Oakland A’s 1, Joe Torre 0

Down on the Farm
Athletics 5, Yanks 4

When George Steinbrenner fired Joe Torre at the end of the disastrous ALDS against Detroit last fall, I wasn’t disappointed. Joe had a great run in New York, but his flaws had been out in the open for everyone to see since the 2004 ALCS. When he was unfired, I figured the Yanks could win despite Torre’s flaws.

Tonight’s game proved me wrong.

Let’s start at the end. With Brian Bruney working his second inning in the 11th, Torre let him pitch into trouble and toward a Yankee loss. Meanwhile, the Yankees’ best reliever, Mariano Rivera, never entered the game, never warmed up, never did anything. Bad decision number one.

Flashback to the 7th inning. Kyle Farnsworth, who had given up four runs in 0.2 innings one game ago, comes into the game, and, you guessed it, blows a one-run lead. Brian Bruney, who did pitch admirably in extra innings, was no where to be seen. Bad decision number two.

Bear with me as we jump ahead to the top of the 8th. First, Torre pinch runs for Jason Giambi. Had Giambi scored, he would have been insurance. Giambi – or pinch runner Kevin Thompson – never makes it around the bases, and the Yanks lose Giambi’s bat. Bad decision number three. Stop pinch running for your number five RBI guy in tie games. Just stop.

Same inning, Doug Mientkiewicz strides to the plate with the bases loaded and one out. Mientkiewicz swings mightly and hits a dinky pop up just past the pitcher’s mound. A-Rod, who had to hold at third, is out at the plate by a mile. Dougie, whose terrible throw at the end of the game sealed the deal for the A’s, had hit into double plays in his previous two at bats. Josh Phelps sat on the bench. And sat. And sat. And sat. Bad decision number four.

So that’s it. Mientkiewicz went 0 for 5 and stranded seven runners. He was responsible for 7 of the Yankees’ 33 outs this evening. Is his average defense really making up the runs for this pitiful offensive performance? I don’t think so. Does Joe Torre even know that Josh Phelps is on this team? I don’t think so.

Meanwhile, as is his style, Torre left Rivera in the pen and Josh Phelps on the bench. So while Brian Bruney, who threw well but had to go to a third inning (!) took the loss, this one belongs on Torre’s shoulders. Huston Street gets the win; Torre the loss.

Down on the Farm
Athletics 5, Yanks 4
  • http://yankeesetc.blogspot.com/ Travis G.

    i didn’t hate leaving Minky in to face the LHP. if phelps comes in, oakland would have countered with a RHP. and minky actually hits LHP well. his first DP was hardly his fault. it was a hard liner right at the LF. most of the time, that’s a hit.

    BUT, i agree on the horrible decisions not to use Mo, to pinch run for Giambi, and (from now on), to use Farnsworth in any close game.

  • Ron

    I didn’t stay up to watch the end, but the Star Ledger said Bruney was working his second inning, not his third. Not to defend Minky too much, but one of the DPs he hit into was a line drive to left that Posada was running on and couldn’t get back to first. It is a stretch to blame Dougie for that.

    As for Farnsworth, can’t we fleece the Phillies for some prospects? They are hard up for relief pitchers.

  • dan

    Well I for one think Torre stinks as a manager. He is afraid to do anything. In spring training they practiced the squeeze bunt so with Minky being such a good bunter why did they not try it?

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben


    That’s a great idea. That situation was ripe for a squeeze last night. But calling for that move would require some creativity on Joe Torre’s part. I would expect pigs to fly first.

    And Ron

    You’re right about Bruney. That was just inning two. I corrected it.

  • Deric

    The Joe Torre we used to have during the late 1990s was long gone. I think it was in 2003 that I saw that Torre for the last time. I don’t base everything on just this one game last night, but I just don’t think there’s much left in Torre. It’s time for him to go.

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  • tommy

    Do you think Joe Torre is comparatively worse than other MLB managers? I get the sense that there is absolutely /no/ creativity in game management, because the costs associated with risk taking are extremely high compared to the potential gains.

    The success that managers have is almost entirely dependent on the quality of their players. I understand that player skill is subject to playing time, which is a managerial decision, but when the decision-making process is so rigid and formulaic, it hardly matters. If Torre puts Rivera in high-leverage situations, people will criticize him for overworking him. If he compensates by not putting him in in a three-run save situation, Rivera and his agent will scream bloody murder along with thousands of other idiot Yankee fans.

    If there’s a real place for a great manager to lead a team, I’m not sure we’re ever going to be able to see it happen on the field. Joe Torre was a career .470 manager when he came to the Yankees, and I don’t see any reason to believe he is any better or any worse now than he was then.

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