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Joe Torre rejects contract offer, leaves the Yankees

October 19, 2007 @ 10:05am

My first reaction to this news was that the Yankees were trying to save face. They could claim that they tried to bring him back as their manager again, but it was Joe Torre's own fault that he's not coming back because he's the one who said no. Torre made $7.5 million last year, so the Yankees $5 million base salary offer was seen as something that was designed to be rejected.

Along with that $5 million -- which would still have been the largest managerial salary in baseball -- Torre would have made another $1 million for each post-season round the Yankees advanced to. So if the Yankees made the World Series next year -- even if they didn't win it -- Torre would have made $8 million total.

Now that I've had a day to digest it, I'm wondering if that wasn't such a bad offer. I've been griping that the Yankees players get paid whether they win or lose, especially in the beginning of the season when they were digging themselves a huge hole, and that maybe their contracts should revolve around performance.

So why not Joe Torre's contract?

With shorter contracts, performance-based salaries wouldn't matter so much since these situations usually correct themselves in the long run. If you don't perform, you don't get invited back.

The flip-side of this is that you're working with a lot of other people and you can't carry a team yourself. A-Rod ended up doing that until he reached Choketober and Jorge Posada had a career-best year, but should your pay go up and down based on your teammates' performance?

If there's one person who should be held responsible for the overall performance of his team, it's the coach.

I think Torre deserves a lot of credit for digging the team out of a spectacular hole and for dealing with a mess of first-time starting pitchers, but I'm less annoyed with the Yankees' offer today than as I was yesterday.

Only slightly less though.

The trouble is that this is the Yankees. If Torre had performance-based contracts all along, this would have been fine. On its face the offer is great and I'd love to see more like it, but the Yankees gave Torre twelve years of guaranteed win-or-lose contracts and the Yankees don't blink at spending money.

If they thought Joe was the right guy for the job, they would have made this deal happen. If they thought he wasn't the right guy, they should have had the balls to fire him. Whether this is George Steinbrenner's last official decision or his sons' first, it comes across as weak and indecisive.

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