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Which manager is a better fit with his new team, Joe Torre or Joe Girardi?
Both managers arrive with high expectations. Torre's Dodgers are the National League's winningest franchise since moving to Los Angeles in 1958, and they're loaded with young talent. Girardi's Yankees are the greatest franchise in American sports history, and have reached the playoffs in 12 straight seasons. But questions abound. Can Torre, now 67, succeed with a sub-$200 million payroll? Can Girardi handle the voracious New York media for eight months? Conventional wisdom suggests that both managers will do quite well with their new teams. But is one a better fit than the other?
The Case for Joe T.
Torre's detractors will argue that he did little in New York that most managers couldn't have done, considering the Yankees' financial advantage. In 2007 the Yankees spent more money on player salaries than any other team in the majors. And the Dodgers? They spent more on salaries than any other team in the National League. So while the Dodgers' advantage certainly can't match the Yankees', Torre certainly doesn't have to worry about beating teams better-heeled than his own.
In a similar vein, Torre's detractors also will argue that tutoring young players isn't a strong suit, perhaps because in New York he's rarely had to. Well, it's certainly true that the Yankees simply bought most of their best players during Torre's tenure. But not all of them. Derek Jeter was a fine prospect when he arrived in the Bronx, but without Torre would he have become a future Hall of Famer? Similarly, while Jorge Posada may not wind up in Cooperstown, since joining the Yankees for good in 1997 he's become the third- or fourth-best catcher in franchise history. And more recently, both Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera have played key roles for the club. To be sure, Torre doesn't have a substantial ledger in this regard. But he hasn't been asked to build one.
What the Dodgers have lacked in recent years is stability. They've changed general managers, they've changed managers, and few players have been in place for more than a few seasons. Last year the old players were peeved at the young players and vice versa. What Torre brings is a firm guiding hand. He'll turn 68 shortly after the All-Star Game, but if he's still got the energy for job he might be exactly what the Dodgers need.
The Case for Joe G.
The Yankees are the only team in major league history to earn postseason berths in 13 straight years (and no, the Braves don't count; they missed in 1994 and might have missed even without the strike). Torre was their manager for the last 12 of those years. So it might seem strange to say the franchise needed to make a change. Except maybe it did. After all, despite their massive financial edge, the Yankees haven't won more than 97 games since 2004 -- and we're now 10 years removed from their last truly awesome season (1998). And of course they haven't won a World Series since 2000. So perhaps it really was time for a change.
Joe Girardi, though? Well, after the 1960 World Series the Yankees fired 70-year-old Casey Stengel, who'd managed the club to 10 American League pennants and seven World Championships in 12 years. Stengel was replaced by an ex-Yankee catcher, only 41 years old, named Ralph Houk. He'd managed a few seasons in the minors, but otherwise had little experience. But in Houk's three seasons as manager of the Yankees before being promoted to general manager, the Yankees averaged 103 wins per season. The organization had been watching Houk; just as the organization has been watching Girardi, an ex-Yankee catcher who's now 43 years old.
Even when Girardi was still playing for the Yanks, he was mentioned as a future manager. The Yankees continued to watch him as he guided the 2006 Marlins, who were supposed to lose more than 100 games, to a 78-84 record. And they really watched him in 2007 when he worked as an analyst with the club's YES Network, and always seemed like the smartest man in the booth. As the Yankees finally commit to younger players -- and particularly younger pitchers -- Girardi's experience with the young Marlins will be exceptionally useful. And at 43 he should have the energy for yet another tense summer and fall in the Bronx.
So what do you think? Is one a better fit than the other? Or will we perhaps be watching Torre's Dodgers and Girardi's Yankees in the World Series next October.
Vote: Which manager is a better fit for his new team?
Rob, I think both Joes will do an exceptional job at the helm of their respective teams- but which manager do you think will do a better job managing the pitching staff in the postseason? I love Joe Torre, but I think Andy Pettitte should have been the #1 starter, not Chien-Ming Wang. Your take?
I got no problems with Wang; the guy pitched excellently for two whole seasons. I do think Torre's faltered occasionally with his relievers, but we won't know if Girardi's any better until he's actually there.
Tony Rochester, NY
Rob, how important is it that Torre as the ability to mesh the old with the young on the dodgers vulnerable team and how far do you see them going in his first year in what is in my opinion the toughest division in baseball?
The NL West should be an absolute war, but the Dodgers have some serious upside with all that young talent. I haven't run any numbers yet, but I suspect that the Dodgers and Diamondbacks will project to 88-92 wins with the Padres and Rockies a few games behind. Obviously, if Torre can get the kids into the lineup and keep them productive the Dodgers will be tough.
