Archive for Joe Torre
In response to yesterday’s hoopla about Joe Torre’s new book, the book’s co-author, SI’s Tom Verducci, answered some questions about the controversy. He claims that it is a third-person account, and that, as the headline says, Torre doesn’t rip anyone, and that “[i]t’s not a tell-all book.” He goes on to say that the book is a third-person narrative. While it’s nice to now know the point of view the authors employed, I don’t think this fact alone gets Torre off the hook.
Meanwhile, Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times offers up a review in Sunday’s paper. Unsurprisingly, it’s a bit more even-handed than the tabloid accounts we saw yesterday. It talks about the actual focus of the book, the post-2001 decline, rather than a few cherry-picked anecdotes. Again, none of this comes as a shocking revelation.
That said, third person point of view or not, it does appear Torre got in his shots:
The book does not hide Torre’s bitterness over his departure in 2007 (he was offered a one-year contract that involved a pay cut in his base salary) and takes a few swipes at the general manager, Brian Cashman, and some players — most notably, Alex Rodriguez.
The quote on A-Rod used in this review: “Rodriguez was like nothing ever seen before on the championship teams of the Torre Era: an ambitious superstar impressed and motivated by stature and status, particularly when those qualities pertained to himself.” There’s also a bit on Jason Giambi, whom Torre says “wasn’t part of what we prided ourselves on: playing well defensively.” So I guess the whole book isn’t third person.
Kakutani notes one of the book’s shortcomings:
This book often fails to detail Torre’s role in the decisions made over these years. His reactions to the signing of Giambi and management’s refusal to grant Williams a guaranteed contract in 2007 are duly noted, but in other instances, it’s unclear to what degree he protested specific choices made by the front office or its lack of a long-term rebuilding strategy.
I’m sure it also doesn’t discuss Torre’s on-field decisions, which had drawn the ire of fans for the last four or five years of his tenure. Despite the point of view, the book is Torre’s take on those years, and in all likelihood he didn’t see much fault in himself. What I also find strange is that he has these unkind words about the way the teams were constructed after 2001, yet he wanted to come back and manage that same team in 2008 and beyond. That, perhaps, is why many will view this as Torre taking swipes on his way out the door.
In the end, this has turned into more a marketing scheme than anything. Now we’re all talking about the book. There have been controversial claims made in the book. The only way to give it all context is to read it.
P.S. Joshua Robinson at the Bats blog has a great line from the Torre: “One thing I’ve learned is that people are going to feel the way they’re going to feel, regardless of what happened.” That means you too, Joe. That means you too.
All the rave on this Sunday morning relates to Joe Torre’s new book, The Yankee Years, which is due in stores on February 3. Tabloid reports focus on two main aspects: Alex Rodriguez and Brian Cashman. You can check out the report on NJ.com if you want to check out the tabloids, but I’m not linking them here. I know we’ve basically broken the tabloid ban, but these headlines are perfect examples of what we don’t like about those two outlets.
First, Mr. Cashman. The complaint levied in the book, or at least how the media portrays it, is that Cash didn’t stand up for Torre at the end of the 2007 season. I guess Torre’s ire stems from Cashman’s public stance that he supported Torre. Yet both can be true. Cashman might have favored the one-year deal the Yankees were willing to offer, but not the two-year deal Torre sought. In any event, I can’t see the reason for any harsh feelings between the two. Cashman did stand up for Torre and had him brought back after the 2004 season.
Regarding A-Rod, is this anything we didn’t know before? It’s not like any of us think he’s a model citizen. He’s an insecure bastard who happens to hit baseball really well. This isn’t some shocking revelation. It will continue to fuel the fire of those who dislike Alex for his personality, and will ignite a spark in those who defend him for his baseball skills. I hope we can avoid this discussion in the ensuing comment thread. The important point, I think, (and as ‘The’ Steve pointed out) I wonder how his current players feel about him publicly slamming a former player?
These are just two points in a 400-plus-page book. They’re the juiciest details, so that’s what the tabloids will pick up. What will make someone buy a paper: a headline which includes the term “A-Fraud” and “betrayal”, or a headline that says “Torre speaks mostly well of time with Yankees”? So please, let’s reserve judgment until we all actually read it. If we do at all, that is.
* Another revelation was that the Yankees team doctors told George Steinbrenner that Torre had prostate cancer before they told Torre himself. I have no idea what to say about this charge. If true, that’s a pretty deep violation of ethics and the law.
At this stage in his career, with 13 straight playoff appearances and four World Series rings as a manager, Joe Torre is probably the most deserving non-Hall of Famer around. While he never received more than 22 percent of the vote while on the player ballot, he is again up for eligibility under the rules of the Veterans Committee, and this time, as MLB.com’s Tom Singer explores, he just might make it in. The Veterans Committee is tasked with considering a candidate’s “total contributions to the game of baseball,” and I think that Torre has a legitimate case for inclusion in Cooperstown. Despite his unpleasant departure from New York and his recent lack of playoff success, I’d vote for him given the chance.
