Thoughts On Joe Torre

October 18, 2007

I turned on my phone after leaving class today, and was greeted with eight new text messages and one voicemail. I was briefly hopeful that – since I’m turning 21 tomorrow – my friends wanted to start drinking immediately. This was not the case. Something better had happened: Joe Torre would not be returning as the Yankees’ manager. So, here are my random, disjointed thoughts on the situation:

  • I’m reading in a few places that Torre turned around the Yankees this year after their miserable first 50 games. First, he didn’t turn the Yankees around. Pitchers like Tyler Clippard, Jeff Karstens, Kei Igawa, Matt DeSalvo, and Sean Henn were replaced with Roger Clemens, Chien-Ming Wang, Mike Mussina, and Phil Hughes. Torre did not do this. Certain key pitchers were injured or not with the team, and they either got healthy or joined the club. Also, we have to remember that Bobby Abreu, Robinson Cano, Johnny Damon and Melky Cabrera hit incredibly poorly in the first third of the season. Torre is not responsible for turning them around. They either (a) returned to their career levels of performance as sample size increased or (b) in the case of Cabrera, improved as expected. I repeat, Torre did not turn the team around. Better pitchers got healthy or joined the team, and the hitters started to hit like they should.
  • I am sick of seeing any Yankee success attributed to Torre and any failure attributed to the players. I wish that would stop.
  • I also keep reading and hearing that the Yankees’ offer to Torre was a slap in the face. For the record, the offer was for 1 year at $5 million. The contract also includes $3 million in bonuses if the Yankees reached the World Series, and an $8 million guaranteed option should the Yankees win the pennant. Torre just completed a 3 year, $19.2 million contract, putting him at a $6.4 AAV. Ok? Ok.
  • The Yankees did not “lowball” Torre. The second highest-paid manager in baseball makes $3.5 million. $5 million with $3 million in incentives is lots more than $3.5 million. I don’t care if he’s a Hall of Famer. I don’t care that he’s won multiple World Series before with the Yankees. He was a fantastic fit for the Yankees when Steinbrenner was running around going nuts. But now Steinbrenner is probably suffering from dementia, and Torre’s strengths are no longer valued that highly by the Yankees. With the current influx of young talent – and more on the way – the Yankees need a younger, more flexible, and open-minded manager. Torre is none of these things. Relative to the Yankees’ goals and expectations, and relative to Torre’s strengths and weaknesses, their offer was absolutely fair. And you know what? He turned it down. I don’t know what he was expecting, but he turned it down.
  • For the record (I’m looking at you major media outlets), Torre was not “fired.” His contract was up. The moment the last out of the ALDS was recorded, Torre was no longer an employee of the New York Yankees. I repeat, the Yankees did not stab Torre in the back and fire him and burn down his house and sell his children into slavery and stop paying for Frank Torre’s medical bills. They did not re-sign him.
  • My “Fire Torre” shirt is now completely useless. Drat.
  • There are two ways that Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, and Jorge Posada (the free agents) will see this: (1) “The Yankees made Torre a fair offer, Torre declined it. Well, that’s that, but the Yankees tried” (2) “How could the Yankees not offer Torre a contract at least equal to his previous one? How disrespectful. Where is this franchise going anyway?” I am terrified that it is the latter. Losing Rivera wouldn’t be that bad, but Posada and Pettitte are awfully important to this team.
  • This is completely irrational, but I find it funny that Torre turned down an offer in which he could earn more by succeeding. What a competitor. No ego there for Saint Joseph Torre. End of irrational thought.
  • I’m also not entirely sure that these negotiations were real. It seems possible to me that the Yankees were like “look, Joe, we don’t want you back. You don’t want to leave shamefully. Let’s just make up this story about how we offered you a less lucrative contract than your previous one, you’ll reject it, and that’ll be that. We’ll take the PR hit, that’s fine, and you get to walk away with dignity.”
  • Performance bonuses for players are ok, while performance bonuses for managers are apparently insulting. Go figure.

I think that’s it for now. Time to go turn 21. Cheers.


But He’s Got Four Rings!!!1!!1

August 27, 2007

I have no right to be continually amazed by Joe Torre quotes, since he’s been around for a good while now. But as I’ve morphed into a more sabermetrically-minded, lunacy-resistant baseball fan, many of Torre’s sayings that used to just sound funny are now completely infuriating. Like this:

“With (Jose) Molina (catching) and Betemit at short, I wanted to put him in the lineup,” Torre said of Giambi, who had started in just one of the previous six games. “He gives us more guts.”

