Sunday, January 25, 2009

Who is the 'high-priced ace' who cried in the middle of a game?

I just looked at the site, to see if they had any preview information on Joe Torre and Tom Verducci's new book, "The Yankee Years." Check out these tidbits from Doubleday, the publisher of this book (emphasis added by me):

Here, for the first time, Joe Torre and Tom Verducci take us inside the dugout, the clubhouse, and the front office in a revelatory narrative that shows what it really took to keep the Yankees on top of the baseball world. The high-priced ace who broke down in tears and refused to go back to the mound in the middle of a game.

Who is the high-priced ace? Carl Pavano would be the obvious choice here, although he wasn't really an ace. But maybe it's not him. Could it be...Randy Johnson?

Here's the other thing about this revelation. Even Torre fans would concede that he was never a great strategic manager. But his skills were supposed to be in dealing with people, balancing egos, and all that jazz. So how do you think that pitcher feels today, knowing that Torre sold him out in order to sell books? Not exactly what we should expect from Mr. Class.

Constant meddling from Yankee executives, many of whom were jealous of Torre’s popularity.

I don't doubt that they were. And I can understand a little why Torre might have been angry that team doctors apparently told George Steinbrenner about Joe's prostate cancer before he knew (although I understand that baseball doctors frequently inform team management on such things before they tell players.)

But even if all these allegations are true, what does it say about Joe that he was still willing to take their money until the Yanks gave him that so-called insulting one-year, $5 million contract extension (which, incidentally, was still more than he is now making with the Dodgers?) And if the Yanks had cowed under and given him that second year, that Torre would still be the manager today?

It's like how Joe trashed A-Rod, yet still publicly said he wanted him to be a Dodger when Torre went over there. If A-Rod is A-Fraud, then what does that make Torre?

The tension that developed between the old guard and the free agents brought in by management. The impact of revenue-sharing and new scouting techniques, which allowed other teams to challenge the Yankees’ dominance.

And, if the way A-Rod was treated is any evidence, that tension was aggravated, not calmed, by Torre.

The players who couldn’t resist the after-hours temptations of the Big Apple. The joys of managing Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, and the challenges of managing Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi.

Wonder what Dodger players are thinking now? Are they worrying that they will be a part of Torre's next tell-all book?

And I think there are dozens of managers out there, like those for teams in places like Kansas City and Pittsburgh, who would have loved to have had the "challenges" of managing All-Star players like A-Rod and Giambi.

True, Jason was a juicer, but so was Torre favorite Roger Clemens. And don't forget these other players from Torre's tenure as Yankees manager who also made it into the Mitchell Report: Chuck Knoblauch, Andy Pettitte, Gary Sheffield, Kevin Brown, David Justice, Jose Canseco, Mike Stanton, Jason Grimsley, Glenallen Hill, Denny Neagle, Ron Villone,Daniel Naulty, and Darren Holmes. Of course, some of them weren't exactly keys to the dynasty, but a bunch were. What did Torre know about their steroid use?

Granted, due to the nature of the sources for the Mitchell Report, the Yanks are overrepresented, but still. As Squawker reader Jonmouk71 writes, "Please Pope Josephus, 'stand-up' and tell us what you knew about steroid use in the Yankee clubhouse if you want us to respect or even listen to you." I will be curious to see if he talks about this subject at all in the book.

How about this description, written by the publisher (my emphasis added):

Torre’s last year, when constant ultimatums from the front office, devastating injuries, and a freak cloud of bugs on a warm September night in Cleveland forced him from a job he loved.
You have to wonder about the "facts" in a book that can't even get the month for a baseball playoff game correct.

And didn't Torre himself say in his farewell press conference that he should have gone to the mound during the Joba bug game? That was pretty much the only mea culpa he made that day about his entire tenure as a Yankee. Is he now backtracking on that one admission of ineptitude?

