Thoughts On Joe Torre

I turned on my phone after leaving class today, and was greeted with eight new text messages and one voicemail. I was briefly hopeful that – since I’m turning 21 tomorrow – my friends wanted to start drinking immediately. This was not the case. Something better had happened: Joe Torre would not be returning as the Yankees’ manager. So, here are my random, disjointed thoughts on the situation:

  • I’m reading in a few places that Torre turned around the Yankees this year after their miserable first 50 games. First, he didn’t turn the Yankees around. Pitchers like Tyler Clippard, Jeff Karstens, Kei Igawa, Matt DeSalvo, and Sean Henn were replaced with Roger Clemens, Chien-Ming Wang, Mike Mussina, and Phil Hughes. Torre did not do this. Certain key pitchers were injured or not with the team, and they either got healthy or joined the club. Also, we have to remember that Bobby Abreu, Robinson Cano, Johnny Damon and Melky Cabrera hit incredibly poorly in the first third of the season. Torre is not responsible for turning them around. They either (a) returned to their career levels of performance as sample size increased or (b) in the case of Cabrera, improved as expected. I repeat, Torre did not turn the team around. Better pitchers got healthy or joined the team, and the hitters started to hit like they should.
  • I am sick of seeing any Yankee success attributed to Torre and any failure attributed to the players. I wish that would stop.
  • I also keep reading and hearing that the Yankees’ offer to Torre was a slap in the face. For the record, the offer was for 1 year at $5 million. The contract also includes $3 million in bonuses if the Yankees reached the World Series, and an $8 million guaranteed option should the Yankees win the pennant. Torre just completed a 3 year, $19.2 million contract, putting him at a $6.4 AAV. Ok? Ok.
  • The Yankees did not “lowball” Torre. The second highest-paid manager in baseball makes $3.5 million. $5 million with $3 million in incentives is lots more than $3.5 million. I don’t care if he’s a Hall of Famer. I don’t care that he’s won multiple World Series before with the Yankees. He was a fantastic fit for the Yankees when Steinbrenner was running around going nuts. But now Steinbrenner is probably suffering from dementia, and Torre’s strengths are no longer valued that highly by the Yankees. With the current influx of young talent – and more on the way – the Yankees need a younger, more flexible, and open-minded manager. Torre is none of these things. Relative to the Yankees’ goals and expectations, and relative to Torre’s strengths and weaknesses, their offer was absolutely fair. And you know what? He turned it down. I don’t know what he was expecting, but he turned it down.
  • For the record (I’m looking at you major media outlets), Torre was not “fired.” His contract was up. The moment the last out of the ALDS was recorded, Torre was no longer an employee of the New York Yankees. I repeat, the Yankees did not stab Torre in the back and fire him and burn down his house and sell his children into slavery and stop paying for Frank Torre’s medical bills. They did not re-sign him.
  • My “Fire Torre” shirt is now completely useless. Drat.
  • There are two ways that Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, and Jorge Posada (the free agents) will see this: (1) “The Yankees made Torre a fair offer, Torre declined it. Well, that’s that, but the Yankees tried” (2) “How could the Yankees not offer Torre a contract at least equal to his previous one? How disrespectful. Where is this franchise going anyway?” I am terrified that it is the latter. Losing Rivera wouldn’t be that bad, but Posada and Pettitte are awfully important to this team.
  • This is completely irrational, but I find it funny that Torre turned down an offer in which he could earn more by succeeding. What a competitor. No ego there for Saint Joseph Torre. End of irrational thought.
  • I’m also not entirely sure that these negotiations were real. It seems possible to me that the Yankees were like “look, Joe, we don’t want you back. You don’t want to leave shamefully. Let’s just make up this story about how we offered you a less lucrative contract than your previous one, you’ll reject it, and that’ll be that. We’ll take the PR hit, that’s fine, and you get to walk away with dignity.”
  • Performance bonuses for players are ok, while performance bonuses for managers are apparently insulting. Go figure.

I think that’s it for now. Time to go turn 21. Cheers.

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