Fire Joe Torre

Down on the Farm
Then stop playing the infielders out of position

That was ridiculous. Up by four with six outs left, Joe Torre somehow finds a way to manage the Yankees to yet another loss in a game they should have won this season. Sure, as the good folks discussing the game at the Banter noted, much of the blame lies on the shoulders of Mike Myers, Luis Vizcaino and Mariano Rivera, but the strategies, the bad decisions that led to this disaster, they all fall on the shoulders of the man in charge.

And, as I believed in October, it’s time for Joe to go. This game came down to one hard fact about baseball that Joe Torre has never seemed to understand: Late in a close baseball game, your best reliever should face the opposing team’s best hitters.

That’s it. Plan and simple. It’s not even a secret! But for Joe Torre, this has long been a point of contention, and I’m left wondering now, in 2007, if Don Zimmer and the sweet-nothings he used to whisper into Torre’s ears as his trusty bench coach were more responsible for that run of four World Series titles than we thought.

Ask any Yankee fan: Who’s the best pitcher in the bullpen? Mike Myers? Luis Vizcaino? I guarantee you 100 percent of everyone would say Mariano Rivera. So late in a close game, Joe Torre of course turns to…Mike Myers?! But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Let’s turn back the clock to some happier innings: Top of the 8th, A-Rod doubles and Jason Giambi singles. It’s 6-2 Yanks, and things are lookin’ real good for the Bombers. But it’s Boston; it’s the Red Sox; it’s a close game. And so Joe Torre does the logical thing and leaves Jason Giambi in the game in case he comes up again later.

No, no, no, no. Wait. Joe Torre takes out Jason Giambi for a pinch runner, doesn’t send the runner and doesn’t have the no-hitting Wil Nieves bunt the speedy Kevin Thompson into scoring position. So when Robinson Cano singles, instead of plating a seventh run, the Yanks have runners on the corners with Melky Cabrera up. Once again, showing no sense of strategy, Joe doesn’t have the slumping Melky squeeze, and Cabrera, further proving my point that he should have been traded, strikes out at a pitch literally three feet above his head.

Phew. That’s an inning full of Bad Decisions. But it gets worse.

With David Ortiz up, Joe Torre turns to lefty Mike Myers who doesn’t get the job done. Ok. That’s not Joe’s fault, but the next move is: With Manny Ramirez up, Torre turns to journeyman-posing-as-setup-man Luis Vizcaino. Manny walks, J.D. Drew grounds out, Mike Lowell singles, and all of a sudden, Rivera has to come in anyway. Bad Decision.

While Rivera’s lack of command or speed isn’t Torre’s fault, if Joe is willing to use Rivera to get five out, why not use him to get six before the crowd and the team get back into the game? Why not use your high leverage pitchers in high leverage situations? (Tangentially, what’s up with Rivera? Sure, he’s blown back-to-back saves before, but after a stellar spring training, his velocity is down and his command is off. Is that elbow still bothering him? Are we seeing the End of Mariano Rivera?)

But it gets worse. With a lefty up — Coco Crisp — facing Rivera, who throws inside to lefties, the infielders are positioned so that Doug Mientkiewicz isn’t guarding the line. Guess what happens. Yup, that’s right. Game-tying, one-out triple.

Then, since Joe Torre has forgotten about the bottom of the 9th of game 7 of the 2001 World Series, he draws the infield in, and Alex Cora dunks a ball into what should have been Derek Jeter‘s glove had the infield been playing back. But it’s an RBI single.

Then in the 9th, Jason Giambi’s removal comes back to haunt them, and Kevin Thompson, batting while Josh Phelps stands in the on deck circle, strikes out on a check swing to end of the game. Brilliant move.

So I’m mad as hell at Joe Torre, and leave the house to grab a late dinner. I’ve been pondering all of these things:

Why does Joe Torre remove Jason Giambi when he already has lost Jorge Posada? With Hideki Matsui out, this pinch running substitutiou leaves the Yankees lineup dangerously thin.

