After thinking about it for two days, and attempting to withhold making a rash decision after Saturday's debacle, The Monk is now convinced that the Yankees need a new manager. I'm even approaching the harshness level about this that Jon Heyman hit in his scathing column on Sports Illustrated's website. Heyman is a rarity in the New York media (he was at Newsday until this year when he joined SI), he is an A-Rod booster. And he makes good points: (1) A-Rod rocked September with a .358 average; (2) not coddling A-Rod is likely worse than coddling him given the superstar's psyche; (3) dumping A-Rod to 6th in the order before the playoffs started, but not doing so before then, was a message of lack of respect. Torre didn't win the '96, '98, '99 and '00 Series by showing outright distrust to a prime contributor (no, Denny Neagle doesn't count). Heyman has a point, as do the other commentators who note that A-Rod will cost the Yanks just $64M/4 for the remainder of his contract. The Yanks can trade him, but would need to get big value for him, and pay NO money to the receiving team.
And given other factors, Torre's ouster is a necessity at this point: overpaid players in their walk year in '07 (Johnson, Giambi, possibly Wright), veterans who show they need motivation not sonambulation, and the tore-up and washed out bullpen. Heyman's right: Torre misused Ron Villone criminally this season, and really did the same to Proctor -- a fireballer who had all too many arm troubles before hitting the big leagues but resiliently maintained a sub-4.00 ERA despite the frequent use.
Specific fixes for the Yanks exist: dump Sheff as I said before. I disagree with the NY Post's Joel Sherman -- losing him (with a $0 buyout) doesn't mean we lose him for nothing. Sheffield will be a class A free agent and that means comp picks. Cutting him loose primarily means that the Yanks will have $13M to play with to chase Zito (who's only 28 and pitches best when not pitching against the Yanks) or Japanese star Daisuke Matsuzaka, who will likely post as a free agent in Japan. Picking up Sheff's option then trading him means dealing with his efforts to sabotage the trade, moaning about playing time or his destination, etc.
The Yanks should also decline Mooooooooooose's option and seek a two-year deal, make a play for Jason Schmidt, trade Matsui for power pitching and use the few fruits of their farm system to seed the next generation of Yankee greatness (Hughes, Cabrera, Clippard, J.B. Cox, Tabata) instead of turning them into stars on other teams. By 2008, barring arm troubles, the Yanks should have both Philip Hughes and the less renowned (though excellent in A ball in '05 and in AA ball this year) Tyler Clippard ready to contribute -- Hughes with a half-season under his belt a la Wang going into this year, Clippard as a rookie getting his chance. Anyone could develop the young pitchers better than Torre.
No matter what, it is time for a change in the Bronx. Younger, faster, hungrier, better. That's what the Yanks need.