SBD/Issue 28/Franchises

Joe Torre Rejects One-Year, $5M To Return As Yankees Manager

Torre Turns Down Yankees
One-Year, $5M Offer
Joe Torre Thursday rejected a deal to return as Yankees manager for the ’08 season. The team offered Torre a one-year deal for $5M, with bonuses ranging up to $8M if the Yankees won the World Series. A one-year option would have been added if the club made the World Series in '08.  Yankees President Randy Levine said, “We thought we needed to go with a performance-based model. It’s important to motivate people based on performance” (Mult., 10/19). In N.Y., Tyler Kepner reports Torre would have been guaranteed $8M in ’09. The proposed ’08 salary “would have kept Torre as the highest-paid manager in the majors, but the guaranteed portion would have represented a cut" from the $6.4M he averaged over the last three seasons.  Torre flew to Tampa Thursday and met with Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner, Senior VP Hank Steinbrenner, Yankee Global Enterprises Chair Hal Steinbrenner, Levine, GM Brian Cashman and other team execs, where Hal Steinbrenner “explained the rationale behind the offer, which was nonnegotiable.” George Steinbrenner had threatened to let Torre go if he did not win the ALDS against the Indians, but Hal said that the edict “played no role in the team’s discussions over the last few days.” (N.Y. TIMES, 10/19). Hal Steinbrenner: “I cannot speak for George as far as the comments, but as far as I’m concerned, they did not play a part” (MLB.com, 10/18). George Steinbrenner, “consistent with his media-dogging policy of recent years, ... didn’t speak” on the conference call Thursday announcing Torre’s decision (NEWSDAY, 10/19).

MIGHT HAVE STAYED WITH TWO-YEAR DEAL: In N.Y., George King notes Torre supporters believe that Torre would have accepted a two-year guaranteed contract worth $8-9M annually.  A one-year deal “didn’t appeal to Torre because he understood if the club got off slow again next season he would have to hear about getting fired again, a process that has become tiring to Torre” (N.Y. POST, 10/19). Cashman said, “Everybody in this room, including The Boss, wanted him back.” However, sources said that Steinbrenner, when meeting with Torre, “wouldn’t budge and Torre stood up, shook his hand and left” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/19). In N.Y., Bill Madden writes the rejection “stunned the group, which for two days had carefully crafted this contract in a way that would properly respect Torre for his commendable 12 years of service by keeping him the highest-paid manager” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/19). In N.Y., Murray Chass writes under the header, “Losing Ally In Swindal Left Torre Vulnerable.” Former Managing General Partner Steve Swindal was assigned to negotiate a new contract with Torre in ’04. Swindal “liked Torre ... [and] gave him a nice raise on what was already a lavish contract” (N.Y. TIMES, 10/19).

WHERE WAS GEORGE? ESPN’s Peter Gammons reported Levine "wanted Joe Torre out. Everybody talked about it through the whole organization. So he gets his way here.”  But ESPN's Buster Olney said, "I suspect it was the Steinbrenners who made the offer to Joe Torre. Without question. They are the ones who are driving the ship within the organization. … George Steinbrenner is 77-years-old. I think that’s part of the reason why this process dragged out” (ESPNews, 10/18).  MSNBC’s Mike Celizic wrote, “There is no surer sign that Steinbrenner is no longer calling the shots. If he were, Torre would have been packing his backs by Tuesday afternoon; Wednesday morning at the latest. Instead, after three days of meetings, [Levine] -- not Steinbrenner, not his sons ... and not [Cashman] -- announced that Torre had turned down the deal” (MSNBC.com, 10/18). In N.Y., John Harper writes the fact Steinbrenner “wasn’t heard from at all during this ‘process’ ... is surely the most telling sign of all that the old Boss is gone for good as Yankee fans knew him.” Maybe Hank and Hal could “justify [the decision] as somehow following the wishes of their father, but surely Cashman had to be embarrassed by the way this played out” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/19). On Long Island, Wallace Matthews writes the move shows that Steinbrenner “is no longer the boss. ... With his sons now running the show and Levine serving as their consigliere, business will be subtler, but no less savage, in the Bronx and Tampa” (NEWSDAY, 10/19). Also on Long Island, Johnette Howard: “When did The Boss’ Yankees ever blow a deal because they decided to be cheap? Welcome to the new Yankees, Sons of Steinbrenner edition. The early returns are not good.” Steinbrenner has been “reduced to The Boss Emeritus, a figurehead who can make all the blustery pronouncements he wants, just like the old days. But he’s very likely to be ignored” (NEWSDAY, 10/19). SPORTING NEWS’s Stan McNeal: “If the news to offer Torre a one-year contract signifies anything, it proves [Steinbrenner] no longer is running the franchise” (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 10/18). However, in N.Y., Bob Raissman writes it was Steinbrenner’s comments to the Bergen Record’s Ian O’Connor, which included the ALDS ultimatum to Torre, “that got this party started” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/19).