What is the point of having Josh Phelps on the bench? He hit an important home run yesterday off a right-hander, and instead of playing, he sits while Doug Mientkiewicz turns in another 0-fer performance and doesn’t make the big play in the field.

What will it take to get Joe Torre out? Year after year, he makes the same Bad Decisions. He removes his potent bats; he doesn’t use his best relievers in the highest of high leverage situations. He doesn’t have the guys who should be bunting up there bunting. He doesn’t use his bench properly. Since 2002, the Yanks have made the playoffs in spite of Joe Torre and have lost because of him. Now it’s affecting their regular season play, and I’ve had.

Joe Torre must go. He’s cost the Yanks two games already this year. How many more losses can we credit to Joe Torre and his inability to manage a bullpen?

Down on the Farm
Then stop playing the infielders out of position
  • Irate Fan


    • Bobby

      if it makes you feel better joe torre has done alot of strange things since being a dodgers manager…..for a while i seeemed to be in the minority when it came to me thinking he was overated then….but now more people seem to critisize him..

  • John

    I disagree. In no particular order:

    Pinch running for Giambi when you’ve already got a 4 run lead is dumb unless there’s something wrong with Giambi that we don’t know about.

    Pulling the infield in is one of those hard-nosed baseball guy things that Joe Torre does. He also lets a guy with a career OBP 20 points lower than the next 6 batters hit leadoff cause he’s speedy. I digress.

    End of Mariano Rivera? Ha. If you fault Joe for anything, fault him for not getting Mo into one of those blowouts against the Indians so that he could get some work.

    Would you really have brought Mo into a game with no one out in the 8th 6-2 and a runner on second without using your other relievers? The answer is (if you’re a hard nosed baseball guy like Joe Torre and every other manager in MLB) no.

    Are you confident that Will Nieves can handle the bat well enough to bunt? We need a backup catcher, but that’s on Cashman, not Joe.

    Cabrera has had a bad 15 games. Not only does that happen, but Melky is betweem a backup and a starter.

    Josh Phelps and Miguel Cairo are Joe’s last two position players. He must have felt that Thompson-Phelps was more likely to plate a run than Phelps-Cairo. I think I agree with him.

    You can call this a Joe Torre loss, but I don’t think there’s a manager in the majors who would have handled the pitching staff differently.

  • Ben

    You can call this a Joe Torre loss, but I don’t think there’s a manager in the majors who would have handled the pitching staff differently.

    Incorrect. As much as I hate Terry Francona, he did exactly this last week when he used Papelbon to face the heart of the Angels in the 8th. He then pulled Papelbon in the 9th with a large lead. But he used his best reliever against the opposing team’s best hitters late in a close game. That’s what you’re supposed to do. It’s not revolutionary.

  • Deric

    Amen Ben. I have long said that Joe Torre should be fired. I just can’t stand his in-game management anymore. He is horrible! I am not saying that Mo’s blown save has anything to do with Torre, but it’s definitely his fault when he didn’t make the right move so that it caused the game. We would use our setupman only when we are leading by 7 or 8, but never when we are leading by 4..XD

  • Ben

    We would use our setupman only when we are leading by 7 or 8, but never when we are leading by 4..XD

    I’m not sure if that’s sarcastic or not, but let me say it again: If Torre’s willing to bring in his best reliever for a five-out save with the game on the line, why not use him for six outs to face the best hitters on the team? That’s all. Time and time again, he makes this same mistake. Losing with your best pitcher in the pen isn’t ok.

  • The College Baseball Blog

    I am a Sox fan but the only bad move I thought Torre made was taking Giambi out of the game. The Myers move was correct but you can’t keep Myers in the game to face Manny.

    Are the Yanks going to be swept now with Karstens and Wright now facing the heart of the Sox rotation? Time will tell!

  • Ben

    Here’s another bad decision.

    Pitcher A: 8 G, 9.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 11 K
    Pitcher B: 9 G, 9.1 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 7 BB, 4 K

    Which one do you chose?