I’m really torn about Joe Torre’s Dodgers this year. On the one hand, I feel bad for Torre. The Steinbrenners didn’t handle his exit very well last year, and this playoff berth is a bid middle finger to the October-less Yankees. On the other, Torre didn’t impress me in his post-dismissal press conference, and I thought that the Yanks should have moved on after the failures of 2004 when Torre’s managerial flaws were laid out for all to see.
Yesterday, before the Dodgers lost to Cole Hamels, Chase Utley and the Phillies 3-2, Harvey Aarton chatted with the Dodgers’ skipper who feels satisfied with his team’s playoff appearance. Torre was careful to avoid the word vindicated no matter how often Aarton pressed him on it.
Larry Bowa, meanwhile, was the attack dog to Torre’s green tea persona. “I know Joe is never going to admit it, but I think it means a lot to him to be at this stage right now,” said Larry Bowa. “You keep reading that, well, he should have gone to the playoffs because of your payroll in New York. But they had the same payroll this year and they didn’t get in.”
I get where Bowa is coming from. I get where Torre is coming from. And I certainly get why the tabloids are proclaiming the playoffs Yankee fans’ worst nightmare. But it’s a false storyline. Through July 31, the Dodgers were a .500 team, hanging two back behind an underperforming Diamondbacks club. After Manny Ramirez arrived, the team went 30-24 and earned a playoff berth with a record five games worse than the Yankees’.
Maybe it was the presence of Joe Torre in LA. But the 84 wins are his team’s lowest full-season total since he skippered the 1992 Cardinals to an 83-win, third-place finish. I think, on the other hand, that Manny probably played a bigger role in the end that Torre did.
Now don’t get me wrong; I loved Joe Torre while he was in the Bronx. I wish him well during the playoffs, and I don’t begrudge him his playoff spot. I certainly don’t have nightmares about him. I do think it was time for him to leave New York. All good things must end, and Joe Torre’s tenure in the Bronx was no exception.
A moment ago, the Diamondbacks lost to the Cardinals, and the Dodgers clinched the NL West. For the 13th season in a row, Joe Torre has managed his team to the playoffs. While the media will soon be all over St. Joe for this one, the Yankees have clinched at least the same record as the Dodgers, and LA plays in a weaker division. Manny Ramirez also deserves a lot of credit for driving the Dodgers to the playoffs. But for all that, I’ll tip my cap to Joe. That streak is quite an accomplishment, and this playoff berth is the reason why the Dodgers signed him.
While Manny Ramirez may be hitting .565/.615/1.130 in the early going with the Dodgers, apparently a 341 OPS+ isn’t quite good enough for Joe Torre. In a piece that notes the $200,000 Dodger fans have spent on Manny merchandise in the past week, Deadspin scribe Rick Chandler reports that Torre would like to see Manny cut his trademark dreadlocks. Oh, Joe. When will you ever learn?
Across the nation on the West Coast, the Dodgers are in second place, just one game behind the D-Backs. But by many accounts, their season has not been a success. They’re three games under .500, and as Ian O’Connor writes, Joe Torre doesn’t look so hot anymore. Sure, Frank McCourt killed a deal for CC Sabathia. Sure, Ned Colletti will probably take the blame. Los Angeles, however, expected more from Joe. I was surprised when Torre took this LA job. It was a no-win situation for him because, while the pressure wasn’t as high as it was in New York, anything short of a World Series would be both a disappointment and an admission that perhaps Torre isn’t as great an on-field manager as many think he was while in the Bronx.
It’s a quiet night in Yankeeland. We’re awaiting word on Tuesday night’s starter, and the Yanks had an off-day on Thursday as they journeyed to Minneapolis for a wrap-around weekend set with the 28-25 Twins.
But across the city in Shea Stadium, Joe Torre made his return to New York. He managed the Dodgers to a loss against the Mets and was received warmly by the Shea Faithful. Jack Curry sat down for an extensive look at Joe’s life post-Bronx:
But Frank Sinatra never had to manage a baseball team in New York, New York. While Torre was renowned for his lengthy interview sessions and seemed to enjoy the interaction with the news media, he said that the coverage surrounding the team changed about eight years ago. Torre could not pinpoint why. He just felt as if the game details often became secondary to other issues. Torre recounted how the Dodgers plunked Boston’s Manny Ramírez with a pitch in an exhibition game and it was barely noticed.
“New York is great for the good times and memorable for the bad times,” Torre said.
Three nights after Randolph heard a smattering of “Fire Willie” chants, Torre was serenaded like a returning king. After a pitching change in the seventh inning, Torre received a partial standing ovation as he walked from the mound to the dugout. He lifted his cap to the fans.
While Torre couldn’t pinpoint what changed, I can. The invulnerable Yankees lost in the postseason eight years ago, and they haven’t really managed to win that Holy Grail, that 27th championship, since then. What happened in 2001 was hardly Torre’s fault. Mariano threw the ball away; Scott Brosius didn’t throw the ball to first; the roof took away a potential Shane Spencer home run.