JP, Forest Hills NY
Best fit has to go to Girardi. With Cashman successully being able to retain Hughes, Chamberlain, and Kennedy going into the season a large portion of the Yankees success will depend on what their young pitchers contribute throughout the course of the season. Given the fact that Girardi has caught and worked closely with pitchers within the last 10 years and already worked with a young staff recently, I think he's the better choice for the particular make-up of this rotation. Additionally, the Yankees offense has relied to heavily on power in clutch situations in the past several years. Girardi brings a fresh National League mentality (as did Torre back in '96, but slipped away from..) that will help the Yankees offense reach it's true 1000+ runs scored potential.
Well, I don't think you're going to see the Yankees steal 200 bases. In fact, I think Girardi's smart enough to know that he can, for the most part, just wind up the hitters and let them go. The key's going to be that young pitching, much of which is out of Girardi's control. But one does figure his experiences will be useful.
Andrew (Fairfax, VA)
Don't you think we overstate the effect of managers on their ballplayers' performance just a little bit?
No question about it.
Dave (Ft Walton Beach, Florida)
As a Yankee fan, I am excited to Joe Girardi steer the ship. He's intelligent, well spoken, understand the NY press, and can relate and develop young players. He is a leader in the Jeter fashion. In all Yankee seasons there are peaks and valleys. If Joe can keep his head when the all those around him lose theirs he will most definitely succeed.
I think that's right (except for the "definitely" part, as there's no definitely in baseball). Girardi's patience and his temper will be tested plenty of times from March through September and (perhaps) October.
Craig (Great Neck, NY)
To be honest, I feel sorry for Dodger fans. Torre has such a well-known preference for veterans, I'm afraid it will stunt the growth of Dodger prospects. You know he'll go for Nomar over LaRoche, Pierre over Kemp, etc...He's so afraid to mix things up. Plus, poor Scott Proctor's arm may finally fall off this season.
Perhaps, but how many young players did he have in New York that really deserved to play? Perhaps he should have gone to Posada a bit earlier than he did, but Jeter and Cano both jumped right into the lineup. Alfonso Soriano, too. I have to think Torre will quickly recognize the talents of Kemp, Ethier, and LaRoche.
We saw in the NFL back a bit that coaches got old, overstayed in the league too long, and were out of touch with players and systems. Do you think there is a danger of that with Torre, who is in his 70's, trying to manage kids barely out of their teens?
Torre's actually 67 and could pass for 57. I would have been more concerned 30 years ago, but we've seen Felipe Alou and Jack McKeon do well as managers at this age. I'm not saying that being a senior citizen is a *positive* ... but in Torre's case I'm not sure it's a negative, either.
Isn't Girardi at least partly to blame for the arm troubles of Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, and Anibal Sanchez. I seem to remember a story about how he left Johnson in a game after a lengthy rain delay and Johnson got hurt not long afterwards. Shouldn't that be a strike against Girardi?
I'd have to look up the specifics, but it's unreasonable to expect perfection from a first-time manager. I happen to think that if Girardi did make a mistake there, he's smart enough to have learned from it.
Colby, Newport Beach, CA
Torre was a proven winner in NY and handled the media and the Boss as good as anyone could...Girardi has 1 excellent year under his belt in FL but other than that he really doesn't match up on paper with Torre. Why does Girardi get so much praise, and is there even a questions as to who is the better manager?
Torre wasn't particularly successful before he took over a team that had been in the playoffs the year before. Anyway, I don't usually believe in "good managers"; some manager are good in a particular situation, not so good in others.
Kevin (east stroudsburg, pa)
Torre did nothing the past few years with the Yanks. Everyday he put out the same lineup and sat back and slept in the dugout. Girardi will do much better this year with the team because he's got enthusiasm and energy to go along with young talented players.
It's funny, that's what they were saying about Casey Stengel in his last few years with the Yankees. Though I think he did actually fall asleep sometimes.
Ben (Washington, D.C.)
Ok, but let's look at young relievers that Torre would not pitch for weeks at a time. Eduar Ramirez, Brian Bruney, Colter Bean. He went with Kyle Farnsworth over all of them even though Bruney had had some good outings, the first time Ramirez came into a game he struck out the side. The next time he pitched was two weeks later and he gave up a bunch of runs.
Well, I'm on record, many times, disagreeing with Torre's bullpen machinations. Whether that makes him a bad fit in Los Angeles, I don't know. But what he did last summer is no way to build a stable relief corps.
How does Jeter respond to Girardi? He had such reverence for Torre, who save for his rookie year, has been his only manager. Plus, Girardi was a former teammate of Jeter's so there won't be the same father-son relationship he had with Joe T.
