January 26, 2009

Joe Torre's final days with the Yankees: Ex Yankee Manager Joe Torre gives a revealing account of his last days with the Yankees in his new book. The Daily News, the New York Post and the New York Times weigh in as well.

Co-Author Tom Verducci responds to criticism of Torre.

posted by cjets to baseball at 03:02 PM - 15 comments

The New York Times story on the book contains this nugget:

Without directly attributing the information to Torre, the book states that teammates and clubhouse attendants referred to Rodriguez as A-Fraud and seemed particularly put off by the fact that Rodriguez seemed to demand so much attention from the attendants.

"One time, in Detroit, where his personal attendant was not available, Rodriguez was jogging off the field after batting practice, saw a Comerica Park visiting clubhouse attendant, a young kid in his first months on the job, and simply barked, 'Peanut butter and jelly,"' the book said.

I will be surprised if A-Rod's hecklers don't adopt "peanut butter and jelly!" as the insult of choice this season.

posted by rcade at 04:27 PM on January 26, 2009

Sounds like a fairly lame book to me. Poor Joe couldn't get the contract he wanted. Oh well, that's the way it goes. It amazes me how everyone always feels the Yankees can only buy players and should always win, but their former manager, the Holy Joe, is seen as some sort of god because he could sit on the bench and have that high-priced team win? I used to think Torre was a good manager for merely dealing with the multiple personalities on the Yankees, but have always said he was a below-average baseball strategist. As for allowing this book to come out, it sounds like he's basically to the point in his life where he's whoring for money and attention. I'm sure all this "new" A-Rod information will be really earth-shaking. Pile on the guy each and every year for some stupid reason, at just about this time, so dickhead writers (like Verducci) can have never-ending stupid questions to ask throughout the spring. Like I said, very lame.

posted by dyams at 08:30 PM on January 26, 2009

I'm a Yankee hater -- I think they are the Evil Empire. However, I respect Torre for his work during a long tenure with the Yankees. That he had a high-priced team means nothing -- were they in the playoffs last season?

posted by jjzucal at 10:24 PM on January 26, 2009

Taking a talented, highly-paid team to the playoffs isn't really the point. They've been built throughout the years to make the playoffs. Actually doing something in the playoffs is the expectation. Should they fail at that this season I fully expect Girardi will be gone. What made people respect Torre was the fact he generally kept his mouth shut about things within the team. Lending his name to a book like this, going on TV and book tours, after leaving the team because his demands weren't met (ignoring the fact it had been several years since the team had seen a World Series) makes it appear Torre is going for the money and exposure. That's his right of course. I wish people would stop acting as if he's some holy entity. The fact he had to spend time on the phone smoothing things over with Cashman after apparently running him down shows Torre wants to be able to get the cash and notoriety and still keep his stand-up guy image. Few people can continue to have it both ways. Remember, Joe, the Yankees did a lot for you, too.

posted by dyams at 06:41 AM on January 27, 2009

Taking a talented, highly-paid team to the playoffs isn't really the point.

It's not? With the talent and contracts that these guys possess, there's just no way that making the playoffs "isn't really the point", it should be the only point (besides making it to the World Series as well).

We all know that's not entirely the case though.

posted by BornIcon at 10:50 AM on January 27, 2009

Joe always earned points for not running his mouth or getting hysterical when he managed in NY, no matter what happened. This book doesn't seem like Torre as the TV viewing sports audience knows him. Might take his luster down a notch. For Yankee dislikers, he was always the guy who was better than the organization, classier, more discreet, etc. While the Boss raged and the players were jerks, etc.

Hard to say why Torre remained so anxious to continue managing the diagnosable Yankees rather than go somewhere else. To the point where he had to fly to Tampa to go beg for a two year deal. He stayed too long at the dance. He probably should have left around 2002. After what he had accomplished with the Yanks, he could have punched his ticket for almost anywhere else.

I can't think of another managing tenure in my lifetime that had more heavy duty stuff happen in it than Torre's run in NY. Historic reversals of fortune for better or worse (1996, 2004). Personal and family illness. Heartstopping events (2001 WS just weeks after Sept. 11). In general, ungodly amounts of both success and disappointment.

Torre's term in office makes the Billy Martin era look like a lost episode of the Three Stooges. Entertaining, but pointless and superficial.

