Two follow up comments I want to make on Joe Torre.
1 – This from Rob Neyer:
Beginning in 1996, the Yankees won four World Series in five years. In those five years, they averaged 97 wins.
In the eight years since, of course, the Yankees have won zero World Series. Incidentally, in those same eight years they’ve averaged 97 wins.
There’s no question that mistakes were made after 2000. Every franchise makes mistakes. There’s also no question that they’ve picked up some prima donnas, some of whom didn’t play much defense.
But until someone can explain to me why those same factors that produce 97 wins a season work so well from April through September but suddenly fall flat in October, I’m going to assume that the Yankees were (1) overly lucky from 1996 through 2000 and (2) overly unlucky from 2001 through 2007.
This is a great point and something that I come back to again and again. Torre obviously felt immense loyalty to his early teams and seemed to take it personally when the Yankee brass would bring in new players. However, you have to wonder how much he himself perpetuated the current stereotype that the Yankees are somehow “unclutch” and poorly built for postseason play.
Torre’s post-2000 teams were just as good as the ones that won the World Series. Torre always claimed that defense and pitching wins championships and had a borderline defeatist attitude once the Yankees were inevitably eliminated.
But is that mantra really true? The 2002 Angels won with a crazy-hot offense. The 2006 Cardinals won with Jeff Weaver as their ace. Last year’s Phillies relied heavily on Jamie Moyer’s pitching, not to mention Ryan Howard and Pat Burrell’s defense.
Whatever the truth, New Yorkers ate up what Torre had to say. I still hear people say “oh the Yankees never acquire pitching, only hitters,” when the Yankees have put an absurd premium on pitching in the past 5 years (Weaver, Brown, Johnson, Vazquez, Pavano, Wright, etc, etc). At some point, the coaches have to share the blame for the failures of all those players.
Which leads to my second comment…
2 – From Brian Cashman:
“There’s always going to be some controversy that surrounds this club,” Cashman said. “The best way to try to deal with it is, I guess, rally around each other the best you can if there’s real feelings there.”
Cashman said that when Rodriguez became a free agent after the 2007 season, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada and Pettitte all urged him to re-sign A-Rod.
“That was real,” Cashman said. “It was offered up.”
It is great to see that Cashman isn’t backing down and is protecting his players. It’s clear that Torre’s view is only one part of the story. Remember, when Torre says bad things about the Yankees’ choices in player acquisition, that is a direct insult to Cashman (even if Cashman didn’t have that much say in pre-2005 signings). I’m sorry if Joe wanted Bernie to come back – it’s the GM’s responsibility to avoid signing aging switch-hitting outfielders who can no longer field or bat from the left side. Sorry also if Joe didn’t want the OPS machine Jason Giambi. The Yankees only signed you the best hitter in baseball at the time – deal with it.
All this just makes me more excited for the season to start, so we can go back to worrying about baseball, not Torre’s personal, and sometimes delusional, feelings about the Yankees’ past.