Archive for Joe Torre
Known for his high workloads with the Yanks (102.1 IP in ’06, yikes), Scott Proctor had Tommy John surgery last week after battling elbow issues for parts of the last two seasons. Now, his longtime manager Joe Torre says that Proctor’s stupidity is to blame. “There’s playing hurt, and then there’s playing stupid,” Torre said. “It doesn’t have anything to do with someone’s intelligence. If you can endure pain and still are able to do what you do, that’s one thing. If you’re willing to play, which means you certainly are brave, but you can’t be the player that you need to be, then it’s not very smart to do for your own health, and you’re not helping the team either.”
Now, I understand that Joe is trying to say that Proctor should have spoken up about when he needed a break, but it’s not like the guy forced his way into 166 games in a two year span. Joe is usually an excellent communicator, but some things are better left unsaid.
In other Joe Torre news, The Post reports that the 2010 preliminary schedule features a trip to the Bronx by Torre and the Dodgers. It would be the Dodgers’ first visit to the Bronx since the 1981 World Series and Torre’s first since his uncomfortable departure in 2007. Derek Jeter told the Murdoch-owned tabloid that it would be “awkward” to play against Torre.
As the Joe Torre story broke a few weeks ago, news emerged that the Yanks were considering adding non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreements to their standard contracts. When Joe wrote it about at the end of January, his post generated some interesting debates over the contract provision. Many criticized the Yanks for attempting to control the P.R. spin while others approved of the term.
Today, we learn that the Yanks would not be alone in keeping a lid on the clubhouse. The Dodgers, Torre’s current employer, already include a NDA in their contracts. Jayson Stark dropped this tidbit into his Rumblings & Grumblings column this week:
The Dodgers apparently have no reason to worry about Joe Torre’s writing a gut-spilling, sanctity-violating book about his current team. A friend of Torre says the Dodgers included a confidentiality clause in Torre’s current contract. So sadly, we’ll probably never get to read the Dodgers’ catchy clubhouse nicknames for Manny or Derek Lowe.
When the Yankees do it, they’re accused of violating their employees’ First Amendment privileges, but when the Dodgers do it, it becomes accepted industry practice and hardly registers in the news. Nope. No double standard in baseball.
For the past half hour I’ve been looking for something Yankee related to riff on, but there’s just nothing turning up. We’ve hit a real lull in terms of news, and that has us focusing on topics around the league. I did stumble across this Matt Gagne article in the Daily News (does he pronounce it like Eric or Greg?), which isn’t much, but it’s something to talk about as we await the RAB Radio Show this afternoon.
Gagne talked to some Yankees fans at Joe Torre’s book signing regarding their faith in Joe Girardi compared to the old skipper. The way Gagne presents it, most fans only trust Torre to take this team to the playoffs. Some selected quotes:
“It would be as close to a guarantee as you could get,” said Tammy Weinrib, 33, incredulous that Torre no longer wears pinstripes. “I’m still furious by what happened….He was the best coach they ever had.”
“I don’t think the Yankees are going to make the playoffs this year,” said Brandon Cohen, 35, of South Amboy, N.J. “I don’t know if Girardi can get all these guys together. With Torre, no question. They wouldn’t necessarily win the World Series, but they’d get there.”
This is a bunch of baloney. Dislike Girardi if you will, but to say that Torre can take this team to the Series and Girardi can’t is giving way too much credit to Torre and way too little to Girardi. These specific fans, and fans who think like this, are viewing the issue at only the surface level: Torre made the playoffs every year from ’96 through ’07, and in Girardi’s first year on the job he broke the streak. Ergo, Torre can do it and Girardi can’t.
Say what you will about a manager’s effect on a baseball team, but I don’t think Girardi was at the center of the issue last year. The Yanks had poor timing. They got some quality outings from their starters early in the season but couldn’t score runs. Then they picked up the offensive production, but dropped off in the pitching department when Sidney Ponson and Darrell Rasner took the spots of Chien-Ming Wang and Joba Chamberlain.
As Mike showed, the Yankees runs scored vs. runs against was about even for the first half. They made some separation at the end of July, but in August the numbers grew closer again, and that’s what prevented the Yankees from making the playoffs. You can make proclamations about how it all came back to Girardi, but I can’t agree with that. Injuries did a number on the team.
