Over at the Worldwide Leader, Jeff Pearlman has penned a Page 2 apology to Joe Torre. Here’s the entire column in a nutshell:
A know-it-all bozo on ESPN.com’s Page 2 opines that the Yankees should save their season by firing Joe Torre, then watches in amazement as New York’s manager guides a severely flawed team back into the pennant race.
To get this out of the way (not that I have any reason to think he’s reading my work): I would like to apologize to Joe Torre for a completely wrongheaded column that never should have been written. It was dumb. Beyond dumb.
As you can imagine, Pearlman goes on to shower Torre in accolades for guiding the Yankees through the thick and thin en route to a pennant race right now. As Yankee-mania heats up and the Red Sox start to feel the pressure of a four-game lead that was once fourteen, we’ll be seeing a lot of this. We’ll see columnists extolling the virtues of Joe Torre and praising him for a job well done as he guides a team that struggled at the beginning of the season to the playoffs.
But really, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Last I checked, Joe Torre was still responsible for, according to these guys, six losses this year. Six losses, by the way, would give the Yanks a two-game lead in the East. By my count, Torre then is still on the hook for the Yanks’ having to play catch-up all summer. (Yes, I recognize the Yanks may have still gone 0-6 in those games, but Torre’s moves were fairly inexplicable at the time.)
Meanwhile, Brian Cashman was forced to trade away members of the Yankees at the trade deadline because the front office was concerned that Torre was using them as a crutch. Scott Proctor and to a greater extent Miguel Cairo were exiled from the Yankees because Torre kept insisting on deploying them in high leverage situations. That is not the sign of a manager with a full vote of confidence.
I also have to wonder how much of the credit Joe Torre really deserves for the Yankees’ offense. Take a look. Since the All Star Break, the Yanks are hitting .329/.396/.557. That’s a team OPS of .926. So yeah, good work at the plate, Mr. Torre.
Now, you can look at this and say I’m being too critical. You’re probably right. Torre’s can a better job of late of managing the bullpen now that Kyle Farnsworth, Brian Bruney and Scott Protor are either in Joe Torre’s doghouse or gone from the team, but I prefer to thank Mariano Rivera for that move.
To his credit, Torre has been very good at getting the most of his team. Bucking his past trends, he’s entrusted the centerfield job to Melky Cabrera. He’s balanced at bats between Johnny Damon and Jason Giambi. He’s stuck with Andy Phillips at first base. So, yes, Torre gets some credit.
But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. The way the Yanks are playing, they don’t need a manager right now. And we don’t need to gloss over Torre’s faults to the detriment of the Yankees.