All Things Bubba

Because how can you not love a baseball player named "Bubba"?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Blame Game

No word yet on the Torre front. The press has been camping outside his house and at Yankee Stadium, hoping for news. Some in the Yankee organization are supposedly trying to change the Boss' mind about firing Torre; Steinbrenner is reportedly calming down. Torre may yet survive.

Meanwhile, in the aftermath of the Yankees' humiliating collapse, the finger-pointing and backbiting has begun.

The Daily News back page says we should Blame Jeter:

It makes me rethink the whole MVP debate. I wrote a handful of times that I thought Jeter deserved the award this season, and I still think he did more on the field to help his team than anybody else.

But in light of the Motown Meltdown, and all that it revealed about this team, I have to question how Jeter could be the MVP in a season in which he wouldn't make the slightest effort to offer a hand when A-Rod was flailing in quicksand.

Meanwhile, the North Jersey Record puts the blame on Joe:

Torre lost touch with his players

The Yankees have become addicted to the All-Star-at-every-position philosophy, and the bloating that's followed is found in more than just the payroll. The Yankees' egos are such that they no longer hustle their way to victories. Instead, they've been relying on nuclear superiority.

Most of the time, it worked. That lineup was indeed the best the American League has seen in decades, maybe ever. But there's still no substitute for hard work and old school enthusiasm. When the Yankees ran into a young team that refused to be intimidated, such as the Tigers, "They just curled up and died" said one major league executive. The Yankees somehow became convinced they could win by simply being the Yankees. They had no Plan B, and that's because Torre was so withdrawn from his troops.

Wow. That article paints a grim view of the Yankees clubhouse.

Gary Sheffield and Cory Lidle also seem to be blaming Torre. Lidle said they weren't ready to play, while Sheff blamed the lineup changes (A-Rod to eighth), saying they distracted the team.

There's plenty of blame to go around. Everyone knows it's pitching that wins in the post-season, but Cashman didn't do much to shore up the Yankees pitching. It was simply ludicrous to go into a do-or-die game with the likes of Jaret Wright and Cory Lidle on the mound.

And as that last series showed, the lineup is just too one-dimensional. Too many sluggers. Against good pitching - which one tends to encounter in the postseason - it's the gap hitters who succeed, more often than the sluggers. Now, Jeter and Damon are not one-dimensional. They are contact hitters, who can bunt and steal as well as hit the occasional homer. Abreu is also a contact hitter. He can't bunt, but he's got great speed on the basepaths. After that,'s all sluggers. Sheff, Giambi, A-Rod, Matsui, Posada...all tend to K against good pitchers. (Though Posada did well this postseason. We're going to miss him when he's gone.)

We need fewer sluggers, and more guys who can hit a line drive into the gap, or just move the runner over.

Paul O'Neill said the Yankees have too many chiefs, not enough Indians. I think he's right. We need more role-players and fewer superstars. Call it chemistry, or balance, or whatever...the Yankees team that took the field against Detroit didn't have it.

Of course, it's not Torre who saddled the team with all these veteran stars. And you really can't blame him for playing them when he has them. Still...Torre's strengths are not well-suited to the short post-season. He does well during the long regular season. But in-game tactics have never been his strong suit...and that's what counts in the post-season. Maybe it was impossible to beat Detroit's pitching. But we could have put up more of a fight. If Joe had pulled Mussina earlier, Game 2 might have been salvaged. If he hadn't left Wright in that long, even Game 4 might have been won. Heck, he shouldn't have left Wang in New York. We should have at least had the option of Wang on short rest, with the season at stake.

I dunno, maybe Goldman has it right. Sometimes, you just need change for the sake of change. It may be time for Torre to go.

But if he does, I don't know that his replacement will be an improvement. Whoever it is. Piniella is the frontrunner, but I'd rather have Girardi. Though I have my doubts about whether Girardi has the political skills to handle the job.

On a lighter note...check out this eBay auction. I'm surprised it hasn't been removed yet.

posted by BubbaFan, 7:25 AM


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