Joe Torre is the Greatest Manager in Yankees History

Elvis Elvis

Did you know that in 2005, under Joe Torre’s leadership, the Yankees used 51 players, the most in club history, and that 14 different pitchers started games, including immortals Tim Redding and Darrell May?

Brian Cashman did a great job patching the starting rotation, but the guy who held the club together and brought it back from way behind to eventually win an 8th straight AL East Division championship was the manager, Joe Torre. The 2006 season will be Torre’s 11th as the Yankees manager. He has been around long enough now to put him and his accomplishments in proper places in pinstriped history. I believe Torre is the greatest manager the Yankees have ever had.

Miller Huggins, Joe McCarthy, Casey Stengel, and Billy Martin

The only real competitors to Torre for that distinction are Miller Huggins, Joe McCarthy, Casey Stengel, and Billy Martin. Huggins won three World Series, but he lost three as well, and he did not always have the respect of his players.

McCarthy won seven World Series in eight tries with the Yankees, but he was the beneficiary of a great farm system that continually stocked the big club with talent.

Stengel won five World Series in his first five years, but lost three in his final five attempts. He was hugely popular and a fantastic out-front face for the organization, but the players were happy to see him replaced by Ralph Houk in 1961.

Martin was a great dugout strategist and fiery motivator, but his inability to control himself is legendary.

Joe Torre Is Better

Torre has them all beat. He is adept at dugout strategy, trusting his coaches, handling the media, and working with George Steinbrenner. Torre is always a calming influence on his players. He knows when and how to confront them with words, but regardless, his players know he cares about them as people as well as players. He is always dignified. As a Yankees fan, you end up not feeling as bad when your team loses with Torre as manager. Because, while he hates to lose too, when he does lose, he loses with class.

Joe Torre is the Greatest Manager in Yankees History

But Torre doesn’t lose much. In 10 years as Yankees manager, even with the extra levels of playoffs, which the other Yankees managers did not have to face (although Martin managed when the AL Championship Series was part of the post-season), Torre has won nine division titles, six AL pennants, and four World Series championships.

But Why Jeff Weaver in the 2003 World Series?

OK, I’ll level one criticism Torre’s way. The only move he ever made that I have continued to second guess was putting Jeff Weaver into a tie game in the extra innings of Game 4 of the 2003 World Series. The Yankees had rallied late, thanks to a big hit by Ruben Sierra, and had tied a game they should have already lost, and if they could somehow win this game, the Yankees would take a three-games-to-one lead in the World Series and have the Marlins reeling. But the Yankees did not win this game, or any other game in the World Series. Instead, Weaver threw a dreadful pitch, and it was knocked out of the park for a game-ending home run.

I couldn’t believe it then– and I still can’t believe it — that Weaver was pitching in that critical situation. All year long, he had pitched poorly. For months his body language on the mound had indicated zero confidence. Torre later said Weaver shouldn’t have been on the roster if he wasn’t expected to pitch him. I agree. He shouldn’t have been on the roster. But since he was put on the roster, Weaver’s only roles should have been either mop-up duty or as the absolute final pitcher available in a long game.

Still, one mistake in ten years is perfectly acceptable in my book, considering Torre’s long history of successes in every aspect of his job.