Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Something to Chew On
2006-06-13 09:58
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

I caught portions of the Rangers-White Sox game on ESPN last night and dag, Steve Lombardi, you read my mind.

Do you think that Joe Torre is giving Andy Phillips an unreasonably hard time?

2006-06-13 10:26:03
1.   Shaun P
Re: Phillips - randym77 mentioned it in yesterday's thread ( (and also mentioned how Torre dissed Melky early on). At the time, I didn't care.

But now that I read that blog entry you linked to, Alex, I'm peeved. Torre apparently volunteered his opinion on Phillips. He's the manager, he has every right to do that, but:

T-Ball Magellan Long got nothing but positive words and praise, even on his way out the door - and performed far worse than Phillips did!

Scott Erickson, who's complete ineptitude over the last 7 years is nicely summarized by Jon at Dodger Thoughts - nothing bad about him.

Tanyon Sturtze had to hide an injury to get Torre to rip him (which Torre downplayed later). Sturtze's awful pitching? Never a bad word from Mr. Torre.

I know Torre later said it was "understandable" that Phillips was overanxious - but to have volunteered that in the first place says something. Buddy Groom was right, and that's a shame.

2006-06-13 10:39:28
2.   Rob Gee
2 That's indeed the shame. Where's the outrage. Now we really do start to see why replacing managers becomes more important - because the old ones can't adapt. This team is falling apart with injuries to old guys and the first tendency is to replace them with more old guys? Then bash the youngsters? What's the point? Where's the media hordes calling out the Teaman?

The good news is that the GM at least seems to be wise to the nonsense. Whereas last year, we endured over 60 games of Woemack in the outfield, this year Long was only out there for 12 games. My hope is that the GM gave the manager the options of Long and Erickson in the same way you give a child candy until they eat themselves sick. Replacing those jokers with Smith and Gapper is a step in the right direction.

It's amazing they've got on as well as they have - but hopefully the GM continues to exert his authority (in my mind at least). And hopefully some intrepid reporter is documenting the differences for us to read about some day.

2006-06-13 11:19:32
3.   Shaun P
2 Did I just read that post correctly? Rob Gee heaping praise on Cash-MAN? ;)

Now, if Small goes when Dotel returns (Villone can be the long man out of the pen), and Bubba's return sends Nick Green back to AAA, I'll be very, very happy with the GM. Except for the Bernie/Bubba combo*, that would be a Torre-proof roster, at long last.

*I am presuming Bernie and Bubba will split the starts in RF, with Thompson the backup OF. It should be Thompson vs RHP platooning with Bernie vs LHP, and Bubba as the backup OF.

2006-06-13 11:44:53
4.   wsporter
1 2 MFD, Rob, In part to play devil's advocate and in part to lend a different perspective and in part to be a pain in the ass, could it be that in making the statement "...he hasn't played for a few days and he got a little overanxious." Mr. Torre was in-fact criticizing him-self. He is the one responsible for Andy playing or not playing. I immagine Mr. Torre is aware of that. When he added that it was "understandable", I assume he referred to the fact that Andy's swing and approach were off, he may have been confirming that it was his fault for not playing him.

Voluntarily criticizing players (other than Sierra and Sturtze) doesn't seem to be a pattern that he has followed over the past 10 years. Is there no way to give him the benefit of the doubt on this one?

2006-06-13 11:59:11
5.   Rob Gee
3 Yup, funny enough, however subtle, it was!

That's the thing, before this year the GM rated in my book as mediocre (average, ordinary), esp. considering the bench and bullpen he set up. Now, the former has been, uh, lacking and the latter has been better than expected. So, he still rates as mediocre based on that.

But the Torre-proofing could put him back into the plus category. The fact is, though, we just don't know until more roster moves are made. He could just as easily be showcasing Thompson, Smith, and even Melky. But I think more rightly he's working around Tea's difficulties without being obvious about it. That indeed earns praise and pushes him ever so slightly back into the plus column so long as no stupid trades are made. The Yanks are not in a spot to trade for help - little to offer and their need is obvious.