Giambi is not in the lineup because of his career 149 OPS+, including 130 during his injury-shortened season. It has nothing to do with his .301 EqA, or his career .412 OBP. Giambi was put in the lineup because of his gigantic, overflowing, crimson entrails.

Go to hell, Torre. Or at least medical school to get over your strange fascination with viscera.


Maddening

August 14, 2007

Hey, Yankees, here’s a really easy way to upgrade the bullpen. Yes, I know Joe Torre is a curmudgeon and won’t use anyone who doesn’t have a Veteran Index of 50 or less – but he’s got to use someone, right? Please, for the love of God, do this:

  • Demote Jim Brower. He’s a 34 year old journeyman with a career 96 ERA+. His last two years’ were 80 and 36 (!). He’s bad.
  • Replace him with Chris Britton. He’s 24 years old, and posted a 135 ERA+ in the AL East last year. He also has a 2.68 ERA, 48 H in 50 IP, and 54 Ks in AAA this year. But of course, veteran > youngster when it comes to Joe Torre.
  • Demote Ron Villone. 37 years old with a career 96 ERA+. I would throw out more stats but you just have to trust me that he sucks. His apparent value is that he’s a lefty and can pitch multiple innings. Well…
  • Replace him with Sean Henn. He’s 26 years old with an ERA+ of 101 in 25 major league innings this year, yet he is currently in the minors. He was groomed as a starter and has moved into a long-relief role. He is also left-handed. In AAA, he has a 3.24 ERA, 29 H in 33 IP, and 30 K. He is, in short, an improvement.
  • Demote Jeff Karstens. Sucks sucks sucks sucks.
  • Replace him – permanently – with Edwar Ramirez. This is the most baffling non-promotion of them all. Edwar’s numbers are sick. In AAA, he has a 0.90 ERA. He has allowed 20 H in 40 IP, while striking out 69. 69!!! He struck out the heart of the Twins’ order in his major league debut, sat on his ass for two weeks while Torre “looked for the right spot to use him”. When Torre found “the right spot”, Edwar threw 0.0 IP, 1 H, 3 ER, 1 HR, 4 BB. Best part? He threw 19 pitches and 2 strikes. Now, this might seem like a poor argument for his promotion, but he’s 25 years old and absolutely annihilating minor leaguers. He deserves a real – A REAL, JOE TORRE – shot in the bigs.

Seriously, it’s not that hard.

EDIT: The Yankees have called up – wait for it – Sean Henn and Edwar Ramirez. They sent Karstens and Brower back down to AAA in return. Wanna know what Henn and Ramirez both did today? Of course you do: 4 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K (all Ramirez), 45 pitches, 35 strikes. Yes, it’s a small sample size, but still.


This Is Really Late, But Whatever

July 26, 2007

On 7/21, Matt DeSalvo is in the first inning of his spot-start for the Yankees. Yankees’ play-by-play man Michael Kay explains why DeSalvo was chosen to pitch over other bums prospects in AAA. Paraphrased:

“Matt DeSalvo is pitching today because he throws strikes. Talking to Joe Torre before the game, he said that the big thing DeSalvo has going for him is his ability to throw strikes.”

A quick look at DeSalvo’s major league statistics reveals just how crazy that statement is. In 27.2 IP, DeSalvo has allowed 18 BB and struck out 10. His BB/9 is 5.86, and his K/9 is 3.2.

Okay, but 27 innings is a small sample. Special K should follow his own advice and look at a larger set of data.

In 508 minor league IP, DeSalvo has walked 254. That’s a BB/9 of 4.5.

I don’t know who is more at fault: Kay for stating as fact something so obviously wrong, or Torre for even suggesting this is true in the first place. Even more amazing is that Kay has seen each and every one of DeSalvo’s starts this year, and it has been painfully obvious in each one that DeSalvo can’t find the plate with any sort of regularity. Kay should have at least expressed doubt about Torre’s assessment, but then again, the Yankees are the ones writing Kay’s paycheck every two weeks.

I mean, really, do these guys even look at the numbers in front of them?


