10/22/09 12:34 AM ET
Postgame interview with Joe Torre
By / MLB.com
JOE TORRE: We weren't the best team this week, I don't think that's any secret. The Phillies played tough. We're learning.
But you're right; I'm very proud of this group. I just told them that. This losing leaves a real pit in your stomach. I'm not going to say, I can't say that the Phillies wanted it more than us, but as I said, they were better than us this week. We're getting there. We're getting there.
But the way this ballclub kept fighting, you know, tonight was evidence of that again. Get behind a big number, and all of a sudden there we were again a hitter away from the tying run, and even though what's what you're supposed to do when you play this game, continue to fight, they did a lot of things, they learned a lot this year, and the thing that was most -- not most impressive, but what was impressive is when Ned brought in players, they opened their arms to them and welcomed them to the team.
To me that is a real plateau to get over is when you understand that sometimes it takes that to win, and winning has become a priority, which is very important when you're dealing with team work. I'm very proud of them.
Q. At the start of the series you said, and I agreed, that you were better equipped to play this team this year, better bench, better bullpen and such. Is it possible this Phillies group that played you this year is better than the Phillies group that played you last year?
JOE TORRE: I think just the experience of what they went through, the confidence they garner from that. Cliff Lee is no slouch. That was a nice addition for sure. But again, I think just the presence that they have -- not that they didn't have it last year, but I think just what they went through last year, especially the ups and downs that they had during the year -- I have to congratulate Charlie. I just did out in the hallway. Getting to the World Series two years in a row is not easy to do. We gave them a fight. As I say, they just wouldn't back down, and they kept going.
But they are certainly a better team. We don't know who they're playing. But they're certainly going to represent our league very nicely.
Q. Obviously this team is pretty close, but what do they need to do to just get over that last hump?
JOE TORRE: Well, you know, obviously tonight we didn't pitch very well. Pitching is the name of the game. We kept passing around that No. 1 pitcher thing all year long, and I think we have a couple of guys in that clubhouse that certainly eventually will emerge as being capable of doing that stuff.
But there was a lot of things learned this year. I think pitching is what's so important. I mean, tonight was a perfect example of coming in here and maybe trying to be too perfect or trying to be too good, and we just couldn't get the job done. Everybody that came out of that bullpen -- Belisario got two outs. I said to Honeycutt, I said, well, he may be the one getting the cigar here, and then whoops, they gave up a run. We really didn't have anyone that went unscathed tonight.
There's a lot going on in that clubhouse. There's a lot going on in their stomachs, which is good. They care a great deal. As I said a minute ago, I don't think the Phillies wanted it more than us, it was just that they were able to do it.
Q. You talked about the steps your team was able to make this year from last year. Best record in the league, that's certainly not nothing. I guess it's the same way of asking some of the same questions other people have asked. Maybe you never know until you get into a series like this how it's going to play out, but were you surprised you lost four out of five games?
JOE TORRE: Sure, damn right I'm surprised. But again, you have to play better. We have to pitch better. You know, whether it's the starter or the reliever, that's the one thing that's going to expose you more than anything else is being able to get those outs.
We have the capability, we have the talent, but that's all well and good. It's like having that good team on paper, you still have to go out there and play between the lines.
The Phillies this year, we gave them, I think, a little harder tussle than last year, but they still were able to do what they did better than what we were able to do, you know, better.
Q. You mentioned that you just told Charlie congratulations, how hard it is to get to the World Series two years in a row? You know that experience. So then to make the playoffs all these years in a row and not get there, not win it in that period of time, how difficult is that for you personally?
JOE TORRE: It's difficult. You know, especially having been there. You know, my first five years with the Yankees, you win four World Series, that's nuts. I remember seeing Jimmy Leyland, he says, "What you're doing now is never going to be done again." It seemed like it was easy, but we all know it's not.
I had a great group of players. The Yankees spend a lot of money, sure, but they still have to do the job on the field. They made my job easy by the way they went about it.
But yeah, when you have a little taste of what it's like to go on, it leaves you empty. It leaves you empty, there's no question about it. I mean, this is what you fight for, and I think every manager talks about it in the spring because that's our job. But when reality sets in, and here you are in October, every little thing makes news like Manny showering or not showering. Then you realize you're in the spotlight, which is a great place to be.
There's nothing like it. I mean, my brother Frank used to push it in my face when he was in the World Series in '57 and '58, and finally in '96 getting there was something that everybody has told me it was like. It's still something that keeps me around and keeps me wanting to do it some more.
Q. Is there anything from a baseball standpoint, any factor that made a difference in this series and separated the Phillies from you?
JOE TORRE: Well, I think it was -- well, what can I say? They did what they did better. I mean, they kept coming at us. Offensively they were a tough group for us. I think if we had a hit on something -- you didn't have the soft touch. You see Werth, he didn't get any hits and all of a sudden he explodes. You knew what he was capable of and you never took any of these guys lightly. I was asked many times about why do you pitch to Ryan Howard. Well, we didn't have an opportunity to have a base open unfortunately.
But these guys, they kept battling. They kept battling. But they did pretty much everything better than we did. As I say, you know, the experience I think from last year that they got certainly helped keep the game from speeding up for them. I can't always say that about our club this year, although we made strides, which I'm proud of, and I think the guys understand a little bit more, especially the young guys, how much work is involved.
Q. Both Manny and Jim Thome said that this lineup is just a special lineup --
JOE TORRE: Philly?
Q. Philly's lineup is a special lineup. Jim compared it to the Indians' lineups.
JOE TORRE: That we were lucky about, right.
Q. And I know you have great talent in your rotation and in your bullpen, but can you stop these guys? Is this team when it's locked in like this, is it stoppable?
JOE TORRE: Well, it's stoppable, because the one thing about it, and we saw it in All-Star Games a lot, if you can pitch up to your capabilities, every hitter can be had. Good pitching -- and again, it's certainly taking nothing away from them. I respect that group; they're great. But we can't always throw the ball where we want to. But pitching is the only thing that can neutralize what they do.
Padilla, what he did in Game 2, they had one run. That's the type of thing -- that's what you need to do. He didn't do it well enough.
But you know, when you get those two switch hitters at the top of the lineup, and Chase Utley doesn't really care if you throw underhand, overhand, left, right, whatever, he doesn't budge. And Ryan Howard just from start of the season until now has gotten much better in the way -- his approach at the plate.
I told Jayson Werth at the All-Star Game that he was a pain in the ass, and he took that as the way I meant it, as a compliment, because he's a tough competitor. Ibañez, what an addition he turned out to be for them.
And then you want to trickle down to the eighth hitter, who we certainly had our hands full, not only in post-season but during the season.
You know, they're confident, they're talented, and they're going to where we all want to go right now, the World Series.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.