If not making the playoffs means finding a 21 yo starter for next year's OF, a 26 yo 4th OF with speed, a backup 1B at his peak, and some bullpen studs, that's fine by me. Better that than Deadline OPP. Not that I think the Yanks are in bad shape considering the loss of two All-Star OF's. With the current team it should be a fun ride and I still think they're better than the other two East squads, esp. if the Unit isn't so impotent. A Moose, a Unit, and a Tiger could pitch well enough to make some noise.

Even still, Stinnett is still a big bust when you consider Piazza could have been had for $600k more. Heck, you take both of them at those prices. (BTW: The best part of checking Piazza's stats are seeing how well Josh Bard is doing compared to Mirabelly and remembering how many folks flipped out on his return. Too bad we had no shot of getting the 28 yo and switch hitting Bard.)

And the lack of a clear DH/ 4th OF is still killing the team. That OF would be a starter right now and there were options available. It's not like they thought Melky was ready at the start of the year.

But I'm with you on the Bubba/Gapper platoon - too bad Tea's not. Indeed, that's the only place the GM can't do much more than point out Bernie's 'difficulties' in the OF. The problem of course is that GOB still hits lefties and then you're faced with benching Phillips on those days. Their output from that side is probably about the same, but Andy seems to really struggle with days off. Still, it would be nice if that was the only thing to complain about in the lineup.

The Dotel for Small swap doesn't seem like it would work cause then you're left without a long man (unless Tea starts seeing Villone that way). I'd be much happier with Dotel for Proctor - but I think we'll be seeing Proctor next Spring no matter what happens this year. Plus, Dotel still needs to 'prove' himself to Torre. I imagine that Smith has until Dotel is ready then he's the one to go but first to come up with an injury or ineffectiveness. Small probably gets a bit longer leash to find himself as the longman then hopefully Mendoza is the logical backup option when he fails.

2006-06-13 12:02:56
6.   unpopster
sorry to change the subject guys, but with all the handwringing going on over here about the lack of catching options in the Yankee system after Posada, the following link re: Boston makes me feel a bit better:

Choice quote:

"But while the 28-year-old Bard has jumped out to a .333 average with the Padres, with five home runs, Red Sox captain Jason Varitek and Mirabelli are batting a combined .239 on the season. At 34 and 35, respectively, playing at a position that inflicts considerable wear and tear, one has to wonder how much either player might have left...And down the line, there isn't much coming anymore. Kelly Shoppach is gone, part of the Coco Crisp trade, and now Bard is as well...Varitek [who] has two more years on his deal at $9 million per season. Look, nobody is suggesting the guy is done by any means. And as if to answer that very question, he's hitting .357 in June. But he will be 36 at the end of the 2008 season, 37 in April of the following season, and some of the results from these first few months have to be a bit concerning when you consider Varitek and the health of the Red Sox' catching future."

2006-06-13 12:06:35
7.   Rob Gee
4 You're right - reading it out-of-context that interpretation could work. And the precedent there is as you say. If so, there's hope that he can adapt to a younger team.

But, he did seem all too ready to jump on Melky's case this year and last. And he did bury Andy after that 4 K game last year. And there's little history of him developing talent in the last eight years. If I remember correctly, he was also overly critical of Jorge when he first came up as the reason to keep playing Giradi as much as he did. Then it was explained as a catcher knowing catchers.

So there's room to give him the benefit, but not by much.

2006-06-13 12:07:50
8.   Shaun P
4MFD, that is a fair interpretation of Torre's actions.

Its not even the veteran-coddling that frustrates me, so much as it is the allocation of playing time to said useless vets (Long, Erickson, and Sturtze).

That said, I'm still curious to see what Andy's playing time will be like over the next month, especially when Bubba returns.

2006-06-13 12:14:34
9.   Shaun P
Also off topic - the game isn't on Extra Innings tonight. Neither is next Tuesday's game at Philly. Sigh.
2006-06-13 12:15:12
10.   Rob Gee
6 No chage of subject at all - one of the great joys this year will be the loss of clothes for Emperor Epstein. It's quite fun to watch especially if the Yankee GM resists the pressure to trade the youngsters. In NY, you can get away with paying $40mil for Meat. Trading future All-Stars is so much worse - the gift that keeps on giving.
2006-06-13 12:18:16
11.   JohnnyC
If Torre was being self-critical, that was a funny way of showing it. And it doesn't jive with how he's responded to external criticism--cancelling the YES post-game interview, his jousting with George over his second-guessing which necessitated a post-season "chat," and, more recently, his shocking rebuke of a reporter who simply asked him about possibly pitching Randy instead of Wright after the rain-out game. Doesn't sound like someone who thinks he's done anything wrong.
2006-06-13 12:30:07
12.   wsporter
10 Rob, speaking of hanging on to the youngsters, this so called Hughes for Sori "pressure" that is refered to in some of the fish wraps today is making me nervous.

