Joe Torre: Does he live up to the hype?

19 Apr

With the future uncertain for Joe Torre and his reign as Yankee skipper the debate on whether to retain him or not has run wild. One camp says Torre is a genius, perfect for New York and a valuable commodity. The other says he just doesn’t have it now if he ever really did. Now it’s time to weigh in.

Joe Torre has compiled an impressive record with the Yankees. He was a career losing manager with three organizations before being pulled out of the broadcast booth to skipper the Yankees. An excellent player- undoubtedly. A nice guy- undisputed. A great manager- Let’s not be so fast bestowing that.

Joe Torre walked into a dream situation. He was handed a dynasty in the making, actually almost complete. While most people assume the great 90’s teams were his product the actual truth is they were assembled by Buck Showalter and Gene Michaels while Steinbrenner was under suspension. Bernie, Jeter, Pettite, and Rivera were all in the pipeline. Posada already in the system came along later as a full timer. Showalter got the talent he wanted from Michaels via trades and free agency to supplement the homegrown talent. They put together a gritty young hard nosed team with balance and horses in the rotation. Not Torre, he showed up in spring training.

While that core team remained intact the Yankees won. The myth more than legend of Torre grew. “What a genius” so many gushed. Being honest however with the pool of talent assembled it would be harder to lose than win. Then never underestimate the immense value of his bench coach Don Zimmer. Torre has never won the big game without Zim on the bench. It begs the question who was the real genius.

Despite the expenditure of around 1.25 BILLION dollars into payroll and luxury tax Torre has failed to win the series again. Despite being given almost any weapon he desired he fails to score. Despite a farm system that has been far from the pedestrian assessment of depleted the job remains unfinished.

While it is agreed he can’t hit or pitch for the players it is his job to field the best team he can everyday and put people in the position to succeed. He hasn’t been doing that. The most notable botches of the last two years are- Leaving in Joba after losing playoff game composure to soldier ants. Sheffield at first in the playoffs despite having no experience. Wang on three days rest for the first time in his career during an elimination game against a team that has recently destroyed him. Arod in the eight hole- way to show confidence in the games best player. Any instance of bringing in Farnsworth with less than a 10 run lead. Okay that is an exaggeration but not by much if you watched him pitch this year.

While Torre will receive credit in the record books for the wins and got his winning percentage in positive numbers finally saying he has been pivotal to the Yankees success is like saying Louis Gerstner Jr. was a genius for not bankrupting IBM when his father handed it to him. It’s like saying a powerball winner is an instant financial genius. When does a resume built on the past lose it’s punch and when is a manager held up to succeeding? For Torre the time is now, if he wants to actually be remembered as a genius he needs to leave and win somewhere that he builds the team rather than inherits it. While I wouldn’t go so far as to call him clueless Joe, I certainly wouldn’t heap too much praise on him for the Yankees past wins either. Had Buck Showalter stayed everyone would be talking about him and Torre would be wherever old broadcasters that can’t get managing jobs go to die.


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