Saturday, October 13, 2007

Managing and Coaching

One of my astute readers, Chris, posted this in the comments section of the last post:

"It's a forgone conclusion that Joe Torre is finished as manager of the New York Yankees.

I completely disagree. I don't think Joe is going anywhere. The Yankees should have let him go after 2003, and they had legitimate chances to drop him after '04, '05, and '06. I doubt they'll do it now. More than likely, he'll get a one year deal at about $4 million."

Very nice analysis, and I must say that I'm of the belief that Torre will be back with the team next year. The buzz is there in the press already, but think about it. David Ortiz and several of the Red Sox players defended him openly. Mariano is willing to walk with Torre up in the air. The young players all came out in support of Joe, as did the veterans. Basically, anyone who is involved in the locker room or the diamond is on Joe's side. Donny Baseball, who might be in line to take over for Joe, even barked his support for Torre to sip his tea from the dugout next season.

After some initial hemming and hawing, I've also come around. I think fresh blood in the dugout and on the field may be just what the doctor ordered for the Yankees, but to be honest it makes little difference whether Joe is the manager or not. As I've said all along, Joe didn't win those 4 titles, and he didn't lose the series we've played since 2000. He's loved by his players and respected by the opposition. He's horrible with the bullpen, but does a fine job with most other aspects of the game (please tell Jeter to never bunt again). If it means that much to the team to have Joe Torre at the helm, he should be at the helm. Don't forget, a lot of the guys who are with us now came to play for Joe. His reputation as a player's manager is justified, and adds value to our free agent pursuits.

Anyway, I still think it makes no difference one way or the other on the field, but it makes a lot of difference in the handling of the media and the clubhouse, where he shines.

On another semi-related note, I see that the O's fired Leo Mazzone. Mazzone's reputation took a bit of a hit in Balitmore, where he couldn't work the same magic he did with Cy Youngers Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz. To that I say, "How can you expect a guy to work miracles with Steve Trachsel, Daniel Cabrera, and Jaret "Ouchie" Wright?" The O's system is a mess, and outside Eric Bedard, who Mazzone did refine nicely, who else is there?

Daniel Cabrera would be the name that hurt Mazz the most. Cabrera is thought to have lights out stuff, but no control. His lack of consistency in the zone makes him a perennial disappointment. I suggest that Mazzone could have done a better job with Cabrera, but it's also fair to believe that Cabrera is beyond saving. A pitching coach is not a miracle worker. They can't take you or me and turn us into Major League prospects. They can occasionally take a talented kid and refine his motion and delivery to the point where he finds a few extra miles per hour and control of a decent breaking ball. The best of the best can turn league average guys into frontline starters from time to time. The success of a pitching coach is more often defined by his ability to tweak already established talent to perform consistently well over the course of an extended period of time. Mazzone does that very well. What he can't do, and what no one can realistically do, is take a pitcher with no "feel" and transform him into an All-Star. Those cases are found once or twice in a generation. (Roy Halladay?)

I think the Yankees should look into paying Mazzone to be the pitching coach, or at the very least the director of organizational pitching instruction, or some such role. Guidry is okay. Fair job so far. Mazzone would be better from our bench, rocking back and forth next to Torre while he sleeps. Failing that, get him in the Yankees family.

Last thing. If A-Rod opts out, Cash should stick to his guns and let him walk. Let the Red Sox or Cubs pay him $35 million a season for 15 years. We have to show the world that the Yankees aren't going to be held hostage by any agent or any player, no matter the talent. It's important to take ourselves out of that negotiation strategy and show that we are in control of our own financial dealings. We aren't a negotiation chip for anyone. I want A-Rod back and I'd be willing to pay him silly money to finish his career in pinstripes, but not if he opts out. Even if he were to sign with the Red Sox.


Bianca said...

Nardi Conteras is doing just fine as the organizational pitching director.

I wouldn't be completely against Leo as a PC (although I'd much prefer an in-house promotion of Aldred or Eiland), but the Yankees definitely do not need to be making changes to things that are very much already working well.

ChrisV82 said...

If Torre comes back and Pettitte decides to stay, that makes it easy to go with the rotation I want for 2008 - Andy Pettitte (the one veteran), Chien-Ming Wang, Ian Kennedy, Joba Chamberlain and Phillip Hughes. To hell with crappy free agents, that's a rotation with a lot of potential. If that rotation clicks like it should, we will have a far easier time in the playoffs. If not, then we will have as much of a shot as if we filled up with mediocre pitchers from the market.

RollingWave said...

Mike Mussina is signed for next year, so we're probably stuck with him, though i guess as a declining old pitcher he has a better shot than most at adjusting...

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With the trades and acquisitions made going into the draft, plus the bulk of the team that is carried over from last season, and the trades and draft picks made during the draft, it sure seems like the Pats are going to be the team to beat in the AFC this season, and perhaps in all of the NFL.

Considering the Pats were almost in the Superbowl last season with a pathetic receiving corps and that they've added very talented players into said receiving corps this season, barring some nasty injury(ies), they look to be the team to take it all.I say injury(ies) because I think they could survive an injury or two to some positions, but if they lost Brady they'd probably have a hard time recovering.

I wish I could say that the Redskins did well in the draft and/or in free agency but so many holes still exist that I'm not sure they'll be significantly better than last season. I suppose on face they should be if they can keep their corners healthy. With Landry (argh, hard to type that name as a Redskin!!) back there with a healthy secondary they might be able to cheat up more and put more pressure on opposing QBs. Might.

They still have what should be a lot of talent in the receiving positions, and Campbell should be better, but they don't have the quality on either line (offense or defense) that I wish they'd have, so it could be yet another year of .500 at best, or worse.

Still, the NFC East looks to be the NFC Least again this season. None of the teams there look like they'll be that good, and none really look ready to step up and take the division.

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