Breaking news from the Yankees this afternoon: Joe Torre was offered a contract extension for $5 million, with $3 million in post-season incentives. The deal was guaranteed for 2008, and had he managed the Yanks into the series in '08 it would've automatically vested for 2009. Torre turned the offer down
. The Yankees will now have to go back to the drawing board to find his replacement.
This probably wasn't a money issue. The contract, while offering less base salary than his previous deal, would have been more lucrative had he earned the incentives, and he still would've been the highest-paid manager in the game, by a large margin. I think Joe had reached the end of his rope. George's outburst, followed by being left in limbo for nearly two weeks was apparently the straw that broke the camel's back.
You can't fault the Yankees for the offer, it was fair. If you want to blame the front office, you can only point to the public statements made by George and the amount of time they left Joe twisting in the wind.
First, I'd like to say that Joe will be missed, if this is in fact the end of the road. He helped resurrect this franchise, and the four rings he won in the Bronx will never be forgotten. It's sad to see the Torre era come to a close.
Now, let's talk about what this means. Who will take over? I still think the two most likely candidates are Joe Girardi and Don Mattingly. When Mattingly came back to the Bombers to be the hitting coach, it was pretty much understood that he'd be the skipper some day. He's had 3 seasons under Torre's wing, the only question is whether the front office has enough confidence in him to ignore the fact that he has no managerial experience. I think they do, and if I was betting right now, I think I'd put my money on Donnie. If they don't give him the job, they're probably going to lose him. I don't think he's going to stay here to be someone else's bench coach.
If the front office isn't sold on Mattingly as manager, the next best bet is Joe Girardi. Girardi worked miracles with a young Marlins team two years ago. Those skills would be a perfect fit for the young guys in the clubhouse, but I'm not sure how well he would mesh with the veterans. Joe Torre's best quality was his open communication and fierce loyalty to his veterans. Joe was a master at this. During his tenure, how many locker room fights did you hear about? How many players, while on the team, spoke out against Joe, or his teammates? The answer is very, very few. Joe kept the egos in check, and got everyone to act like a professional. Girardi strikes me as more of a win at all costs type of guy. Meaning, if Bobby Abreu goes into a prolonged slump next year, like he did this year, Girardi may just sit him. He probably wouldn't have the same patience Torre did this year. That's not a negative, in most cases, but when you're dealing with guys who make $20M/year, and you have a guy they played with managing them, there's bound to be some disharmony in the locker room when the vets aren't given the benefit of the doubt.
Up to this point, I've been on the fence as to who I'd like to see replace Joe, if he should leave. I guess it's time to take a stand. I'm going to say I'd like to see the Mattingly Era begin. I think he's got the juice to keep the vets in line (like it or not, you get more respect from great players, if you were a great player), and I think he'll instill great qualities in the young Yankees who are becoming such an integral part of this roster. I like Girardi, and I think he's a great tactician, I especially like his in-game managing style, but I don't think he's got the personality to succeed with this type of roster. I'd love to see Donnie manage, and Girardi be his bench coach, but I don't know if that's an option.
One more thing to ponder: Rivera, Posada, Pettitte and a host of other players were vocal in their support of Torre. Now that he's left, on his own terms, after being offered a contract, will they stand by their words? Does the fact that the Yankees did offer Torre a contract mean Mo will come back? If the Yankees really did want to part ways with Torre, but thought they'd lose their own free agents by doing so, this is the best-case scenario from their standpoint. I think we might get to see Mo and Posada retire in pinstripes. I don't think this news will have any affect on the A-Rod negotiations, however.
Who would you like to see managing the Yankees in 2008? Leave your thoughts in the comments.