Joe Torre: Secret Agent of the Boston Red Sox

June 25th, 2007 → 12:04 am @ // 16 Comments

This weekend’s games showed why, for the remainder of the season, the Sox should worry about almost anyone before New York. While Francona continued to manage brilliantly down in San Diego — I almost jumped for joy when I saw Beckett go back out for the eighth this afternoon — Joe Torre continued the ritualized abuse he’s been heaping on the Yankee bullpen for years, guaranteeing that, should the Yanks somehow make the playoffs, they’ll have almost no arms to lead them to battle. (I’ve always said that it was Torre, along with Schilling, Ortiz, and Foulke, that played the biggest role in the ’04 ALCS: had he not rode Tom Gordon that year like a cheap whore, Flash might have had an ounce or two of gas left in the tank in the eighth inning of Game 4.) The CW storyline coming out of this weekend will be how, once again, the Yankees’ bullpen failed when the game was on the line. But the CW is wrong. The story here is how Torre’s mismanagement is already crippling New York.

There are so many places to start this discussion, it’s hard to know where to begin. There’s Torre’s use of Mariano for five outs on Friday, the second time Genius Joe has pulled that move after swearing up and down in spring training he’d never use Mo for more than one inning. There’s his ass-backwards bullpen management last night, which pretty much guaranteed the Giants would break their eight-game losing streak. And there was tonight’s emergency relief appearance by Clemens (I’m just sure that’s what he signed up for), the first time in 22 years Roger’s come out of the bullpen.

But instead of harping on any of that, let’s just look at some numbers. The first one is IP so far this season; the second what that’s projected to over the full year.

Proctor, 41, 92 (Last year Proctor led all relievers in IP with 102.)
Vizcaino, 37, 81.2 (Pretty much in line with his career averages.)
Farnsworth, 32, 70.2 (Since becomming a reliever in 2000, he’s topped 80 IP only once, in 2001.)
Bruney, 32, 70.2 (His career average is 32.2.)
Myers, 29.2, 65.2 (The last time he topped 50 IPs was in 1998.)

Then there’s the Sox.

Okajima, 36.2, 80.1 (No MLB comps.)
Piniero, 30, 65.2 (He averaged more than 180 IP during his years as a starter.)
Papelbon, 27.1, 59.2 (He was shut down after 68 IP last year.)

I guess Torre figures that now that Dusty Baker’s no longer on the bench, someone needs to wrack up those pitcher abuse points


Post Categories: 2007 Season & Joe Torre & Yankees

16 Comments → “Joe Torre: Secret Agent of the Boston Red Sox”


  1. Jack

    10 years ago

    I’d like to see Okie Doke used a little less. He’s Tito’s weakness.

    Reply

  2. Shalomar

    10 years ago

    Look at the Indians and Tigers. Young hitting and pitching studs. On the opposite spectrum, the Yanks are creaky and unathletic.

    Damon breaking down at top of lineup hurts a lot. Don’t ‘roids eventually cause your tendons and other body parts to fall apart? Yeah, thought so.

    The Yanks are not only not going to catch the Sox this year, but take a look at what’s in the pipeline for each team – without a move for Peavy/Oswalt/other young guns, the Bloomberg Bombers are in a heap for the next few years.

    Reply

  3. HFXBOB

    10 years ago

    I don’t disagree that Torre has been doing some mismanaging with his bullpen. Especially grinding Rivera for a 5-out appearance. But a huge factor in the bullpen abuse is that the Yankee starters have consistently not been able to go deep. Over the last 4 games Yankee starters lasted a total of 20.1 innings. You might think Torre was too quick with the hook, but if you look at the situations in each game he didn’t seem to have much choice. Friday night he pulled Igawa after only 4.2, but in the fifth Igawa had given up 3 hits and 2 walks, the last of them with the bases loaded. On Sunday Mussina was lifted after 5, but the old guy had thrown 105. Similarly geezer Clemens only lasted 4.1 in Colorado, with the altitude being cited as a cause of fatigue. All great news for the Sox, that’s for sure.

    I thought the quotes by Torre after Saturday’s brutal loss to the Giants indicated that Joe has about had it. He actually said the following: ‘It just wasn’t our day, I guess.’ ‘You looked up and we scored four runs. It felt like we scored eight or nine.’ ‘I have no complaints other than the final score’. Wow, that is some fiery stuff there.

    Reply

  4. kinshane

    10 years ago

    HFXBOB is right. When you get rubbish from your starting rotation, you have to go to the ‘pen. I’m not a Torre fan by any stretch of the imagination, but aside from Chien Ming Wang, what starter been throwing the ball with any consistency?