Evidently, if Torre had stayed with the Yanks, 2008 was going to be his last year. He should have stepped away from the game first, then done the book, if at all. Anyone who doesn't like the Yanks doesn't need his guidance in forming opinions about A-Rod and the others.

The ultimate Torre tribute: Steinbrenner, Jeter, and a bunch of other Yanks get their names flagged by my SpoFi spell checker. Torre's name gets through clean every time. The dictionary knows who is and who ain't.

posted by beaverboard at 11:55 AM on January 27, 2009

I think the manager's contribution to a team via his tactical on-field decisions is somewhat exaggerated. In today's game, the pitching staff is handled by the pitching coach, situational decisions are often made by the bench coach, and so on. The manager's function now seems to be to keep his players performing at their highest level over a 162-game regular season. This is not an easy thing to do. The manager needs to know when to encourage, when to prod, when to discipline, and when to rest a player. There aren't many who do it well. Joe Torre seemed to get more out of his teams than others. He did not always have the best talent. If you look at what New York had for pitching, particularly in middle and long relief, over the past 5 seasons, you wonder how they made the post-season at all. The blame seemed to fall unfairly on Joe Torre, and he was made something of a scapegoat for the team's woes. There was a great deal of disrespect shown toward Torre by the Yankee management team. Brian Cashman's hands were probably tied by ownership, and the Steinbrenners seemed to have inhibited the development of a strong minor league system by over-spending on free agents and trading good prospects for established but older players. I would have to read the book before I judge what's been released of it so far. As far as the comments about A-Rod go, from what I've read none of it was from Torre's mouth, but it was his summation of what was said in the clubhouse.

posted by Howard_T at 04:30 PM on January 27, 2009

My point, BI, was that making the playoffs isn't the point. The World Series is how a manager/team that is furnished with the talent the Yankees are furnished with is measured, not merely making the playoffs. The Steinbrenner family will pay as much money as necessary so the Yankees can win it all. Anything less, especially several years running (and when their biggest rivals in Boston are winning it all semi-regularly), won't continue to cut it. Anyone thinking the Yankees will ever stand pat with a manager anywhere close to half as long as they did with Torre is crazy.

posted by dyams at 04:46 PM on January 27, 2009

Wow You guys sound like Cubs fans.

posted by volfire at 05:57 PM on January 28, 2009

Wow You guys sound like Cubs fans.

I don't get it.

posted by dyams at 06:09 PM on January 28, 2009

Well, how can we have a discussion on Torre without including the Cubs, right? RIGHT? Ahh, never mind, I don't get it either.

posted by BoKnows at 06:58 PM on January 28, 2009

I doubt this amounts to much of anything. He'll still put up insane numbers. He'll still be blamed by the media if the Yankees don't win it all.

It is interesting to see that what comes out of the media isn't always gossip. They had it nailed.

posted by justgary at 01:15 AM on January 29, 2009

I brought the cubs up as a case in point . They also have a hefty payroll, and had either the best or second best record in MLB. Also got SMOKED in the first round of the playoffs. My point being you can buy they best pony on the track doesn't mean he can run. But it's always the coaches fault, right? is it wrong to ask the players to perfom comesurate with their salaries? Joe Torre moved on an took a mediocre team with half the money invested as the Yanks, and almost made the playoffs. So is it really the coach?

posted by volfire at 09:20 AM on January 29, 2009

Joe Torre moved on an took a mediocre team with half the money invested as the Yanks, and almost made the playoffs.

The comparison with the Yankees is a little misleading. If you look at the relevant numbers, the National League payrolls, you'll see that the Dodgers were basically tied for 2nd. Only the Mets spent more (20 million).

And that's not counting the addition of Manny the last part of the season for basically nothing (Boston paid his salary). His salary would put them right with the Mets.

Mediocre is an opinion I won't argue with. I hadn't seen the dodgers enough to argue. But Torre certainly wasn't managing the royals. He was managing one of the highest paid teams in the league.

posted by justgary at 03:56 PM on January 29, 2009

David Wells is not a fan of the book.

My favorite quote from the article (and, apparently the book):

"The difference between Kevin Brown and David Wells," Torre says, "is that both make your life miserable, but David Wells meant to."

Kevin Brown was one miserable prick, whether he could help himself or not.

posted by cjets at 10:19 PM on January 29, 2009

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