Jon Heyman has an article about Bernie Williams future with the Yankees up over at SI (Bernie, along with Roger Clemens, is the current hot talk of NYY baseball). The article simply says the Yanks "have made Williams a standing offer to come to spring training as a non-guaranteed, nonroster [sic] invite," then discusses his options. Nothing bad, except Heyman makes a statement I cannot believe: "Manager Joe Torre always has been a Williams fan."
In 2005, Torre insisted on playing Tony Womack in the outfield, either starting him in center or playing him in left, forcing Hideki Matsui to play center. During that season, Bernie started only 100 games in center, while Womack started 58 in the OF. During that time, Williams had a .991 Fielding Percentage, a 2.42 Range Factor, and an .865 Zone Rating. Womack, meanwhile, had a .984 F%, 2.04 RF, and an .863 ZR. To put those in perspective, Torri Hunter went .987/2.51/.891 and Andruw Jones went .995/2.48/.878 in 2005. Womack was not an improvement. Offensively, Williams hit for a .249 AVG, .321 OBP, .367 SLG, 12 HR, 19 2B (in 485 AB), while Womack simply crushed the ball...nowhere, going .249, .276, .280, 0 HR, 8 2B (in 329 AB). No one with 300 at bats in 2005 had a Slugging Percentage worse than Tony Womack.
So, Womack was worse defensively, and abysmal offensively. Is that how much Joe Torre loves Bernie Williams? I sent Jon Heyman an email explaining my position, and asked him, "So why would Torre do that if he loved Williams? Either he doesn't really love Williams all that much, or Torre is insane." Heyman will write back to me, as he always does, and will give me an actual answer, not a dismissal (he once humorously misspelled Yankees as "ywankes," but that's another story). If he says anything good, I'll let you know.
Update 2/1/07 10:29 AM: Heyman replies, but I won't quote him directly because he didn't know he would be on record. He basically reminds anyone (me) that might have forgot that Torre is a small ball/steals manager, and also arguably not the best judge of talent in baseball. Thanks Jon Heyman, you're a credit to your profession.