Was it Yankees fans, the front office, or both who never fully appreciated the work of Joe Torre at the helm. After four world championships and two more American League titles, he was unceremoniously dumped by Yankees management for a younger, more energetic Joe Girardi in a show of desperation which aided in the Yankees not making the playoffs for the first time in more than a decade.
In one of Ned Colleti's finer moments, he seized the opportunity and signed Joe Torre to manage a combination of kids and veterans in the hopes of winning it all after two decades of disappointment in Dodger Town.
While Yankees fans' sour grapes led to their saying big deal to the Dodgers winning the NL West, game three of the divisional series against the Cubs was an unquestionable display of Joe Torre's greatness. Only a manager of Torre's character, stature, and good standing could sit the high salary players he did in favor of youth and ability without hearing as much as a whisper of dissent from the clubhouse or front office.
Let's take a look at the Dodgers starting lineup in game 3:
1. Rafael Furcal - 13 Mil.
2. Russ Martin - 500 K
3. Manny Ramirez - 20 Mil.
4. Andre Ethier - 425 K
5. James Loney - 411 K
6. Matt Kemp - 406 K
7. Blake Dewitt - 390 K
8. Casey Blake - 6.1 Mil.
Total - $41, 232,000
Now for the Bench:
Nomar Garciaparra - 8.5 Mil.
Jeff Kent - 9 Mil.
Juan Pierre - 8 Mil.
Left off the Roster:
Andruw Jones - 18.1 Mil. (Annual Avg.)
Total - $43.6 Mil. not including additional bench players
In many organizations, a manager benching more in salary than what appears in his starting lineup leaves the General Manager, players, and the manager himself open to infighting and criticism from outside the organization. Nomar was great in Boston, but a Boston Globe Reporter observed, " no player polluted the clubhouse more than Nomar, and in the end, he was the ultimate non-team guy." Jeff Kent tried to fight Barry Bonds in the clubhouse and recently took a shot at Vin Scully of all people for mentioning his offensive improvement with Manny Ramirez is hitting behind him in the Dodger lineup. And while Pierre and Jones do not have the reputation for having problems in the clubhouse, both players have enough of a major league resume to expect every opportunity to play even if not warranted.
Torre's decisions also put the job Ned Coletti has done as General Manager into the spotlight. In addition to the 43.6 million plus on the bench, he also has another 20+ million in pitching on the disabled list in Brad Penny and Jason Schmidt. Penny has had great success as a Dodger until this season, but Schmidt has been a mess since day one and will likely take his place just behind Darren Dreifort in the annals of the most useless players in Dodgers history. Calls for Coletti''s head have been numerous until his coup of adding Manny Ramirez for next to nothing.
Obviously winning the divisional series makes the organization look good, but doesn't it also expose Coletti? In other organizations, would a General Manager try to throw his weight around in order to get high priced players in the lineup? Brett Sullivan from Project Prospect mentioned Bobby Cox as another manager who's beyond reproach and I agree. Beyond Cox, I doubt any manager could manage the full gamut of egos Torre has had to deal with and not only survive unscathed, but turn in possibly his finest managerial performance cementing himself as a true managerial legend.