Gutless Joe?

Joe Torre must be respected as one of the greatest managers in franchise history, but there is a very disturbing pattern emerging from reports of his tell-all tome. We can’t condemn a man for a few isolated statements, especially when his body of work is otherwise overwhelmingly positive, but it’s very interesting to note who he bashes, who he doesn’t, and how he does his damage.

Look at the guys he does call out: A-Rod, Wells, Kevin Brown, Randy Johnson, Carl Pavano, Brian Cashman. These are people who he describes as having “emotional issues” and “demons.”

Who does he deliberately avoid any possible confrontation with? Gary Sheffield, that’s who: a guy who called Joe Torre a racist, a guy who quit on his team in order to arrange a trade, a guy who is generally acknowledged as bad guy to have on your team. So what is Joe’s reaction to Sheff? He apologizes.

more after the jump

This from John Harper in today’s Daily News, “Torre recounts a team meeting in 2005 when he accused Sheffield of loafing, and their subsequent meeting about it. Sheffield insisted he wasn’t loafing, and Torre said if that was truly the case, then he apologized.”

From this perspective, a pattern emerges. If you’re one of “Joe’s guys” and you’re perfect in the clubhouse, you have no issues that need coaching, you’re great. If you have some issues that require man management or strong leadership, you’re on your own. He made it clear early in the A-Rod fiasco that he wouldn’t take any steps to defend a player with issues or help him fit in. In fact, he seems to stare down his nose at them as to say, “what’s wrong with you?” If you’re a complete jerk, however, he’ll just apologize. He won’t confront you or attempt to bend you to his will for the betterment of the team. From what he’s saying in the book, he almost needs a perfect team of guys who are all great in the clubhouse and are all the same and have no issues at all.

You know what, Joe, at some point, maybe you should have stopped complaining about these guys and started managing them. It’s your job to take guys that are struggling and make them fit in, make them a part of your team. This book makes it seem like he can only succeed when he’s given guys with perfect attitudes that have a boatload of talent. It’s not like he was given the ’78 Yankees or anything. He had a few guys with issues, and instead of putting the arm around them and getting their head on straight, he seemingly just let them self-destruct.

Like I said, his body of work is overwhelmingly positive, but statements like these make me wonder whether he just lucked into having a perfect bunch of guys with his Yankee run or whether he actually is a great manager. What do you guys think?

6 thoughts on “Gutless Joe?

  1. Exactly. He keeps ripping these guys and saying the clubhouse had issues. Ummm, Joe? That is your job!! You need to help bring the A-Rod’s of the world into he fold instead of just ignoring the issue. I think Joe did a good job, but this book is really hurting my thoughts on him.

  2. Nice post, Tom. Looking back on all of this, I think Torre was a fool. He really did not go out of his way to help other players fit in and, as you said, he loved his guys (and his guys only). Reading about him having Carl Pavano show up for a game so that his teammates could harass him seems self-evident, in that regard. I mean, yes, Pavano was a clown but is that really proper behavior from a manager?

  3. Again, he won with the great clubhouse guys Stick and Buck had assembled (and a lot of luck in the postseason). When the clubhouse became one of his creation, a lot of things changed. It was his job to manage the players on the team (lord knows he wasn’t doing anything to help with his strange line-up choices, in-game strategies, bullpen building, or talent evaluation.
    I think him saying he thought Brown was mentally unprepared to pitch and then throwing him out there to start game 7 is pretty telling. That he didn’t even make an attempt to integrate guys like Arod into the clubhouse speaks volumes.