August 2, 2007


Torre Seems Terrified of Changing Ways (STEVEN GOLDMAN, August 2, 2007, NY Sun)

The changes wrought by the Yankees on July 31, the deletion of Scott Proctor, the addition of Wilson Betemit, the return of Edwar Ramirez to the bullpen, as well as the imminent return of Jason Giambi, and the seemingly inevitable promotion of Joba Chamberlain provoke a large number of uncomfortable questions, the main one being that though Brian Cashman has furnished Torre with a new set of tools, if he won't use them, what was the point of the entire exercise?

Torre has become spectacularly inflexible in his old age. He is terrified of the new and untested, especially in pitchers, but increasingly in position players as well. Mariano Rivera and Proctor were the only relievers established in the major leagues by Torre during his entire Yankees career. As Ramirez recently learned, if a reliever doesn't have five years experience in the bigs, he will sit and sit until Torre finds the right "situation" to use him. Said situation is usually defined as a game in which the Yankees are leading or trailing by 38 or more runs. Meanwhile, pitchers like Kyle Farnsworth, who are incompetent but have longer résumés, pitch game after game, with Torre blithely telling the press that he really thinks that Farnsworth, apparently still trying to figure out what it is he does well at 31, has finally turned a corner. He said it again on Sunday, just before Farnsworth was lit up by the Orioles.

Torre's famous loyalty to his veterans almost certainly ensures that Betemit won't play, despite the double credential of both being five years younger than Andy Phillips and having a better track record of major league success. This same loyalty threatens to send Melky Cabrera, the team's only defensive standout, to the bench when the manager is forced to find at bats for Giambi and Johnny Damon.

While it seems obvious that Torre should be fired before he can do to Joba Chamberlain what he did to Proctor and to Phil Hughes what Mike Hargrove was doing to Felix Hernandez and Jerry Narron did to Bronson Arroyo, Homer Bailey, etc., the Yankees would be better served by a more wholesale set of changes: Derek Jeter to CF; Arod to ss, Betemit to 3b, Johnny Damon to full-time DH; and cut Giambi loose if he can't play 1b.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 2, 2007 8:18 AM

Torre's not Hargrove. That is, he's if anything overly cautious with starters, so Hughes should be ok. Plus I don't think he'll be allowed to Proctorize Joba.

That said, this has to be his last year. The Yanks have so many prospects coming through in the next 3 years, including a few good position players to join the Melkman and Cano, and Torre can't be allowed to foul things up.

Over at BronxBanter, the commentators came up with a new stat -- BFOG+ -- to explain Torre's obsession with veterans. BFOG standing for "belly full of guts", Torre's oft-used explanation in postgame interviews for why vets like Cairo get playing time.

Your prescriptions make some sense, but I wonder if Arod can still handle ss consider his increased bulk, plus I'm skeptical of any move that puts Melky on the bench. Also, the odd-man out has to be Damon. Even a Giambi at 1/2 strength is a better dh option than Damon.

In any case, the Yanks are playing the best ball in the AL now, and have been for over 2 months now, and Hughes in the rotation and Jobaa/Edwar in the pen give them a strong chance not only to overtake the Sawx in the division but also to take the whole enchilada.

Tight sphincter time in Beantown. Sawx fans would be advised to think of ways to improve their own team, especially with the albatross in rf, and his backup, Whiffy-Mo, holding down 2 important roster spots.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at August 2, 2007 9:04 AM

The red hot Yankees have won 7 of their last 10, which has gained them 0 games on the slumping Sox, who are likewise 7-3.

Given the failure of the Mariners, Twins and Indians to do anything to improve themselves it's conceivable the Yanks could win the wild card, though they'd then face a playoff series where they'd have the inferior starter in every single match-up regardless of whether they draw the Angels or Tigers.

Just making the playoffs though, with pitching and defense as bad as theirs, would be an outstanding achievement. A nice note for Torre and Cashman to go out on.

Posted by: oj at August 2, 2007 12:05 PM


Right field is a problem, but Willy Mo has at least been hitting a bit lately. The Red Sox will no doubt bring up the kid Ellsbury, who at minimum gives speed and defense, for the last couple months of the season.

The Yankees have certainly done better lately than I expected; the way their lineup beats up on journeyman pitching is remarkable.

Posted by: Mike Earl at August 2, 2007 1:08 PM
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