If Only They Sat Right Next To Each Other On The Bench Every Single Day…

July 1, 2007

…then maybe Yankees’ pitching coach Ron Guidry and manager Joe Torre could communicate better. Wait, what’s that, they do? They do sit right next to each other on the bench every single day? Okay, well, then please help me explain this.

After yesterday’s (6/30) game against the A’s:

Ron Guidry said he will talk with Proctor today to see if he’s OK physically.

“Maybe they’re just dead tired,” the pitching coach said. “We abused them in the first month and a half of the season. They were in there almost every day.”

Then, during today’s (7/1) game:

Scott Proctor pitching for New York

The score, mind you, was 11-5 Oakland when he was brought in. And also, the Yankees just brought up Edwar Ramirez, who was having a ridiculous season in AAA, to see what he can offer.

I can’t believe how dysfunctional and ineptly-run the Yankees are. Unbelievable.


Now THIS Is How You Use A Bullpen (I’m Looking At You Joe Torre)

June 27, 2007

Last night, I witnessed easily the most infuriating loss of the Yankees’ dismal season. I mean, this was epically infuriating. Mere days after Torre cost the Yankees the game against the Giants by refusing to pitch Mariano Rivera in a tie game, Torre did the exact same thing against the Orioles.

It was 2-2 in the 9th, thus creating the dreaded scenario in which Torre manages a tie game on the road. Invariably in these games, Torre will resort to mediocre reliever after mediocre reliever in order to preserve the tie, so that the Yankees can score a run, so that Rivera can get a save. This, of course, means that the greatest reliever in baseball history is picking splinters out of his butt on the bench while inferior pitchers give up game-winning runs. Torre never seems to get that – in these situations – the game ends if the other team scores. But that’s cool with Torre. Scott Proctor, Luis Vizcaino, Kyle Farnsworth, and Mike Myers are all clearly better options than that Rivera guy.

Anyway, my beef is that Torre never puts his best reliever (Rivera) in tie games on the road, because he wants to save him for the save situation that may or may not come. Instead of using his best reliever in the most important of situations, he continually turns to worse options and Rivera rarely gets into the game. Also, the Yankees usually lose.

Why am I writing all this? Well, the Red Sox are playing the Mariners tonight in Seattle. It was tied 1-1 in the bottom of the 9th. Red Sox reliever Hideki Okajima opened the inning by allowing a single, a sacrifice bunt, and then another single. Therefore, there were runners on 1st and 3rd with 1 out. Did Terry Francona leave Okajima in, even while knowing that if the Mariners score, the game ends? Nope. He brought in Jonathan Papelbon, his best reliever. Papelbon induced two flyballs, thus ending the inning. Papelbon then proceeded to pitch a perfect 10th inning. He was eventually replaced by Joel Piniero, who gave up a run and lost the game.

The moral of the story is this: it is okay and even preferable to bring in your closer in a tie game on the road. It is the smart tactical move. In this example, Papelbon pitched 1.2 perfect innings, which gave his team a chance to win. In the Torre situation, mediocre relievers pitch imperfect innings, which gives their team less of a chance to win.

Well played, Boston. Well played.


Another Reason Joe Torre Should Be Fired

May 29, 2007

During the 5/29 Yankees-Blue Jays game, Andy Pettitte begins to slow down in the bottom of the 8th. There is a runner on 3rd with 1 out. The score is 2-2. Given this situation, strikeouts are super super important. If a reliever is brought into the game, he should be a good strikeout pitcher, and if not, induce more ground balls than fly balls. Right? Makes sense.

Joe Torre, because he is an idiot, brings in Scott Proctor. As most intelligent Yankee fans will tell you, Brian Bruney has been wasting away in the bullpen for some unknown reason. Meanwhile, Torre continues to give important innings to Luis Vizcaino and Scott Proctor. This game is no exception. Here are the options (season numbers):

  • Scott Proctor: 3.65 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 5.47 K/9, 0.49 G/F
  • Brian Bruney: 1.57 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 9.89 K/9, 0.59 G/F

So, in English, this means that Bruney strikes out batters almost twice as much as Proctor, which is the most important skill in this situation. The most important secondary skill in this situation is the ability to induce ground balls, which Bruney also does better than Proctor (his career G/F is 0.89).

The batter flies to deep center, and the runner tags up and scored, 3-2 Blue Jays. Yankees lose 3-2.

It took me 30 seconds to find this information. Why does Torre even bother to bring that binder with him into the dugout?