For all of Torre's histrionics about being insulted by the Yankees' contract offer, remember this: As Suzyn Waldman tearily reported on WCBS Radio the night that the Yankees lost to Cleveland, Torre and his coaches all acted as if it were his very last game. Yet within a week, he not only thought that he deserved a new contract, he thought he was entitled to a multi-year deal. And because the Yanks wouldn't go along with his demands, he's gotten his revenge with this tell-all book.

As one of our readers noted, I don't think the Yanks will be retiring No. 6 any time soon.

What do you think? Leave us a comment!


She-Fan said...

You make a great point, Lisa, about the way everybody acted after Cleveland beat us in the ALDS. It was a given that Torre wouldn't be back.

Anonymous said...

"And didn't Torre himself say in his farewell press conference that he should have gone to the mound during the Joba bug game? That was pretty much the only mea culpa he made that day about his entire tenure as a Yankee. Is he now backtracking on that one admission of ineptitude?"

If this book doesn't have more than one regret Joe had as a Yankee manager, if he doesn't address his own issues in the team not achieving success at the end of his tenure then its just not accurate.

I have a bog problem with people who are in a situation but never seem to look in the mirror.

Lets all be real. If the money was right he would be smiling as if everything was okay though he would have to work with people he obviously had a hard time dealing with.

Joe is like a QB. He gets an excessive amount of credit during the good times and there are always other reasons for the team's failure during the bad.

Anonymous said...

bog=big. ooops.

Anonymous said...

did you have any doubt that his number would not be retired? the yankees did not even mention him during their "goodbye to the cathedral." why should torre not spout off about the bozo's in the bronx? what does he owe them? How "classy" was he treated? give it a rest already, we get it, you don't like Torre. you don't have to convince fellow yankee fans to dislike him, he no longer wears the pinstripes, that is all it takes.

Alvaro Fernandez Ravelo said...


As I stated in another entry on this same blog: "Joe Torre should have been fired after the 2004 choke. Insult offer for Torre? He took LESS money from the Dodgers. He was insulted because they were incentives in the contract. As a fan, I GOT INSULTED by Joe Torre because from 2002 up until 2007 all the early exits from the playoffs he used the phrase "the playoffs are crap shots." He gets full credit for 96 to 2001 but then "crap shots"? If a CEO wants full bonus on good years but excuses himself for bad results with a "crap shots" excuse he should be fired immediately."

And "km" before you answer, please read "Baseball Between the Numbers: Why Everything You Know About the Game Is Wrong" by The Baseball Prospectus Team of Experts, there is a chapter dedicated to the value added by a manager, I guess its "4-2 Is Joe Torre a Hall of Fame manager"? I don't have the book at hand but I'm pretty sure that is the chapter.

Anonymous said...

And I'm sick of this "there were many sources, it was written in third-person" silliness. If I may scream for a moment: TORRE'S NAME IS ON THE BOOK.

If a player is ultimately responsible for his agent's actions, then a co-author gave the green light to everything (and stands by everything) that is in the book he's getting paid for.

Anonymous said...

alvaro, good point about the ceo being fired for ineptitude, and not receiving his bonuses during bad years. explain to me why the "ceo" of the yankees still has a job and the front line manager wasn't brought back?

Alvaro Fernandez Ravelo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alvaro Fernandez Ravelo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alvaro Fernandez Ravelo said...

Who is really the front line manager in baseball? Smart organizations like the Red Sox and A's have good GMs and hire a manager that will work hand in hand with the GM, guys that will know how to handle the resources he is given by the GM. It's not only about the money for signing free agents, is about what you have available in your farm system too. And the manager executes the vision of the GM.

The current state of the Yankee organization is very poor and you can take a grasp of it in "The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty" by Buster Olney. That is why the Yankees didn't accomplished much from 2002 to 07, except for '03 (and using Jeff Weaver in relief was ANOTHER of Torre's misake, instead of using Rivera in a tied game) and '04. Part of the blame is on Randy Levine's strategy of "maƱana" strategy, loading contracts in the end years, loosing draft choices and making very poor drafts. Jason Giambi comes to mind.

