Unfortunately for Torre, times have changed. With the departures of coaches like Stottlemyre, Willie Randolph and Don Zimmer, he is left with a cast of failed managers (Tony Pena, Larry Bowa) and future failed managers (Don Mattingly) as his assistants. Whereas once the Yankees built a team primarily through player development and small- and medium-scale trades, now it seems like the team (with rare exception) is built on other franchises’ blocks. When you nurture and develop the Jeters and Riveras and Jorge Posadas of the world, those men will live and die for those pinstripes. On the other hand, when you shell out fat wads of cash for Alex Rodriguez and Carl Pavano and Jason Giambi, are you buying skill and passion, or just skill?
Watching the current Yankees — 9½ games behind Boston and going nowhere fast — answers that question. They are a flat tire, with nary a jack for miles. Here is a team in dire need of pizzazz, of intensity, of spirit, of soul.
The Yankees, meanwhile, are blah. No spunk. No fire. No urgency. Torre is the best calming-influence manager in the game, perhaps in major league history. But when it comes to getting something out of nothing, he’s no different than Don Baylor or Bill Plummer or any other run-of-the-mill skipper.
Did anyone see the Torre post-game on YES last night? Torre looked like he just got back a nice day shopping at the mall or something. All the while, he kept offering lines like ‘I’d be upset if there was a lack of effort. But, I’m not seeing that. The effort is there…it’s just that the results are not there.’
Know what? Torre’s air and reaction would be great if the Yankees were 5 games over .500, three games out of first, and had just lost three in a row after having won six of their last ten games.
However, when your team is 10 games out of first place on May 18th, four games under .500, and have lost 6 of their last 10, it’s not time to be “Joe Cool.” It’s time to say results are all that matter and that this situation is unacceptable and needs to stop, immediately.
Of course, if Torre says that, and the Yankees continue to fail, Joe is setting himself up to be fired. See: Torre is smart. He’s not making these post-game statements out of ignorance to the big picture. He’s making these comments because he’s trying to protect his job.
And, that’s why he should be fired now. Once a manager is more focused on offering excuses/rationalizations instead of taking ownership of the situation, admitting that it’s unacceptable, and committing to making a change, it’s time to get a new manager.