An Open Letter to Joe Torre
No, Im not here to join the horde of Yankees fans screaming for your head right now. Its not your fault theres a ton of players on the DL at the moment, and for the most part, youre dealing with the hand youre being dealt. Besides, its the last year of your contract; chances are, youll be off to Retirement Land once the seasons done anyway. Why throw things into even more chaos by attempting a mid-season replacement?
No, Im here to have a little chat with you about a few of the things you CAN control:
1. Why in Gods name is Johnny Damon not on the DL? Its painfully clear (no pun intended) every time he steps up to the plate that hes a hurting man. His ongoing back issues have also reduced his already limited throwing capacity, as Julio Lugo made embarrassingly obvious this afternoon by going from first to third on a hit Johnny fielded from maybe 20 feet away from second base. If Damon was healthy, even with his poor arm, Lugo would have been out at third by five feet (assuming hed have even made the attempt). I understand Johnnys never been on the DL in his career, and Im sure hes proud of that feat, but that pride should not take precedence over whats good for the team. This is why you have Melky Cabrera on the roster; to give injured outfielders time to recover. You did it for Matsui; now its time to do it for Johnny Damon, whether he likes it or not.
2. Lets face facts, the bullpen (except for Mariano Rivera, of course) has never been one of the Yankees strong points. Yes, the current state of affairs with the starting rotation requires leaning on them a little more, but the way youre using them is clearly not helping matters. You yank some of these guys after one inning even when theyre pitching well, and the next guy promptly blows the game. It looks like youre trying to spread the work out evenly in the hopes of reducing the possibility of injury, but all youre doing is tiring them all out at the same time. Furthermore, all this does is show just how inconsistent this bullpen is even on a good day. Youre not going to get the same performance two days in a row out of any of them, so why dont you try leaving someone in if theyre actually putting on a good show? If they get into trouble, then make the switchor if worse comes to worst, leave them in. If they cough up the game, they cough up the gamemaybe tomorrows pitcher will do better, especially with an extra days rest. At this point, better to use up one bullpen arm in a day than four of them.
3. I know you like to be an even-tempered kind of guy, but this year, its like you found the Prozac prescription Lou Piniella forgot in Tampa. When was the last time you got off the damn bench and stuck up for your players? Matsuzaka plunks your two best hitters and you dont make a peep. Even if it wasnt done deliberately, you didnt even protest the fact that there was no warning issued. Jeter gets nailed by Kazmir, takes a shot to the thigh that could put him on the DL. Kazmir then nearly hits Abreu, A-Rod AND Giambi and still your ass remains on the pine. I dont expect you to turn into Sweet Lou, Joe, but Christ almighty, would it kill you to make some kind of display once in a while to show us you actually still give a shit?
Its too early to panic, and with any luck, the Yankees will get past this rash of injuries and well on their way again to yet another playoff spot. Joe, you havent missed the playoffs since you took this job, and if this years going to be your last, Id like to see you go out on top. Dont make me come looking for you with the barbed-wire covered bat in hand.