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 â€” Coco Crisp â€” 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:
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?