Monday, April 30, 2007

The Yankees' yes and no

Derek Jeter blasted the notion, rampant in media reports, that Joe Torre may be fired if the Yanks don't pull their collective s--- together soon. Jeter's right.

The Monk said last year after the Yanks' enervated performance against the Tigers that Torre should have been sacked, and I stand by that. The team had honked badly in the playoffs by losing to an inferior team in humiliating fashion. In one way, the Yanks loss last year was worse than 2004 and 2005: in '04, the RedSax were the better team, with a better rotation (Schilling-Pedro-Wakefield-Lowe to Mooooose-Leiber-Brown-Vazquez) but somehow the Yanks had won more games during the course of the regular season; in '05, Torre worked a miracle to net that team 95 wins in the regular season with the rookie Wang, mid-season acquisition Chacon and clearance-rack acquisition Aaron Small combining for a 25-8 record, and if the Yanks could play decent defense, they'd have beaten the Angels in the ALDS (see the game 2 loss); in '06, the Yanks were the better team with superior personnel and completely failed.

This year, Torre has made a hash of some games (see game 1 in Baastin; game 2 in Tampa) and the only reason the Yanks are not worse than the Royals right now is A-Rod's two game-winning bombs. But he's also had little to work with -- Wang's injury, Pavano's injury, Mooooooose's injury, Rivera's horrid start (9 ER in April -- his last four full SEASONS he's allowed 13, 17, 12, and 15 ER with a sub-2.00 ERA each time), Igawa's rookie jitters, pulling starters from the minors to debut in pinstripes, etc. If the Yanks can expect to bop around teams with weak closers (Orioles, Indians), they should expect their own closer to shut down opponents.

But collective slumps and cruddiness aside, the fact remains that half the team looks lost (Damon, Abreu, Cano, Cabrera, Mientkiewicz), half the team has been ok (Jeter, A-Rod, Posada, Giambi) and the pitchers simply have not pitched well. At this point, given what Torre has done with previous Yankees teams that slumped at the start (1997, 2005), and considering that there is no Billy Martin type manager able to jump-start the team waiting in the wings, he has to stay. The Yanks have had bad starts, and bad starts against the RedSawx in recent years. In 2005, they were 11-19; in 2004, they started 1-6 against the Beanheads; last year they started 1-4 against the Redho's before winning nine of the next ten against them. Axing Torre now is just a panic move, and bad timing. The move should have been made before, or should be made later. Not now.

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