Joe Torre is still fielding questions about his meeting yesterday with the Yankee executives. But his prepared comments are over, and Joe pretty much spoke as you would expect him to do. He was fair and kind toward the Yankees, and it’s clear he still considers himself to be part of the organization. The door is also not yet fully shut if the Yankees come back and make him another offer.
Torre did not have an easy time of it. “I just felt the the terms of the contract were probably the thing I had the toughest time with,” he said. “The one year, for one thing. The incentives, for another. The fact that I had been there 12 years and I didn’t think motivation was needed. I felt pretty well renewed every year, and we knew exactly what was expected here.”
He also spoke about how this decision would impact the players. While he appreciated the sentiments, he did like how the Yankees players were pressing because they felt they were playing for his job in the playoffs. It created too much pressure on the team. “I didn’t think it was the right thing for me,” he said. “I didn’t think it was the right thing for my players.”
He spoke about how the guys in Tampa didn’t want this to be a negotiation. It was a one-time offer, and in response to Bob Klapisch’s question about whether this was an offer he was supposed to refuse, Torre was non-committal. It’s up to us to decide that he said, and I’ve decided that he probably was supposed to refuse it.
I know many of you have spoken about the money, but Joe said the money, while it weighed on him a little, was not the motivating factor. He was simply insulted at the belief that the Yanks would make the playoffs and literally give up. He was insulted over the performance-based clauses. He feels that the first six years – making the World Series five times – put undo expectations on the club. It’s hard to disagree with that.
Later on, Torre said that it was not about the money. A two-year, $14-million deal wouldn’t cut it. He wants the commitment from the Yankees execs that they won’t mess with him, and he wants them to have faith in his ability after 12 very successful years at the helm.
Torre questioned the time frame for the decision during the question and answer session. He wondered why it took the Yankees brass two weeks to decide that they wanted him to be in charge. It made him a little suspicious of the offer once he heard about it. That’s yet another notch for the argument that the Yanks never wanted Joe to take this offer. I wonder how public response to this move and Torre’s press conference will impact the Yanks.
There is no doubt that Randy Levine and Joe Torre do not like each other. Torre’s vague answer during the press conference and laugh said it all.