Joe Torre: Goat or Scapegoat?
Oh, they're having a great time ripping good 'ol Joe out in L.A. today.
The only knock on Torre as a manager is that, in New York, he never had to manage.
Manage people, oh, yes. And it's possible that nobody has ever been better. Huge egos and, in his whole time there, not one ever got out of line and stayed out of line for long. This guy got along with Jeter AND A-Rod. That's tough. Strictly at the personal level, if you like one of them (Jeter), the other one almost has to make your skin crawl (lets see, that would be....Cindy, help me here.)
Manage the press? There, he is No. 1 in the history of baseball. He knew what every media outlet needed and wanted and gave it to them. He took heat off the team and attracted it to himself when the tension got high. He used his quotes to shape the team's view of itself and, sometimes, to repremand players. He prevented (or delayed) public panic a hundred times. Manage his owner? Yes, as much as anybody could.
But actually manage the game? With the DH, he had fewer decisions to make. With a $200-million payroll, the lineup made itself out. When somebody got injured, substitute the next highest salary. (OK, not really, but I liked the line.) Juggle the rotation? "Buy me a pitcher quick! Or trade our best prospects for a pitcher!" Manage the 9th inning? That would be Mariano Whatshisname.
So, what's the verdict out there in Expert Land? I'm having a little trouble with this one. The knee-jerk concensus, with which we all love to disagree, may actully have it right this time.
The articles of indictment:
*In Game 4, he took out Derek Lowe after five innings, including a 1-2-3 5th, with less than 75 pitches, because he was pitching on three days rest. And who does he bring in? A 20-year-old lefthanded phenom (Clayton Kershaw) with a control problem (52 walks in 107 innings) who has only been used in relief in 21 of his 22 games. Kershaw faces only three hitters __walk, single, sacriifice bunt, leading to a Phils run to tie at 3.
*Also in Game Three, Torre has three relievers with ERAs of 2.02 (Beimel), 2.14 (Kuo) and 2.27 (Wade). He uses them all but only milks six outs from all of them combined, forcing him to use closer Broxton in the eighth when he usually only works the ninth. Broxton falls behind 3-1 on the first hitter, throws a fastball down the pipe and 40-year-old Matt Stairs hits it 440 feet to win the game.
*Game Two: Leaves rookie Chad Billingsley in to allow eight (8) earned runs. Who leaves a starter in that long in post-season? Ten of the last 12 men to face Billingsley reach base, including two first-pitch hits by the opposing pitcher to drive in three runs. L.A. loses 8-5. Earth to Joe, why the slow hook? Was it because...
*In Game One, you we criticized for leaving Lowe in too long, allowing homers to Utley and Burrell for all the runs in a Philly comeback from 0-2 to a 3-2 win.
Oh, there's more. When you fall behind 3-1 in an LCS there always is. How much of this is pure cheap-shot second guessing? (I'd certainly have let Lowe stay in to face Burrell in Game One.) And how much is "Joe's Great L.A. Adventure" turning into "Nightmare in Chavez Ravine."
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