Knowledge Drops in the Frappe House to pose the question on a lot of your minds.
Unless the Red Sox and Rays decide to stop playing the rest of the regular season Major League Baseball games, the Yankees will miss the playoffs for the first time in 13 years.
Is this downturn in performance because the Yankees basically dismissed ex Manager Joe Torre and let him leave?
And now a word from our geniuses:
BiCoastal Bias: The answer is a clear cut yes, Joe Torre would have been the difference maker that sent this team to the playoffs.
The most obvious other factor to blame is the injuries that the Yankees have had, Steinbrenner said this himself a few weeks ago. But every winning ball club in the American League has dealt with their fair share of injuries to major contributors. This is a hurdle that the Yankees, with Joe Torre at the helm, would have overcome.
The simple reason is that this team looks a lot like last year’s team: 2007 ERA 4.49 vs. 2008 ERA 4.36; 2007 Avg. .290 vs. 2008 Avg. .272. I will admit that there are a handful of guys who were undoubtedly having better years last year than this year – but for every major subtraction, there has been an addition. This year, the Matsui and Posada injuries have really hurt the team, but they’ve had Giambi playing every day which they didn’t have last year, and Damon, despite his brief injury, is having a much better year this year. We haven’t even mentioned picking up Xavier Nady at the deadline, and he has done everything expected of him.
They’ve been missing Chien-Ming Wang this year, as well as Roger Clemens; but the resurgence of Mike Mussina, and putting Chamberlain in the starter’s role have made up for that. (Remember that Chamberlain pitched less than 20 innings all of last year.) The collapse of Melky Cabrera has been a major blow, but the manager must take some responsibility for the confidence of his young players.
This year’s trade for Ivan Rodriguez, sending Kyle Farnsworth to Detroit, has turned out to be ill-advised, and we can’t hold manager Joe Girardi responsible for that one. But this team is on pace to finish about 7 games behind where they finished (for the wild card) last year. They’ll probably miss the playoffs by a similar margin. If you were one of those willing to hold Joe Torre responsible for three straight divisional series losses; then you should definitely be holding Girardi responsible for missing the playoffs this year.
This team is not the offensive juggernaut they were last year. If they were, we’d have nothing to talk about, because Girardi probably would have cruised to the playoffs. But over the 12 straight playoff appearances that Torre oversaw, he proved that he would push a team to do just what it takes to make it into October. There’s no doubt in my mind that he would have done the same thing in 2008 if he were still wearing pinstripes.
IntrinsicBent: Joe Torre is more responsible for the Dodgers being on the cusp of making this year’s playoffs than his absence is in the Yankees missing them.
New York (The City) can be wrapped up in a single word………….Drama. And it’s definitely no different for their sports teams. It’s true Joe Torre was the calming, confident foundation of the Yankees dynastic success during his tenure.
This season saw maybe a higher level of drama, if that’s even possible, than normal for the Yankees team.
You had the steroid issue affecting pitchers Roger Clemens and Andy Pettite before the season started. The Steinbrenner clan decided to jockey for juice position with GM Brian Cashman. Then the youth minority in the pitching ranks fell victim to the injury and underperformance bug.
Having played for, and coached with Torre, current Yanks Manager Joe Girardi was a great hiring of a younger Torre protege. But he does not have the experience and lines in his face that players can stabilize themselves around.
The Yankees problems have taken longer to roost than what they should have. Paying for talent sometimes at the sacrifice of chemistry and minor league player development, egotistic ownership that use the rabid media like a whip, and allowing their team to become top heavy with age are the main culprits in the current Yankees team demise.
The decision to cut a manager because he could only get them in the playoffs and not win the ring for 7 years, and then not even make the playoffs the next year is just the cherry on top.