Never hesitant to say incredibly stupid things about Alex Rodriguez to stir up interest in his book, Joe Torre had a few more gems to offer up for Yahoo! Sports' Graham Bensinger the other day.
Well, he was concerned about putting numbers up, and that really wasn't what we were all about. We were all about winning games, that was the only statistic that was important for us.
Torre paints A-Rod as the trigger happy shooting guard lofting up contested three pointers while ignoring the open man, concerned only about averaging twenty-five points per game. Or the quarterback who forces the ball into double coverage thirty yards down the field instead of checking down and moving the chains. Or whatever the equivalent is in that fighting figure skating or the one with the kicking.
Can you explain to me how this translates to baseball?
It is an individual sport masquerading as a team sport. A-Rod can't be a ball hog. He really has no capacity to make lousy, selfish decisions, even if he wanted to. He can go up to the plate and try to be as productive as he can each time up.
It's a lot less pressurized as a player if you're up there hitting and trying to think about maybe moving a runner over or knocking a runner in as opposed to 'I need a hit, I need a hit, I need a hit.'
In the four years that Joe Torre managed Alex Rodriguez (2004-2007), A-Rod accrued 30 fWAR and had two of the most spectacular seasons in his career. And you're taking him to task because he should have put less pressure on himself by hitting some slow dribblers to the right side?
Imagine for a moment Jim Leyland coming out and saying that Miguel Cabrera hurt the team by not advancing runners. Imagine John Farrell saying that Jose Bautista hitting all of those home runs is great, but the team really needed him to lay down a few bunts and get guys into scoring position. They would be mocked for being blockheaded buffoons levying ridiculous criticism on superstar players and proposing truly terrible strategy. You want your star players trying to do damage every time they come up to the plate.
Let's say that Torre is completely correct and the only thing that A-Rod has ever cared about has been his own numbers. Is there any way that the Yankees don't benefit from someone going up to the plate and trying to be as productive as possible, who will never give away an at-bat, and who will always try to keep their numbers up? How could this possibly hurt the team?
And in the next breath, Torre says that the guy who doesn't care about winning put a huge amount of pressure on himself in the playoffs. It follows that if numbers trumped winning to A-rod, the playoffs wouldn't be as important as they would be to someone who cared more about the success of the team.
But, he was great in the playoffs in 2009! He must have done a lot of grounding out to the right side instead of crippling himself trying to hit home runs, get big hits, and drive guys in. Every point that Torre makes crumbles under the slightest bit of logical thought, but it plays to the same selfish, numbers-guy narrative that plenty of people want to hear.
And it gets more people talking and writing about a book with big statements like "Alex Rodriguez hurts the Yankees," but then when you delve deeper, he backs off the stance considerably and just says a bunch of dumb things glorifying small ball. Also included: "Roger Clemens Won't Make The Hall of Fame," "The Yankees Never Trusted Me," and "Old Guy Overstates Stance on Hot Button Topic To Sell Books." At some point, this act has to get tired.
I know that I'm tired of writing these articles and you're probably tired of reading them. It's okay, though. This post is called "Thoughts," so I didn't give Torre the only thing that he's after: another headline.