Plummer) says to Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino) “things look different when you are closer to the end of your career than to the beginning”, and rants about the fact that he’s already toiled in the Godforsaken woods of NPR nad doesn’t intend to return there late in life as a result of “standing on principle” – no he wants to stay with “60 Minutes”.
    I just think it is way too easy to theorize about all the greatly principled stands we would all take in the face of annoying bosses and all that when not confronted with both the very human elements of those bosses and the bond you’d have with even those bosses over the joint enterprise to which you both are dedicated and, even moreso, the very real emotional issues that get mixed up for people who are near the ends of their careers and/or lives.

    IronHorse (yf) October 10, 2007, 5:29 pm
  • The name Plummer sucks.:)

    Brad October 10, 2007, 5:42 pm
  • Nice post, IH.

    Brad October 10, 2007, 5:42 pm
  • “If an Owner makes ultimatums through the press (a bold, classless move) about his manager’s job, should we expect the employees of said company to act differently?”
    In the case of the New York Yankees, yes.
    ” Rivera was just reacting, I think. And maybe negotiating, too.”
    He’s admirably avoided airing gut reactions to the press his entire career – this is a negotiation, for sure. It’s one thing to use this threat with Cashman or team officials at the bargaining table – airing it in this way puts fans through unnecessary grief while negotiations play out.
    If he leaves, he’s successfully bloodied the nose of the organization that he’s played for his entire career; an injury that is, IMO, unwarranted.

    Andrews October 10, 2007, 5:51 pm
  • I think that’s one of the better posts I’ve read here in a while, IH. Very good points.

    Paul SF October 10, 2007, 5:55 pm
  • “If he leaves, he’s successfully bloodied…” should read “If he leaves for that reason, he’s successfully…”

    Andrews October 10, 2007, 5:56 pm
  • Thanks Paul and Brad. I was thinking abotu this today and just feeling that while there is all the lamenting of Torre’s possible departure (and it would be very very sad for a lot of YFs and others), we’ve got another leader in the organziation – in fact THE leader – who is “leaving” in a much more final and significant way and honestly hope he gets a lot of the same kind of love from fans, players, and even managers and coaches while he can still understand and appreciate it.

    IronHorse (yf) October 10, 2007, 6:07 pm
  • Good thoughts, IH. In the first comment on this thread I cited this reason )amongst others) for Torre conceivably wanting to put up with the limbo game he’s put through:
    Baseball is HIS LIFE, and his life for over a decade has been New York baseball. The joy of seeing a team succeed, grow, change, should not be underestimated.
    I don’t think any of us can fathom what it must be like to do something for our entire lives then be told we can’t do it any more. When players retire from the game after long careers, it must be a harrowing experience. What else do they do? It’s not about money, necessarily. It’s not about winning or losing, necessarily. It’s about doing the same thing every day, something you probably really like and which are good at, and then not being able to even show up for work. Just because Torre is managing and not playing doesn’t exempt him from this horror of possible exclusion. And horrific it must be, frankly, to be in the later stages of life and be shown the door. To continue to manage the Yankees is an honor and a lucrative privilege that he loves, and all the shit that has to put up with is just part of the bargain.

    SF October 10, 2007, 6:32 pm
  • “I don’t think any of us can fathom what it must be like to do something for our entire lives then be told we can’t do it any more.”
    But if he’s fired by the Yanks, several jobs in baseball would be open to him.

    Nick-YF October 10, 2007, 6:56 pm
  • More than several, I’d bet, Nick. I imagine a great many teams will be clamoring for his services. He’s certainly more worhty of Managing A Team than, oh say, Ozzie Guillen (my nemisis!).
    I’m sure he’d want to go to a contender of course. Definatly not to the likes of the poor Baltimore Orioles (I always feel for their team. They desevre so much better than their crap owner). The more I think about.. the more the Mets seem like the destination for him.

    Dionysus October 10, 2007, 7:08 pm
  • the real question is if its worth it for Joe to take another managing spot. What if he works for a team that stinks it up, how does that effect his legacy?

    Sam-YF October 10, 2007, 8:19 pm
  • True, Nick, but it is clear that the Yankees, to Torre, aren’t just any team, any job. He may move on, sure, but I think my point stands, particularly in this day and age of revolving door coaching. It’s easy to say “there are other jobs available”, but Torre has a special position in New York, so this can’t be looked at formulaically.

