Tony La Russa? Joe Girardi? All the papers seem to be selecting big name managers to walk in to Yankee Stadium this year and step into the giant shoes of Joe Torre. The one question that none of the papers are asking yet is the simplest one:
Who in the world would even WANT to take that job? Just for a second, let’s take a look at what this fantasy manager would be stepping into.
1) Stepping in to replace a relatively beloved Yankee manager who really nobody but ridiculously spoiled young Yankee Fans (if you’re 20 – 30 years old and hopped on the bandwagon in the late 90s, I’m looking at you) who are baseball idiots and an insane owner want out. On top of all that: the New York Media loves Torre. Think just for a second about being the guy replacing a manager that a media responsible for about a million pages of text per day loves.
2) Melky Cabrera, Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter, Shelly Duncan, Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, Hideki Matsui, Robinson Cano, Mariano Rivera. Your list of guys who have played their entire major league career under Joe Torre. How enthused do you think the older guys will be to see the boss they’re the most comfortable with get fired?
3) If you don’t make the playoffs next year, you pretty much wipe out all of your management credentials in one year. AND you’ll be out of a job.
4) You’re going to be replacing a guy who, in 12 years, put 10 AL East Titles, 6 American League Pennants, and 4 World Series rings on his resume. Every single move you make and every single thing you do will have an enormous WWJTD factor behind it.
5) You’re not replacing a manager whose franchise went 62-100 last season. You’re a manager whose team went to the ALDS two years running and is being fired because they didn’t get to the ALCS. The only thing considered a “success” next year is winning a five-game series with Chien-Ming Wang and whoever the shit else they find to replace Pettitte (who probably won’t come back under another manager) and Roger Clemens (who is done), and a bullpen that may or may not include Mariano Rivera.
6) There’s a very solid chance that 14 wins worth of A-Rod will be replaced with .4 wins worth of Wilson Betemit as your starting third basemen. If Wilson Betemit is the Yankee third baseman this season they’re 80-84.
7) You still have a GM that continually proves he has no reasonable system of scouting pitchers. Do you realize that last season the Yankees spent $42 million dollars on Carl Pavano, Kyle Farnsworth, Kei Igawa, and Roger Clemens? People who want to fire Torre constantly trot out this “he has no idea how to manage a bullpen” garbage. Brian Cashman has no idea how to BUILD a bullpen. Too many columns have asked how Joe could trop Joba Chamberlain out with a 5-run lead to throw 38 pitches. Do you want to know why? Because his other options are Kyle Farnsworth and Luis Vizcaino. Vizcaino blew a lead the day before and why don’t you ask the Cubs how solid a 5-run lead is with Farnsworth on the mound.
8) At this point, your rotation next year is looking like Chien-Ming Wang, Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, Joba Chamberlin, and Mike Mussina. Most Yankee fans are convinced that 2-4 are going to be lights out starters. Matt Clement was a hot young pitcher, too.
9) If the Yankees don’t offer Jorge Posada what he wants, the Mets will in a half-second.
10) If the Yankees don’t offer Mariano Rivera what he wants, the Mets will in a quarter-second. Mo’s already said that the Torre decision will go a long way in his own decision. No pressure, new guy.
11) There’s a distinct possiblity that your one proven post-season starter, Andy Pettitte, might hang it up.
The manager who steps into Torre’s shoes is going to walk into a trainwreck. The golden job isn’t Joe Torre’s replacement: it’s Joe Torre’s replacement’s replacement. That’s when you’re going to get serious contenders. They’ll be lucky to get a minor league guy to take the fall for them this year.