Archive for Friday, October 19, 2007

Joe says ‘No’ to Yankees

Insulted by offer, skipper Torre to leave N.Y.

October 19, 2007

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— After all he had accomplished - four World Series championships, 12 straight years in the playoffs, almost certain entry into the Hall of Fame - and after all the indignities, this was one Joe Torre wasn't going to stand for.

He wasn't going to take a pay cut from the New York Yankees, no matter that he still would have been the highest-paid manager in baseball, and he certainly wasn't going to prove himself all over again.

Torre walked away Thursday, turning down a $5 million, one-year contract - $2.5 million less than he made this season, when the Yankees failed to make it past the first round of the playoffs for the third straight year.

"A difficult day," general manager Brian Cashman said. "He will always be a Yankee."

Bench coach Don Mattingly is the leading contender to replace Torre. Yankees broadcaster Joe Girardi, the NL Manager of the Year with Florida in 2006, is another top contender. Tony La Russa and Bobby Valentine also could be considered.

After losing the first two playoff games to Cleveland, owner George Steinbrenner said he didn't think Torre would be asked back if the Yankees didn't advance. New York hasn't won it all since 2000.

Torre took a morning flight to Tampa, Fla., to meet for an hour with Steinbrenner, his sons and team management. Torre listened to the offer and said it wasn't acceptable. They shook hands and Torre headed home.

The 67-year-old Torre, who made the playoffs in every year with the Yankees, scheduled a news conference for today. He indicated last week that he might be interested in managing elsewhere.

New York's offer included $3 million in bonuses if the Yankees reached next year's World Series and an $8 million option for 2009 that would have become guaranteed if New York won the AL pennant.

"Under this offer, he would continue to be the highest-paid manager in major-league baseball," team president Randy Levine said. "We thought that we need to go to a performance-based model, having nothing to do with Joe Torre's character, integrity or ability. We just think it's important to motivate people."

It appeared to be an offer designed to be rejected. Scott Boras, the agent for Yankees star Alex Rodriguez, said players would have interpreted an acceptance by Torre as weakness.

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