For the majority of the season, Joe Torre faced criticism for failing to move the Dodgers to the top of their division. His talents as a World Series-caliber manager were questioned: Was it Torre that got the Yankees into the playoffs, or the players alone? As he always does usual, Torre remained calm and optimistic. Then, Manny Ramirez came around and the Dodgers found themselves sweeping the Cubs in the NLDS. The negative remarks quickly quelled, and Torre was once again hailed as a genius. But after his decisions in Game 4 of the NLCS on Monday, that harsh criticism has resurfaced.
In street clothes and a blue cap bearing the name of the Safe At Home Foundation he created, Torre took the podium for a noon news conference and answered questions about the widely scrutinized decisions he made in Game 4 — from his call to pull Derek Lowe in the sixth inning to his choices about which relievers he used and when.
Torre said he didn’t second-guess any of his decisions.
“You wish the result was different,” he said. “If we all know the results, we certainly say, ‘Yeah, maybe I should have done that and done this.’ But with what I had at hand and knowing what I wanted to do, the only thing I’d like to change is the result.
“I have a two-run lead in the seventh inning, the game’s in my court and then the winning home run is hit off my closer.
“I don’t know what I could say to myself that would change what I would do, to be honest with you.”
The only change Torre said he envisioned making today would be to re-insert Matt Kemp into the lineup. Kemp, who has hit .208 in his six postseason starts, had his place in center field taken by Juan Pierre in Game 4.
I’ve always been a fan of Joe Torre. When he arrived in Los Angeles, he did the best he could with what Dodgers GM Ned Colletti had given him. Without a big bat in the top of the order, he still remained neck and neck with Arizona. Manny was only the missing link, and he certainly proved it.
Still, even with Ramirez in the lineup, Torre has made some confusing decisions. Monday against the Phillies, he pulled Lowe in the top of the sixth, after only throwing 70 plus pitches and giving up two runs. Granted, he was only on three days rest, but he has just pitched his only one-two-three inning of the game. Then, he pulls Hong Chi Kuo—a pitcher the Phillies have been awful against—after giving up one single to Jimmy Rollins. These two decisions probably cost the Dodgers the series. Torre brought in all the wrong pitchers at all the wrong times. A string of bad decision killed Dodgers chances of tying this series: a twenty-year old Clayton Kershaw, a struggling Chan Ho Park, an inconsistent Joe Beimel, and a tired Cory Wade. With nowhere to go, in the top of the eighth inning Torre brought in their young, overworked closer, Jonathan Broxton. After elder statesman Matt Stairs hit a monster homerun into the right field pavilion, the Dodgers fans fell silent. Joe Torre’s critics, however, erupted.
Torre needs Chad Billinglsey to give him at least six good innings in the game tonight. If this doesn’t happen, the Dodgers are finished. However, with a lead going into the seventh, the Dodgers have two strong relievers in Kuo and James McDonald, who shut down the Phillies in Game 2. Then, it will come down to Big John Broxton, who’s hopefully learned a thing or two from Matt Stairs.