    SF October 10, 2007, 8:44 pm
  • “I don’t think any of us can fathom what it must be like to do something for our entire lives then be told we can’t do it any more.”
    “It’s easy to say “there are other jobs available”, but Torre has a special position in New York, so this can’t be looked at formulaically.”
    I beg to differ – the choice is his: (a) retire from the job you love, the only one you’ve ever known, or (b) accept something less than the dream position you’ve held for the last 12 years. Faced with the end of a career, it would be easy to rationalize option b.
    Whatever the end result, I wish Joe Torre the best. He’s a true class act, a real inspiration; a lesson in how to handle pressure and adversity with dignity.

    Anonymous October 10, 2007, 11:17 pm
  • me

    Andrews October 10, 2007, 11:19 pm
  • (b) accept something less than the dream position you’ve held for the last 12 years. Faced with the end of a career, it would be easy to rationalize option b.
    In a vacuuum, yes. And for a thirty-something like myself, yes. And maybe even for a forty-something or a fifty-something. but Torre isn’t any of those things. His circumstance is extenuating, and I fully understand why he just doesn’t up and resign, as some have suggested he do based on how he’s been treated. I have tremendous understanding and respect for why he hasn’t done this yet.
    (as an aside, Is there anything I type that you don’t want to disagree with, Andrews?)
    ;-)

    SF October 11, 2007, 6:56 am
  • The comments and reactions from the players are exactly the reason why Joe needs to go. Joe’s strong point has been keeping this team comfortable, level headed and focused since ’96. He’s a great fit with these very business like players. He’s not a rah rah type of guy, just go out get the job done and go home. The players love that and rightly so. He’s a great manager to play for, he is what they are talking about when the say a “Player’s Manager.” He will take the heat when needed and fight until his last breath for the guys on his team. He displays undying loyalty to all of “His” guys. (See Ron Villone being resigned and then added to the ALDS roster) Who wouldn’t like to play for a guy like that? When Joe’s job was on the line last off season (yes it’s the off season once the Yankees lose) the players all said the SAME thing. Joe’s the best man for the job, he keeps us together, we play well for him, etc…Well they gave you another season to prove that Joe is and was the right man for the job and you had an awful 1st half and had to play .600+ ball and pull a rabbit out of a hat in the 2nd half just to qualify for the postseason. On top of that you were eliminated in the ALDS AGAIN. So while the players comfort is really important, something is not working with this team right now and you have to start by shaking up some of that comfort. Unfortunately Joe is where you start. It sounds bad, but if Mo and Jorge decide to go elsewhere because Joe is let go then so be it. Personally I think the loyalty will magically disappear once they see all the zeros in the Yankees offer, but if not it’s a risk you have to take. Remember the most important thing is doing what is best for the WHOLE team and right now something is broke and needs to be fixed. A change of environment, some fresh ideas and maybe even a new style, shake it up. Joe had great run and this is not an attack on him as a man, but his time has come, as it does for everyone.

    John - YF (Trisk) October 11, 2007, 10:16 am
  • John
    I agree with you here. I think that shaking things up may be a good idea as the status quo isnt effective. I do question if a new manager is going to experience considerable growing pains and if I want to go through that esp for the last year of the stadium.
    I do have a real problem with the players trying to influence the decision based on management in such an public way. I realize that they could be doing so both to return loyalty to Torre and to influence their own negotiations. However, I really want to know why does their loyalty end at the manager? If Torre walks that means they should feel no loyalty to an organization which has made their careers successful and made them very rich men. Not to mention the fans. This is the New York Yankees not the New York Torres.

    Sam-YF October 11, 2007, 10:36 am
  • as the status quo isnt effective
    Everyone disagrees on what “effective” means. A post-season appearance? A championship? A post-season appearance of at least two rounds?
    Funny, we have had many posts about the “winning is the only thing that matters” theme here, and it seems like most people here feel that ultimately, while a championship is the end goal, competing strongly and “succeeding” are determined relatively, not absolutely. But with Torre now we are hearing that the absolute is the determining factor: no championship means something is being done wrong, and a new manager is the first step on the road to absolution.
    I find it all quite schizophrenic, frankly. I know YF doesn’t consider the World Series title to be the only defining goal of a season, that a season shouldn’t be considered a “failure” just because a team fails to win it all, so I wonder where he sits on the “Torre should go/stay” fence, and why, quite sincerely. I don’t recall seeing his position on Torre here, at least not yet.