Writers Blast Cashman (r), Front
Office For Handling Of Torre Situation
FRONT OFFICE LOOKS DISORGANIZED: SI.com’s Tom Verducci wrote under the header, “Yanks Look Disorganized, Cowardly After Torre’s Exit.” Verducci: “There is blood everywhere on Levine and the boys, remnants of a sloppiness and covertness the Boss never knew.” One GM said last week, “If [Cashman] has it written into his contract that he has authority on all baseball operations decisions, where has he been? Why hasn’t he said anything about Torre?” (SI.com, 10/18). Detroit Free Press columnist Drew Sharp said, “Why this took two weeks for this to happen just shows me that the Yankees have no clue in that front office right now what they’re doing” (“Jim Rome Is Burning,” ESPN, 10/18). In N.Y., Selena Roberts: “Hank and Hal have blown their transition move. ... Hank and Hal helped devise this ham-handed strategy: Let’s discount Joe Torre’s dignity.” Roberts writes, “If slipped truth serum, the Yankees would concede the salary reduction was an attempt to diminish Torre’s aura and scale back his status and, perhaps, push him out” (N.Y. TIMES, 10/19).

AN OFFER HE HAD TO REFUSE: ESPN’s Steve Phillips said the Yankees' offer to Torre “appears to be the kind of offer that you make when you know the person is going to reject it. … (Torre would have) taken a pay cut. Was (Levine) going to take a pay cut? Is (Cashman) taking a pay cut? Why is only Joe Torre when money has never been a factor for the New York Yankees? ... It was one they were begging for him to say no to” (“Outside The Lines,” ESPN, 10/18). NEWSDAY's Matthews: “They are very slick, these thugs running the Yankees. ... They have been trying to figure out a way to whack Torre while making it appear as if Torre whacked himself. What they came up with was brilliant in its innovation and chilling in its cynicism, but ultimately transparent” (NEWSDAY, 10/19).  The DAILY NEWS' Harper writes under the header, “Yankees Did Not Have The Guts To Fire Joe Torre.” Harper: “It’s obvious they didn’t want [Torre] back, no matter what they’re saying" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/19). However, YES Network’s Michael Kay said, “It was a brilliant public relations stroke to try to turn some of the city against Joe Torre, and maybe it works” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 10/18). SI.com’s Jon Heyman: “The Yankees come out looking fine by proposing the deal they did” (SI.com, 10/18).

BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO: USA TODAY’s Hal Bodley writes the move “serves both [parties] well.” Torre would have worked next year “with everyone in the Yankees hierarchy looking over his shoulder and probably second-guessing his every move” (USA TODAY, 10/19). In N.Y., Mike Lupica writes, “It was just the most famous disagreement we are ever likely to see in baseball, the most famous manager telling the people who run the most famous team to take their job and shove it. A manager finally fired the Yankees” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/19). However, in N.Y., Joel Sherman writes, “Torre erred in turning down the Yankees’ proposal to stay in the position that has made him rich and famous beyond what he could have dreamed a dozen years ago.” Torre also is “walking away from that juice as much as the ownership” (N.Y. POST, 10/19).

Key Free Agents Like Rivera (l) And
Posada To Leave Yankees As Well?
PLAYERS NEXT TO LEAVE? In Newark, Ed Price writes Torre’s departure leaves the “most valuable franchise in the [U.S.] at a crossroads.” The Yankees “must decide whether to re-sign” Ps Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte and C Jorge Posada, who are all free agents, as well as 3B Alex Rodriguez, who can opt out of his contract after the World Series (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 10/19). In Boston, Nick Cafardo writes the move “will surely affect the organization on all levels.” The team is opening the new Yankee Stadium in ’09 and it is unknown how many of the “superstars of the Torre era,” including Rivera, Pettitte and Posada will stay with the club without him (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/19). YES Network’s Michael Kay said Torre “was revered in that clubhouse, but I also believe that players will go to the place that pays them the most money” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 10/18). Fox’ Tim McCarver said, “They have a public relations problem. They have a private relations problem with the players” (Fox, 10/18). Agent Scott Boras, who reps Yankees Rodriguez and CF Johnny Damon, said that players “would have interpreted an acceptance by Torre as weakness.” Boras: “Successful people can afford their principles. They understand if they accept the position, there is a great risk the message to all under him is dissatisfaction” (AP, 10/19). ESPN’s Olney said, “The Steinbrenners are going to be very cognizant of the fact they’re going to be watched very carefully by the fan base, and if (they lose Rivera, Pettitte and Posada), the fans might start to go crazy. That may affect how aggressive they are in their offers to Rivera and Posada. I think in the end, that’s not going to make that much of a difference” (“Baseball Tonight,” ESPN2, 10/18).  ESPN's Gammons: "I don’t think it impacts the A-Rod negotiation. That’s a separate, third world negotiation on its own. I do think that considering that  Posada and Rivera were a little upset that their contracts weren’t done earlier that this will make it a little more difficult. I think it’s less likely that Andy Pettitte comes back unless he’s assured that the next manager is a lot like Joe" (ESPNews, 10/18). N.Y. Daily News Yankees beat writer Mark Feinsand: “The bottom line with (Rodriguez) is going to be money” (“Daily News Live,” SNY, 10/18). WFAN-AM’s Chris Russo said, "Come November, when the dust settles and the Yankees offer more money than somebody else, money talks. ... They will stay with the Yankees” (“Late Show,” CBS, 10/18).

YOU BETTER RECOGNIZE: According to the latest Davie Brown Celebrity Index, which is based on a celeb’s recognition among a 1.5 million-member consumer panel and the average of seven attribute categories, Torre’s appeal score is comparable to ATPer Andy Roddick, Bruce Springsteen and comedian Jimmy Fallon. Also, his aspiration score is similar to NBC’s Jay Leno, Jimmy Buffett, Richard Gere and Al Pacino (THE DAILY).

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