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New York Yankees: Why is Joe Torre Still Dangling?

Update [2007-10-18 16:15:57 by Eric Hz]: From

Joe Torre turned down the New York Yankees' offer to return as manager on Thursday.

The Yankees offered Torre a one-year deal with a base salary of $5 million and incentives that would have increased his salary to $8 million based on postseason performance. Under that offer, if Torre reached the World Series in 2008, an option for 2009 would have vested.

The consensus amongst the New York sports media is congealing around the believe that the Yankees would take manager Joe Torre back but at a greatly reduced price.  This morning's New York Times notes that Torre's $7MM salary dwarfed the second-highest paid manager Lou Pinella's $3.5MM.

This is the explanation for the fact the Yankees have not yet fired Torre following the Game 3 edict from Yankees' owner George Steinbrenner that Torre had better win or else.  Torre didn't, and he hasn't been fired yet.

Whether the Yankees need to fire Torre before his contraqct expires on October 31st is left unexamined, though.  Maybe the Yankees do not want to give any of their competitors the chance to hire Torre until after several teams have made their 2008 managerial decisions.  Can the Yankees rest easier knowing Dusty Baker is managing the Reds rather than Joe Torre?  (Normally, I was going to mention the World Series but interleague play changed that impulse.)

That may seem odd.  If the Yankees thought that much of Torre as a manager, wouldn't they want to resign him?  Possibly, but the organization may realize that Torre's managerial skills are good for the right team.  That right team just isn't the Yanks, but he could be perfect for another team.  A team like the Mariners?

However, I prefer to project my own think-too-much reason.  In a situation analogous to the Mets' signing of Pedro Martinez's four-year/$52MM contract three season ago, the Yankees organization knows Torre is nearing his useful end.  It may not be next season, but it will be during the life of a three-year extension.  And unlike the Mets who willingly accepted the possibility of paying over four seasons for just a couple seasons of production, the Yankees won't do that.

Couple a Torre extension with the likely eight-figure ones for 37-year-old Mariano Rivera and 36-year-old Jorge Posada, and the possibility of paying Torre, Rivera and Posada $30+MM in Years Two and Three of their new contract becomes frightening.

Given the team is going to have $30MM of dead weight on the books next season in the forms of Carl Pavano and Jason Giambi, maybe the organization has recognized the mistake of doing this for the forseeable future.  It is possible as the organization has learned not to throw away its prospects on average veterans.