    SF October 11, 2007, 10:48 am
  • SF-
    You are totally right. I am personally rather schizophrenic about the situation myself and it seem that the Yankee world is as well. I consider this year a success but I am still very disappointed with be knocked out in the first round. Is this Torre’s fault? Likely no. Can someone do better? Maybe. I guess the question is if its worth it to try someone new to see if the results are different.
    Not being fully happy with simply making the post-season is certainly a nice problem to have. You SFs can most certainly relate or at least start to. I dont think anybody would have been happy/satisfied in the Sox nation if they had lost to Anaheim.

    Sam-YF October 11, 2007, 11:06 am
  • I dont think anybody would have been happy/satisfied in the Sox nation if they had lost to Anaheim.
    Very true, and I think I would probably consider this season a success because they made it to the ALCS, as long as the Sox don’t play horribly against Cleveland, even if they lose. There’s just something about making it to that second round, I think…

    Paul SF October 11, 2007, 11:14 am
  • SF, to me the way they played in the first half sealed his fate. The determining factor, at least in my eyes, was not losing to Cleveland. It didn’t help things, but it in no way was the end all be all in my decision making process. I am a firm believer that managers, coaches have expiration dates. (It’s not personal, I have been fired twice, sure it’s on a MUCH lower level, but each time it happened it was the best decision for the team) You can only rally the same team so many times. You can only use the same tactics so many times. It’s time to take away a little of this team’s comfort and restore a little of the fire in their bellies. Unfortunately that starts with letting Joe go.

    John - YF (Trisk) October 11, 2007, 12:12 pm
  • SF, to me the way they played in the first half sealed his fate.
    Are you the type who would boo JD Drew during a scorching, division-saving September because he sucked in July? ;-)
    So Joe gets blamed for the pitching staff of May but not credit for the work of July and August? That seems rather unjust. How can you have it both ways?
    Regarding the Sox:
    Had they lost to the Angels last Friday I would have remained silent. Terry Francona managed a brilliant game, doing things not normally seen in the regular season. He moved pitchers perfectly. He had players ready to come in. He was quick when he needed to be, not when he didn’t need to be. And this isn’t post-facto rationalization: every move he made was sound, logical, and to put the team in the best position to win. His mentality was spot-on for the circumstances, and noticeably different from his regular season style. That was a lesson to me. Had the Sox lost, it was not because of managing a team into a position of weakness, but rather a team in a position of strength not executing.
    Lastly, if Torre (or Francona, or anyone) puts a team in a good position to execute, then there isn’t much beef to be had. Has Torre put the team behind the eightball consistently, or did Wang’s hammy, Hughes’ hammy, Clemens’ age, etc. etc.? Where is there any proof that Torre’s “shelf life” has expired? In a division series loss to a team with home-field advantage, a better 1/2 starter punch, and the best record in the AL? That’s the proof?! I find this a tenuous position, at best.

    SF October 11, 2007, 12:31 pm
  • “So Joe gets blamed for the pitching staff of May but not credit for the work of July and August? That seems rather unjust. How can you have it both ways?”
    First off my comments are based on the overall performance of the team. They are not specific to the pitching performance of any month. Also I never asked for Joe to be given credit for anything, so I don’t know who you are talking to when you said I can’t have it both ways. Joe’s a great manager, great baseball man and Yankee fans everywhere should be grateful that he was on our side for the past 12 seasons. Unfortunately every manager and coach hits a wall and it’s time for change. You are trying to break it down to specifics and that’s not my argument.
    As for JD Drew, he’s yours. If you are happy with your $14 million per investment then that’s all that matters! Boo, cheer, hiss, he’s all yours ;)

    John - YF (Trisk) October 11, 2007, 12:38 pm
  • Meanwhile NoMaas, a site I enjoy from time to time, has gone off the deep end. Did they really list Bobby Valentine as their #1 choice to replace Torre? Are they aware that he has a thing for sub-par players (Agbyani, Timo, etc.)? In fact, Bobby V thought Kei Igawa would be good this season. I’m sure Igawa would get a chance to slot in at the #3 if he were in charge.

    Nick-YF October 11, 2007, 12:42 pm
  • “Where is there any proof that Torre’s “shelf life” has expired?”
    While I am looking for that proof I will also try and locate Bigfoot and Nessie. This is a blog, you know that, these are my ideas. I don’t know what goes on behind the closed doors of that locker room, nobody does. But it’s my opinion that the time has come to try something new.
    PS- I can see the smile on your face from here. Between Yankee fans calling for Joe’s head and you guys being in the ALCS, it must feel like heaven!

