October 9, 2006

Joe Torre=Dusty Baker?

I think the comparison is at least a little bit apt here. Both Torre and Baker are widely regarded as doing a good job managing the personal side of the job when it comes to dealing with the sometimes fragile egos of 25 millionaires in hats. Both are loathe to give opportunities to young players. As Steven Goldman at the Pinstriped Bible said once, if you're a young player, you're not allowed to have more than one bad day in a row. He is famous for only using the players he "trusts" and ignoring many of the others unless his hand is forced like with Cabrera or Cano. Dusty is also veteran-centric, as if experience and sore muscles somehow outweighs baseball talent. Where they both fall short is in actual strategy. Creating the lineup and managing the game situations leaves each of them befuddled at times. Jerking A-Rod around the lineup was just the most recent strategic mistake made by Torre in recent years. He was thoroughly depantsed intellectually in this series, leaving some of his best hitters on the bench and refusing to use one of his two situational lefties against the only lefty Tiger hitter. That Granderson hit a triple in one of these situations only makes the mistake that much more noticeable. It would have been the wrong decision even if he grounded out weakly. As for Dusty, I only need to say one word: Neifi!

Now, Baker is out of a job and Torre appears to be headed that way. Dusty is taking some of the blame for the $90 million Cubbie machine that couldn't beat the Pirates, while Torre is going down for the Yankees inability to win a World Series in any of the past six years. There's a difference between last place in the NL and losing in the ALDS, but it's all a matter of degrees and expectations. Baker helmed a team known for losing, while Torre had the expectations of four late 90's championships hanging over his head. I have a feeling someone might higher Baker, though it won't be a smart organization that does it (Washington, anyone?). I suspect Torre will be done at age 66. Some team may want to give him a chance, but he'd be hard pressed to find a situation with as much potential for victory as the one he left. Perhaps it would be best if he rode into the sunset, waited five years, and then gave his induction speech in Cooperstown while all the Yankee fans remember his World Series run.

By the way, this has nothing to do with anything, but I'm rooting for Barry Bonds to sign as a DH with the Angels and bat behind Vlad. If you think Vlad the Impaler is scary now, wait until the other teams have to throw him strikes because Bonds is up next. You might see him hit a ball in the ocean, and trust me, Anaheim is not near the water.

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