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June 2, 2003

by Larry Mahnken

It's time to play, "What the hell were you thinking, Joe Torre?", with our host, Larry Mahnken.

Please take note that this is not a "Fire Joe Torre" post. It's a "Stop doing shit like that, Joe" post. The "Fire Joe Torre" post will come if they finish fourth this year.

In the top of the 10th inning yesterday, Jason Giambi drew a walk from Detroit "closer" Franklyn German. Joe then took Giambi out for a pinch runner--Charles Gipson.

What the hell were you thinking, Joe Torre?

Well, I can kind of see what he was thinking, but I'm not sure why. Gipson is faster than Giambi, so he was more likely to score from first on a double, second on a short single, or third on a sac fly. Considerably more likely. But the odds of any of those events happening at the moment Gipson came into the game, when he was on first, were fairly low. Certainly too low to take out perhaps the best hitter in an already decimated lineup.

The only way this move could turn out to be a good move is if Gipson scored a run that Giambi could not have, which didn't happen. They didn't even score at all. And so, they played the rest of the game--all seven innings of it--with Bubba Trammell in the cleanup spot. Trammell predictably went 0-3, flying out to all three outfielders. He came to bat with one out in the 12th and flew out to right, with two outs and Soriano on first in the 14th--a double would have scored a run there--and flew out to center, and followed Soriano's homer in the 17th with a fly out to left. Had Trammell gotten on base there, Posada's HR would have made it a three-run lead, and Acevedo wouldn't have come in with the tying run on second. The Yankees won, so it didn't hurt them, but it was a dumb move that might have extended the game several innings.

Why does Joe keep doing this? He did this several times last season, as well with Giambi and Enrique Wilson, and was burned by it a couple of times, when he was stuck with Wilson batting in the middle of the order in extra innings. The only time it worked out was in Anaheim, when Soriano ran for Giambi--but then, he's Soriano, so it wasn't like they were losing much offense. Soriano wound up getting the winning hit, as well.

I'm afraid that Torre is going to do this in the postseason and cost the Yankees a game or a series. Joe says he rarely looks at numbers, but this is one of those situations where he should, he's overmanaging.