    That being said, who cares about a third-place team? Yankees suck, etc. etc.

    Reply

  5. jdreid

    10 years ago

    Sorry to nitpick with a fact check, but Gordon didn’t pitch in the 8th inning of Game 4, Rivera came in to start the 8th. I think you are thinking of Game 5.

    That said, had they had a reliable 8th inning option for game 4, Rivera might not have been out of gas in the 9th.

    Reply

  6. Mude

    10 years ago

    I hope Okajima holds up. I don’t have a reason to doubt he will, but he pitched more than 70 innings just once during his last 9 years in Japan. Okajima & Papelbon are just as important to the Sox as Manny & Papi.

    One nitpick: Roger Clemens came out of the bullpen in that epic 18-inning game between the Astros & Braves in the 2005 NLDS. (He pitched the last 3 innings and got the win.) According to the on the game, that was Clemens’ first relief appearance since 1984.

    Reply

  7. johnw

    10 years ago

    I agree with previous commenters about the weakness of the rotation. I also agree with Seth’s point, that Torre has a history of riding his top relievers way too hard — with the usual exception of Mariano.

    However, I think some of the blame must go to Cashman and the front office. They have consistently shorted the bullpen and the bench. Why should a team with a 200-million-dollar payroll be carrying players like Miguel Cairo, Doug Mientkiewicz, Brian Bruney and Luis Vizcaino? Why can’t they either (a) invest a bit more money in the #18-25 roster spots, or (b) successfully develop young arms for the bullpen?

    If I were Torre, I’d be riding Proctor and Rivera as well. What choice does he have? Especially when he’s in a make-or-break situation with the 2007 season, not to mention his own future with the team?

    Reply

  8. george

    10 years ago

    While I agree Torre has overused his pen, in his defense that team can score runs like nobody else. Then again, yesterday’s line up had Kevin Thompson batting 7th followed by Nieves and the pitcher’s spot – that’s not good.

    The stupidest thing I saw all weekend was Trevor Hoffman warming up top 9th two outs Padres ahead 6-1 and Mirabelli up with a man on second. I mean really. Perhaps it was Lugo being on deck…

    Reply

  9. smf

    10 years ago

    Yes, the starters have been the problem. But it looks to me that Seth’s little bullpen lineup actually disproves the point he’s trying to make.

    Proctor: IP in line with past
    Vizcaino: IP in line with past
    Farnsworth: IP in line with past
    Bruney: Fourth year in majors, so perhaps it’s understandable that his IP are increasing. He seems to be doing pretty well: 1.97 era, 1.5 whip
    Myers: Veteran who probably knows when to say when. Anyway, 2.73 era, 1.21 whip.

    as others have noted, the starters have been the problem. so to paraphrase Temple basketball coach John Cheney, who’s Torre going to put in, his mother?

    Reply

  10. Gee

    10 years ago

    I tuned in the other night on the O’s-Yanks game. The Orioles were up 4-0 in the eighth. I repeat, eighth. I repeat, Yanks down by four.

    Rivera was pitching.

    I can’t see any sane purpose to using Rivera there. It convinced me Torre has finally, irretrievably, gone over the edge.

    Reply

  11. phenweigh

    10 years ago

    If Torre is riding his pen too much by going to an early hook, then it should show up in starter/reliever ERA splits. The Yankee starters have a team ERA of 4.65 vs a league starter ERA of 4.58, somewhat below average. The relief corps has a team ERA of 3.97 vs a league reliever ERA of 4.21, somewhat better than average and clearly better than what the starters are posting.

    Every manager has to find the proper balance between win today and win tomorrow. When your team is expected to make the playoffs, and is floundering around .500, win today must become more important. So maybe Joe isn’t so stupid.

    Reply

  12. miles44

    10 years ago

    Until May 30, Rivera had never pitched more than 1.0 inning.

    Since May 30, Rivera has pitched FOUR games of more than 1.0 inning.

    Reply

  13. johnw

    10 years ago

    Having previously defended Torre… and I still maintain that the biggest problem is roster construction, not bullpen usage… I do have to wonder why the hell he used Scott Proctor to close out Sunday’s 11-5 loss to Oakland. Maybe he’s got a case of Hargrove’s Disease coming on.