That would specifically be a very bad thing. Bad, very bad.

2006-06-13 12:39:45
13.   Rob Gee
12 I and everyone in the other thread agree. I hope the GM does too.

They lost two games this weekend in games they scored 5 runs. Better starting pitching is still the problem. Hopefully the GM's pronouncements to that effect are not just posturing to get the price down on OF's - Sori included.

2006-06-13 12:45:55
14.   rbj
Maybe I'm missing the context, or Torre's tone, but "I can't fault anybody with the quality of the at-bats today. Except maybe Phillips, he hasn't played for a few days and he got a little overanxious." doesn't sound real harsh to me. Andy's not an established player, he wants to prove himself, and thus maybe tried a bit too hard.

For those who saw the games, was Andy over anxious?

2006-06-13 12:47:49
15.   unpopster
10 Rob, just to add to the unravelling of the Epstein rep, Rotoworld is reporting that after a very slow start, Andy Marte is now picking it up at AAA-Buffalo (Indians) and looks to be on track.
2006-06-13 12:50:28
16.   wsporter
13 Oops, that's what I get for not being better read. Sorry to drag that over here. I checked it out. I hope someone is listening or reading, somewhere.
2006-06-13 13:06:57
17.   jdsarduy
even with a few days off hitters should be ready to hit and play.
At the age of 29 Phillips is no youngster.
I think if Phillips gets 400 ABs his numbers really wouldn't be so good.
To me, he seems like a 230-250. hitter and that's why Torre doesn't see him as an everyday player.
Phillips will get his AB and he'll have a chance this yr to prove himself, like the much younger Cano and Wang did last yr.
If Phillips has a good yr, next yr Torre will give him some leeway, you just have to prove yourself that's all.
2006-06-13 13:08:19
18.   Cliff Corcoran
14 On Phillips last strikout on Sunday I called the pitch and the result before it happened. That I could figure out Calero was going with a slider low and away to get the swinging K and Phillips couldn't suggests he was off his game, indeed.

Meanwhile, what you are all missing in all of this Josh Bard stuff is that there's nothing in Bard's history to suggest his performance thus far is for real. Just 115 strong at-bats at triple-A in 2003 and 19 out-of-his mind at-bats with the Indians in 2004. That's it. Bard's 28. The Padres haven't stumbled up on the next great NL catcher, they're just enjoying a fluke. The Sox's real mistake was trading Shopvac (though curiously the Tribe demoted him in favor of Tim Laker, but Kelly's raking in AAA right now).

2006-06-13 13:14:09
19.   Count Zero
1, 2, 8


Please, please, please, please do not let me see Hughes traded for any position player. Ditto for Cano and Wang.

2006-06-13 13:21:12
20.   Marcus
18 True, Bard performance thus far is flukish, but you have to compare him to Mirabelli. What you see is what you get with Dougie, and it ain't pretty. It was a panic move to trade for Mirabelli, done specifically before a Wakefield start against the Yankees. It was as if a bizarro 80's Steinbrenner was calling the shots on that one.

Bizzaro Steinbrenner: "Mirabelli would have had that passed ball! Why'd we get rid of him? This Bard guy isn't a true Red Sox."

Theo: "Because he's 35. We got an upgrade at 2B for him. It was a steal."

BizStein: "You're on the bubble! Get me Mirabelli! We're not losing to the Yankees on a passed ball!"

2006-06-13 13:23:12
21.   Shaun P
19 Fortunately for us, Count, I don't think Cashman will trade Hughes or Wang ever. Probably not Cano either, unless he got something superb in return.
2006-06-13 13:24:04
22.   Shaun P

That was sweet, Marcus.

"Its funny because its true."

2006-06-13 13:36:22
23.   Rob Gee
16 I didn't mean to give you shite - just to emphasize how much everyone agrees!

