Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Do what you have to Yankees, but don't fire Joe

I feel like this has happened before...

The Yankees' 2007 season came to an unceremonious end last night with a 6-4 loss to the Indians that wasn't as close as it sounds. The Stadium was stunned into silence early and often, and two 9th inning homers turned out to be too little, too late.

I'm sure all the Yankee-haters are writhing in glee right now - I got vindictive emails from two of them last night - but Yankee fans are far more concerned with the future of one Joe Torre. With a win-or-yur-outta-heah ultimatum from the Boss earlier this week the sports media is already predicting his ouster. These are of course the same pundits who thought the Yankees wouldn't make the playoffs this year. Or last year. Or the year before. And the same pundits who predicted Torre would be a goner last year. And the year before. But I believe that if the Boss has any sane bones left in his body and if Brian Cashman has any say in the matter, they ask Mr. Torre to stay.

The Yankees are finally getting back to being a Torre kind of team, and now you want to oust him? You must be insane! Real quick, let's review the formula that worked for the Yankees in the 90s:
  • No me-first plays-hard-only-in-contract year jerks
  • Stocked farm system with talented position players and pitchers
  • A nurturing manager who showed his players respect even while making tough decisions and protected said players from the Boss
  • A team mentality that started at the top and permeated down to the bat boy
  • Players near or in their prime mixed with minimal veterans to provide leadership
Now let's look at the Yankees from 2000-2006:
  • Rotating door of me-first players with huge contracts (some of whom are unfortunately still on the team)
  • Depleted farm system traded away for big-name players who proceeded to do stoogatz
  • A nurturing manager who showed his players respect even while making tough decisions and protected said players from the Boss
  • A team mentality poisoned by ring-chasing ninnies
  • Players at the end of or past their prime with as many leadership skills as my pet rock
  • Talent, though that only gets you so far
And finally this season things were starting to turn around. Goodbye, Mr. Pavsheffclemunitloftnelswells! Welcome back, Yankees farm system. Welcome back, talented youngins with names like Mr. Cano, Mr. Cabrera, Mr. Hughes, Mr. Kennedy, Mr. Chamberlain. This is a Torre team - minimal distractions and plenty of talent. The only thing missing is pitching. Mr. Torre has been accused of burning through arms the last few years...wouldn't you if you had his pitching staff? Even the players I love like Andy Pettitte suffered through injuries, leaving Torre with few dependable options. Do I really have to run through his pitching staffs from the last 7 years? One telltale sign is that over 70% of those pitchers now pitch somewhere else or are no longer in the major leagues.

Look, I understand that the Yankees and their fans expect no less than a World Series title every year. We fans are in the fortunate position to have some degree of reality attached to that expectation. But let's not dismiss 13 consecutive postseason appearances by the Yankees (the first managed by Buck Showalter). I believe only the Braves have had a longer streak. And in his tenure, Torre has lead the Yankees to 6 World Series appearances and 4 titles. That averages to a World Series appearance every other year of Torre's tenure. No one else in the wild card era - nevermind the modern era - even comes close.

And need I even mention that players actually like playing for Torre? With all due respect to some of the names being dropped as possible replacements, no one handles New York fans as well as he does. Sure, it would be funny to watch Sweet Lou throw 3rd base or Bobby V. wear one of his brilliant disguises after being tossed to secretly return. And yes, it would be nice to give Donnie Baseball (my all-time favorite player) or Joe Girardi a chance to run the Bronx Bombers.

But not yet. There is no way I'd let Mr. Torre leave like this, with lame ALDS exits to the Angels, Tigers and Indians. He deserves better and he's earned another chance. Any Yankees player who doesn't want him back is an idiot, and any player who doesn't want the opportunity to come back to the Yankees next season is an even bigger idiot that is probably managed by Scott Boras. If Mr. Torre decides to leave of his own accord, so be it, though it'd be a sad day for the Yankees and their fans.

Don't push Joe out (or Cashman, for that matter). Continue to fix the formula - dump the crappy pitching; trust in and build your farm system; resist the temptation to trade for the Gagne's at the trading deadline or sign them over the winter and for God sakes play like a team having fun! You play for the damn Yankees! And keep Joe Torre. Because a team is only as good as its manager, and he is one of the best.

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