The Captain Speaks: “We” Shouldn’t

We should never talk about his job. He’s been doing a great job. He’s been doing a great job this year.—Derek Jeter

That “we” was ostensibly meant to entail the media, but it was clearly a message to a certain other party. The Torre-Jeter bond is one of the most fascinating in the history of the game. The Yankees can ill-afford to irreparably harm the team’s relationship with its superstar shortstop; that would create a serious long-term PR problem at a time when the Mets are already a media darling. That new stadium isn’t going to just fill up by itself. Which is not to say the team must be hostage to its manager, whose performance has hardly been above reproach this season, though making him the scapegoat for the team’s lousy results thus far seems grossly unfair. “It that’s what happens, that’s what happens,” said Torre of a possible firing. We hope it doesn’t come to that. Next week he will celebrate his three-decade anniversary as a Major League manger. We look forward to raising a glass in his honor

30 comments… add one
  • Much as I may enjoy watching infighting among the Yankees, the “Torre may be fired” story seems a little overblown, given that Steinbrenner seems to have no testosterone left in his system, and that there is no really plausible replacement for Torre.
    (NOTE: except my suggestion of luring Clemens with a player/manager deal!)
    The story serves mainly to vent fan frustration and sell newspapers. Who knows, Georgie Porgie may catch some spring fever and revert to his old self just long enough to spoil his long relationship with Torre…
    But my guess is they take a few off the Rangers and Mariners and Torre/Cashman ride this thing out for the year.

    Hudson April 30, 2007, 10:34 am
  • I guess it depends how seriously you take the anonymous source tipping the Post and the Times to the tenuousness of Torre’s job.
    I don’t think Torre should be fired — he didn’t sign the pitchers or cause their injuries. But he has managed the bullpen into ineptitude, and I think Jeter is wrong when he says Torre’s “been doing a great job this year.”
    I said it once before: This seems to be the Yankees’ rebuilding year, much like last year was the Sox’. The GMs can never admit it without pissing off the fan base, but it’s very difficult to sustain success while changing the philosophy of a system, as Theo did last season and Cashman was talking about doing this season.

    Paul SF April 30, 2007, 11:24 am
  • Is it just a little brighter and warmer outside today? Or is it just me?

    jp - SF April 30, 2007, 11:25 am
  • Yep, JP: it is much nice outside today.. Throw that tattered cap on, and take a stroll. It’s a great day indeed.

    Brad April 30, 2007, 11:40 am
  • ugh…. nicer I mean.

    Brad April 30, 2007, 11:41 am
  • 1) I find it hard to characterize any team with a payroll above $100 million as having a “rebuilding” year. It may be a down year, but the term becomes somewhat meaningless when applied to teams like the Sox or Yanks.
    2) As also posted at (ugh) Lohud: Joel Sherman wrote in today’s NY Post that “during the past 11 years, as well, and he has 11 playoff appearances, 10 division titles and four championships,” so his job should be secure.
    The obvious question Sherman does not address: Would a different manager have fared particularly worse (or better), being handed the same 1-2 billion dollars worth of talent over the same period?
    I don’t subscribe to the theory that managers aren’t responsible (at times, at least) for the performance of the guys who swing the bats and throw the balls. Clearly there are managers who make smarter decisions than others, who are better motivators of their team, who work better with their staff, and who keep the team more on track to perform at their best.
    To this outside observer, it is pretty hard to tell if Torre is really a great manager or just an average one blessed with an unusual amount of talent to work with. The phenomenal results before 2001 and the unsatisfactory ones since then may tend to suggest that the elements of chance and high payroll have more to do with his fortunes than any unusual skill.

    Hudson April 30, 2007, 11:41 am
  • P.S. Grady Little was a bad manager.

    Hudson April 30, 2007, 11:43 am
  • > how seriously you take the anonymous source
    Agreed. There’s no reason to take the thunderclouds of doom allegedly just over the horizon seriously until he is actually fired, and such a decision makes no sense whatsoever considering the current state of the pitching staff. It’s the nature of the game when the team is losing this frequently to pick apart individual decisions, but frankly I don’t see that it would make any difference what Torre has done over what anybody else would have done as of late. The injuries are obviously beyond his control, and just about every guy on the staff has taken their turn to be appear as combustible as dryer lint thrown in a campfire when they are thrown into a game.

    attackgerbil April 30, 2007, 11:46 am
  • My friend and I were talking about the Torre situation and we both (as Sox fans here) agree that it is not a situation at all. I can’t see any reason for Torre to get the boot, it’s only April and historically the Sox have always been the Kings of April, there are plenty of games left and with our history and heartbreaks by no means is any Sox fan confidant that the Yanks and Torre won’t rebound from a slow start. If there is anyone that the Sox fan’s respect in the “Evil Empire” it is Joe Torre. Give the man the break and see him work the magic he’s worked so many times before.
    It’s early, very very early.
    (Bigger news is Randy Moss in a Patriot’s uni…Superbowl??)