Oh, I think Cap'n Jetes has been around for long enough that it won't be an issue. The Yankees did okay in '64 when Yogi managed them.
Nathan (Brooklyn, NY)
My biggest two beefs with Joe Torre: Not bunting on Curt Schilling during the bloody sock game and not pulling the players off the field during Midge-gate. Otherwise, I'm a big, big fan of his. They'll both thrive, but I think Torre will have a bigger impact on his team than Girardi will.
Of course, what's funny is that both managers will be credited or debited for whatever happens, even though we know that 90-some percent of whatever happens is beyond their control. I do think Torre's in a better position because he'll be lionized if the Dodgers just make the playoffs. Girardi has to win the World Series.
Luke (Houston, TX)
Do you think this time around Girardi will be able to stay on consistent good terms with ownership? The Steinbrenners are a little more outspoken and fiery than Jeffrey Loria I would think; what do you think of the chances of some wicked spats between the Steinbrothers and Joe G?
You never know what'll happen when the pennant race heats up, but you'd think by now everyone would be comfortable with each other.
Tom Laguna Niguel, Ca.
I too believe the Yanks needed a change and I was always a big supporter of Joe Torre. Do you think the hands on approach with Girardi versus the hands off easy going ways of Torre will get more positive results?
It's hard to get more positive than winning 95 games every year, isn't it? For all the criticism that Torre's gotten -- yes, including from me -- his record with the Yankees is essentially flawless. I think what they get with the Girardi is, ideally, another Torre for the next decade or so. To me, the whole Girardi-over-Torre was not about 2008, but about the many years beyond.
Viktor (Azusa, CA)
As long as Torre doesn't give Pierre the 668 AB's he got last season, he'll fit in just fine.
Agreed, and on that note let's shift to other baseball topics for a few minutes...
what is happening with the Santana situation? if the Mets fail do you see the Yankees or Boston stepping up to the plate and making the deal this time?
The deadline looms, but I'm 95% sure it'll get done at the last minute.
Steve (Chicago, IL)
Do you think the Cubs will trade for Roberts?
Haven't heard anything lately, but maybe if the O's finally trade Bedard the rest of the rebuilding dominoes will start to fall.
Dustin (McMinnville TN)
What do you think will come off the centerfield situation in Boston? Will it be Ellsbury or Crisp?
I think it's awfully hard to give a hot prospect an everyday job in October and then send him to the bench (or the minors) the next spring. Crisp is either gone or the fourth outfielder, but the latter is clearly a waste of his talents.
Cole, Madison, WI
Do you think the Tigers are now the clear cut favorite to win the World Series, or at least the AL pennant now that they locked up D-Train and Miggy Cabrera or is Boston still the favorite?
Oh, the Tigers are still No. 4 or 5 in the pecking order, behind the Yankees and the Red Sox, and probably the Angels.
Rob, do you have a take on the umpires' background check debacle?
Blown totally out of proportion by the fools who run the umpires' union. Par for their course.
Brian (Boston, MA)
How many games do you see the White Sox winning?
Steve (barre, VT)
Any thoughts on Barry Bonds? Agent said this week he won't retire, will anybody pay him? Who cares about his issues, he is an on-base machine. Somebody has to say "let's give him a contract with some language that frees us if he gets fitted for an orange jump suit"
Will anybody pay him ... how much? One thing I haven't seen addressed: How much does it take to sign him? If he'll sign for a million you have to sign him. If he wants $10 million you can't.
So this means Nathan has to be placed on the market, no?
Haven't heard anything lately, but unless the Twins think they have a legitimate shot at 90 wins *without* Santana, they simply have to trade Nathan if they can get a couple of good prospects in return. Of course, considering what they're getting for Santana ... maybe they're better off just taking the draft picks.
Do you think Ryan Braun can produce like he did last year?
We should expect some regression to the mean, but this is basically the hitter he is. In five or six years he'll be the best first baseman in the majors.
Matt Mc, Kansas
Why do you think the tigers are No. 4 or 5, they clearly have the best lineup in the AL now, with Ivan Rod. hitting 8th, what?!?! and now with D-train too! they still have that young pitching staff from last year, headed by Verlander
Sorry, but there are just too many variables there for me. Does Willis get back to where he was a few years ago. Does Kenny Rogers defy his age again? Is Sheffield healthy enough to play 130 games? Is Bonderman finally as good as his fundamentals say he should be? This team's got a big delta. Or epsilon. Or whatever it's called. Thanks for playing today, and please enjoy the home version next time you have friends over.