Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Joe Torre Holds A Lot Of Cards

I'm not saying Joe Torre will be back. I'm not even saying our beloved manager should be back. I'm just saying that Joe Torre is in a much stronger position than it appears right now and probably a lot stronger than last season.

1. George Steinbrenner is increasingly frail and mentally unsound -- He came to exactly three games this season (assuming he was there last night). He frequently is unable to recognize reporters he's known for decades. A reporter making a sleazy uninvited visit to Steinbrenner's home found him disorientied and confused. Exactly how much power does Steinbrenner weild anymore? Not much, I'd say. And Brian Cashman strongly supports Torre and Steinbrenners sons taking the reins fully for the first time in 2008 might well prefer the stability of keeping Torre.

2. Torre made clear he wants to keep coaching -- The Yankees might want to dump Torre, but do they really want to see him coaching somewhere else. Imagining someone as your competitor is a great way to suddenly appreciate the person you have on your staff.

3. A-Rod, Rivera, Posada and Pettitte -- all these players can walk away from the Yankees and anyone who thinks Rivera and Posada in particular couldn't possibly wear anything but pinstripes? Take a look at Johnny Damon in the outfield. All of them are linked to Torre in one way or another. If the Yankees dump Torre, they might cause a domino effect of players leaveing en masse. Their loyalty may very well be to Torre. Why stay in New York is the Yankees dump their manager? Posada wants a four year deal. If Torre stays, he might hold Posada's hand and reassure him. Without Torre, Posada loses that comfort zone. Rivera said very bluntly yesterday that the Yankees could have resigned him before the season. It's a business and I'm going to treat it like one, is what Rivera said. (Praise Jesus!) Andy Pettitte has made very clear Torre's departure would weigh heavily on him when deciding whether to reup. And then there's A-Rod. He's worth his own post. But when he finally develops a decent relationship and comfort level with Torre after four seasons, if the manager is fired that wil definitely be one more reason for A-Rod to opt out and check the waters. So Torre is fired, Pettitte walks, Posada gets a four year deal elsewhere that the Yankees won't match, Rivera decides it doesn't look like fun in New York anymore (and the Yankees foolishly decide they've already got Joba so why bother) and A-Rod says, huh, exactly what team am I remaining loyal too? If the Yankees keep Torre, they keep Pettitte (a huge part of stability and their only proven post-season winner among the lineup of Wang, Hughes, Kennedy, Joba and Mussina -- that looks a lot iffier without Pettitte). They keep Posada with a three year deal. They keep Mo.

Yep, it's easy to see how dumping Torre could have a disastrous effect on negotiations with all those players. Maybe Torre isn't in such a weak spot as it seems. But do the Yankees realize that?

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