Since I have been reading endless critiques of the Joe Torre situation amongst bloggers, etc, I feel I must chime in with my opinion as well. First of all, some are making the situation out to be worse than it is, as far as next years "success" is concerned. I am not going to offer any perspective into whether or not I believe the whole situation disrespected that of Joe Torre, because it may have, just simply going to speak on how the team will be affected, etc.
One comment that really upset me was this: "Don’t blame Torre, blame Cashman for all these terrible signings." Torre has had as much talent to work with as anyone, so he must absorb at least partial blame, right? Cashman may have focused on offense a little more than he should have, but there was enough overall talent there to win with (And Cashman is to blame in part, as well). And I think that Cashman and the front office understand that Torre has been a good manager during his tenure with the team, but he hasn’t been the absolute best in the game. He happened to have the most talent to work with. How many managers over that twelve year period could have won four+ World Series rings? More than five I would guess. But Torre will be going into the Hall of Fame, while other very capable managers will be watching the induction. Torre is a [good] manager who has had a lot to work with. A team’s success is dependent somewhat upon what a manager does, no question about that. But it is an extremely talented team, with a very dependable, and well respected leader (Jeter), that has always had veteran leadership, as long as Torre has been there anyway.
And last year, when almost everyone complained about the teams rough start, Torre was a terrible manager. But then by seasons end, he was a manager of the year candidate? Then after the early playoff exit, he is being ridiculed as not doing a good enough job? From what I saw and heard this season in limited observation of Torre, probably between 30 and 35 games watched. He had serious troubles managing the bullpen. It was more obvious in the beginning of the season when the team was struggling so much, but was still there by seasons end. It just wasn’t as obvious at the end of the season, because they were healthier by years end, and had starting pitchers that were not named Jeff Karstens or Matt DeSalvo. But here is where Cashman does come in. The Yankees had the seventh lowest ERA in the AL during the first half of the season, they had the eighth lowest during the second half. Their pitching was never good. They had some good components; Joba, Rivera, Wang, Pettite. But overall it was simply mediocre all year long. And the bullpen was tenth in ERA over the course of the entire year. Some of that can be deemed as mismanagement of the staff (Torre, Guidry), but some of it is simply on Cashman for signing the wrong guys. And the depth issue is a huge aspect of this also. It’s on Cashman for having Pavano and Igawa in the starting rotation when the season began. There weren’t any other options, right? That isn’t Torre’s fault. That is Cashman’s. They needed a few arms as capable backup plans in case of failure. And there was failure; Pavano was injured again, and Igawa was ineffective. And there were a few other injuries to the staff too.
I think the point of this is that the Yankees will be winners no matter who manages this team (within reason). Girardi is good enough to get to the playoffs. Mattingly will win a minimum of 85 games, even if he turns out to be a disappointment, which among Yankee fans 85 wins would be a disappointment, even if it was a transition year. And that is fine that it would be considered a disappointment with that payroll, but it must be understood that guys like Joba Chamberlin and Phil Hughes are going to be starting for a full season for the [first] time. There are going to be failures. So what if they win 88 games and miss the playoffs, as long as 09′ looks more promising. They are building around young pitching, and that is exactly what I would do if I were the GM…of any team. This is the best approach they can take, and it may not result in immediate success, in terms of a World Series ring, but it will in the long term be the right move.
The Yankees may have gone about the contract situation the wrong way. But Torre leaving does not mean they are going to win 67 games next season. Some free agents need to be resigned; Rivera, Posada, Abreu, possibly ARod. But only ARod should be resigned long term. The others, ideally, would be given two years apiece. Let us see how it all plays out.