Torre out as manager after turning down $5M, one-year deal

When the news from Dan Graziano broke that Joe Torre would be coming back for one more year (plus a World Series option) of managing, I was happy. Despite his flaws, Torre is probably the best man for the Yankee managerial solution.

But Graziano was wrong. Joe Torre has turned down a one-year, $5-million, incentive-laden deal to manage the Yankees in 2008.

Stay tuned for more.

Yes, we realize that RAB is loading v-e-r-y slowly right now. We’re working on it.

Update by Joe: I’m sitting here listening to the press conference on ESPN2. Basically, it’s nothing groundbreaking. Torre flew down to Tampa on his own volition, before he knew an offer would be made. They wouldn’t say why he turned it down, but that it was a one-year deal is probably the sticking point. Why would he want to go through this two years in a row?

I don’t think it’s the money. He stood to make as much or more than this year, though the final $3 million was $1 million each for making the playoffs, making the ALCS, and making the World Series. Even if they missed the playoffs, $5 million is way too much to pay a manager.

They probably won’t decide on Torre’s successor for another few weeks. We’ll probably have news on A-Rod before we have substantial news on a new manager.

Report: Mattingly not ready yet for the managerial post

As the Joe Torre Job Watch nears some sort of resolution, we’ve got some interesting developments courtesy of Ed Price from The Newark Star-Ledger. According to Price, Don Mattingly has told the Steinbrenner brothers — now in charge of the team — that he is not ready for the Yankees managerial post and does not feel comfortable replacing his current boss and mentor.

Price has more:

The friend, who requested anonymity because the situation is unresolved, said he spoke directly with the former Yankees great in recent days. Mattingly’s stance could open the door for the Yankees to bring back Torre for a 13th season because he was the leading candidate for the job.

The development comes as George Steinbrenner and his sons, Hank and Hal, convene an annual top-to-bottom review of the organization Tuesday. A Yankees official, who speaks often with top management, said Torre is a candidate for the job. The official, who asked not to be named because he is not authorized to speak for the owners, said the discussion was expected to center on who is the best man for the job as opposed to a referendum on Torre, whose contract is expiring.

Now, as every Yankee blogger and their uncles are trying to find something, anything, new to write about concerning Joe Torre, this news, if true, is quite the curveball. First, much like we’ve done, the Yankees aren’t discussing Torre’s future in black and white terms. Rather, they are going to figure out which available target is the best man for the job.

In other words, they will try to figure out who can handle up-and-coming young pitchers, who can best deal with the bullpen, who can best placate veterans sticking up for their current manager and who can deal with the scrutiny of managing the Yankees in New York. When all is said and done, can the Yankees braintrust really find someone better than Torre for the job right now? My money’s on no.

At the same time comes the Mattingly bombshell. At the end of the playoffs, it seemed as though Donnie Baseball was gearing up to take the reins from Torre. He was deferential toward Torre, but at the same time, it seemed as though he anticipated being named manager sooner rather than later. I guess those writers speculating as such were reading Mattingly incorrectly.

If Mattingly is hesitant about taking the job — and I think anyone with any sense of the situation would be hesitant to follow up Joe Torre coming off a 94-win season — the Yankees will not give it to him. That hesitancy would automatically make Mattingly the wrong guy for the job right now. This isn’t to say he won’t be the manager; it’s just to say that he won’t be the manager at the end of the day today.

So as the Yankees brass gather in Tampa, we’re really no further along in this saga than we were on Friday. Joe Torre still seems like the best man for the job, and the number one candidate to replace him isn’t quite as interested as everyone figured. Yet.

Steinbrenner brothers take the helm

The New York Post reports that Hal and Hank Steinbrenner are now in charge of baseball operations for the New York Yankees.

“There’s always been a succession – and that’s myself and my brother,” Hank told The Post in an exclusive interview.

He said he and Hal will have final say on baseball decisions as well as the running of the YES Network and the construction of the new Yankee Stadium.

“I’ll pay more attention to the baseball part. The stadium, that’s more Hal. But basically everything will be decided jointly.”

This move was foreshadowed late last week when Hank announced that Joba will start in 2008. The NY Post article quotes Hank as saying “That’s something I’ll insist on,” when referring to Joba and Phil starting 2008 in the rotation. I’m beginning to grow fond of Hank Steinbrenner.

“I tend to be more volatile than my brother,” Hank said. “Hal is calmer – and that will probably be a good influence.”

Behind the scenes, the boys have impressed.

“Both Hank and Hal are extraordinarily smart, extraordinarily articulate and, like their father, very genuine people,” said Levine. “And they like each other a lot. I think the Yankees are in very good hands.”

This is starting to sound good. True, this article is probably a PR pitch. But it’s nice to know that 1) we’ll have a fiery guy at the helm in Hank, and 2) he’ll have a counterbalance in Hal. I really do think that the brothers will work well with our front office tandem of Brian Cashman and Damon Oppenheimer.

The best news of all from this is that the Yankees won’t be sold. I know it was a longshot when it was mentioned earlier in the year, but at least we’ve put it to rest.

What about Bob?