    Reply

  14. carbo75

    10 years ago

    I’m sure everyone noticed that Mr. Chass, referencing his Yanks-could-catch-Boston column of a month or so ago, has conceded that, gee, apparently he was wrong about that Fourth of July thing — and now devotes 918 words to his insightful theory that the Yankees wouldn’t be so bad if they played better. … Anyway, in his listing of Red Sox flaws, he includes Julian Tavarez’s losing record. … Evidently in his tireless research he failed to notice this:

    Tavarez, first while Beckett was disabled, and now while Schilling is on the shelf …

    May 17 vs. Detroit: 7 IP, 1 ER
    May 22 @ New York: 5.2 IP, 2 ER
    May 27 @ Texas: 5.2 IP, 4 ER
    June 4 @ Oakland: 5.2 IP, 3 ER
    June 9 @ Arizona: 6 IP, 3 ER
    June 15 vs. San Francisco: 7 IP, 2 ER
    June 20 @ Atlanta: 7 IP, 0 ER
    June 25 @ Seattle: 4.1 IP, 6 ER
    July 1 vs. Texas: 5.2 IP, 2 ER

    Which translates to a 3.83 ERA over his last 9 starts, in which he has pitched into the 6th inning or beyond 8 times.

    Thanks again, Murray.

    Reply
  15. […] Red Sox, Yankees, Sports reporters, 2007 season by Seth Mnookin @ 11:33 am Digg Del.icio.us Subscribe to RSS Feed So: there are 64 games left in the season, the Sox are within a whisker of having the best recordin baseball (.602 winning percentage vs the Tigers’ .604), they’re 7.5 games up on the Yankees, they’re fourth in the AL in runs scored, 3rd in OPS, and 2nd in OBP. Their pitching staff has the second best ERA, the second most K’s, and the second best batting average against. All of that’s good news, and (and yes, this has already become a very tired refrain) if anyone told any of you during spring training this is what the baseball universe would look like with a little more than a week left in July, you’d be ecstatic. If I was a betting man (note: I am a betting man), I’d put good money down on Boston to win the AL East. But since bloggers and sportswriters alike need something with which to occupy their time (and space, whether that be virtual or actual), let’s break down some numbers. Since the beginning of June, the Sox have been a .500 team (on the dot, actually, with a 23-23 record); during that same period, the Yankees have been a .640 team. That’s a good stretch of time; if those numbers were to hold for the remainder of the year, the Yankees, with 93 wins, would win the division by 2 games. But wait! If you go back and count off 64 games (the number of games actually remaining in the season) and replicated those patterns, you’d end up with the Sox winning the East by…7.5 games, since both teams have put up 36-28 record in that time. And certainly you’d be more likely to expect the Sox to play at something closer to a .600 clip than a .500 clip, right? Because, really, how many good baseball teams play .500 ball for months on end? How about the ‘04 Boston Red Sox? (You had to have seen that coming.) Before running away with the, er, Wild Card in August, the Sox had a three month stretch — May through July — in which they played .500 ball (.506, actually; they were 41-40). All of this still leaves me without any discernible point. Fear not; I actually have several. 1. It’s patently ridiculous for sportswriters to declare in May (or June, or July) that a race is “over” unless it’s actually, mathematically over. Nevertheless, that’s what lots of people were doing, from the folks over at “Baseball Tonight” to almost every newspaper in the greater New England area. (That tendency is excusable; it takes someone with a true dedication to stupidity to posit the opposite.) 2. The Yankees were never, ever as bad as they looked. They have a scary offense — as shown by the fact that they’re leading the AL in plenty of offensive categories. And their pitching staff is good enough to carry them along: Clemens-Mussina-Pettitte circa 2007 is a far cry from Clemens-Mussina-Pettitte circa 2003, but it’s not awful; throw in Wang and the potentially terrifying Phil Hughes and you’ve got yourself a rotation. 3. Inre #2: It is time once again to praise Joe Torre’s bullpen management. If — and this is an enormous if, obviously — the Bombers do make it to the playoffs, the combo of aging starting pitchers and a bullpen full of dead-arm relievers is going to be a big problem. All of this, I suspect, will make for a fun couple of months. If I was being forced to guess (note: I do not need to be forced to guess), I say Boston’s division lead will be as low as 4 games and that they’ll ultimately end up winning the East by somewhere between 6 and 8. Oh, and I’d also guess that New York won’t be in the playoffs, A-Rod won’t be in the Bronx come next spring, and Joe Torre will wish he’d retired a year earlier. […]

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  16. […] Now, I know I’ve been harping on Joe Torre’s bullpen use all season. But I’ve had good reason. (All of this raises a question: why aren’t we reading any of this info in our daily sports sections? Just wondering.) […]

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