Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
October 31, 2007
BASEBALL: Manager-Go-Round

It's really amazing quite how much has happened in the baseball world in a few days, to the point where I am already behind the curve on the offseason - I have a bunch of half-written posts that keep getting overtaken by events.

First up: the managing exchange that appears, at least for now, to be landing Joe Torre in LA and Joe Girardi back with the Yankees.

For Torre, this is something of a homecoming as well as an opportunity to prove himself away from the Yankees, Cashman, Rivera, Jeter, etc. Torre spent 36 years in the NL as a player and manager, coming away with one division title (managing the 1982 Braves) in those years. That said, with the successes he has had with the Yankees, he's got to be an upgrade on Grady Little. Either way, the current Dodger management seems bent on loading the team with AL East refugees. The good news for the Yankees is that the Dodgers already have a catcher and a closer, so Torre's presence on another team won't tempt Rivera and Posada to consider going elsewhere.

As for Girardi, it's an interesting choice, more interesting than Don Mattingly - a Mattingly hire would have made running Torre out of town pointless. On the surface, Girardi is what you would want in a manager replacing an older, low-key manager who'd held the job for over a decade, if you were worried about the team growing too comfortable: an aggressive, hard-nosed up-and-comer, a guy who is clearly comfortable playing youngsters and did a great job with the Marlins, taking an exceptionally green team deep into the pennant race only to see them collapse without him this year.

There are two major drawbacks, though. One, of course, is that Girardi is a young guy who was a teammate of many of the senior Yankees, who may not treat him as an authority figure and may resent him if he picks a fight with them just to establish who is boss.

Second is the issue that triggered his departure from Miami: the charge that he overworked Florida's young pitchers. Josh Johnson and Anibal Sanchez were brilliant under Girardi in 2006, hurt this season; Dontrelle Willis continued his downward slide; Scott Olsen fell off dramatically. Some of the fault for that lies with the Marlins' abysmal defense, and you could argue that Girardi's absence is why they faltered, but certainly the notion that he pushed Johnson and Sanchez too far too fast could raise concerns in how he will handle Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain & co. Those are the two subplots worth watching in Girardi's first year in the new Bronx Zoo.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:36 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

I am not a famous successful baseball manager and thus probably lack the internal competitive urge that people like Joe Torre must have. Otherwise, I cannot imagine why he would not just sit back an enjoy life with his family and grandchildren. Has he ever bucked traffic on the 110 trying to get to Dodger Stadium? Seriously, at this point he's got to have all the cash he'll ever need, all the fame and glory for two lifetimes etc.

Posted by: NRA Life Member at November 1, 2007 9:53 AM

I agree that Girardi's might have a problem with senior players, though there are only a few left and they are the type of players who would be professional about working with him in the management role.

As for his issue with young pitchers, I think Cashman will provide a balance as he did with Torre and Joba. While Torre was notorious for over working relievers in recent years (through no fault of his own; he no longer received any distance from his rotation), Cashman provided set boundaries for the new young pitchers, making sure they developed properly.

While I’m sad to see Torre go, I’m happy they at least made the right choice in Girardi.

Posted by: Anthony at November 1, 2007 10:24 AM

I don't see any real evidence that Girardi overworked Florida's young pitchers - sometimes young pitchers just get hurt, and the guy who feuded with the front office makes a good scapegoat.

Posted by: Jerry at November 1, 2007 10:32 AM

"Senior players" = Jeter, Posada (if he comes back), Mariano (if he comes back), and Pettite (if he comes back), right?

Hard to see Jeter giving him a hard time. Posada, maybe, if his role needs to be reduced. Same with Mariano. Pettite I doubt will be back anyway.

Posted by: A.S. at November 1, 2007 12:16 PM

Girardi was already something of an authority figure to Rivera, Pettitte, and Posada when he was a veteran catcher and they were young pitchers and catchers. Jeter's really the only guy I'd see viewing Girardi as more of a peer. And really, none of those four is likely to be much of a headache.

Posted by: Jerry at November 1, 2007 1:25 PM

While I love Joe Torre, I think Girardi is exactly what the organization needs right now. I'm not happy about how it went down.

Something I wrote about how Torre leaving solidifies that the Yanks are a PR machine bent on furthering the brand:
http://www.starkmanassociates.com/index.php/2007/10/31/yankees-brand-joe-torre/

Posted by: Anthony at November 6, 2007 4:35 PM
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