Torre becomes fifth-winningest manager of all time

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By beating the A’s last night Joe Torre moved past Hall of Famer Sparky Anderson for fifth place on the all-time wins list with 2,195.

“If you told me a dozen years ago that I’d be in this rarefied air, I’d
tell you you’re full of baloney because I certainly started way under
.500 when I took over the Yankees in 1996,” Torre said. “I have to
thank George Steinbrenner for putting me in a position to do this. I’ve
admired what Sparky did for all those years, and I’m proud to be in
that company.”

Torre is certainly right about his career path being different than
you’d expect from the fifth-winningest skipper in baseball history, as
he became a manager in 1977 at the age of 36 and spent five seasons
going just 286-420 (.405) with the Mets. By comparison, Anderson won
102 games as a 36-year-old rookie manager in 1970, and had four NL
pennants and two World Series titles after seven seasons on the job.

Not only did Torre start slow, he had a modest 894-1,003 (.471)
career record when Steinbrenner hired him to take over the Yankees as a
55-year-old in 1996. The rest is history, of course, as Torre won six
AL pennants, four championships, and 60 percent of his games during a
dozen seasons in New York and has gone 128-101 (.559) in two seasons in
Los Angeles.

Torre will have a very difficult time moving higher than fifth on
the all-time wins list because he has two active managers ahead of him
in Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa, and they lead him by 162 and 301 wins,
respectively. Of course, his standing in the top five is also very
safe, as 65-year-old Lou Piniella is the next-closest active manager
with 463 fewer wins and no one else is even within 800.

Connie Mack is the all-time leader with an amazing 3,731, which is
35 percent more than second place John McGraw at 2,763. To put that
into some context, consider that Torre could win 100 games per season
until the age of 80 and he’d still be 280 shy of Mack. Also consider
that, among the 10 managers with 2,000 victories, Mack is the only one
with a sub-.500 record. He managed an astounding 7,755 games–only 347
fewer than Torre and Anderson combined–and won 48.6 percent of them.

Video: Adrian Beltre belts a walk-off home run on Monday against the Athletics

ARLINGTON, TX - JULY 25:  The Texas Rangers celebrate the two-run walk off homerun by Adrian Beltre #29 against the Oakland Athletics at Globe Life Park in Arlington on July 25, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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The Rangers found themselves in a 5-1 hole after three innings against the Athletics on Monday, but scratched out some runs in the middle innings. That allowed them to enter the bottom of the ninth inning trailing by only one run, 6-5, facing A’s closer Ryan Madson.

Adrian Beltre, who hit a solo home run in the seventh inning, stepped to the plate with a runner on first base and two outs. He was the Rangers’ last hope to keep the game alive. The veteran third baseman swung at Madson’s first pitch, a 96 MPH fastball, and drilled it to left-center field for a walk-off two-run home run.

Beltre now has nine walk-off home runs in his career. While the 37-year-old isn’t quite the offensive dynamo he was even two years ago, his numbers are still respectable. He’ll head into Tuesday’s action batting .281/.334/.468 with 16 home runs and 63 RBI in 392 plate appearances.

Jay Bruce: “This is such a fleeting game. It’s so unforgiving.”

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 25:  Jay Bruce #32 of the Cincinnati Reds swings and watches the flight of his ball as he hits a two-run homer against the San Francisco Giants in the top of the fourth inning at AT&T Park on July 25, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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Outfielder Jay Bruce was the catalyst in the Reds’ 7-5 victory over the Giants on Monday night, drilling a pair of two-run home runs. It’s good timing for the Reds, as the trade deadline is six days away. The Reds might prefer to get a prospect or two for Bruce rather than pick up his $13 million club option for 2017 or buy him out for $1 million and let him walk into free agency.

It was only a year ago that it seemed like the Reds would have to settle for next-to-nothing to get rid of Bruce. He posted career-lows across the board in 2014, including a .654 OPS and 18 home runs. He improved last season, returning to 26 home runs, but came with an uninspiring .729 OPS.

This year is another story. Bruce is currently hitting .272/.326/.564 with 23 home runs and a league-best 77 RBI. He’s on pace to set career-bests in a lot of categories if he’s able to stay healthy.

Bruce was honest about his resurgence, though, admitting that he doesn’t know why he’s so much better this year as Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.

This is such a fleeting game. It’s so unforgiving. You’re never settled. You’ve never got it. You’ve never figured it out. It’s like a puzzle that never has all the pieces to it. You might get close and feel pretty good about your progress, but you never are going to have the puzzle put together.

Bruce, who welcomed a child into the world back in April, also discussed the difficulties of hearing his name bandied about in trade rumors once again.

It’s harder this year. I have a family I have to focus on now. Logistically, it’s much more intricate. I know the skit. I know how it goes. But it will be nice when it’s passed because we’ll have a plan of attack on whether my family is staying where they are in Cincinnati or elsewhere.

This is a point of view that is not often covered. This time of the year can be very difficult for players who may be traded, as they await a phone call that could send their lives into upheaval. It may mean being away from their families for three months. It means living out of a hotel room or finding a place to live on very short notice. Even Bruce’s comments about his success this year are illuminating about the mental strain of the game.

As usual, great reporting by Buchanan. His full article is worth your time.