    Shawn April 30, 2007, 11:56 am
  • A simple line Cashman or Jeter could try to stop Steinbomber from torching Torre: “You can’t give the Red Sox the satisfaction of being the ones who ended Joe Torre’s career…”

    Hudson April 30, 2007, 12:02 pm
  • I think that the anonymous source is Chicken Little.
    I would say that in some regards Torre has mismanaged the bullpen (matchup issues), but on the same token he has not had much choice in some places. When the starters are having a hard time getting to the 6th inning it is going to tax it. I know that someone is going to talk about not using Myers against Ortiz (etc). That is not the complete picture.
    Somewhere, someone had to have looked at the roster and thought to themselves, “Gee, we are getting old.” When the FO keeps signing players that should not have been signed it caused a long term problem for them. So to hold Torre accountable for this is not completely fair.
    This is not a Sox/Yanks comparision, the Sox have had problems with this before and it got us last year (Wakefield..wierd rib injury).

    Rob April 30, 2007, 12:02 pm
  • AG, I think Torre can rightfully take some hits for the way he’s managed his staff and the pen. He seems unwilling to use a pitcher for more than an inning, even when everyone else in the pen is already overworked. But firing him because of poor bullpen management when the starters are injured and/or ineffective and when the hitters can’t hit a ball out of the infield seems pretty extreme to me.

    Paul SF April 30, 2007, 12:03 pm
  • SF – what’s your feeling on Moss? I’m under the impression that he’ll be awesome there once he conforms, and really, it’s a no lose situation for NE. They’re into it very little money wise, and they did get Stallworth as well. Methinks this move put them right in the AFC Championship game in Denver. Where, of course Champ Baily and Dre Bly make both moot points, and Cutler goes for 400 and 4TD’s! Other than that, I think it’s an awesome move for NE.

    Brad April 30, 2007, 12:07 pm
  • ughhh, again. Champ BailEy…
    Must use preview more often.

    Brad April 30, 2007, 12:08 pm
    Shaughnessy couldn’t help himself, the only man possibly with the same stupid gene as Kay piped in in Moss and Meriweather.

    Rob April 30, 2007, 12:09 pm
  • Oh, Torre goes nowhere. The Yanks will beat up on Texas and Seattle pitching this week like they’re supposed to – Philly Abreu will stop trying to bunt his way on, and all will be forgotten re: the past week. Besides, who takes over? Mattingly? Now, that’s funny. I’m sure he’ll be a fine manager in time, but you don’t just hand the keys to a Lamborghini (albeit one with a few flat tires) to a 16 year old valet with thick glasses and shaky hands.
    Torre survives less a really, really stupid move by King George.

    Brad April 30, 2007, 12:12 pm
  • I for one am willing to give Belichick the benefit of the doubt…I think he’s earned that. Dillon and Harrison were supposed to be malcontents and I’d say they worked out pretty well. Besides, Moss took a $7MM paycut to come over here and agreed to a zero-tolerance conduct clause in his contract. Oh, and he ran a 4.29-40 for Belichick…this looks like a better offense then any the Pats have had in their Super Bowl era.

    desturbd1 April 30, 2007, 12:23 pm
  • Not a huge follower of the NFL, but getting Moss for a low-round pick AND getting him to take a pay cut? Incredible.

    Paul SF April 30, 2007, 12:33 pm
  • As a Sox fan, I hope they fire Torre. He’s a huge asset to the Yanks, IMHO. Firing Joe would make DJ cry and would probably keep Roger off the Yanks.
    I just don’t see it happening.
    Moss is an exciting pick-up. I’ve always thought he was a jerk, but if anyone can get him straightened out, it’s Bellicheck.

    Tyrel SF April 30, 2007, 12:46 pm
  • If Torre gets fired, it will prove that The Boss still retains too much control over the team. Good news for Red Sox fans, like me, bad news for Yankee fans.
    I doubt it will happen though.

