Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner can rant and rave all he wants behind closed doors, but firing Joe Torre would have been the wrong move this weekend.
You can blame Torre for a lot of things, but to blame him for the Yankees' miserable start is out of line. Given the state of the starting rotation, even the most ardent Torre-haters would have to agree with that.
Does Torre overwork his bullpen? Sure. Did Torre make a mistake early in the year not letting Mariano Rivera get some work in between save opportunities. Probably. Does Torre look like he is half asleep most of the time? Absolutely.
Does he deserve to be fired? Absolutely not!
Steinbrenner had his chance to fire Torre after last year's ALDS loss to the Detroit Tigers. Not many people would have raised a stink if Torre was canned then. Surprisingly, though, cooler heads prevailed, as they apparently did this past weekend.
Kind of makes you wonder what is going on with Big Stein. Rumors about his declining health have been making the rounds lately and to be honest I haven't really given them much thought until now. Steinbrenner, though, has lost his quick temper and his edge. I miss the days when he would call guys out. Imagine what 80's Steinbrenner would have thought of Carl Pavano.
Seriously, though, the only way the Yankees are going to get back on track is to have their starting staff get healthy. Plain and simple. Torre has not had his full staff all year. Staff ace and 19-game winner from a year ago, Chien Ming Wang started the season on the disabled list, Mike Mussina has only made two starts and Pavano, well is Pavano.
Due to the myriad of injuries, the Yankees have had to use nine different starters in April, five of whom have been rookies. Five rookie starters in the first month! Are you kidding me?
Let's not forget about the disaster that has been Kei Igawa. I know it is kind of hard to knock him off of his brilliant relief performance on Saturday against the Boston Red Sox, but he has been a disgrace for the amount of money they are paying him.
A co-worker of mine jokingly said at the beginning of the year that Igawa probably wasn't even good enough to be in the Yankees Triple-A rotation in Scranton. Turns out he was probably right. However, since it doesn't appear Pavano is coming back anytime soon, Igawa will have a regular spot in the rotation again.
Let's see how the Yankees do for a couple of weeks with Andy Pettitte, Wang, Mussina and phenom Phil Hughes taking their regular turns in the rotation. Torre deserves at least that.
While the pitching has been atrocious, let's not forget the offense, which was billed to be one of the best of all-time coming into the season.
Alex Rodriguez started the season as hot as anyone in the history of the game, but has cooled down considerably since his last walk-off home run. Bobby Abreu can not hit his way out of a paper bag at the moment. Robinson Cano is lost and Johnny Damon is nicked up just about everywhere on his body.
You can't blame Torre for the injuries and that is the biggest contributor to their slow start. Plus firing your manager mid-season rarely pays off. Take Steinbrenner for example. He has canned a manager during a season 10 times and only once has the team rebounded to win a division.
If your starting pitchers are on the DL, or can't go past the fifth inning, or the heart of your batting order goes hitless with men on base, it doesn't matter if your manager is Casey Stengel or Miller Huggins, the team is going to lose.
The optimistic Yankee fans will point to 2005 when the team started 11-19, mainly due to injuries to the starting staff, weathered the early storm and won 95 games on their way to yet another AL East crown.
Torre and general manager Brian Cashman were given all the credit in the world for keeping the team together that year and scraping together some pitching. I am guessing that will again happen, but they won't need to look under as many rocks and make as many trades to do it this time.
They just need to get healthy.