Sunday, January 25, 2009

Torre knows how to move units

My Sunday morning began like any other. I woke up, wiped the sleep from my eyes and tried to figure out why Kirby Puckett was in the Hall of Fame and not Don Mattingly.

After that, I did what I usually do, which is pick up my laptop and check the top stories at "Reports: Torre book reveals past Yanks rifts", the top headline blasted. Color me intrigued.

Torre, the erstwhile Yankees skipper who guided his team to 12 straight playoff appearances and four titles, has written a book with the help of SI's Tom Verducci you see, and in it he discusses some of the less harmonious aspects of his time in pinstripes.


It's all a bit predictable if you ask me, though it's the perfect story for a slow Sunday morning. It was already known that Torre was incredibly insulted by the incentive-laden one-year deal the Yankees offered him prior to joining the Dodgers. The book does shed light on Torre's disenchantment with GM Brian Cashman, who he had previously held above the ugliness that surrounded his exit.

Because Cashman is a pro, expect a response along the lines of, "I was a fan of Joe when he was with the Yankees and I remain a fan of him today. Joe is a great manager and I wish him the best blah blah blah." Torre will eventually back off his statements and then you'll see them at some charity event next winter and try to remember what the whole thing was about. I mean, think about it. It makes sense that Torre would hold some resentment toward Cashman. He is the general manager of the organization that essentially fired him after all.

The other headline grabber centers on (of course) Alex Rodriguez. Torre reveals that A-Rod's postseason inadequacies earned him the nickname A-Fraud (this is funny) in the clubhouse and that he was consumed by the shadow of Derek Jeter, who he considers more a rival than a teammate.

Again, this isn't exactly groundbreaking stuff. It's well known that A-Rod is pretty much perceived as a doofus around baseball, current teammates included. The dude's just not very popular -- his great skill-set and distant personality probably rubbed people the wrong way long before he was a millionaire several hundred times over. And when you carry yourself a certain way, and you make more money than every one of your peers, and you have 17 RBIs and 38 strikeouts in 39 postseason games, well, you become a ginormous target.

I can't imagine these revelations will strengthen the relationship between A-Rod and Torre, but I also imagine Torre doesn't much care. Torre's legacy in the game is already secure. A-Rod still has much work to do.

The Jeter issue has been dissected for years now, and Rodriguez admitted himself last March that the pair have a strained relationship. As I've written in this space before, A-Rod was never cut out for this town. He wants the spotlight, but he can't handle it. His ego dictates that he be the alpha dog, but that will always be Jeter. The sooner A-Rod can block out extraneous BS like this, the better player (and person) he'll be for it. Unfortunately, that will likely never happen.

As for Torre, you won't find me bashing him. Any guy that Jeter prefaces with "Mr." is okay with me. His departure from New York was insulting unfortunate and he should certainly be allowed to vent in some capacity. If he can make a few dollars in the process, more power to him.

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