18 It may be a sample size illusion, Cliff, but even if Bard puts up .750 OPS the rest of the way, it was a real steal. That alone is enough to have a chuckle esp. with how most folks (Yanks and Sux) treated the Belly's return. Geesh - like he was going to be a difference maker. Seems like you yourself called it a good move?

The performance of Shopvac is one more reason Duncan should have been traded for him straight up this winter. I'm telling you Shapiro makes that trade as another option at 3B. BTW: I'm hearing more folks talk about Victor M as a 1B - seems he can't throw anyone out at 2B any more.

2006-06-13 13:47:25
24.   wsporter
20 Marcus Very Funny! Yet, instead of Bizzaro Steinbrenner and Epstein I have a vision of an all powerful yet completely mad Theo arguing with himself. He puts the Gorilla Head on when assuming the Bizarro Steinbrenner role. It's Epstein v. Monkeystein, complete with pant/hoots, threatening gestures and social grooming. I see him finally offloading Manny for a crate of green bananas.
2006-06-13 13:49:36
25.   JohnnyC
Larry Lucchino is Steinbrenner's counterpart in the Red Sox front every way.
2006-06-13 13:53:10
26.   Shaun P
25 An excellent observation, JohnnyC.
2006-06-13 13:53:31
27.   randym77
3 I'd like to see lefty Bubba and righty KT platooned in LF, with Bernie as backup. I really think we need defense and speed more than offense.

BTW, Torre said yesterday that Dotel will be called up "within 10 days."

2006-06-13 14:04:23
28.   unpopster
18 your most probably correct on Bard's small sample, but I think the point of the article is that the Sox might be in even worse shape than the Yanks when it comes to catching option.

Posada may be in decline but so far he looks to be in a slooooow decline, where as the much slimmer (hmmmmm) Varitek seems to have lost more than a few steps rather precipitously.

Unlike V-Tek, there are no questions about whether Posada's had to get off any juice this year...the guy pi$$es on his own hands for god's can't get more Old School than that!

2006-06-13 14:19:05
29.   singledd
I don't think Torre's comments about Andy were harsh at all. They were on the money. He was swinging at bad pitches... as was ARod, and at times, Jetes.

Sometimes a little 'nudge' for an inexperienced player can be a good thing.

Here's what I get from the majority here about the last 3 weeks.

Everything good has been because of our 'youth movement' (even though I think that Giambi has carried a lot of games, and Posada and Cano have stepped up)... and everything bad is because of Torre.

Torre is not a great strategist, and is definitely prejudiced towards experienced guys... but he holds this team together and has put the Yankees in a positive light like no manager has even come close to in the previous decades.

If you weren't around for the horrors of the 60/70's and the Zoo of the 80/90's, it's hard to appreciate Torre. Do you remember Billy Martin... a great strategist, being hired and fired 5 times in like 7 years? The Munson/Reggie horrors?
You could be a Yankee fan, but it was pretty hard to be proud of them.

I'm glad that Melky is playing, but let's not treat a corner OF'er with an OPS under .750 like a God. Phillips has done well, but you can all find dozens of young players on other teams with a far greater upside. The main benefit of Melky and Andy is that we haven't traded any farm talent to fill holes in our line-up (not yet, anyway).

Every team but a few needs pitching. With what we have to trade, getting a quality pitcher, mid-season, will be tough. My hope is that we can improve this team, I don't care where. This team is NOT great on pitching and defense and won't be this year, no matter what. If we win, it will be by the sword.... errr.... by the bat.

2006-06-13 14:24:00
30.   randym77
29 "If we win, it will be by the sword.... errr.... by the bat."

I don't think that will cut it in the postseason. I'm not saying we have to be great on pitching and defense, but we have to improve. Especially on defense. We can't keep handing out extra outs.

2006-06-13 14:25:25
31.   wsporter
30singledd, As someone who lived through those times I couldn't agree with you more. I've said this before here and I'll say it again: all things considered Mr. Torre is the best manager the Yankees have had during the span of my baseball memory from 1963 forward. Period.
2006-06-13 14:28:30
32.   standuptriple
9 Well, maybe we can watch Santana throw a gem.
2006-06-13 14:28:34
33.   wsporter
Doh!!! 31 err 29

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