Thursday, September 23, 2004

Joe Torre: Most Overrated Manager in Baseball History

I will be very ticked off when Joe Torre gets elected to the Hall of Fame for leading the Yankees to four World Series titles. He is not a great manager. He has these things going for him:

(a) Mariano Rivera, which wasn't his doing anyway
(b) George's huge payroll

Question #1: Would the Yankees have won four titles with another manager?

Question #2: Where are all his World Series rings from his previous managerial jobs?

Answer #1: Jeter. Bernie. Mariano. Clemens. Pettitte... Point is, he's had great players throughout. I'll give him '96, because no one thought they'd go all the way that year, and with the Mariano Duncans of the world and the Charlie Hayeses, it wasn't as if he were fielding an all-star lineup, although the aforementioned guys (Clemens not included) are no slouches themselves.

But '98? '99? '00? When George started spending like mad and bought all the players he needed for World Series championships? Why give Torre any credit? Anyone could have won with those teams, be it Tony LaRussa, Grady Little, Greg Riddoch, Art Howe, Jeff Torborg... Granted, there's no evidence that a different manager would have done better, but there's no evidence that another skipper would've been worse!

I'm more impressed with Bobby Valentine making it to the Series with an outfield of Jay Payton, Benny Agbayani, and Bubba Trammell. Or Tommy Lasorda winning it all in '88 with the John Shelbys and Franklin Stubbses of the world.

Answer #2: There are none. He had decent teams in St. Louis in the early '90s, but never did anything. He won the division with the Braves in the early '80s, but never got to the Series. He was a disaster with the Mets, but his teams were terrible, so let's be fair.

Overall, managers are overrated because it's the players that have to perform, and it's the GMs who put the team together, so let's not go crazy calling Torre a genius just yet.

Besides, who knows - maybe other managers could have done better and won five, six, maybe seven championships.

But I give Torre credit for one thing - he knows how to kiss George's fanny all right.

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