Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
October 19, 2007
BASEBALL: Torre Out

So, Joe Torre leaves the stage, having been offered a pay cut as a way to get him to quit. (You don't cut the pay of a man in Torre's situation if you expect him to stay).

Torre's record: two fifth place finishes, three sixth place finishes, and a high of 67 wins...no wait, that's the Torre I will always remember. In fairness he learned a good deal about managing over the years in addition to getting better players, but this isn't Earl Weaver we are talking about.

Torre didn't deserve to be fired any more than Casey did after losing the 1960 World Series in 7 games, but cutting him loose is defensible - he'd been at the Yankee helm for over a decade, and after 7 straight seasons of postseason failure, it's a fair question whether a fresh face would shake things up and be more effective. Then again, promoting coach and long-time organization man Don Mattingly, the rumored frontrunner for the job, seems unlikely to change much other than symbolizing another marker of the end of an era in the Bronx (granting that there is a long franchise history of one era being pretty much like the last).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:30 AM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (20) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

What about Willie Randolph as the new Yankee manager?

Posted by: Paul Kuritz at October 19, 2007 7:50 AM

Now they have a lot more problems than manager. They have made it very likely that Mo, Posada, A-Rod and Pettite will not return. If the main purpose is to get younger, they have succeeded. It probably also alienates Jeter. We will see how it works out, but those are a lot of holes to fill.

Posted by: maddirishman at October 19, 2007 9:22 AM

Crank, my last comment was lost. In a nutshell, it is a joke spin the offer as an insult. The base made him the highest paid manager in the game, the incentives provided a serious raise. Joe wants to spend time on the beach, good for him. That is where wealthy, elderly folks belong.
Re Yanks, the real question is who now? If Mattingly was an option Torre would not have recieved an offer. I think it boils down to Joe Girardi Vs Bobby Feb 14th, heads up.

Posted by: abe at October 19, 2007 9:22 AM

I think the perception of what a manager is is not understood by a lot of people (aside, let's figure out just what is is--couldn't resist).

I hear on call in shows all the time how this (generally Torre, Randolph, Valentine, whomever) is an idiot because he didn't bunt in such and such a situation. Earl Weaver may be the only manager in the Hall because of his ability to manage in game situations as a primary task. Managers are not there for that; they are there to get 25 players ready to give 100% every day. It's hard, and Willie Randolph found out just how hard this year. If Reyes starts to do the same thing next year, he will be out quickly.

My example is Dressen. Bill James loves pointing out how he should never have put Branca in and why; and how Rickey knew that too. So why stick with him? Dressen was as unlike Rickey as could be (as was Leo). Because they always had their team in the game. You can't win without the horses; never has and never will happen.

Torre handled pressure from both ends and the media, and kept a large group of prima donnas in check, always ready to play. He will be missed lots. Check the Times. It was a Steinbrenner Kids chance to put their imprint on the team while screwing Swindal. Look for a steep Yankee decline, a la Dolan, when George is totally out of the picture.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at October 19, 2007 9:44 AM

While not a Yankee fan, I always was Torre fan. I think he did a terrific job and won when he had the players. That being said, it is time for a change for the Yankees. How about LaRussa? With George S. out of the picture can the front office work with him?

Posted by: Lee at October 19, 2007 9:55 AM

Daryl, I cannot read the Times, always afraid I will come across a national security secret. Re the Kids, I like how they handled this, I think it bodes well for baseball, if not yank fans. Shocking, they want to make a buck! The Swindal contract was a joke, and they ignored the framework. Good for them. Joe was good, not great. Does that justify a contact 75 to 100% above he market?
The Dolan reference carries weight in this town, you might want to mull that over. The Dolan move would have been to offer Torre 10m per. The Yankees, under new management, no longer want to viewed as the deep pocket of the game. How is that bad?

Posted by: abe at October 19, 2007 9:57 AM

"You don't cut the pay of a man in Torre's situation if you expect him to stay"

Respectfully, yes you do. Top tier big city managers get 3+, period. Anyone offering Joe 7 is insane. Why, how, is this different than signing a player who does now perform? 5 with incentives to 6 was exactly the right offer. In the end Joe decided he did not want to work for a living, a choice we'd all love to make.
I'd trade Willie for Duncan's kid, or a bag of really good bagels.

Posted by: abe at October 19, 2007 9:59 AM

Daryl, I cannot read the Times, always afraid I will come across a national security secret.

We always thought it was because of all the big words.

Posted by: jim at October 19, 2007 10:44 AM

It seemed pretty bogus to me - they didn't lose because Joe can't manage - they lost because they couldn't pitch - if they didn't want him back why not just suck it up and say - thanks for everything but we're moving on - BTW I don't think Joes a great manager - it's alot easier when you have all the best players - He's had a team full of superstars every year and the magic seems to be over - but still

Posted by: Bandit at October 19, 2007 11:16 AM

jim, that hurts.

