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Joe Torre and Joe Girardi were two of the most visible symbols of the New York Yankees' late-1990s dominance. Torre, obviously, led New York's most recent dynasty to four World Series titles, while Girardi was along for the ride, serving as the starting catcher before Jorge Posada took over the reigns. Girardi followed in his manager's footsteps by heading up the Florida Marlins for one season, winning Manager of the Year honors even after he was fired because of a disagreement with management.
Now, Yankee fans find themselves in an unfamiliar position. Torre, unable to win yet another Steinbrenner-mandated championship, is the new manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Girardi, fresh off an announcing position, is the Yankees' latest skipper.
Both men face big challenges in their new homes. Torre inherits a clubhouse that was at times divided between veterans and rookies. He'll have to manage a balancing act that could decide if the Dodgers make the playoffs in 2008. Girardi is facing a far different atmosphere than he did in Florida; fans and Steinbrenners alike will be demanding immediate success.
Which manager will enjoy the most success? Cast your vote now!
We've collected a sample of what writers, bloggers, and players themselves have said this offseason about Girardi and Torre. For this issue, we've chosen ESPN's Bob Klapisch and Tim Kurkjian:
Bob Klapisch: "Clearly, Girardi is using new tactics. Two years ago with the Marlins, he was an authoritarian figure, in charge of a young, more impressionable team. Today, Girardi still looks like a state trooper with his crew cut, but aside from the intense running drills he imposed on the Yankees, he's been wise enough to treat Derek Jeter and the rest of the veterans like peers. Indeed, at 43, Girardi isn't much older than some of his core players. Mussina calls him 'a player in charge more than an actual manager.'
"It's worked. Not one Yankee has pined for the good old days under Torre -- except for Jeter's joking reference that he missed Joe 'when we were running.' Does this sound like a passively run camp? Soon after reporting, the Yankees were pushing out foul-pole-to-foul-pole sprints. The next day they were running 300-yard shuttles -- a series of six 50-yard sprints -- that had to be completed in less than a minute. After a 90-second rest, everyone did it again. The following day, there were multiple 100-yard dashes.
"If anyone would've taken issue with the aerobic overload, it would be [Jason] Giambi, who said he was 'totally gassed … I'm 240 pounds, there's only so much I can handle.' But like everyone else in the room, the slugger stood by Girardi's rules. "
March 4, 2008
Yankees buying into new way of doing things under Girardi
Tim Kurkjian: "He is 67, but his health is good other than the lingering pain from left knee replacement surgery on Dec. 5. His challenge with the Dodgers is a large one. He doesn't know many of the players. The team was only 82-80 last year. They didn't have anyone with at least 90 RBIs (the Yankees had five). They didn't have one player who even got at least a 10th-place vote for MVP (the Cubs' Carlos Marmol got one). They've won one playoff game since last winning the World Series in 1988.
"Torre knows he has inherited a young team, but he also knows that last season 13 Yankees made their major league debuts, the largest number of any big league team.
"'They're expecting a lot here,' Torre said. 'That's what happens being a Dodger. At the [first] press conference in L.A., people came up to me and said, 'This is great, great, great.' I said, 'Not now. I want you to say that at this time next year.'"'
Feb. 13, 2008
Relaxed Torre ready for new challenge in L.A.
MLB stats: 1277 G, .267 BA, .315 OBP, .350 SLG, 36 HR
Managerial stats: 1 season, 78-84, .481 winning percentage
MLB stats: 2209 G, .297 BA, .365 OBP, .452 SLG, 252 HR
Managerial stats: 27 seasons, 2067-1770, .539 winning percentage, four World Series titles