Now that the dust has settled on this Joe Torre thing and Tony LaRussa will not be the next manager of the NY Yankees (he re-upped for 2 years with the Cards today), let’s take a step back and look at the situation. Torre is a definite Hall of Fame skipper, having brought stability and class to a Yankees franchise that went to the playoffs 12 straight years, including 6 AL Championships and 4 World Series victories. But…he hadn’t won a World Series for the last 7 years and even more damaging, had been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs for 3 straight years. And for the biggest payroll in baseball by a long shot (including the highest paid manager), this simply could not go on–especially with the hated Red Sox looking like the best team in baseball.
Granted, the Yankee “braintrust” should’ve never let Torre twist in the wind like that for a week and a half after the season ended while they figured out how to make him an offer they knew he’d refuse. If they didn’t truly want him back, they should’ve let him go immediately or let him bow out gracefully. That was pretty bush league, and The Boss and his sons didn’t make many new friends with the way it was handled. As for the offer itself, I see no problem with it and felt it to be more than fair (though Torre’s pride was clearly hurt and the “insult” of performance clauses apparently stung deep): 1 year for $5 million base pay ($2 mil less than his current salary but still the highest in baseball by a bunch), with $1 million bonuses for making the playoffs (uh, you think?), reaching the AL Championship, and reaching the World Series. So potentially he could earn $8 mil while making at least 6. Plus, if the Yanks made the Series, Torre would automatically be renewed for a second year in 2009 if he wanted to stick around.
Joe can’t control how the team executes on the field, how the hitters hit, how the pitchers pitch, and what injuries occur throughout the season. But he is The Manager of the most famous franchise in sports. And ultimately the responsibility for success or failure does fall on his shoulders. Let’s see if another owner will pay that kind of dough for the 67-year-old to be the skipper of their baseball team, or perhaps he’ll be happier making less somewhere else with his pride intact.