Going back in time, the Yankees were very successful in the '40 and '50s because they had two right elements back then: (1) great farm system (there was no such thing as a draft, players just followed the signing bonus, take a guess who payed better, pretty sure the Yankees could make a minor league team that would have better results than the St. Louis Browns) and (2) they got rid of players before they started to decline. To understand this read "Forging Genius: The Making of Casey Stengel" by Steven Goldman.

The case FOR Brian Cashman is that he stated very clearly some years ago that premier starting pitchers were not available thru free agency because they were signed to long contracts by their organizations before they could hit the free agent market. So, the economics of the game changed.

That is the reason why the draft of the Yankees has been primarily of starting pitchers. But there are NO position players that the Yankees can tap into in case of injuries, as it was demonstrated with Posada's injury (thank God this didn't happened in the Alberto Castillo, John Flaherty, etc years).

And NEXT year I expect more Yankee bashing since Damon and Matsui's contracts run up and, even if Austin Jackson is ready, they will HAVE to get another free agent. As I stated before, the current state of the Yankees is worrisome.

The Red Sox can deal with injuries because they have a better depth in the farm system.

My GUESS is that when Brian Cashman renegotiated his deal at the end of '05 he insisted on two things: (1) decision making NOT being overridden by the Tampa advisory and (2) a draft strategy.

So Yankee owners had to deal with two issues: (1) keeping a paternalistic manager or (2) keep the GM that created a strategy to have a balance of premier free agents and a good farm system.

Joe Torre's case is a sorry one. First he had his favorite players which he would use no matter what, wouldn't use some players (I can recall names, but Lisa might help me on this one) but I do recall bloggers saying "Joe Torre doesn't use this or that guy because he must've rolled over Torre's pet" and his overuse of guys he finally ruined, like Tanyon Sturtze and Scott Proctor or (used as a disjunction) excessive use of invaluable players (Tony Womack, Luis Sojo and Enrique Wilson come to mind). I mentioned the poor use of the bullpen in the '03 case and I remember writing in this forum to Lisa that in the last game if Jaret Wright collapsed (as he did) he should bring Mariano Rivera early, instead of keeping him for a save situation that never came up.

The strategy of hiring a lot of superstars doesn't work and you can see an example on Spanish soccer league in Real Madrid. This is a reflection of the Yankees from '02 to '07.

I'm GUESSING that Cashman put out a plan in which the Yankees could have a balance of free agents and farm system depth and that is a sound strategy (it's going to take a few years, specially when you have the Red Sox and Rays in your same division), versus keeping Torre and his fatherly figure.

Managers don't make much of a difference. That you can find it in "Baseball Between the Numbers: Why Everything You Know About the Game Is Wrong" by The Baseball Prospectus Team of Experts and Jonah Keri. The exceptions would be Stengel, Earl Weaver and Billy Martin and others.

The other point is, if Cashman not, then who? Cashman contract runs until 2010 (?) and only then should he be judged by the results.

Since we are discussing management, I would like to use another example. How about NFL teams that don't have a GM? The sorry state of the Raiders comes to mind and in football the role of the coach is different since there is more strategy involved. It would be great if someone has numbers and results of those teams in which the owner is the GM.

Alvaro Fernandez Ravelo said...

From "Excerpt: Torre recounts his bitter final day (cont.)" found at Sports Illustrated web site:
"Only much later did Torre start to put the picture together of what had happened to his working relationship with Cashman. The personal falling-out they had in 2006 spring training over philosophical issues, Cashman's decision not to bring back longtime center fielder Bernie Williams when his contract expired in 2006, his submission of odd lineup suggestions based on stats, his lack of regard for Ron Guidry as a pitching coach, ..."

As I stated previously, the manager executes the vision of the GM.

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