    John - YF (Trisk) October 11, 2007, 12:43 pm
  • I am just looking for proof that a wall has been hit. Beyond “they lost in the ALDS again”, which is established fact, where’s the proof? That youth can’t excel with an old-boys manager? Cano, Chamberlain, Hughes, Melky, might prove that false. That vets don’t respond to a “players manager”? Obvioulsy that’s not true.
    Honestly, I am looking for substantive criticism of Torre that proves his “shelf life” has expired. Nothing I can see shows that to be the case. If you are arguing for change for change’s sake, then there’s no discussion to be had: that position has no counter. It also, rarely, has any substantial justification, it can only be ascribed to instinct.

    SF October 11, 2007, 12:45 pm
  • Nick, I enjoy NoMaas too, but sometimes they are way too extreme. I will say this though, I would rather Valentine then LaRussa, that’s how much I DESPISE LaRussa.

    John - YF (Trisk) October 11, 2007, 12:45 pm
  • Regarding the Torre situation, it seems clear to me that a senile, batty old shell of an owner has more in common with his fanbase than his fanbase might be willing to admit!
    ;-)

    SF October 11, 2007, 12:47 pm
  • Also I never asked for Joe to be given credit for anything, so I don’t know who you are talking to when you said I can’t have it both ways.
    No, but you are asking him to take the fall for the performance of the team in the first half. Who gets the pat on the ass for the second half if Joe is gone? I don’t think I am putting any words in your mouth, Trisk, you yourself specifically said that Torre takes the blame from you for the first half performance. How else should I interpret that it “sealed his fate” for you? Honestly, I don’t think I am overinterpreting here, just responding to the content of your post. How else should I read that statement? Help me out, seriously, I don’t want to end up in a flame war over something that may not even be a massive disagreement, just a misunderstanding.

    SF October 11, 2007, 12:51 pm
  • Now come on SF you know I am not arguing for change for changes sake and you know it.
    “Honestly, I am looking for substantive criticism of Torre that proves his “shelf life” has expired.”
    SF, there is no way to prove that. But the thing that would be a red flag would be the players level of comfort. Put this into a business world perspective. When you and your boss are buddies, you lose a little of that edge. That drive that makes you want to succeed. When your boss is a real ball buster and hard ass you know you have to submit your best work at all times in order to move forward. Joe has become their BFF and this team doesn’t need a BFF. You are looking for detailed answers where you and I both know they can’t be given.

    John - YF (Trisk) October 11, 2007, 12:52 pm
  • “Well they gave YOU another season to prove that Joe is and was the right man for the job and you had an awful 1st half and had to play .600+ ball and pull a rabbit out of a hat in the 2nd half just to qualify for the postseason. On top of that you were eliminated in the ALDS AGAIN. So while the players comfort is really important, something is not working with this team right now and you have to start by shaking up some of that comfort.”
    The YOU in that statement is the players. That’s who gets the blame for the 1st half as much if not more then Joe. My argument is based on players every off season saying Joe is the man for the job, over and over and over again. Fighting for him to stay, fighting for the chance to play for him. There is a reason for that and the reason is comfort. I am all for comfort when the product on the field is working, but after that first half, I would say the product isn’t working.

    John - YF (Trisk) October 11, 2007, 12:56 pm
  • “I don’t want to end up in a flame war”
    Never SF, you’ve got the wrong one. Simply a discussion. You can disagree with me, not a problem. That’s what makes this place so great.
    I have to bow out for awhile, it’s my son’s B-day.

    John - YF (Trisk) October 11, 2007, 12:59 pm
  • I am all for comfort when the product on the field is working, but after that first half, I would say the product isn’t working.
    And after that first half came the second half. Why did that happen?
    The second half of the season, which was just spectacular, puts a major crimp in the first half argument. Did the players “get uncomfortable”, and that’s what made them perform? If that’s the case, what made them uncomfortable? Their own pride? A better pitching staff? The manager?
    I am still not there with you, Trisk. I don’t understand the argument for getting rid of Torre as anything but “change for change’s sake”, which is what you do when you want to change someone’s comfort level, as you term it.
    And Happy Birthday to your son! My son’s third is this coming Sunday.