Posted by: abe at October 19, 2007 11:41 AM

Well, as a Yankees fan, I am sort of looking forward to a new manager.....if that manager is somebody other than Don Mattingly.

Don't get me wrong. I love Torre and Mattingly, but they're both cut from the same cloth. Torre's biggest problem has been his loyalty to certain players. It sometimes is a fault. There are two examples from Game 4 of the ALDS

1. He never should have started Wang on 3 days rest. Mike Mussina matched up perfectly against Cleveland. That to me was a no brainer, but Torre went with the guy who won 38 games over the last two seasons.

2. In the bottom of the sixth the Yankees had first and third with only one out. One run was in on a Cano homer. Johnny Damon was on first. With Victor Martinez catching and Paul Byrd pitching, how in the HELL do you not steal? Because Derek Jeter was at the plate and Torre relied on him to get a hit.

The Yankees have some holes and as such, it requires some strategy and Torre is not a very good strategist. Don Mattingly is an old school guy as well when it comes to baseball. While I am not a sabermetrics geek that thinks a championship ballclub can be put together in an Excel spreadsheet, I do accept a lot of the progressive statistical analysis being used these days. It's the reason why if the Yankees are smart, they'll go with the smart choice and not the one that will placate fans. The best choice is Joe Girardi.

He has the respect of the veterans (he played with Mo, Andy, Jeter and Posada), knows how to work with the young guys (see NL Manager of the Year in 2006), and uses a combination of statistical analysis and old school style of play that could work very well with the ballclub they are going to have next season.

Posted by: Jay at October 19, 2007 12:20 PM

Jay, in my eyes throwing Mussina would have been a firable offense. He's not a playoff quality pitcher. That's the thing about the Yankee job, damed if you do, damed if you don't. If it is not Girardi I expect an ex Met, either the V or Davey. It would be funny if we have Willie while the Yanks are manned by one of our exes.
Re pitchers, you never know in Oct. CC has been poor in every outing.

Posted by: abe at October 19, 2007 12:56 PM

Building on his recent public relations successes, eTrueSports.comreports that Randy Levine has resigned as president of the New York Yankees to become Director of Communications for the Halliburton Corporation

Posted by: Frank Coffey at October 19, 2007 12:58 PM

Jay, it's actually been widely reported that Torre wanted to start Mussina, but was overruled. Personally, I thought starting Wang was the right move, but obviously it didn't work.

Interesting note - the Yankees have now fired a manager who made the postseason in every year of his tenure four times (Yogi Berra in 1964, Billy in 1978, Dick Howser -coming off a 103 win season- in 1980, and now Torre, off of twelve in a row).

Posted by: Jerry at October 19, 2007 1:56 PM

One syllable words. Your speed.

Posted by: jim at October 19, 2007 1:58 PM

Agree with abe @ 9:59 - it was a perfectly respectable offer. Torre has not had the same success the last three years as he did in the years prior to that. In my book, it is perfectly defensible to cut someone's pay if they are not performing to the same standards as they performed to when they first got that pay.

Moreover, Torre's pay would have increased relative to last year if he performed - i.e., the team met the bonus thresholds.

This was pay for performance. Perfectly fine, to me.

That said, I would have rejected the offer too - Torre has not been treated well by the team the last few years, in terms of them making him wait to know whether he was going to fired or not.

Posted by: A.S. at October 19, 2007 5:08 PM

Jim, your doing a great job of making an ass of yourself today.

Posted by: maddirishman at October 19, 2007 5:36 PM

Some feebleminded thoughts: It must be nice to be able to walk away from 5 million. That's more than I will ever see. Who else will offer Joe a paltry $5 mil? If they do, will $5 mil suddenly be OK if it comes from another team? I can't fault Joe for not advancing in the playoffs. The season is the marathon. Getting to the playoffs takes the skill. Playoffs are a crapshoot. The Cardinals proved that last year.

Posted by: feeblemind at October 19, 2007 6:42 PM

mad,

You calling me an ass is a) hilarious and b) the best compliment I could get from someone such as yourself.

Posted by: jim at October 19, 2007 7:14 PM

Offering a manager who has managed his team to the playoffs for twelve straight seasons a one-year contract at a 33% pay cut is what a GM does when he doesn't have the stones to come right out and say, "You're gone." As Babe Ruth once said when his salary was slashed by a third late in his career (which still left him as the highest paid player in baseball): "That's not a cut--it's an amputation." Of course, Ruth wasn't ready to retire and had the reserve clause to deal with, so he reported.

Posted by: M. Scott Eiland at October 20, 2007 6:29 PM
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