Peeking inside Torre's book

January, 26, 2009
So the first serious review of Joe Torre's book (written by Tom Verducci) is in, and before we get into all the exciting stuff I'd like to make just one point …

    Torre notes that as the core of the old guard from the championship years dwindled -- Tino Martinez, Scott Brosius, Chuck Knoblauch and Paul O'Neill were all history by 2002 -- the front office tended to turn to imported All-Stars who failed to congeal into an effective ensemble. The farm system, which had produced the likes of Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams and Mariano Rivera, was increasingly neglected, and George Steinbrenner began to indulge his taste for what Torre calls "big boppers" like Jason Giambi, who the manager felt "wasn't part of what we prided ourselves on: playing well defensively."

    This decision, according to Torre, "made for a whole different dynamic in the Yankees' clubhouse." A-Rod's arrival in 2004 would cement this metamorphosis, and the authors say he became fairly or unfairly "the unmistakable shorthand symbol for why the Yankees no longer were champions and suffered at the rise of the Red Sox": "Whether hitting 450-foot home runs or sunbathing shirtless in Central Park or squiring strippers, Rodriguez was like nothing ever seen before on the championship teams of the Torre Era: an ambitious superstar impressed and motivated by stature and status, particularly when those qualities pertained to himself."

Beginning in 1996, the Yankees won four World Series in five years. In those five years, they averaged 97 wins.

In the eight years since, of course, the Yankees have won zero World Series. Incidentally, in those same eight years they've averaged 97 wins.

There's no question that mistakes were made after 2000. Every franchise makes mistakes. There's also no question that they've picked up some prima donnas, some of whom didn't play much defense.

But until someone can explain to me why those same factors that produce 97 wins a season work so well from April through September but suddenly fall flat in October, I'm going to assume that the Yankees were (1) overly lucky from 1996 through 2000 and (2) overly unlucky from 2001 through 2007.



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