Mr. Torre seems to be going out of his way to make me regret defending him last October.
In the opening game at Fenway, he managed the pitching staff like it was game 7 of the World Series (a mentality he’s been guilty of not maintaining in game 4 of his last World Series). This angle is not an altogether terrible one, as grabbing the bird in the hand would be advisable given the unsettling pitching mismatches the next two days. That said, the offense was conducted like it was a spring training game against my Wednesday night fat guy softball league. (I’m the lone skinny guy who can’t hit the ball out of the infield – picture a 140 lb version of Wil Nieves.)
While it’s nice to see a *** atmosphere with the Yanks up 6-2, trying to cash in the 7th run would not have qualified as running up the score. Removing Giambi for Kevin Thompson with no one out in the 8th made sense. Trying to get him home would have made even more sense. Anyone out there know if Wil Nieves can drop down a bunt? A guy whose last hit in the major leagues was while David Ortiz was in a Twins uniform better dang well know how to square the bat around. Especially since Robinson Cano was on deck – an unintentional batting order, as Nieves had to replace Posada mid-game due to injury. This is a situation that should make every Yankee fan drop to their knees, pray for Posada’s thumb to get better, and swear that he’ll never be taken for granted ever again. When Cano bounced one off the wall after Nieves’ inevitable out, you kind of got the feeling that the run that (theoretically) would have scored would still be on base at the inning’s conclusion. That Cano would be standing in the box thinking about his IRA for several seconds while a baseball game was going on makes one wonder if he’ll ever change that nasty habit of springing from the box with the speed of a beluga whale. John Kruk, telecasting for ESPN, was quite confident Cano would receive a healthy dose of what-for by Larry Bowa. This is nice to think, but if it’s true, I get the feeling that players at the major league level are simply uncoachable. Cano is not a hustler, and I’ll be a monkey’s mildly retarded uncle if that ever changes. I would have accepted a loss if Torre yanked him from the game right there. But the player’s union would probably have picketed the MLB offices and burned down Torre’s home in Hawaii if such punishment were imposed.
Anyway, managing the staff with a sense of urgency is fine, but lost in this is the fact that Pettitte looked like he could have pitched deeper into the game, which would have limited the revolving door of tired personnel that has become so routine in the Bronx. The Yanks roster consists of 25 players, 24 of them are pitchers, 23 of them are relievers, and they’ll all be burned out before the ides of May. Bringing in Mike Myers to face Ortiz with a 4 run lead? The more Ortiz faces that funky delivery, the more comfortable he’ll be. Torre put himself in the position to retract his vow to not use Rivera for more than one inning this year. You knew that was bogus, but two weeks in? He never should have gotten to that point. Having burned through just about everybody in what become a close game made sure that Torre would have almost no one left if the game went into extra innings. He didn’t manage with urgency – he managed with panic. It makes a fella overmanage the pitching staff and undermanage the offense.
And what’s with that A-Rod guy not going deep in the 9th?