I have full faith that Joe Girardi can lead this team to the playoffs. Maybe Joe Torre could have, too. I don’t think there’s any real way to say, though, without getting into total anecdotal speculation.
The Joe Torre Book Tour gets started tomorrow afternoon at the Barnes & Noble at 46th and Fifth Ave., and the general consensus is that this book tour will make or break his Yankee reputation. He isn’t off to a great start.
The big issue right now revolves around his critiques of A-Rod. As Neil Best writes today, Torre is attempting to backtrack on his A-Fraud comments. On his Friday appearance on Larry King Live, Torre claimed that his less-than-glowing nickname for the Yanks’ third baseman was simply a joke. I don’t buy it and neither, it seems, does Mike Mussina.
In the Bob Klapisch column linked above, Mussina opines on this debacle, and his words ring true:
“Joe has started something that a lot of people are going to have to answer to,” Mike Mussina said by telephone on Thursday. “Joe’s going to have to answer to it too, but it won’t be as bad for him because he’s with the Dodgers now. But it’s going to be bad for the guys he left behind.”
Mussina said, “it’s not just what goes on in the clubhouse, it’s sitting on the bus, or if you’re out having lunch. As a ballplayer you need to know who you have to watch out for and who you can trust. First and foremost, you should be able to trust your manager.
“I mean, people knew that Brown was out there, and that Randy was ornery all the time. And Pavano is whoever he is. But if you’re their manager, you can’t go out and write about them like that.”
This gets back to an issue that will plague Torre in two weeks. He will show up for Spring Training in Glendale, Arizona, and confront a bunch of players who have, for weeks, heard about Torre’s throwing the guys he doesn’t like under the bus. Would you trust your manager with that knowledge? I don’t understand why Torre wrote the book, but things aren’t looking good for Torre’s reputation.
One of the more obvious aspects of Joe Torre’s book is the former Yankee manager’s dislike of Carl Pavano. At least that’s the one remaining thing upon which Torre and all the people he reportedly skewers in the book can agree. Pavano, on the other hand, isn’t too happy about it.
Writing on the ESPN Radio 1050 AM blog, Andrew Marchand notes a statement by Pavano concerning the book:
“I am extremely disappointed that someone I had a lot of respect for would make these type of comments in his upcoming book,” said Pavano, in a statement released to 1050 ESPN New York through his agent, Tom O’Connell. “I wish nothing but the best for Joe Torre and my former Yankee teammates, but with that said it does explain why I haven’t received any Christmas cards from Joe the last few years.”
Now, I can understand why plenty of Yankees past and present — such as David Wells who called Torre a punk — may take exception with the excommunicated St. Joe’s words. But Pavano shouldn’t look his gift horse in the mouth. The Yanks paid him $40 million to be a fraud. He should take his money and stay out of this, no matter how right he may be in calling out Torre.
While I’m still waiting on my copy of The Yankee Years, one thing is clear about this whole Joe Torre dust: His reputation is in tatters. He broke the age-old code of writing about the clubhouse, and he will pay a price for it.
Exhibit A: Wallace Matthews reports, in a column to which Joe linked last night, that Joe Torre will not be welcome at the new Yankee Stadium. Torre was conspicuously absent during the closing ceremonies for the new stadium, but this is probably the final straw.
The Yanks can be rather petty too. Number Six will not earn its place among the retired numbers, and Torre won’t get the recognition from the team he deserves following the success he enjoyed over his twelve years in the Bronx. I’m not sure which side gets to claim the high ground here.
Exhibit B: Cooperstown. This is where I leave the debate up to our RAB readers. A quick scan of the headlines reveals stories similar to this one by John Harper. By opening his mouth, Torre has damaged his standing among the sportswriters who once idolized him, and it jeopardizes his Hall of Fame standing.
So a poll:
The Week of Torre continues late Wednesday into Thursday. In this installment, we find out from Wallace Matthews that the Yankees want to include an NDA in future player and manager contracts. Instead of non-disclosure agreement, though, they’re going with a “non-disparagement” agreement “in order to prevent any more tell-all books.” So former employees can disclose parts of their tenure with the Yankees, so long as they’re not portraying the team in a negative light. Sounds like the makings of some compelling literature.
