The Red Sox traded Manny Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers this afternoon, and though this means plenty to the balance of power in the AL East, it means plenty more to our old pal Joe Torre. During his title years with the Yankees (and to an extent until he departed after last season), Torre was blessed with as professional a team as a manager could hope for — guys like Tino Martinez and Scott Brosius who weren’t necessarily Hall of Fame talents but made his job borderline easy. There became a sort of “Torre Guy” that fit this criteria, which jibed nicely not only with Torre’s own quiet persona but with George Steinbrenner’s updated vision of what a Yankee should be: talented, yes, but also buttoned-up, clean-shaven, and noncontroversial.
But when he left the Bronx, Torre entered the real world of baseball, where teams are willing to look past things like in-game headphone wearing, phone-call taking, and behind-the-fence urination when a guy can hit like few others who’ve ever played. Suddenly, the “Torre Guy” had become more of an idea than an actual, obtainable player. Torre was known to be a fan of Ramirez while he was the Yankees’ skipper. But you have to wonder if that’s because Torre could sit back and soak up Ramirez and all his talents (especially when the batter stepped up his game against the Yankees) without having to actually deal with any of the Manny drama. Because make no mistake, Ramirez is as far from a “Torre Guy” as you can get, and Manny will be Manny no matter who his manager is. And sure, he may only be a Dodger until he can file for free agency, but we suspect that Torre’s shrink is clearing his schedule as we speak. —Joe DeLessio