    LocklandSF April 30, 2007, 12:55 pm
  • Scenario: Say a Yankees pitcher stank it up as badly as DiceK did in the 4th inning on Saturday.
    Based on what we’ve seen this season so far Torre would probably have pulled him after that wild and costly inning — and started burning through the pen.
    But Francona had confidence in Matsuzaka and he indeed recovered and got the Sox to a point where they could win without using six pitchers.
    That’s where a manager’s decision can make a difference, even though he doesn’t swing bats or toss pitches.
    Another factor behind the Yankees’ problems, imho, has to do with the whole “match-ups” mindset that has developed in MLB in recent years. By swapping pitchers in and out as easily as we used to flip baseball cards as a kid, you might gain some marginal advantages… These supposed advantages are typically calculated on tiny sample sizes.
    But the main effect, I think, is to wear the pens out and not give pitchers time to gain any rhythm or work through trouble. It means using a zillion guys almost every night, mainly to avoid fans tearing their hair out about “why didn’t the manager bring in our specialist for left-handed pull hitters who wear cornrows who tend to hit triples on alternate Tuesdays?”
    Torre might try, from time to time, sticking with his starter longer even when he’s struggling, or keeping a reliever in for more than a handful of outs. There might be some short-term pain in the process but I think it would pay off for them in the long run.
    Not that I want to see the Yankees improve, natch.

    Hudson April 30, 2007, 2:13 pm
  • Steinbrenner today says he supports Torre and Cashman. Must be more senile than we thought…

    Paul SF April 30, 2007, 2:30 pm
  • Cashman, I can see, but not Torre. Although, I’m thinking that one will most likely follow the other in rapid succession if things aren’t turned around.
    Cashman should definitely travel to Texas with the team this week, if for nothing else than to get in Roger’s ear. Something has to be done, and everyone knows it.

    Brad April 30, 2007, 2:39 pm
  • Yes, he got the dreaded ‘vote of confidence’ from Steiny. He’ll be gone within a week.

    jp - SF April 30, 2007, 2:39 pm
  • “the dreaded ‘vote of confidence’ from Steiny.”
    Could be “deja vu all over again” See Lemon, Bob and Berra, Yogi.
    “Torre might try, from time to time, sticking with his starter longer even when he’s struggling”
    I basically agree with your point about starters and relievers Hudson, but in Torre’s defense, he’s been dealing with starters with pitch limits recently – Wang, Hughes, Karstens – so sticking with his starter hasn’t been an option in many cases.

    Andrews April 30, 2007, 3:32 pm
  • I agree Andrews, but removing Pettite and Igawa, and showing Proctor in like five of the six games to date is on his shoulders. Over on LoHud, Peter did a very nice job of pointing out why using Proctor against the Red Sox is probably the worst thing Torre could have chosen to do, and he does it repeatedly, altoghether ignoring the results each time.

    Brad April 30, 2007, 4:08 pm
  • I just wonder how much crap ARod would have to put up with if he was less than historic this month..
    Hopefully May will be better!

    Lar April 30, 2007, 4:25 pm
  • It darn well better be, Lar, and not just because if the Yankees somehow do worse Joe Torre most likely won’t be managing the team come June.
    The Yankees play Seattle and Texas for 13 straight games this month. They have always dominated these teams, plus that these teams are among the worst in the AL. Really, anything less than a 9-4 record against them will really be a disappointment for me.

    Andrew April 30, 2007, 6:28 pm
  • i know i’ve said this a hundred times before, but the season is really a bunch of mini-seasons all strung together…this funk the yanks are in is not likely to last for the whole season…it’s true that they [as a team] have not responded well to the pitching injuries…nobody has stepped up, unless you count igawa’s effort the other day…i doubt anyone expected that mo would have 1 save and an era of 10.5 at this point in the season…the entire team seems to be in a slump in all phases, except the over-achieving arod, and even he’s started to come back down to earth…actually they kind of remind me of the sox when they had that meltdown toward the end of last year: pitching injuries, ineffective starting pitching, overworked bullpen, premature minor league callups out of necessity, players mired in slumps, a catastrophic losing streak…i don’t recall anyone calling for francona’s head…
    the yanks need to ride out the storm, relax a little bit, and things are bound to turn around…be patient…in the meantime sox fans, enjoy…

    dc May 1, 2007, 8:44 am
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