Questioning St. JoeBy
So Joe Torre. Let’s talk about him. It’s been
In the aftermath of Torre’s dismissal/firing/decision to quit, the New York sports media, ready to collectively fire Joe in May, were anointing him a saint. He was the Manager Who Stood Up to Steinbrenner. He stuck by his guns and made fools of those Steinbrenner sons and Randy Levine. Hell, even we got into the act last week.
But what if Joe isn’t exactly the saint he was made out to be? He did, as many of you are wont to point out, turn down a $5 million offer to manage the Yankees for another year and could have made up to $8 million. He claims he was insulted by the incentives, but I’m beginning to doubt the man.
Take a look here. In April of 2004, Joe Torre signed a three-year contract extension with the Yanks that carried him through this season. As part of the deal, he would be retained as a senior adviser with the club – the one he called “the last major league team I’m going to manage” – for six years following his retirement. But that’s not the important bit.
The important bit focuses around incentives. Tyler Kepner wrote: “He will also receive bonuses for winning the American League pennant or the World Series, as he did in his last deal.”
Well, well, well. That certainly changes things quite a bit, doesn’t it? Was Joe Torre really that insulted by an incentive-laden deal this year if he had basically been managing on an incentive basis for the duration of his last two Yankee contracts? I find that hard to believe.
Meanwhile, last night on Bob Costas’ show, as Cliff Corcoran details here, Torre said he would have taken an incentive-based deal with a pay cut had the Yankees been willing to offer a second year.
So then, this whole issue boils down to one of two things. Torre, who had long seen the writing on the wall, must have known the Yankees wanted him out of New York, but he wanted to go out on top. So when they publicly offered him a pay cut and a one-year deal, he highlighted the incentives – something in all of his deals – as the kicker for him. He was able to look good while backing out of a deal he probably just should have accepted. With an unstable ownership situation, Torre would most likely have kept his job in 2009 also had the Yankees made the playoffs next year even without a World Series ring. That’s one.
The second piece is pride. Joe Torre always wanted to be the last Yankee Manager at the old stadium and the first at the new one. When the Yankees couldn’t yet guarantee him that experience, he bailed. While the team didn’t need help in making themselves look bad, he took the contract negotiations public and came out unscathed. I’m beginning to think we should question the purity of St. Joe as the Yankees move forward with their managerial search. He surely is not that innocent.