    SF October 11, 2007, 1:29 pm
  • OK, two contradictory things on Torre:
    First, you want proof that he had SOMETHING to do with the quick ouster in the ALDS. This is hard to prove since he did nothing like his timid 2004 ALCS managing to lose it and he was hugely undercut by shockingly bad performances from his “ace”.
    But there was also the game on which that entire series turned – game 2, the 11-inning edge-of-your-seat nail-biter. Who gets “credit” for that lost game? Luis Vizcaino. Was Vizcaino a bad or even average reliever in 2007? No. For much of it he was exceptional though he got very little credit for it from anyone other than Clemens.
    Consider Vizcaino from June 3 – the end of August: In 42 games he pitched 40.1 innings. He gave up a total of 5 ER (to the tune of a 1.12 ERA). Teams hit .181 off of him with a measly .356 slugging percentage.
    Then, from September 1 to the end of the season: In 9 games he pitched 8 innings, giving up 9 ER (leaving him a FAT 10.13 ERA over that stretch) and allowing hitters to bat .417 and slug .772 off of him.
    We get within striking distance of Boston and Vizcaino complains of a dead arm for the last two weeks of the season and that, combined with Joba rules (and yes, solid play form Boston), helps ensure we have to settle on the wildcard.
    We then get into the post-season and in the pivotal game of the series, Vizcaino comes in for .2 innings, walks 2, gives up two hits, and ends up with the loss.
    Burning out bullpens is not something that somehow exists as a strike against a manager but that doesn’t get factored into wins and losses, including W’s and L’s in the playoffs. Vizcaino appeared in more games in 2007 then in any previous year of his career.
    Do I think this proves that Torre is to blame for the ALDS loss? No. That’s not my point. If I have to point only one finger it goes in the direction of a small town in Taiwan. But burning out the most reliable bullpen guys you have will often bite you in the butt and I believe that his use of Vizcaino did exctly that in the critical September games and even more critical October.
    Now the contradictory point: Since my rants yesterday, I am having second thought about whether it is time for him to go. Yes, he seems tired and new blood could be great. But I have to acknowledge that the amount that I will miss seeing him as manager and the weirdness of imagining anyone else in that role, make me feel like I will probably be just as happy and yes, even moreso, if he stays.
    I don’t know – I love the guy and would so love to see to see them get another championship ring under his watch and I guess I am not that convinced that they have a lesser chance of doing it with him then with anyone else. And even if they just have an equal chance with someone else, I’d much rather that it then go to him.

    IronHorse (yf) October 11, 2007, 2:39 pm
  • Thanks SF and Happy Birthday to your son as well.
    “Did the players “get uncomfortable”, and that’s what made them perform? If that’s the case, what made them uncomfortable? Their own pride? A better pitching staff? The manager?”
    You bet your britches they were uncomfortable. They realized that they underachieved in the 1st half. Sure there were injuries and some other issues that had contributed, but overall this team didn’t play to it’s potential in the 1st half (Cano, Abreu, Matsui, Damon, Viz). They play in the biggest city for the biggest team with the biggest payroll, there was something to prove in the 2nd half. The problem with that is that there should have never been a debacle like the 1st half in the 1st place.
    OK back to my son!

    John - YF (Trisk) October 11, 2007, 4:57 pm
  • “Vizcaino appeared in more games in 2007 then in any previous year of his career.”
    As did Proctor in ’06, Gordon in ’04 and ’05, Quantrill in ’04, etc.
    “But burning out the most reliable bullpen guys you have will often bite you in the butt and I believe that his use of Vizcaino did exctly that in the critical September games and even more critical October.”
    One of Torre’s flaws, IMO, is his handling of players based on trust. He only trusts certain relievers, so year after year he burns them out in the regular season.
    In ’06, he brought back 2 trusted players, coming off serious wrist injuries, just in time for the ALDS. Neither man was himself at the plate, and we all know how the Sheffield experiment worked out at first base.
    In this year’s ALDS, he stuck with Matsui at DH, even though he looked absolutely terrible at the plate for most of September.
    Joba Chamberlain gained Torre’s trust down the stretch; Joe stuck with him for the entire 8th inning, even though he was so distracted by midges that he couldn’t find the plate. As we all know, the tying run scored on a wild pitch.
    I’m certain players appreciate the fact that Joe sticks with them through good and bad times based on their track record. With the group of players the Yanks had in the late ’90’s, his trust was rewarded by a group of players who could consistently execute under pressure. The roster has changed, but his approach hasn’t. It no longer works.

    Anonymous October 11, 2007, 5:26 pm
  • me
    “(as an aside, Is there anything I type that you don’t want to disagree with, Andrews?)”
    Sour milk in your coffee, perhaps?

    Andrews October 11, 2007, 5:28 pm
  • Andrews, I agree with everything you just wrote. Good and appropriate examples of past Torre loyalty-based gaffes. I still free very ambivalent about him going. Maybe new blood wil help, in which case I’ll really miss him anyway, and maybe he will do great with a team that has a stock of young arms for the first time in a long time and more than 2 trusworthy bullpen arms (latter still to be built!)

