Is the Old Joe Taking Heat Off the New Joe?

Joe Torre is still a Hall of Fame manager, four championships deep, but there's little question the recent hubbub over his book, err sexy "tell-all" The Yankees Years has sullied his reputation. Perhaps when the book hits stores next week it will redeem itself, but thus far in the game of public opinion everyone's coming out a loser: Torre loses for signing off on a "gossip" book; Tom Verducci loses for writing it; A-Rod, Cashman and other come out worse exposure; and even the media loses for supplying the mud that everyone got dragged down into. 

But what about the other Joe? The Joe that matters most to the New York Yankees in 2009, current manager Joe Girardi.  He may be the only party to come out a little fresher than he was when this media poopstorm started.

The 2006 NL Manager of the Year had an uneven performance in his first season with the Yankees; 89 wins, but finishing third in the division, and for the first time since the strike in 1994, out of the playoffs.  But management stood behind Girardi -- as they had to considering how poorly the Torre separation went -- and chalked the mediocrity up to a flawed roster. One they went to work on overhauling in earnest this offseason. 

Now close to half of a billion dollars later, the honeymoon is surely over; Girardi will be feeling the hot Steinbrenner Steam blowing down his neck for the indefinite future. Joe will have to show and prove this year, much like Joe had to in LA last season. 

And despite the huge financial bailout, the road to the playoffs are not paved for Girardi's Yanks. There are numerous issues to contend with including: a bullpen that's a Mariano injury away from being suspect, the traveling Cirque du A-Rod, aging veterans playing critical roles in Jeter and Posada, being without a legit centerfielder, how to manage Joba, and, oh yeah, they still reside in the best division in baseball. Plus, fans are expecting it to be easy after seeing all the big money spent on marquee names.

So yeah, Giradi's going to be feeling some heat this season. All the more reason to think that while Torre and Girardi remain friends, the current Joe in charge probably doesn't mind that the fire set to be under his ass is currently being directed at the legend of Joe Torre.  

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