But as the Yankees stocked up on talent — when Jason Giambi came in and the Yanks had to replace Tino and Paul O’Neill — the media began to nitpick every move the $200-million team made, and Torre bore the brunt of that scrutiny.
Today, we’re on the verge of wrapping up month two of the Joe Girardi Era, and it’s gotten off to something less than the smooth start for which we were all hoping. The Yanks enter Minnesota in last place, one game under .500. They’re only 4.5 games behind the Red Sox for the fourth AL playoff spot, and I have to believe that the team’s fortunes will improve.
As I watched some of the Dodgers-Mets game from the gym before the Lost finale took my attention away from baseball for a few hours tonight, I asked myself if I wished Joe Torre were still managing in the Bronx. My answer was still no. I loved Joe in New York, and I think it’s too bad that he couldn’t still be around to manage the team into the new stadium. But I still think it was the right move for him and the Yanks to part ways.
Today, he and Girardi are both managing teams with high payrolls and sub-.500 records. But only in New York is the manager, the General Manager and everyone else under the sun under fire for this start. In Los Angeles, Joe Torre just sounds more at home, green tea and all.
Billy Witz checks in with Joe Torre in The Times today and finds that Torre does not miss the circus back east.
After his less-than-amicable departure from the Yankees, Torre is settling into a new reality, attempting to restore credibility to a franchise that has won one playoff game in 20 seasons.
There is no fishbowl, no calls from Boss & Sons and no suggestions from above for lineup changes.
On the other hand, there is no $200 million payroll. The Dodgers constitute the Little Engine That Could.
“This is more reminiscent of my first year there,” Torre said of the 1996 Yankees, who won the World Series. “We were underdogs. I remember George telling me in June, ‘Are you doing this with mirrors?’ We didn’t have home run hitters. It drove him nuts because he liked to beat everybody by 10 runs, but we were playing solid baseball.”
Of course, the problem is that the 2008 Dodgers are nothing at all like the 1996 Yankees. The Dodgers right now find themselves treading water at 9-13. They’re in fourth place, seven games behind the Diamondbacks. In 1996, the Yanks were 12-10 after 22 games and found themselves in first place for the first time. They would remain there all season.
Right now, the Dodgers are playing a bit below their run differential. They probably should be 12-10, and in that regard, they are similar to the 1996 Yankees. But Torre in Los Angeles is still doing the things that Torre in New York did that drove us all crazy. Joe Beimel has appeared in 13 games already this season; Scott Proctor, of course, has pitched in 11; and Jonathan Broxton has thrown in nine games.
When Torre took the Dodger job, it seemed like a moment of hubris for the former Yankee skipper. He wanted to prove to the baseball world and his critics that he could win without a $200 million payroll. He wanted to prove that he had what it took to lead a baseball club that needed managing instead of one that could operate fairly well on auto-pilot. Right now, this gambit isn’t working, and I have to wonder if Torre’s legacy would have been better off had he just called it a career after his less-than-friendly divorce from the Yanks in October.
One thing though is for certain: The 2008 Dodgers are not the 1996 Yankees.
The Dodgers and Yankees both sit at 4-4 a few games behind their respective division leaders. Despite the 3000 miles separating New York from Los Angeles, though, these teams this year will be linked by Joe Torre.
Today, Rick A., a new contributor at My Baseball Bias, waxes nostalgically about Joe Torre. With the Yankees seemingly struggling at 4-4 in the early goes, Rick wonders, “In hindsight, was it a bad move to essentially get rid of Torre?” He equivocates on the answer and ends by reaffirming something upon which all Yankees agree: We will always look back fondly on the Joe Torre Era.
I’d like to take a short stab though at answering the question posed by Rick. I think the answer is a resounding no. To me, Joe Torre and the Yankees will forever be linked. He was named the manager of the team before my 13th birthday and served in his role until I was 24. I doubt any Yankee manager will last as long as Torre did during my lifetime, and my high school years are filled with memories of the Yankees winning the World Series year after year.
Then, for me, along came college and with it, Joe Torre’s magic touch disappeared. I watched the Yankees lose two World Series, lose one divisional series in four games and lose historically to the Red Sox in 2004. It was, in fact, after that momentous ALCS that I believe Torre and the Yanks should have parted company.
Hindsight aside, during those last four games, we saw the Yankees outmaneuvered and out-managed. Torre showed his proclivity for his guys when he went with Bernie Williams over Kenny Lofton even in obvious situations. He showed his tendencies toward bullpen abuse. He showed a lack of creative strategy when he didn’t steal off of the Wakefield-Varitek battery or bunt off of Curt Schilling.
But the Yanks let Joe linger, and the last three seasons for Torre seemed more like a battle than anything prior had. It wouldn’t have been a kneejerk reaction to dismiss Torre in 2004, and it wasn’t a bad move to let him go in 2007.
So far, I have no qualms with Joe Girardi. I think he’s done a great job of managing the bullpen through the first eight games, and the players seem to respect him as they did Torre. He might not deliver four World Series championship in his first five seasons as manager, but who can? I’ll miss Torre for what he represented; I don’t miss him for his managing quite yet.