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Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - I have so many thoughts on this whole Joe Torre situation I don't even know where to begin.
First off, I think it is a disgrace the way the Yankees handled this from day one, beginning with George Steinbrenner's comments prior to Game 3 of the ALDS. And secondly, as I said a few weeks ago, it is truly the end of an era in the Bronx.
If this was the first move of the new era of Steinbrenners, I am not impressed. Plain and simple, this was a low class move. How are the young Steinbrenners even qualified to make baseball decisions in the first place? One's business is hotels and the other breeds horses. Now they are the ones deciding the fate of the best manager the franchise has ever seen.
In the back of my mind I had a feeling this is how it was all going to play out. Public perception was so bad in the wake of Big Stein's ultimatum, the Yankees could not fire Torre on the spot following their division series ouster at the hands of the Cleveland Indians, they had to find a way to remove the blood from their hands. So, they low-balled him with an offer that they knew he would refuse.
The Yankees offered Torre a one-year deal worth $5 million - $2 million or so less than his 2007 salary - with incentive clauses that could have put the deal at $8 million. He would have received $1 million for each round of the playoffs he made and if the Yankees made it to the World Series, an $8 million option for the 2009 campaign would have kicked in.
Even Charlie Manuel was given a two-year extension by the Phillies. Not to mention the ones given to Chicago's Ozzie Guillen and Tampa's Joe Maddon, despite miserable seasons.
I think I am pretty good at my job and if my boss asked me to take a 33- percent pay cut I would turn him down too. But then again if I took a pay cut like that, I would have sweatshop workers in Malaysia laughing at my salary.
But that is neither here nor there.
To be honest, I am surprised Torre turned it down. I was shocked when team president Randy Levine made the announcement that Torre had rejected the offer. There was not one media outlet anywhere reporting anything but that he and the team had ironed out a deal. Looking back though, I guess the sign was there. How many conference calls like that take place with the principle part of it on a plane headed back to where he came from?
Nobody in a million years thought he would turn the Yankees down. He still would have been the league's highest-paid manager, by well over a million dollars. But I guess he had had enough. You can't really blame him.
Plus, with a one-year deal, if the Yankees got off to a bad start he would have been shown the door quicker than a New York minute. You can't manage with that kind of pressure, and with 12 straight playoff appearances and four World Series titles under his belt, he shouldn't have had to.
So where do the Yankees go from here? Don Mattingly? Joe Girardi? Larry Bowa? Who knows. Mattingly seems to be the odds-on favorite, but I think that would be a disaster. He is a loser. It pains me to say it since he was my Mickey Mantle growing up, but this is not the place to make your managerial bones.
That column, however, getting into Mattingly's shortcomings is for another time. Hopefully a long time from now.
I don't think the Yankees would go the Tony La Russa route, but you never know with them. Bobby Valentine's name keeps getting mentioned, but I would think he is a longshot at best.
My prediction is that Lou Piniella somehow finds his way back to the Bronx. There were already rumblings a couple of weeks ago that the Cubs were not happy with the way their season ended. Plus everyone knows about the relationship between he and Steinbrenner. Not to mention it certainly wouldn't hurt the whole Alex Rodriguez situation.
As far as Torre goes, you would have to think he wants to manage again. He is not going to a place like Kansas City or Pittsburgh, though. Torre will probably sign a TV deal with ESPN and sit back and wait for a contending team to struggle early next season. He is only going to go to a place where he can win right away. I would guess Philadelphia, the Mets and maybe even Boston if they get bounced in the ALCS could all be destinations early next season.
I guess I wouldn't even be shocked if the Yankees do a complete 180 and go back to Torre. Nothing that organization does ever surprises me. In fact, that would be typical.
A lot has been made too of the pending free agents the Yankees have and how their loyalty to Torre could be an overwhelming factor if they stay. Again, give me a break. Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Alex Rodriguez will only leave the Yankees if there is more money to be had somewhere else. It has nothing to do with their love for Torre.
You have to love the Yankees, though. There was what could have been an elimination game in the American League Championship Series being played on Thursday, but every sports show in America led with the Bronx Bombers.
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