    IronHorse (yf) October 11, 2007, 5:34 pm
  • One of Torre’s flaws, IMO, is his handling of players based on trust.
    Interesting that you say this, Andrews, because that’s arguably Francona’s greatest flaw, as well, contributing to slow hooks in games, as well as the travesty of Kevin Millar stealing PAs from Kevin Youkilis in 2005. On the other hand, sticking with Mark Bellhorn led to a key World Series home run in 2004, and he stuck with Damon despite his struggles in the ALCS that year. All that to say: If the moves work, Torre would be hailed today. If they don’t, see ya later. And I guess the same could be said for any manager of any team.
    Francona, I think, got lucky with his moves; Torre did not. That might really be all the difference.

    Paul SF October 11, 2007, 5:42 pm
  • Torre’s bullpen handling is a perfectly legitimate reason to think he may not be right for the job. But find a manager in baseball who doesn’t lean on certain pitchers to their detriment. Look at Francona with Okajima this year: Oki was brought into several games in questionable circumstances, and who knows if that will end up hurting the Sox deeper in the playoffs. It already burned them in the regular season, though with minimal impact in retrospect.
    If you want to axe Torre because you think he’s horrific at bullpen management and that’s the key to the failures of the Yankees over the past several years I hypothetically might be able to refute you, but I think it’s a perfectly legitimate reason to want him gone. A change of blood to “shake up the team”, on the other hand, I don’t find reasonable, though “reasonable” logic was never the strongsuit of front offices looking to make managerial changes, either, so I get it.
    To wit: players of all ages and experiences have excelled under Torre, some have even possibly “overachieved”, depending on your expectations: Wang, Cano, Cabrera, Chamberlain, A-Rod, Jeter, Posada, etc. This is enough evidence to make me believe that the players’ “comfort” isn’t equal to “complacency” (I think that’s the mindset that Trisk might be alluding to), and that Torre doesn’t have a problem working with players of differing levels, experiences, abilities. You should be so lucky to find someone else with similar managerial skills, should Torre end up moving on (or pushed out by Tampa).

    SF October 11, 2007, 5:57 pm
  • As for the BFF/Torre/Players bit, I have to disagree with that. The fire and brimstone approach, for me, is not the only way to win games. Especially in baseball, a game of futility for the most part. A-Rod can not homer on command. Torre can not wag his finger in A-Rod’s face and threaten him into hitting a home-run. And since A-Rod, on average is going to fail 7 out of every 10 times at the plate, the fire and brimstone approach will not last very long.
    There is very little chance of a Yankee being too comfortable anyway. I mean, its the New York Yankees. Where talk radio and fan opinion shifted on A-Rod every pitch of these season. Torre does the right thing in this environment. He offers them a safe zone, he lets them know of their role and reminds them of what is expected. More dramatically, he trusts them and makes his trust plain. That instills loyalty and love, which are much better motivators for success than fear and desperation.
    I don’t have the stats to back it up, but I doubt that professional athletes fear their coach all that much. They don’t have much to fear. (see Coughlin, Tom.) The player is always in a superior position. But they are also insecure, surrounded by failure, fearing being torn apart by media and fandom alike. You stand by them, and they will not only stand by you, but put in that much more effort to succeed for you.
    And all that sounded cliche and maudlin. That super-rich people would play out of love for their manager, but i think recent history has proved that love can be a stronger motivator, even in playoff games, than fear.
    And in terms of longetivity, there is no contest. You can not rant and rave at players for years and keep them around. No one wants to be in that scenario. But if they grow to love you (which they can do even if you rant and rave – see Lombardi), then thats when you get long-term devotion. Not just to the coach as a person, but to a system, to a standard, to a team.

    carlos (YF) October 11, 2007, 5:59 pm
  • “If the moves work, Torre would be hailed today. If they don’t, see ya later.”
    I don’t think it’s quite that simple, Paul. The approach often worked in the past; my issue is that Torre hasn’t altered his thinking to reflect the changing roster. In recent seasons, especially in the postseason, using “trust” as the deciding factor is a mistake that Joe keeps making over and over again. Sometimes you need to take chances – for example, going with the hot hand, instead of the guy who has traditionally done the job for you.