The Yankees only want former employees to write books which are “positive in tone.” Well, of course they do. No one in the Yankees front office is happy that Joe Torre wrote this book. It says some mean things about them. They’d prefer it if they could control that type of speech so they wouldn’t have to deal with the PR issues.
That doesn’t mean that Torre shouldn’t be able to write it. He lived it, supposedly, so why shouldn’t he be able to chronicle it and sell it to anyone willing to buy? That’s the point, isn’t it? People will buy it, so he and Verducci wrote it. That’s what they wanted, and that’s what they’ll get.
As we’ve seen over the course of the week, this has not been without fallout. Matthews tells us in another column that “David Wells will be named the team nutritionist before Torre is invited back to the Bronx.” The player reaction obviously hasn’t been positive. Even some fans are turning against the legendary former skipper. Everyone’s getting theirs, it seems.
Like an overnight post I did on Mark Teixeira back in December, this is my last post on the Joe Torre fiasco. Hey, when I said that about Tex the Yanks signed him the next day. Maybe something cool will happen today.
What I love about the nightly open thread is that we can write about basically anything. If you find it boring, irrelevant, or overdone, you can just skip over the post and dive into the comments. If you want to use the post as a jumping off point you can, but there’s certainly no obligation to do so.
Why did I open like this? Because I saved up some articles relating to the Joe Torre book, and I figured I’d dump them on you in the open thread, rather than litter your day with them. I know a lot of people are sick of the topic. Even for those who aren’t, it’s a tough topic to navigate because so few of us, if any of us, have read the book. We’re going on reactions. But they can be fun too, right?
First up is Ken Davidoff. He wrote about Brian Cashman‘s relationship with Joe Torre following the 2005 season. Yet before he gets into that, he says something about A-Rod which I think is worth repeating:
And as Tyler [Kepner] points out, if Mariano Rivera had just picked up the save in 2004 ALCS Game 4, then Alex Rodriguez would’ve been riding a monster first two rounds into the World Series, and we wouldn’t be standing here today, dissecting A-Rod the way we do.
Of course, this isn’t blaming Mo, just like “if he hadn’t thrown the ball into center field we would have won the 2001 series” isn’t blaming Mo. It does bring up an interesting point, though. People also kill A-Rod for striking out with a man on third and less than two outs in the game, and then dismiss his early home run. This I will never understand. Sans the home run, Mo doesn’t have a lead to blow.
Next up, and also relating to A-Rod, is a statement by Brian Cashman. Bryan Hoch brings it to us.
“I think we’ve gone through so much of the Alex stuff that, you know, if anything, maybe this brings people closer together,” Cashman said on Monday during a conference call to announce Andy Pettitte‘s one-year contract.
I’m not so sure this will bring anyone closer together. Cashman does have a point, though: the team has been through all this. They’ve dealt with A-Rod for five years now. I doubt anything Torre makes public in the book will change how the guys on the team view him now.
Finally, Jack Curry has some quotes from Torre on the book. The former Yanks’ skipper made it clear that he never used the word “betrayal,” despite every tabloid in the city saying so. He also had a comment on A-Rod: “I don’t think I said anything about A-Rod that I didn’t say already.” Yeah, that you didn’t already say to Tom Verducci. Thankfully, it appears A-Rod is taking this all in stride.
This is your open thread for the evening. The Knicks and the Nets are off tonight, the Hurricanes are in the Garden, and the Devils are in Ottawa.
By the end of this week or the beginning of next, RAB will have its copy of The Yankee Years. After reading it — and only then — will any of us be in a position to comment on the controversy that has exploded across the pages of the New York tabloids and more reputable newspapers this week.
We have all seen an excerpt, but that’s hardly conclusive. The rest of us who haven’t read the book are simply basing our opinions on the raging “he said-he said” debate. All that leads to is a bunch of ill-informed sweeping pronouncements about who’s right and who’s wrong.
