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Torre0430Joe Torre’s record as the manager of the Yankees:

1088–713 .604 winning percentage.
4 World Series Titles
6 American League Pennants
11 Consecutive post-season appearances

Keep those stats in mind over the coming days, weeks and months as rumors of Joe’s demise at the helm of the Yankees continue to swirl. Keep them in mind, especially if George Steinbrenner does the unthinkable and fires Torre.

Should Joe stay on as the Yankee skipper just because of these numbers? Possibly, but I think there are several other reasons for Torre to stay, and foremost among them is the fact that nothing that has happened so far this year can be blamed on Torre. In fact, I don’t think anyone in particular is to blame.

If not someone, then what is to blame? That’s actually a very easy question to answer. The Yankees are rebuilding. Before you point to their $195M payroll, let’s take a step back and look at the moves they made in the offseason. Randy Johnson, Gary Sheffield and Jaret Wright were shown the door. Andy Pettitte was brought back, on a two-year deal.

The Yanks weren’t players in the free agent market for the two best players out there, Zito and Soriano. They didn’t overbid for lesser talent, like Ted Lilly, they traded veterans for prospects. They signed Pettitte as a stop-gap. The theory was to do as little as possible, keep the team basically as-is, and rebuild.

In most cases, rebuilding AND competing for a ring at the same time would be impossible. Maybe it’s impossible in all cases. The Yankees didn’t address any immediate needs in the offseason, to be fair, they also didn’t really have many immediate needs either. The Unit was replaced by Pettitte, Sheffield was replaced by Melky. The Yankees made a conscious decision not to spend money and/or trade prospects for this year. They turned their eye to the future.

Basically, Brian Cashman said to Joe, “This is what you’ve got this year, make the most out of it.” They aren’t going to jeopardize their future for this year, they aren’t going to sign aging veterans, they’re going to develop their own young talent, and trade for more.

The 9–14 start has nothing to do with Joe’s management decisions, it has everything to do with a depleted and injured starting rotation. The Yankees may have to take their lumps this year in order to build for the future. Or, maybe this year the help comes from within. Instead of going out and trading for a band aid for the rotation, they’ve promoted from within.

The bottom line is that the Yankees aren’t going to mortgage their future any more. If help is on the way, it’s probably going to be in the form of Roger Clemens. Clemens costs money in the short-term, but they don’t have to give up prospects to get him.

Joe Torre should not be fired. That’s about as definitive as it gets from me. The interesting thing to keep an eye on is whether George has the patience to live through this rebuilding period. Pitchers are going to become available in the trade market, will George be able to stand pat even if the Yanks don’t come to life by the All Star break? Will Cashman be around long enough to see his master plan translate at the major league level? I have my doubts.

It takes courage and intestinal fortitude to follow through with a plan like this, especially when you’ve got fans paying $500 to go see a game, and an owner subsidizing half of the league with his luxury tax payments.

Despite the on-the-field results so far this year, I’m 100% behind Cashman. The Yankees have enough on the roster right now to win the A.L. East, and once they get into the playoffs anything can happen. If the Yanks continued to overpay for aging talent, and trade their prospects for one more shot at the ring this team would’ve been completely irrelevant two or three years down the road.

If it seems like I’m giving up on this year, nothing could be further from the truth. Phil Hughes is the real deal, and I think he sticks with the team the rest of the season. Mussina comes back this week. If your rotation is Wang, Pettitte, Mussina, Hughes and Igawa that’s good enough with this lineup. If your rotation is Clemens, Wang, Pettitte, Mussina and Hughes this rotation is the best in the A.L.

The Yankees play 13 games against the Rangers and Mariners over the next two weeks. It’s time to get healthy, both physically and mentally. After this stretch of “easy” games, the Yanks play the ChiSox, Mets and Red Sox again.

by Brian on Apr 30 2007
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