    Andrews October 11, 2007, 6:01 pm
  • Sometimes you need to take chances – for example, going with the hot hand, instead of the guy who has traditionally done the job for you.
    Last year Torre held Wang out in the hopes of pitching him on full rest and went with Jaret Wright. Blammo. This year he brought back Wang on short rest instead of going to Mussina. Blammo. He can’t win. He altered his thinking based on experience and circumstance and failed both times. His fault or the pitcher’s?
    Seems like you are quite the contrarian, Andrews. You disagree with everyone!!

    SF October 11, 2007, 6:03 pm
  • “loyalty and love…are much better motivators for success than fear and desperation”
    I need to send you a copy of Machiavelli’s The Prince.

    IronHorse (yf) October 11, 2007, 6:07 pm
  • “If you want to axe Torre”
    Like IH, I’m back and forth on this issue.
    The “wall” that Joe may have hit could be his habitual reliance on the tried and true, though.

    Andrews October 11, 2007, 6:07 pm
  • The “wall” that Joe may have hit could be his habitual reliance on the tried and true, though.
    Again, how did this manifest itself this year, in the playoffs, to the detriment of the Yankees? By using Wang? Seems to me that the Yankees lost in the ALDS (had they won the series but lost an ALCS would Torre be on the hotseat?) because the Indians had superior pitching, a little luck (Midge Night) and CMW (and Derek Jeter. DEREK JETER!!!) sucked eggs. None of which had ANYTHING to do with Joe Torre.

    SF October 11, 2007, 6:13 pm
  • SF,
    “Seems like you are quite the contrarian, Andrews. You disagree with everyone!!”
    Is there a problem we need to discuss via email? If not, lay off the hostility.
    “This year he brought back Wang on short rest instead of going to Mussina. Blammo. He can’t win. He altered his thinking based on experience and circumstance and failed both times. His fault or the pitcher’s?”
    He altered his thinking in that one instance, for sure. But what about sticking with Matsui? Using Sheffield at 1B? Sitting Melky for Matsui last year? I’m talking about a pattern that has gone on for some time.

    Anonymous October 11, 2007, 6:18 pm
  • Whoa, Andrews. Nothing meant here, just a bit of levity. My first comment was in fact closed with an eye-wink, and I was just following that one up.
    No offense meant, I hope you understand.

    SF October 11, 2007, 6:29 pm
  • I’m not trying, in any way, to blame Joe for the ALDS loss, this year, or in ’05 or ’06. I’m merely pointing out my frustration with his penchant for making managerial decisions based on trust and level of experience.
    As a fan, that’s my right. You call me a contrarian, but I’ve read post after post after post this year in which you criticise moves that Francona did or didn’t make. Does that make you a contrarian too? Why is Torre, in your opinion, above criticism from YF’s, but Francona fair game for you?

    Andrews October 11, 2007, 6:29 pm
  • I am not, and haven’t, called for Francona to be fired or not re-signed. At least not in a couple of years. I think that’s a difference. I think I intimated that if he continued to make the same decisions throughout the playoffs he would be fair game, but he’s already shown that he will not work the same way in the postseason that he did during the regular, and for that I give him tremendous credit. Player performances aside, Francona has positioned his team beautifully so far, and I am thrilled about it.
    But believe me, I do understand the frustration. Truly. I don’t want this to be seen as a double-standard, since I get where you are coming from. I’ve been there. It just seems that in the context of this season, of this playoffs, that Torre isn’t culpable. At least not as much as in past seasons; his transgressions weren’t fatal, by any means, and if anything he seemed to work back beautifully from a bum hand given to him at the beginning of the year.

    SF October 11, 2007, 6:34 pm
  • Andrews,
    This is sort of a side question, but if not Matsui than who this year? I guess he could have gone Melky, Damon and Abreu. Mient would have still played first. Then DH Giambi? Thats the alternative lineup, right? Betemitt instead of Giambi as DH? I don’t know if there was a “hot hand” this year that provided an alternative to Matsui.
    In general, I think, all things being nearly equal, you do go with experience. Matsui ever since his arrival in NYC had been an RBI-machine, but more importantly was one of the most “clutch” Yankees. There was a time when in tight situations I wanted to see Derek, Matsui and Posada at the plate. He has been an un-noticed big cog in the Yankees the last few years.
    Similar to Wedge’s still-lauded decision to keep his patterns going (we got here this way, this is how we play.), I think that there is something to be said about taking the way things have worked, and keeping them there.
    The Yankees have been successful with Matsui batting 5th; he’s been an important part of their order..and he can’t continue to do so by sitting on the bench.
    It is a bit strange because we don’t normally think this way about sports, but it is somewhat like jobs. Last year, Melk came in and played well…but that didn’t earn him the job yet. This year, over the season it became obvious: Melk had basically taken Damon’s job at Center. I wonder if that was Torre’s thinking. This is Matsui’s job. He’s struggling, badly. But its still his job and his past says he’ll bounce back. We need him to bounce back. It ends up being about judgements, and i don’t know if you can ignore past performance and go totally with “who was hot last week?”

