Ben’s commentary on the end of an era in New York got me thinking a lot more about the manager issue. I understand a lot of people want to see Torre gone. They decry his bullpen usage — and we’ve been guilty of that on plenty of occasions — and think he has some nonchalant attitude towards managing the game. “Binary baseball fans” (we’ll get more into this term later in the off-season) think he doesn’t play the numbers well enough. I have one question, though: Who do you think should take his place?
- Tony LaRussa? People will point to his personal pitching coach, Dave Duncan, and think it might be a good idea. However, as a commenter pointed out earlier today, how many pitchers came up through the St. Louis system during the LaRussa/Duncan tenure? Matt Morris. Oh, and Dan Haren, but all of his success came after he was traded. Duncan can fix veterans to a degree, but with the young arms in the system, I’m not sure I want Duncan around. As for LaRussa, I don’t really have an opinion on him, which puts me in the minority. Most people are against the idea. I’ll let you have it out in the comments.
- Don Mattingly? Please, let me know what he has done that indicates he’d be a competent manager. What sticks out to me about Mattingly is his reaction to Steinbrenner’s ultimatum for Torre:
“It’s obviously an uncomfortable situation for me. I don’t want to be caught in the middle of this. On the back end of that, Joe knows how I feel about him. He knows I would never do anything behind the scenes or anything else to backstab anybody. It’s not my character; it’s not part of me. I’m comfortable with that part of myself. Joe knows me, too, that I wouldn’t be doing that. My loyalty to him is as long as it has to be, really forever. He’s treated me great, he’s taught me tons.”
1) No one ever accused Mattingly of working behind the scenes. These sound like the words of a guilty man — guilty of something, not necessarily of explicitly lobbying for Torre’s job — to me.
2) If you hate Torre, do you take solace in Donnie saying “he’s taught me tons”?
But overall, he hasn’t done a thing to prove he can manage in the bigs.
- Joe Girardi? First off, he’d be managing a few guys he played with. I’m not sure how this has worked out in the past, but I’m not sure it’d be good for the Yanks. Second, I’ll name you two guys: Josh Johnson and Anibal Sanchez. Both pitched for Girardi, both haven’t been healthy since. The Johnson situation was the most egregious of the two, as we all know the rain delay story. If Girardi told Joba to go out there after sitting down for an hour, I might just storm the dugout.
- Bobby V? I still don’t think he’d ever manage for George. But if he’d be up for it, it’s a consideration.
- Tony Pena? I have nothing bad to say about the man. It’s tough to gauge what was his fault and what wasn’t with the Royals. He took a team that in 2002 hit .256/.323/.398 with a team ERA of 5.21, and turned them into a .274/.336/.427 team with a 5.06 ERA the next year. And then he lost Carlos Beltran to the Astros and Mike Sweeney to injuries, and the team collapsed again (their pitching remained horrible). Clearly, he was not in an ideal situation.
Who else? We’ll take any and all suggestions, and hopefully develop them into a good discussion. For the record, I’m all for giving Torre another contract. I don’t think anyone on this list could do a better job of managing this team.