John Rolfe of CNNSI.com has this
to say about Joe Torre.Torre's coaching job one for the record booksIf the Yankees somehow reach the postseason for the 11th year in a row, Joe Torre should be handed the AL Manager of the Year Award on a nice silver platter.
Right off the bat, I have to say: no. I don't think you can reward the guy who is handling a $200 million payroll for just making the playoffs. I don't care how many injuries and squabbles and whatever he has had to deal with. I would vote for Ozzie Guillen over Tore, and Guillen is the most overrated manager in baseball right now.Torre is in his 10th year at the helm -- the longest run in the Bronx since some guy named Casey Stengel hung around for twelve (1949-60).
Is this somehow a point in his favor? Just...that he's been there?Torre last won the award in 1996, when he shared it with Johnny Oates of Texas. The echoes from that season -- the dawn of the most recent Yankee dynasty -- can be found in the way Torre has masterfully held his team together through a relentless onslaught of injury, slumps and pressure.
Okay, so, there's the argument: that Torre has "held his team together." To which I will respond immediately: any team that has the veterans that he has -- Jeter, Posada, Williams, ARod, Tino, etc., and still needs a manager to "hold the team together," is a sad team.Right off the proverbial bat, these Yankees were engulfed by the Jason Giambi mess.
Poor babies. The guy who cheated for them made their lives difficult.Then came their unsightly 11-19 start that plunked them into the basement of the A.L. East.
Who was managing the team during that run? Not Torre? How is this
a point in Torre's favor? He did a shitty job, then later, he did a decent job?There was a 1-9 skid in late May and early June that included a three-game sweep at the hands of the woeful K.C. Royals, and a 2-6 slide into July. A pack of wild card contenders has surrounded New York, and as soon as the picture brightens, the hoo-doo continues. Witness Jaret Wright getting knocked out by a line drive and Mike Mussina developing a sore elbow.
So, here's how I understand the argument so far: Torre's team stunk out of the gate. At various times during the year, Torre's team again stunk, against terrible teams. Lots of other teams are better than they are. Jaret Wright got hit by a batted ball and missed a start. Mike Mussina is old. The Yankees are still in the Wild Card hunt. So, Joe Torre is great.New York's beefy offense has fueled some impressive hot streaks, but these Yankees are prone to playing flatter than a flounder fillet in the middle of I-95, especially against teams such as K.C. and Tampa Bay. Torre has probably conducted more team meetings than at any time during his tenure. He most recently gathered his squad in Oakland after they opened a key three-game series with a 0-12 eyesore Friday. The Yankees came out and won the next two, patiently wearing out Barry Zito in a 7-3 win on Sunday.
There's a lot going on in this paragraph, including terrible and weird analogies. If their offense is so good -- which it is -- then, what influence does Torre have over their wins? The murder the ball. They've got Sheffield, ARod, Matsui, Jeter, and Giambi batting 1-5 in their line-up. What kind of brilliant coaching is necessary to make their offense go?Torre has been called a push-button manager, but he's had some funky buttons to push this season. The roster, particularly the pitching staff, resembles a contraption cobbled together by the Little Rascals out of wobbly baby buggy wheels, fruit crates, a bulb horn, cats on exercise wheels under the hood and a goose on a string attached to the front bumper. I don't think I've ever seen a team enter so many series without knowing who their starting pitcher will be in every game.
Wowie wow wow. Ignoring that descriptive flair, I will simply say: yes, they have had a ton of injuries. But they also signed Randy Johnson. They signed Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright, who have both been injured, and whose injuries were the best thing that happened to the team all year, because they both stunk up the joint. And please don't give any credit to Joe Torre for Aaron Small and Shawn Chacon piching way above their heads. Torre just plugged them in, and they've made him look good. Credit, if any is deserved, and I'm not entirely sure it is because it seems so flukey, goes to Cashman.As usual, Torre has remained as placid as a cow on thorazine. He's kept the glass over the panic button intact, as he did in '96 when New York's 12-game lead dwindled to three in late August and September, and in 2000 when the Yankees backed into the playoffs on a 3-15 roll and still won the Series. Never a small achievement when a team plays under a win-it-all-or-go-home-in-disgrace edict.
Torre is indeed very calm. You'd be calm too if you had a 3 year, 18-million dollar guaranteed contract and had already won four WS titles, and had also clearly decided years ago that you weren't going to let Steinbrenner's nonsense get to you.Clearly, the sun is setting on the dynasty, but I fully expected this to be the season when it all fell apart in a steaming heap. Yet here I am astounded to see Torre's gizmo approaching the finish line, tattered but intact.
I'm sorry. Torre is a very good manager, but I just don't get "astounded" when a $200 million team is only within shouting distance of the playoffs in early September. They've got too much talent.As one Little Rascal said, "Reee-mark-uh-ble."
Labels: joe torre, john rolfe, yankees