Torre, Theo, the RS bullpen, and the black plague

May 2nd, 2007 → 11:52 am @ // No Comments

Like I said below, I’m going to be getting to some things a bit late…

A month into the season, we’ve seen a bunch of interesting things.

* The Yankees have been sucking. They also appear to have picked up the pesky black plague bug that infected the Sox last August.

* There’s going to be lots of talk about whether or not Joe Torre should be fired as long as the worst $200 million team in history stays in last place. Or third place. Or second place.

* Last night notwithstanding, the Sox’s bullpen has been lights out.

* Hideki Okajima is a stone-cold stud.

* Despite some disappointing performances at the plate — i.e., everyone in the starting lineup save for Youk, Ortiz, Drew, and Lowell — the Sox are, overall, doing fairly well offensively.

* This whole Schilling-Beckett-Dice K thing could work out pretty well.

And now for some quick thoughts on the above:

* Brian Cashman is getting some heat for the Yankees roster and it’s age/failure to produce. That’s not entirely fair (although not entirely unfair, either). The injury thing is hard to predict — Mussina is getting on in years, sure; on the other hand, but Wang could have reasonably been expected to stay healthy. And while Cashman has exhibited some creativity/flexibility in jettisoning some of his overpaid veterans, he’s still saddled with guys like Jason Giambi — and Giambi, at least according to almost everyone surrounding the Yankees — was one of those Steinbrenner “I have to have him RIGHT NOW” players that Cashman seemingly had little to do with.

* The Torre defenders out there are right when they say there’s only so much he can do — he’s not out on the field. But — and this is a big but — two areas that Torre most definitely can effect are a) bullpen usage and b) keeping a bunch of spoiled brats (er, I mean athletes), focused and motivated over the course of a long season. In regards to a), Torre has a Dusty Baker-esque tendency to abuse his bullpen, a practice that cost the Yankees at least one trip to the World Series (in 2004, when the Yankees had to depend on the ghost of Tom Gordon) and could very well lead the team down the road to ruin this year. As for b), I’m a firm believer in the notion that sometimes good managers need to go just because a team needs a change. Torre’s been very good at keeping a highly efficient and generally successful team on course. His laconic style might not be so good for a team in crisis. (Quick digression: I also put some of the blame on Captain Intangibles, who, much like Jason Varitek, seems to view his role solely as someone who sets a good example on the field. Jeter could, and should, have stepped up any number of times this year. Take spring training: the best things he could have done for the team were defend Pavano when Mussina was whining and embrace A-Rod to quell the ongoing talk about conflict there.)

And…I gotta run. Looks like I’ll have to address the Red Sox part of this equation later on.

Post Categories: 2007 Season & Brian Cashman & Injuries & Joe Torre & Yankees

4 Comments → “Torre, Theo, the RS bullpen, and the black plague”

  1. miles44

    17 years ago

    Seth, would love to hear your thoughts on Rob Neyer’s recent blog post that Steinbrenner is likely incapacitated yet the NY media is engaged in an FDR-esque conspiracy to keep it quiet …


  2. MarshallDog

    17 years ago

    I take some issue with your view on Jason Varitek. Aside from setting a good example, he also gets a lot of credit for studying hitters and being in control of game calling for the pitchers. Are you implying that Schilling, Beckett, Papelbon, etc. are exagerating Varitek’s value to the pitching staff?

    I should also say I agree 1000% with your views on Jeter. “Captain Intangibles”… now there’s a 20 million dollar nickname!



    17 years ago

    I think the statement that Torre’s abuse of his bullpen, and his reliance on the ‘ghost of Tom Gordon’ cost the Yankees a trip to the World Series in 2004 is questionable at the least. First of all the Yankees starting rotation that year was greatly weakened from years before, with Clemens, Pettite and Wells gone, and this had a lot to do with the heavy use of the pen. The same applies this year-it’s not Torre’s fault that his starters have had difficulty getting past the fifth inning. Secondly the number of innings pitched by Gordon in 2004, both regular and postseason, were very similar to the numbers logged by Keith Foulke. The difference was that after a brilliant regular season, Gordon couldn’t get it done in the ALCS. Was it fatigue or just poor performance? I don’t know but if you look at Gordon’s postseason stats in general they’re awful. But the thing I object to most is that this is such a gross oversimplification of why Boston beat the Yankees that year. You could point to any number of factors and/or individual plays, all of which could have turned things the Yankees way if they happened differently. If Rivera had gotten Mueller out, if A-Rod didn’t slump, if Nixon didn’t catch Matsui’s ball, if Clark’s double didn’t bounce over the fence, and so on and so on. To say that the Red Sox pulled off a historic comeback simply because Torre misused Gordon is, well as you can probably tell it peeves me a bit.


  4. tinisoli

    17 years ago

    Well, now we know who the Yankees are going to blame for their woes: the strength & conditioning coach. Sayonara.


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