    carlos (YF) October 11, 2007, 6:45 pm
  • IH,
    As I remember it, Machiavelli didn’t manage a sports team. His work is only useful in getting and maintaining power. Maybe Torre did act like the “new prince” though. He tricked his players into loving him so much that management could never fire him without a revolt. That’d be a Machiavellian way of keeping power, but it definitely wouldn’t help win ballgames.
    There have been managers that have kept their players hungry and desperate to win by undercutting and threatening their safe spaces. This seems to work mostly in college basketball and football. In the age of guaranteed salaries, it’d be hard for a coach to justify to his ownership that he was sitting a star player “to make him hungry.”
    I’ve seen tough love coaches succeed, but the love remains. Jerry Kramer gives an interesting account of Lombardi. He writes about all the horrible screaming fits Lombardi would have when his team didn’t practice to his liking. Then he’d come back and apologize for it, claiming that he wanted to love them, but sometimes they made it so damn hard. It reminded me of all those stories about when Lombardi died and his players came back and wept openly at the funeral.

    carlos (YF) October 11, 2007, 6:56 pm
  • Carlos,
    Unfortunately, there wasn’t a hot hand to insert instead of Matsui. I would have liked for Joe to go with Duncan against Sabathia, as he considered doing, before he decided to go with the “lineup that got us here”.
    Were you able to watch many games in Sept? I’m basing my view here on the way Matsui looked for most of the month – the worst I’ve seen his swing look in all his time with the Yanks. Just awful. Sure, Matsui was a big part of the yanks offense for the last 4 years, but bottom line, in the playoffs you can’t carry someone who is not getting the job done, with the hope they’ll bounce back. Not in a best of five series, especially.
    I agree that you can’t ignore experience and past performance, but I feel that you can hamstring yourself by over-reliance on these factors.

    Andrews October 11, 2007, 7:00 pm
  • Yes, Matsui looked horrible. At some point he mentioned that he was mechanically fine, and for the first time I cheered the announcers. They just said, no, you are not fine. But then he hit a bit and I had hopes. But he looked terrible and I had no idea why, except that I knew he wouldn’t get out of it unless he played.
    Duncan is an interesting choice. And here I’m thinking long-term, which I have to believe is a factor. Duncan seem to be used as a pinch-hitter, a little jolt here and there, and I think some of that had to do with the fact that the organization really sees little use in him future-wise. They don’t have a position for him and they seem to believe he’s a one-trick pony. I mean, he’s been in the minors a very long time.
    Plus, there is another view, which i occasionally hate about managers – the safe spot. The idea that if we lose, i want to lose with my regulars. Not with rookies. I don’t want to seem like I held back the meat. I think sometimes thats used as an excuse.
    In defense of Torre, he did get Duncan in the series as his role dictated, a pinch-hitter with pop. We can argue that the role was limiting and badly-designed. We can argue that Torre didn’t spend enough time fiddling with his lineup during the year to get to know his new blood. Sardinia for instance seemed like a leftover; i knew nothing about him and maybe Torre didn’t. But then again, they were fighting for a playoff spot. Its hard to both get to know the periphery of your roster while trying to win every game you can.

    carlos (YF) October 11, 2007, 7:09 pm
  • From Torre’s point of view, he has the best job in baseball. He always has good players, he’s paid twice as much as any other manager, and he’s a celebrity who hangs out with other celebrities, which he likes.
    The manager of the Mets is not a celebrity, and we don’t know if he will always have good players. In terms of supplying players, the best owners are the Yankees and the Sox.
    On top of that, Willie officially has the Mets job, so that’s not a real possibility. Of the real possibilities, none of the jobs offer Joe what the Yankees do.
    Last but not least, Torre has explicitly commented that there is some connection between his relationship with his abusive father and his relationship with the Boss, who for his part clearly acts the way he does at least partly because of the way his father acted. Human beings are complex.
    Sidebox: But it’s interesting how many teams are challenging the Sox and the Yankees not with money but with young players. The Rox continue their amazing streak.

    Anonymous October 12, 2007, 9:20 am

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.