I went to two Yankees games during the last home week of the season: One on Monday, September 17 and one on Sunday, September 23. Noticeably absent at both of those games were Bob Sheppard. I was more than a little bit worried.

During the telecast on Friday, Sept. 21, Michael Kay informed the folks watching at home that Sheppard was out with laryngitis and would be back in time for the playoffs. Now, Sheppard is no spring chicken. He won’t admit his age but the Yankees say he is just a few days shy of 97. He’s been doing games since 1951 or all of the years that my dad has been a fan (and just one year short of my father’s entire life).

A 97-year-old coming down with laryngitis is certain not a Good Thing. Today, SI.com via the Associated Press gave an update on Sheppard in this notebook. Reading between the lines, the prognosis is not good:

Bob Sheppard, the Yankees’ public-address announcer since 1951, could miss the team’s postseason home opener Sunday night.

Sheppard wasn’t at the final homestand of the season because of laryngitis, and as of Wednesday it wasn’t clear whether “The Voice of God” will recover by the weekend. If Sheppard isn’t back, longtime backup Jim Hall will be behind the mike.

Sheppard’s birthday is reportedly Friday, October 12, and while he missed the Cubs last World Series victory by two years, he’s lived an incredibly long life. The fact that he still announces the games – even if his voice has slipped a bit over the last few years – is amazing. In fact, up until recently, he did the New York Giants games as well.

Meanwhile, Newsday’s Jim Baumbach has a few more details. According to Mary Sheppard, Bob’s wife, Bob is recovering from “a bronchial laryngitis infection.”

“It’s hanging on,”she said said. “He can talk now. But it needs rest.”

I don’t like this news. Sheppard’s been out for three weeks and any time a 97-year-old has an infection that’s “hanging on,” there’s reason to worry. The day Bob goes would be a very sad day indeed in Yankee history.

Karstens to join U.S. Olympic team

From The Times:

Starter Jeff Karstens will report to Arizona in October to train with the United States Olympic team. Karstens, who missed most of this season after breaking his leg in April, needs to build up his innings and expects to pitch for the team in an international tournament in Taiwan this fall.

Karstens hasn’t been officially named to the team, he’s just working out with them. I’ve never been able to figure out how all this Olympic stuff works; I swear, it seems like they name a team every year. I don’t know if Karstens is eligible for the team actually going to the games next summer. You can follow all the Olympic action on what USA Baseball is calling the Beijing Blog.

For a little history lesson, here’s the 2000 Olympic roster, which beat Cuba in a Gold Medal game for the ages.

(hat tip to Patrick)

News on the morning after an off-day

There is quite a bit of Yankee-related content in the mainstream media today, so let’s make the rounds. (Aside: See, if we bloggers had some degree of access, we wouldn’t have to go linking these stories; we could create them ourselves.)

Roger Clemens has rejoined the team in Toronto. His scheduled bullpen session today will determine whether he starts against Curt Schilling on Sunday at Fenway Park. As long as IPK stays in the rotation after this move, I’m fine with it.

The Red Sox were Kazmired, dropping a 1-0 contest to the D-Rays. That’s good news for the Yanks, since the Red Sox will inevitably wallop the Rays over the next few games. It puts the Yanks just five back, and with a stroke of luck they might enter the weekend series just four games out of first place in the AL East.

There’s an article in the Bergen Record recounting A-Rod’s growing relationship with Joe Torre. This is significant because of the off-season implications. Torre’s contract is up after this season, but what if A-Rod declares that he’ll stay only if the manager returns? That could be an even more perplexing question than the one Mike posed yesterday.

Tim Marchman, who is probably the best sportswriter in the New York press, opines that A-Rod is as good as gone come the off-season. His most likely destination: Boston.

Yanks, Bronx have yet to fulfill park money promise

When the Yanks, with the help of the City of New York, grabbed the Macombs Dam Park and appropriated it for their new ballpark, they agreed to pay back the Bronx through money that will go toward new parkland. Seventeen months later, the Yankees and the Bronx have yet to fulfill that promise.

Metro has a little bit more:

Central to [the new Yankee Stadium] deal was the promise of an annual $800,000 for Bronx nonprofits over the next 40 years. Critics labeled this a “slush fund,” because the money would be doled out by a new not-for-profit staffed by representatives of Bronx elected officials, and it didn’t have to be spent in the affected community. The funds were to start flowing, the agreement said, “upon the commencement of the construction.”

So imagine the surprise of Geoffrey Croft last week, when he discovered — one full year after the stadium’s groundbreaking — no such not-for-profit has been registered with the state yet, and no funds have been disbursed.

While I may object to the new stadium on the grounds that it’s simply not necessary – and an average home attendance of 52,645 would bear me out – the Yanks have continually stiffed the Bronx community on this deal. As the article notes, the city gave up the parkland to the Yanks with no public hearing.

Now, you may fault community silence, and it does seem that these Save Our Parks folks haven’t gotten nearly the attention they deserve. But the Yanks owe it to the city to make up for the missing parkland. At a deep discount, they’re taking public lands. They should replace it sooner than 17 months after construction started on the new stadium.