Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Torre's bullpen mismanagement continues.

It came as no surprise when Scott Proctor finally had to undergo season-ending surgery. Anyone who watched the mid-90's - 2007 Yanks knows that amongst Joe Torre's many, many strengths lied an ugly sore spot: bullpen management. Torre made a habit of finding one or two middle relievers he was comfortable with and he'd ride them into the ground. Proctor, Flash Gordon, Stanton, etc. Even an unnatural affection for ineffective side arming lefty Mike Myers (who could seemingly never get out Big Papi, the reason he was on the team in the first place). The rule was never to sign a middle reliever after he was on the Yanks. I know I joked that once Torre wasn't coming back that the relief corps threw a party.

Now, in full disclosure, I didn't watch much of the LA/PHI game last night --I was busy watching my Giants get thrashed-- but T.J. Simers of the LA Times sure did and was quick to kick off the second guessing of Torre's bullpen management.

At times like these, it's hard not to sound like a Steinbrenner.
But the Dodgers have Game 4 won, and several times, until Torre, more gambler than manager, just goes bonkers.

He takes a pressure-tested Derek Lowe out of a tense game after only five innings, the Dodgers ahead 3-2, and replaces him with a 20-year-old who calls him Mr. Torre.

And Mr. Torre's fallback plan after the kid puts two men on is Chan Ho-No He Just Wild-Pitched Home the Tying Run.

On blind faith, of course, along with 13 straight appearances in postseason play and four World Series wins, we're supposed to believe Torre knows what he's doing.

Now, not for nothing, but Derek Jeter called him "Mr. Torre" every day and most of the people I know found it refreshingly respectful, even if seemingly contrived.

But the truth is, Dodger fans, that Torre relies on hunches a ton and often (too often?) goes back to the guys that he trusts.

Maybe he was right in pulling Derek Lowe after just five innings while pitching on short rest, but it sure sounds like Torre didn't consult the parties involved:

Russell Martin is asked if he's consulted on how Lowe is throwing, and he says, "No, that's the manager's decision."
Meanwhile, standing in front of his locker, Lowe remains befuddled. He says he's still in the game, he goes to the clubhouse to use the men's room, comes out and is told, "that's it."

He still doesn't understand why. "
That's the manager's decision, and they make decisions in the best interests of the team," he says. "It wasn't like I was going to throw a hissy-fit; I had already thrown stuff around in the first inning" after giving up two runs.

Lowe went through the next four innings, though, without giving up a run. In his previous 11 starts, he had yet to give up more than two earned runs, and here he was again.

And I just had my easiest inning yet, which is what I needed," he says. "I felt fine."

Maybe Torre's just having another "I'm Keith Hernandez" moment. Wouldn't be the first.

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