While we’re waiting for the book — now with eager anticipation — one aspect has emerged as the truth, and it is a truth that has been dominating Yankee coverage since 2004: It is, for better or worse, all about Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez. Torre, from the early reports, never thought too fondly of A-Rod. The Yanks’ one-time skipper supposedly couldn’t reach the seemingly cerebral slugger, and A-Rod was envious of Torre favorite Derek Jeter while others in the clubhouse weren’t fond of A-Rod.
“We never really had anybody who craved the attention. I think when Alex came over, he certainly changed the feel of the club,” Torre writes in his book. Of course, baseball-wise A-Rod had a little bit of an impact too. The game’s best hitter will do that.
The Yanks, of course, are rallying around A-Rod. “I think we’ve gone through so much of the Alex stuff that, you know, if anything, maybe this brings people closer together,” Yanks GM Brian Cashman said during Monday’s Andy Pettitte conference call.”There’s always going to be some controversy that surrounds this club. The best way to try to deal with it is, I guess, rally around each other the best you can if there’s real feelings there.”
Defend each is is, after all, what a team is supposed do, and Pettitte got right to it. “I have never one time heard of the term `A-Fraud’ until I saw that rolling on the TV, I guess this morning or whenever they started reporting it,” he said. “If it did go on, it went on before I was there.”
For their part, A-Rod’s team is fighting back through anonymous quotes in The Post, according to NJ.com. That’s fighting fire with, um, fire.
No matter how this soap opera plays itself out though, A-Rod will remain front and center. Since joining the Yankees in 2004, he has been far and away the team’s most productive hitter, but between his perceived playoff failures, his divorce and Madonna, he’s made more than his fair share of back pages for non-baseball related antics as he has for his baseball heroics. Until the Yankees win a title with A-Rod, he will remain this powerful, polarizing figure. It’s just the way it is, and no matter what it ultimately says overall, Torre’s book is just another part of the Alex Rodriguez circus. With that bat around, though, I wouldn’t want it any other way.
The Torre book drama started yesterday and has been a steady source of conversation into today. Problem is, few if any of us have actually read it. Over at SI, they have an excerpt from the book which revolves around late October 2007. Torre obviously feels betrayed, but if you can look past his “my flaw is that I’m the good guy” rhetoric, you can see that the Yankees had come to a decision, and they intended to follow through on it. One year, take it or leave it. Torre left it, and that was that. Well, until this book was written, that is.
Torre apparently did pitch an idea to Cashman, and to an outsider it doesn’t sound half bad:
“Cash, I have an idea. What about a two-year contract? It doesn’t even really matter what the money is. Two years, and if I get fired in the first year, the second year is guaranteed. But if I get fired after the first year, I don’t get the full amount of the second year, just a buyout. The money doesn’t matter. I mean, as long as it’s not just something ridiculous. It’s not about the money. It’s the second year.”
Apparently, though, the Yankees were not willing to do that. Torre claims that, based on a post-meeting encounter with Brian Cashman, that the GM never even floated the idea to management.
Cashman looked at Torre oddly, as if this were something new. “Uh, I really didn’t understand it,” Cashman said. “Remind me, what was it again?”
Cashman then went back into the room, supposedly approached the Steinbrenners with the idea, and emerged less than a minute later with a response in the negative. Torre’s quote on this: “I’m thinking, Well, s—! He never told them!” I’m not so sure it’s that simple. From the beginning, it seemed like the Yankees knew what they wanted, and Torre knew what he wanted. The Yankees gave Torre their firm offer, and he deemed it unacceptable. They apparently were not keen on his idea.
I imagine everyone in the Yankees front office was in a tight spot during this time. Torre was a beloved manager of 12 years, an unprecedented run in the Steinbrenner Era. He wanted to come back. The Yankees were only interested under their terms. I’m not sure I can fault them on that. Argue if you want about the manner in which it was handled. But if the Yankees only wanted Torre back under their terms, and Torre did not accept those terms, well, that seems pretty ordinary to me.
You can hear more about the book on the MLB Network…right about now. Matt Vasgersian will interview Tom Verducci on Hot Stove at 7. So you can check that after or while you read the excerpt.
This is your open thread for the evening. The NHL has a night off after the All-Star game, the Rockets are in the Garden, and the Nets are out on OK City. For you Big East nuts like me, you can catch Marquette at Notre Dame at 7 on ESPN.