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DLD 1/26: Joe Torre is problematic

1. Holliday's defense: Fans hate it, stats love it, and scouts think it will improve as he gets older and slower wiser.

Added the scout: "But Holliday was never as bad as Byrnes in terms of making those aggressive mistakes in judgment. And personally, I can live with some of those kinds of mistakes because I like a guy who'll lay out for you.

"Plus, as Holliday gets older, he'll learn to pick his spots better."

2. Funny.

3. Intermittently amusing.

4. The Yankee Years

Let us venerate the exemplar of homespun wisdom and know-how that is Joe Torre. Master communicator. Expert tactician. Leader of men. Attention whore. Gossipy sniping adolescent.

[W]hat stands out the most about the book are the frank, and often critical, statements that Torre makes about Alex Rodriguez, who won two Most Valuable Player awards during the four years that Torre was his manager in the Bronx. At 33, Rodriguez has hit 553 career home runs. He is widely regarded as the game’s best all-around player. He is also its highest paid.

Intriguing! This is a brand new narrative!

Very difficult to predict where such a nuanced lede might take us, but I'll give it a try: Stats tell us Alex Rodriguez is a great player, but he chokes and Jeter doesn't like him and he's a weird guy to boot, so says Joe Torre, who of course enjoys unimpeachable credibility and could never in a million years harbor any ulterior motives. Also, even though we have no evidence whatsoever, he probably did steroids. Also, other people don't like him. Also, he's a narcissist.

In "Vindicated," José Canseco’s second book about steroids in baseball, Rodriguez ended up as the centerpiece. In the book, which was released a year ago, Canseco tried to link Rodriguez — who has denied he ever used performance-enhancing drugs — to banned substances. Then there is Kirk Radomski, the convicted steroids dealer whose book, "Bases Loaded," goes on sale this week. He could not stay away from Rodriguez, either, first stating he had no first-hand knowledge that Rodriguez had used banned substances, then speculating that he probably had.

Who needs facts when you've got accusation and speculation? He's a roided-up no good cheating piece of crap. Good enough for me.

But I'm kind of itching for a few anecdotes and/or sage observations concerning further failings of personality and character. Don't disappoint me, Joe Torre.

"Alex monopolized all the attention," Torre said.

"We never really had anybody who craved the attention," Torre added. "I think when Alex came over he certainly changed just the feel of the club."

Excellent. I knew you'd come through.

And Torre clearly had concerns about Rodriguez’s well-chronicled failures in key moments, particularly in recent postseasons. Torre said that when everything was on the line, and when Rodriguez was at the plate, Rodriguez was too often unable to "concern himself with getting the job done" and instead became distracted with "how it looks."

Absolutely. You gotta focus. Eliminate distractions. Raise your game. For Christ's sake, Alex, you can't look in the mirror and hit at the same time!

(Incidentally, I think this was Jeter's problem in the 98 ALDS, 98 ALCS, 00 ALDS, 01 ALCS, 01 WS, 03 ALCS, 04 ALCS, and 07 ALDS, where he hit .111, .200, .211, .118, .148, .233, .200, and .176, respectively.

But that's neither here nor there. No one is implicitely contrasting Jeter's magical clutch and clubhouse powers with A-Rod's preening-at-precisely-the-wrong-time proclivities.)

And it is not just Torre who makes critical assessments of Rodriguez in the book. The book quotes Mike Borzello, a former Yankees bullpen catcher who is described as a "close friend" of Rodriguez’s, and says that Borzello continuously had to boost Rodriguez’s ego because he felt that he was competing with Derek Jeter for attention.

"It doesn’t help," Borzello said, referring to Rodriguez’s relationship with Jeter. "You would rather that the stars are in the same place, pulling together, but I don’t think it affected the other players. It just affected the feel in the clubhouse."

Oh.

Without directly attributing the information to Torre, the book states that teammates and clubhouse attendants referred to Rodriguez as A-Fraud and seemed particularly put off by the fact that Rodriguez seemed to demand so much attention from the attendants.

"Without directly attributing the information to Torre"? Didn't he write the book?

This isn't me saying this, but I heard from a friend that some people he knows overheard water cooler whispers to the effect that Joe Torre is a petty, vindictive old man who is not above a little character assassination so long as it helps sell a book or two.

"One time, in Detroit, where his personal attendant was not available, Rodriguez was jogging off the field after batting practice, saw a Comerica Park visiting clubhouse attendant, a young kid in his first months on the job, and simply barked, ‘Peanut butter and jelly,’" the book said.

Huh? What does that even mean? Was he calling the kid "peanut butter and jelly"? Is that a slang disparagement I haven't heard? Was he demanding the attendant bring him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at once, OR ELSE? Does he just shout random phrases to himself? Maybe he has Tourette's, and the actual quote was more like "m*****f***ing c***s***ing peanut butter and jelly!! f*** f*** f***!!!"?

Whatever the case, I think we can all agree that it's a damning snapshot of a despicable, soulless (barely) human being.

But what Rodriguez is feeling is another issue. He will be in training camp in Tampa, Fla., in a couple of weeks, with a uniform number, and a bull’s-eye, on his back.

As ever, I guess.

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