Joe Torre is coming under fire as a result of the latest heartbreaking punch to the Yankee gut by the Detroit Tigers. Of course, managing the Yankees sort of always keeps you under fire and somehow Torre seems to have survived under owner George Steinbrenner since 1996. Which is something concidering how often Steinbrenner likes to go through coaches. In Fact Since Steinbrenner purchased the Yankees, the following have all coached under Steinbrenner…
Ralph Houk – Bill Virdon – Billy Martin (several occasions) – **** Howser (two occasions) – Bob Lemon (three occasions) – Gene Michael – Clyde King – Yogi Berra – Lou Piniella – Dallas Green – Bucky Dent – Stump Merrill – Buck Showalter – Joe Torre
Joe somehow has lasted 11 years or typically 2-4 different managers under normal Steinbrenner’s standards. But, the question now after another failed post season is whether or not Joe should go. There is no doubt George is fuming as we all are and the target of our wrath is always the manager. The question is, now we have had a few days to recover from defeat, whether or not its time for Joe to go.
Do I have the answer? No, I am torn between the yes and the no. So, instead I have decided to look at both the reasons why Joe Torre should be fired and the reasons why not.
Reasons Why Joe Torre Should be Fired
1. For the third straight year the Yankees appeard to be flat. Let’s face it, with the except of a certain Derek Jeter and maybe a couple of other players, the Yankees seem to have been asleep at the wheel for the past three post seasons. How on earth does the most dangerous line-up the game has seen, not score any runs, let alone get people on base. The managers job is to light a fire under the players if they are sleeping and for whatever reason Torre, who is a players coach, seems to have lost that ability to get under the players nails and light a stick of dynamite to spark some assemblence of life.
2. Joe Torre has made some highly questionable decisions in the playoffs for the past couple of seasons. This year, in game four he moved A-Rod to 8th in the line-up. Sure A-Rod was stinking up the place, but to move him to 8th is a massive slap in the face to quite possibly the greatest player who has ever played. Torre would have been better off to bench A-Rod to make a point, not put him 8th on the list. Pitching Wright in game four is another questionable decision. Wright has been lucky to get past the 5 inning this year, Lidle hasn’t done much better. Torre would have been better off to throw Wang in on short rest or at least Karstens who has proven himself over the past month and a half. Using Sheffield at 1B would be a questionable move and while Sheffield gives the line-up another bat, its a painful excuse for defensive purposes.
3. Joe Torre is mis-used the relief staff for the past couple of years. This may be a pretty good debate about the over use of the relief staff. Proctor this year logged in just over 100 innings pitched, which is a lot for this day in age. Villone was beginning to show signs of slowing down after a great start and we can’t forget the over use of Small and Sturtze in 2005 which lead to their injuries this year. Rivera is getting older and was still being asked to pitched two innings several times throughout the season, which may or may not have caused the elbow pain. Then again, much of this over use could be blamed on the ancient pitching staff and the struggles the old timers have had. Either way, Torre still makes the final decision on the bullpen and some believe he has blown out a few arms over the years through over use.
4. Torre who did so well managing the Yankees during the 96-2000 season, has struggled with the high profile and quite expensive players since. The whole A-Rod issue this year is a sort of microcosom of the problems Torre has had with a $200 million dollar salary. While we don’t know the whole story of what went on behind the scenes, Torre’s job is to fix it, one way or another on the field. And as I stated in reason number one, the players don’t seem to be "with it" during the post season. Granted, Torre is limited by how much he can do. You can’t bench $150 million in players for youngsters with more fire in them, but at the same time, something needed to be done to wake this team up. Compared to the Tigers or A’s, the Yankees seemed to be very oh hum about the entire playoff approach.
5. Simply its time for a change. 11 years is 3 lifetimes worth managing in a Yankees uniform. Torre has done a great job for the Yankees and brought us 4 championships and 9 straight division crowns. However, much like the old college football coach, there comes a time where the effectiveness wears off and a change is needed to respark the desire and winning spirit. Thank Torre for a great job and move on.
Reason Why Joe Torre Should Keep His Job
1. Okay, the man has one over 1000 games in 11 years, including four seaons with over 100 wins. He has guided the Yankees to five world series, winning four of them. I can think of 29 other teams who wouldn’t mind a manager with this kind of record. Success stands for itself and given the issues this year with injuries and what not, the fact the Yankees even made the playoffs is demonstrative of Torre’s ability to keep things rolling. Look at Baker with the Cubs. He loses a couple of players and they become the worst team in the NL, I mean, come on… worse than the Pirates? Joe loses nearly every player at some point and yet still carries the team to 97 wins. That is impressive.
2. Joe Torre isn’t paid $20 million plus to throw a ball and hit it once in a while. The players are. At some point, the players on the Yankees need to be held accountable for forgetting what got them to the playoffs in the first place. This year, it seemed only Jeter remembered and proceeded to hit .500 during the series with Detroit. Giambi, A-Rod, Sheffield, Damon, Matsui, Cano and Abreu all forgot basic hitting concepts and the fact this was suppose to be a patient line-up who could drive up pitch counts. In game four against Bonderman, after 5 innings of work Bonderman has thrown less than 50 pitches. The bullpen seemed to prefer giving up runs rather than stopping them and nobody seem to have any fire. As they say in football, 3 up, three down and that was the Yankees in games 2 – 4. With the exception of a very small group of players, these are well-versed veterans who should know better and blame should not be placed on Torre for their inaction.
3. Steinbrenner should take some heat for making some bad decisions, tying Torre’s hands from having the kid of players he would prefer. Sure, its great having an all-star lineup, but they still have to field the ball. Remember Scott Brosius a tremendous defensive player, but not exactly a top of the line hitter. Which, didn’t matter, the Yankees still had Jeter, Williams, O’Neill, Strawberry, Martinez and Posada in the line-up. Brosius didn’t make errors and got the job done in the field. Pitching has been in shambles since the Yankees let Pettitte and Clemens go. Torre has somehow had to find one replacement start after another to put together some sort of patchwork rotation in order to win games. Its hard to blame Torre when the the weak rotation dosen’t peform in the playoffs along with the other "all-stars".
4. Like it or not, Torre is a great buffer between Stei
nbrenner and the players. Half the problems during the 80’s was a direct result of hiring managers who were just as worked up as Steinbrenner. Torre is cool, calm and collected under fire. The players respect Torre because he is a staple of collected strength to get the job done. Torre has worked with what he has been given and after trading away some great talent for over priced and aging vets, one cannot really blame Torre when the owner over rides solid baseball decisions. Torre deserves another year to work in some more of the young talent while shedding some of the dead weight picked up in the past few years. The players love him, the fans love him and he has earned the right for at least one more chance.
5. Is there anybody who can really step in and do a better job? A major component of the Yankees problems the past few years stems from too many aging, high priced super stars who’s production is going down. The fact is, the Yankees are in transition to refocusing on youth again and 2006 clearly demonstrated why. When you have a team of grandfathers, they are not going to have the same spirit a team full of youth will have. This isn’t something Torre can control. What he does control is the maintaining inflated egos and weathly millionaires from exploding into a segment from The View. The issue here is the fact that you need somebody who has the respect of the players, who can remain calm and understands the environment everybody is working in. Sure you can bring in a fire starter like Sweet Lou, but how would a Sheffield deal with Lou telling him he needs to kick it into second gear? Or how about a now fragile Johnson who is giving up homeruns in bunches that he needs to miss a start because his body is actually old? Lets face it, million dollar egos don’t handle fire breathing managers very well and this is why Joe Torre is the perfect man for the job until at the very least some young blood is brought in.