Friday, March 7, 2008

Joe Torre is gone, but not forgotten - not in a good way

Players unmotivated? CHECK

Pitching staff mishandled? CHECK

Falling asleep on the bench? CHE--- ummm, never mind, NYY Stadium Insider has yet to confirm that rumor.

So far this Spring, numerous Yankee players have sounded like fans on a Yankee message board while taking not so subtle shots at their former manager.

Let us review:

Out of shape/unmotivated:

"I knew I was in bad shape last year," Abreu said.

"I don't want to make excuses for myself [about why]," said Abreu, 33. "I was in bad shape. I knew for sure that I needed to be in better shape this spring."

Abreu, who said he weighs 215 pounds now, estimated he weighed 226 when he reached camp last February. It's obvious that he has slimmed down just by looking at him.

"Yeah, I could have been a little out of shape last spring, and I understand what I need to do."

Damon says he got serious about working out in the gym that he built in his house in Orlando. As a result, he says that, at 214 pounds, he's only four pounds lighter than when he reported last year, "but I think it's distributed a lot better."

The Yankees had become comfortable with Torre, perhaps too much so. It didn't help that the Yankees hardly ran at all last spring -- "We learned you have to do more than take grounders and BP and then hit the showers," Mussina said -- which left the team unprepared by Opening Day.

Mismanaged bullpen:

"With Torre - and I'm not trying to bad-mouth anybody - sometimes you would go out there and try to be so good because you were scared of doing bad," Bruney said. "You can't pitch like that. (Joe) Girardi understands that you make mistakes - and I'm going to make them."

"I always have confidence in myself. But it's tough when you do lose the confidence from your manager to maybe prepare yourself, day in and day out when you have no clue about anything," said Farnsworth, who allowed 108 runners to reach base via hit or walk in 60 innings last season and was 2-1 with a swollen 4.80 ERA in 64 games. "It happened a few times last year."

So, Abreu and Damon didn't exactly rip into Torre, but they admitted what we all knew just by watching the terrible starts of the past few years - the players had no motivation. When you are making millions of dollars, it is easy to forget that there is a reason you are making that money. Apparently, Torre wasn't reminding his players to take care of their bodies, or inspiring them to do so in any way. Moose pretty much said exactly that.

As for Bruney and Farnsworth - they have about as much credibility as Buddy Groom when it comes to Torre-bashing. They sucked last year, and even someone who handles bullpens as poorly as Joe Torre realized it. Farnsworth had no excuse. Brian Bruney would have been better off playing the overuse card after Torre ran him out there for 25 of the team's first 51 games, amassing 24.3 IP. Not classic Torre abuse, but still more than Farnsworth's 21 appearances in that same stretch, or Mariano Rivera's 19. Hey Brian - you got sent down to make room for Joba - I think it was a good call.

Whether the Torre-bashing is fair or not (he only won 4 championships as Yankee manager), I think Yankee fans and Mr. Torre are going to have to get used to reading a lot of these things in the papers this year, especially if the Yankees get off to a fast start under G.I Joe Girardi.

Meanwhile, we'll try to secure that long lost video footage of Sleepy Joe doing his thing on the bench.

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