Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Blame the Boss

No, I'm not talking about the Cheeth's The Boss. I'm talking about the big daddy of the New York Yankees, George Steinbrenner. He's going to fire (or rather not re-hire) Joe Torre because of his boneheaded meddling with the Yankees. I was reading over at Bill Simmons' site last night (where the gloating was palpable) and he had a link to his 2001 World Series game 7 column. I remember this game. It was the first time that you really saw the Yankees fail for a while. They were up 2-1 with Mariano Rivera, the greatest closer in the history of baseball and the greatest postseason pitcher ever coming up. It was money in the bank and then the unhittable got hit. The Yankees lost an emotional series to the Diamondbacks and instead of sticking with the core, building from within, and moving forward, Steinbrenner started meddling. Over the course of the next 5 years he tossed scads of money at superstars - Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield, Randy Johnson, Kenny Rogers, Carl Pavano, Johnny Damon, Bobby Abreu, Alex Rodriguez, Kei Igawa, and so on. What did this do? It wasted a lot of money, that's for sure. Of course, the Yankees have always had a couple of bought stars on the team all the way back to Babe Ruth. The difference is that they weren't "George Steinbrenner's Fantasy All-Stars." They'd get a superstar or two and use them to compliment the rest of their team. As a result, the core of the team died. Sure, they have had a core - Rivera, Posada, Williams - that has remained constant, but it killed the team dynamic they had and emptied out their farm system to get all their hired guns. Now, for the first time in several years, they turned back to their old strategy. Brian Cashman managed to completely refresh their pitching by bringing up Ian Kennedy, Phil Hughes, and Joba Chamberlain with Jeff Karstens, Tyler Clippard, and others waiting in the wings. They didn't win. Of course, that's to be expected to some degree. They've been rebuilding ever since The Boss messed things up in 2002. They've been fortunate that they made the playoffs this year. I would expect that they will do far better next year, especially if they can get rid of The Boss' meddling. Torre's going to end up being the fall guy for doing a better managing job than he has in his career (despite his penchant for riding relievers until their arms fall off) because Steinbrenner is too proud to blame himself. Fortunately Cashman isn't under the gun because if he was I think you'd see the Yankees return to their ineptitude of the 80s. Sure, there are some good options to replace him - Joe Girardi and (possibly) Donny Baseball, but I don't think he's going to know what he had until he's gone. It's like when he kept hiring and firing Billy Martin. Martin's teams didn't perform how he wanted them to, so he fired him and then the next guy was worse, so Martin came back. Torre's not going to be yanked around so easily, but what I'd do is secure him, bring back A-Rod (who is one of the mercs that is worth his weight in gold), Posada, Rivera, and Pettite and allow the team to get a little more seasoned - Cano, Cabrera, Andy Phillips, and Reggie Williams All-Star Shelley Duncan along with the pitchers are all young - and they'll be back and stronger than ever.
Of course, that's if the Boss actually cared about what I say, which he doesn't.


themickel said...

I just think you put employees in ANY sort of business under as much pressure as the Yanks are always in (if they don't win the WS, they're complete failures) and performance will suffer. Seriously, what ass tells the media he'll fire his manager if he doesn't win the upcoming game? That may work in certain jobs, but for the MANAGER OF A BASEBALL TEAM? Does Torre have any control at all over Jeter hitting into 3 double plays? Over Wang's pitching? Give me a break.

The Boss is mentally handicapped.

Sorro said...

He's definitely a blowhard and probably not all there anymore, but he's been putting this pressure on his team for 30 years. It works sometimes (the 70s) and it doesn't most of the time (the 80s and early 90s). In fact, the Yanks tend to do the best when Steinbrenner keeps away.