Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Joe stays, what happened, what's going to happen, Neil M rambles on

I said to Neil H and to people over at the NYY Fans Forum that if I went to bed on Monday night and Joe Torre was still the manager, then he would survive and live to fight another day and lead the New York Yankees into the 2007 season.

On Tuesday, perhaps quicker than most people thought, Joe Torre opened his annual postseason Press Conference with the news that he'd just gotten off the phone to George Steinbrenner, who'd told him that he'd be back to manage the club in 2007.

I am delighted.

I have made no secret that I am a Joe Torre guy, many Yankee fans believe that going six years without winning a World Series just isn't good enough and wanted Joe out. My blogging buddy despite being a Red Sox fan also thought that it was time for Joe to go.

The fact is the Yankees lost this October because they didn't have starting pitching that could match the Tigers. That is the primary reason the Bombers aren't getting ready to entertain Oakland at the Stadium right now. Sure Joe made mistakes, moving A-Rod up and down the line-up, the Sheffield experiment at first, but neither of those decisions cost the Yankees the Tigers series.

The Yankees came into the ALDS with a rotation lined up of the excellent young Wang, the aging but still very good Mussina, an injured future Hall of Famer and then a choice of Wright or Lidle for the fourth game, Wang would go again in game five if needed.

Now Wang got off to an effective start, winning his game, but when Mussina lost his game, the series was tied at one and the Yankees had inferior starters going both nights. They faced up to an inspired Kenny Rogers, who really pitched his butt off with a curveball that was genuinely awesome and a Jeremy Bonderman whose slider was first rate. The Yankees threw out Randy Johnson, who lets be fair to him, gutted his way through several innings and pitched pretty well considering he has a bulging disc in his back and Jaret Wright, who didn't pitch well at all, but not like we were expecting anything different.

Several people wanted Wang on short rest and then to worry about game give later, well I wasn't one of those people and here's why. Wang is a guy whose had rotator cuff injuries in the past, has pitched more innings than ever before this season and would be going on short rest, if that isn't a recipe for disaster then I don't know what is. It would of been a foolish move to put Wang out there, not just for this series but by doing so you are jeopardising the kids future, this guy could be an ace of the New York Yankees staff for years to come, and with all that history behind him, it was a risk the Yankees were not willing to take. Add to that Wright would've then gone in game five anyway and you have a damned good argument for not starting Wang. In addition, the Yankees weren't able to get anything going offensively really until Jorge's 2 run shot in the 9th, so you are in retrospect asking Wang to go deep into the game and give up nothing on short rest, a very tall order indeed.

As for the Yankees chemistry, I said this yesterday, "The way I see it is the Yankees have far too many egos and I personally don't think anyone could manage them. You have three clear factions, the players who were there through the dynasty years, the free agents who are ready to play the team game, Giambi, Damon, and then your great players who came to the Yankees for a huge payday and rings, Randy, Moose, Sheff, A-Rod, I don't think its possible to manage all three factions to greatness"

Can you ever have too much talent? No. However talent often comes with egos and that is the current problem the Yankees face. As for the four I mentioned, Sheffield and Mussina are probably gone, Sheff's comments after the game four defeat should've clinched the Yankees not picking up his option for 2007 and Mussina failed to hold a 3-1 lead in game two and has slagged off his team mates all year. Randy is going to need surgery on his back and may not return and A-Rod could well be dealt following the news that Torre is staying, despite clearly having respect for each other, Joe clearly has doubts about Alex's ability to thrive in his current environment (see Joe Torre's Press Conference) and believes he has found it hard to adapt to not having to be, 'the man' on the Yankees, as they already have several great talent on the ball club.

Should all four of these players move on then I think you'll find the clubhouse a more harmonious place. My boy Matsuzaka will be posted this off season and I fully expect the Yankees to make a heavy run at acquiring his talents for the rotation. The Japanese as a race are respectful and deeply knowledgeable, and I'd fully expect this player to settle into the clubhouse well, just like Matsui did, with Matsui there it may well help him settle even easier.

The great Yankee teams had star players but also role guys who complimented the stars. I think that is what we'll see over the next couple of years as the high priced free agents contracts expire, look to see a move away from just looking at the numbers, and looking at the overall package that you are signing. Look at the Marlins, a young ball club full of energy and players willing to do it all in an attempt to win, in life human beings feed off positive energy and that is something the regular season 2007 Yankees had, the postseason version didn't seem to.

I expect the Yankees to become a wiser and better run franchise top to bottom over the next few years. The farm system isn't great but at low levels there is talent, the pundits that talk about these things believe the Yankees had an excellent 2006 draft and when you add the signing of #1 ranked International Free Agent Jesus Montero (a catcher with big power for those who do not know) then you can see the club are committed to building from within for the first time in a decade.

I don't expect the team to win it all every year, I just want to watch enjoyable baseball, winning isn't everything, it's a huge part but it isn't the be all and end all. I enjoyed this season, the Boston massacre was just awesome to watch, the Yankees fought for each other and played great baseball, and that series in captures how I'll remember the 2006 New York Yankees. They were good, they were very good, but it just wasn't to be.

As for 2007, I'm already looking forward to it.

Posted by Neil H for Neil M

3 threw a strike:

At 12:08 am, Blogger Pete J said...

I said all year that the Yanks didn't have the arms to make it in the post-season and a certain Mr M kept saying they did and here we are.

Part of me thinks that maybe a different approach is needed and if the team are going to maintain this deluded approach of loading on sluggers and average to above average pitching then maybe they need a manager who likes that kind of game.

Really, if they want to win soon (and lets face it the Yankees always do) then their best bet is to keep Torre and try and give him a Torre team. The Yankees are probably the most talent laden team in baseball but the division of that talent across the roster is just wrong and its Cashman/Steinbrenner that needs to address that, not Torre.

At 12:18 am, Blogger Neil M said...

I don't think I said we had the arms, I think I said we had a good enough top three if everyone was healthy, sadly they weren't but boy did they shut us down.

In this blog I said this team needed to get more role players and move away from an all-star at every position policy which is what George tried.

PS: Why you never use Instant Messangers these days or am I just blocked on both? :p

At 11:38 pm, Blogger Pete J said...

Not using my own computer these days so therefore no messenger.


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