Tuesday, October 09, 2007

On Torre

It's a forgone conclusion that Joe Torre is finished as manager of the New York Yankees. Is it fair? That's really hard to say. There are a number of sides to the issue that are championed by various entities around the team. There is the "Joe Must Go" crowd, led by NoMaas. There is the ambivalent crowd that probably appreciated Joe Torre, but has no real loyalty to him over the team. I think that's most folks actually. Then, there are the people that LOVE Joe Torre, led by his players and folks stuck in 1996-2000.

I consider myself in the middle group actually. It's completely unfair to blame Torre for what's come of this Yankees team since the final out in 2001. He's not a good in game manager, but he was good enough to go along for the annual 100 win push. His moves in the playoffs neither won 4 championships, nor got the team knocked out early the last 7 years. The manager rarely matters that much. Joe was loved by his players, and that says something. Free agents wanted to play for the Yankees as much to play in the Yankee clubhouse as they did for the money. Part of the reason for that love was Torre's loyalty to "his guys" and the even-keel demeanor that kept things professional and calm. That's something in the Bronx Zoo.

By all accounts he handled working for Steinbrenner very well. There were numerous occasions that Joe could have fought with The Boss in the media, but chose to play it low profile. That was smart. The drawback to Torre's personality was the sense that he was often asleep at the wheel, lacked the fire to motivate his players, and generally didn't get it. There's truth in both views. There's also truth to the knock that Joe stubbornly stuck with veterans like Villone, Sturtze, and others. Those guys had no business on the club, but wore the veteran badge of honor to Joe. Loyalty is good. Loyalty can cost you if you don't know how to wield it properly.

In the end, it's time to part company with #6. I don't think he deserves to be vilified or blamed. I don't think he deserves to be canonized either. We should remember him as a class act that presided over one of the most successful eras in Yankee baseball, and lasted well beyond what conventional wisdom would have told us his tenure would be at the start. It's time for new blood. That's true of the manager as much as it's true of the players on the roster. This group has outlasted its run, and we need to change the chemistry. That starts with the manager and ends with some of the guys on the field.

I wonder what will happen with #6. Will it find its place on the wall in Monument Park, retired, or will it go to the next hot young player to walk through the door? I'd put it on the wall as much to remember 1996-2000 as to celebrate Joe, but it probably deserves to go out there with #2, #20, #21, #42, and #51. If not, Joe's name still sits on the leaderboard of Yankee victories as manager. That's a prestigious list that you can never take away. Goodbye Joe. I wish you well in your next job, or in retirement. You deserve our thanks.


Jim said...

It's one thing to say Joe's time has come and gone; I disagree, but you could be right.
It's something entirely different to say who should replace him.
Joe Girardi?
Might well be my top choice, but I somehow doubt he'd be as successful dealing with a clubhouse of multi-millionaire superstars as with a pack of hungry rookies.
A Great Yankee (here we hum a few bars of Auld Lang Syne) and a really, really nice guy. But do you think baseball nous is going to just drop down onto him from the heavens?
Tony La Russa?
Oh please! The boy genius mentor of Jose & Mark. (Here, Alex, rub some of this on your forearms...) It's baseball, Tony, not chess.
Buck Showalter?
Pin Stripes: starring Buck as Warren Oates, Derek as Bill Murray, Robbie as Harold Ramis & Jason as John Candy...
I say before you throw Joe Torre under the truck it's time to have a chat with the brain trust behind Carl Pavano, Jerrod Wright, Kevin Brown and Jeff Weaver.
John McGraw, Connie Mack & Casey Stengal combined couldn't win more than Joe Torre with the pitching he's had to work with in the past few years.
Maybe it is time for change; maybe the old guard got a little too comfortable with themselves, but firing Joe Torre isn't going to make the New York Yankees a better baseball team -- uh,uh; no way; no how.

ChrisV82 said...

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.

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