It was interesting to see what Torre said about Bernie Williams last night:
“Bernie dropped a fly ball,” Joe Torre said after the Yanks’ fourth loss in five games. “But the whole thing about it is, especially with Pedro (Martinez) pitching, you can’t give things away. … They played outstanding defense, and we didn’t.” Before the game, Torre had expressed little concern over his team’s middling fielding; the Yanks ranked ninth among the 14 AL teams in fielding percentage entering last night. “You can’t play defense more than you’re capable of, just the best you can,” Torre had said.
That pregame assessment included the weak-armed Williams, whose casual chase of Julio Lugo’s weak fly to center Thursday resulted in a gift double in a 9-4 loss to Tampa Bay. “That’s where the instinctive player he isn’t hurts us,” Torre said.
That’s where the instinctive player he isn’t hurts us. Wow.
Now, I’ve been a Bernie Williams fan. I even think he has a case for the Hall of Fame.
But, now, seeing Torre say something negative about Bernie – which is a thing he would never do in the past – and having heard something else earlier this week, I truly believe that this will be the last season that we see Bernie in the Bronx.
What did I hear earlier this week? Well, here’s the story. I was speaking to someone who is on very good terms with a current member of the Yankees organization. This member has been with the major league team for over ten years and is a vital part of the team’s success to date. The person that I was speaking to, when Bernie’s name came up, said “Oh, [insert name of the member of the Yankee organization] can’t stand him.”
I was shocked to hear this because I thought (a) this member was the type of person who got along with everyone and (b) I thought Bernie was the type of person that everyone liked. So, I asked “Bernie? Are you kidding me? Why?”
And, the person I know told me “[Insert name of the member of the Yankee organization] says that Bernie doesn’t work hard enough. And, that’s why he’s fed up with him.”
I want to believe this to be untrue. But, (a) the person that I was speaking to has zero reason to make this up, and (b) that member of the team that they’re friendly with is someone in perfect position to make a call on a player’s effort. So, there’s something there.
Come to think of it – consider the two biggest flaws in Bernie’s game, even when he was at his peak: stealing bases and throwing. It was obvious that he was bad in these departments. Yet, both of these areas are parts of the game that can be improved if you put in the effort. See Chad Curtis on throwing. And, there’s always ways to improve your jumps and pitch selections on steals. But, we never saw Bernie improve his base stealing or throwing. Basically, he just wrote off those two parts of his game.
In any event, Bernie has been a great Yankee to date – just check his position on the team leader boards. If you’re a Williams fan, enjoy the next three months. It is probably the last time you’ll get a chance to root for him as a Yankee.