    Hint: Pitcher A just pitched out of a bases-loaded, no-out situation without giving up a run.

    Pitcher A is Bruney. Pitcher B is Vizcaino. I don’t even think Joe went to the guy who should be his set-up guy. This Vizcaino is proving to be something of a stinker.

  • Resop Choi

    Why even take out Proctor who had thrown only 6 pitches in the 7th? With a four run cushion let him at least face Papi and Manny, and if one or both get on or go yard then you go to Myers for Drew.

  • Mike A.

    At first I was ready to crucify Torre like you Ben, but the more I thought about, the less I thought it was his fault.

    The Yanks were up by 4 in the 8th inning when he pinch ran for Giambi, so the odds of needing Giambi’s bat later in the game were very small.

    I don’t have a problem with him bringing in Myers to face Ortiz. Again, it’s the 8th inning and your up by four. That what Myers is for. But looking back, I think he should have just left Proctor in for the 8th. If Ortiz and Manny both go deep, they’re still up by 2.

    The other thing is this: if Torre brought Mo in to face Ortiz and pitch the last 2 innings and the Yanks won, Torre would have ripped for bringing Mo in for that long with such a big lead. He gets ripped for not bringing him in, and he would have been ripped if he did bring him in. That’s managing in NY.

    Yeah, he definitely should have PH for Thompson. Yeah, it probably should have been a strikeout pitcher in Bruney instead of Vizcaino. And yah, Minky should have guarded the line, but the bottom line is Mo blew the game. No one wants to blame Saint Mo, so they blast Torre.

    (and for the record, I blame Mo’s diminished command and velocity on lack of use)

  • Jeteupthemiddle

    This isn’t a Joe Torre loss.

    It isn’t even close to a Joe Torre loss.

    With a 4 run lead, pinch running for Giambi is annoying, but certainly not damning. With Mariano Rivera in the pen, it would be wrong to expect Giambi’s bat to mean something in the 9th. The fact that that was the case, doesn’t mean the odds were likely that it would have been.

    When you have Mariano Rivera on the mound with a 4 run lead for a 5 out save, and you lose, well then the loss goes to Mariano Rivera.

    This isn’t like the Cleveland game where Wedge refused to remove Borowski, because Borowski doesn’t have nearly the track record of Rivera.

    As for not getting Rivera work during the Cleveland series to keep him sharp today, he would have been KILLED on various blogs for using Rivera in a blow out.

    Basically, this game just sucked, and it had nothing to do with Torre.

  • Ben

    I think the Giambi deserves a little bit of attention as well. The Yanks had already lost their second hottest bat in Jorge Posada. Matsui is sidelined until early next week. Why make a diminished lineup even less potent? This is especially true if you’re not going to use a pinch runner in any sort of strategic way.

    Who knows? Maybe Giambi comes up in the 9th and is the last out against a filthy Okajima. But at least you go down with your best guys instead of your worst guys.

  • stepheneliot

    Hi Ben,

    I thought you wrote a brilliantly detailed piece today discussing Joes’ mistakes… Vizcaino bombed the other night so why bring him in again at Fenway? So he can set-up another loss? And what’s with Joe and Mike Myers? The few times I’ve seen him pitch against the big lug he stunk up the game. There’s certainly has to be another lefty ” specialist “that can get the job done. Right?

    Furthermore, there’s no doubt in my mind that Joe will go unless he can win another world series, and I’m betting that won’t happen. Was Zimmer Joe’s Yoda as you bring up? In the interim, there will be night’s like last night where you can only end up cursing the fates and say tomorrow’s another day, or whatever gets your past those dark thoughts during the night,

    Aside from the outcome, Pettite pitched a good game, which should have allowed us to win abetted by a force of nature that bats fourth in our lineup. Damn! We should have won. We didn’t. Today and tomorrow might have us end up four games out of first unless the improbable can happen and that is always a possibility, or so I hope.I an event,let’s play some ball.

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