The Red Sox have scarcely dried out from their 2007 World Series winning champagne showers as the off-season began with a bang on Tuesday with some of the big-boys already jockeying for position for 2008.
The Yankees, who sent manager Joe Torre packing after being swept in the division series by the AL Central winning Cleveland Indians, have hired Joe Girardi to replace Torre. Girardi penned a 3 year deal, reportedly “worth an average salary of at least $2 million annually.”
And Torre, it appears, is poised to take over the helm for the L.A. Dodgers who apparently are axing their 1st season manager Grady Little. Dodger owner Frank McCourt, however, is feeling much media heat for the way the firing of Little is going down.
L.A. Times Sports reporter Bill Plaschke poses the following observations and questions;
If the Dodgers have an opportunity to hire future Hall of Fame manager Joe Torre, as several sources indicated Monday, they must do it.
But why couldn’t they have done it 13 days ago when Torre initially walked away from the New York Yankees?
Why did they allow nearly two weeks of silence to twist a knife so deep into the credibility of Grady Little that there is probably no way he can ever manage this team again anyway?
For two weeks, General Manager Ned Colletti has been telephoned with questions about the Dodgers’ managerial situation. For two weeks, he has refused to even return the calls, effectively ending Little’s career here while once again exposing his club’s philosophies as so much hot air.
One recalled a recent interview with McCourt in which he talked about the Dodgers foundation.
“It’s built on hard work, trust, integrity, respect, and it’s built on unselfishness, teamwork and so forth,” he said.
By my calculations, in their treatment of Little, their values batting average is .167.
They have whiffed on trust, integrity, respect, unselfishness and teamwork.
They have connected on hard work, but only because it surely must be hard work, secretly expressing interest in other managers while you still have one under contract.
McCourt and Colletti have handled this like such rookies, you sometimes wonder why a veteran like Joe Torre would agree to work for them in the first place.
Little is a good man who deserves better. He quietly took plenty of bullets this season for a team that, let’s face it, Colletti pieced together as if blindfolded.
It’s understandable that the Dodgers would endorse Little, then, two weeks later, change their tune when Torre is available.
But it’s unconscionable to then allow the process to drag out so long that if Little does return to the Dodgers’ clubhouse next spring, his authority there will be as stained and eroded as Eric Gagne’s old cap.
It is also reported that if Torre accepts the managership of the Dodgers, “his bench coach, Don Mattingly, may be joining him in the same role that he manned for one season with the Yankees after spending three seasons as their hitting coach.”
Meanwhile, a little discussion about the intrigue between Torre and the Yankees. I had recently, although I can’t remember where, that Yanks owner George Steinbrenner had turned the reins of the team over to his sons and that the Yanks were to be guided less impulsively. You might say
that this was to be a “kinder, gentler” Steinbrenner era. But judging from the way the Steinbrenners handled Torre according to AP’s report for MSNBC, the treatment seemed neither kinder nor gentler.
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.
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.
Torre just completed a $19.2 million, three-year contract. The Chicago Cubs’ Lou Piniella was the second-highest paid manager at $3.5 million.
“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.
With the kind of “deal” that the Yanks offered Torre, it’s no wonder
that Torre was insulted. Another AP report for MSNBC describes Torre’s exit from the Bronx;
He didn’t say goodbye in Yankee Stadium. Instead, he spoke for 67 minutes — one minute for each year of his life — in a hotel ballroom near his home in suburban New York, close to the Connecticut border.
There was no Yankees logo, just a simple desk — appropriately draped in black — and a velvet background in the team’s navy blue.
“An insult,” he said, his voice choking up at times.
General manager Brian Cashman informed him of the proposal on Wednesday night, and Torre traveled from his home to the team’s Legends Field spring training complex in Tampa, Fla., the following morning to meet with 77-year-old owner George Steinbrenner, his two sons, team president Randy Levine, Cashman and others.
“Are you going down to make a deal or say goodbye?” Cashman said on the flight.
“I really don’t know,” Torre replied.
Turned out, the meeting lasted just 20 minutes.
Torre made a counteroffer.
“It was just mentioned and dismissed real quickly,” Torre said. “And at that point in time I realized that it was either the offer or nothing. So at that point is when I said goodbye.”
So long to the pinstripes. Farewell to the most exciting years of his baseball life.
Torre has spent his managerial career looking in players’ eyes and reading their minds. It wasn’t hard for him to figure out the Yankees’ offer was one they hoped he would refuse.
“The fact that somebody is reducing your salary is just telling me they’re not satisfied with what you’re doing,” Torre said. “Two years certainly, I think, would have opened the door to have further discussion but it never happened.
“There really was no negotiation involved. I was hoping there would be. But there wasn’t,” he added.
Meanwhile, agent Boras, announced during the World Series that his client Alex Rodriguez was opting-out of the remainder of his contract, 3 years, with the Yankees. It is not now known to what extent A-Rod’s move is fallout from the Yanks’ treatment of Torre or to what extent other factors played a role. As a result, Rodriguez and Boras caught a lot of flak from the media, from MLB and from the Red Sox. I have often voiced recently how great that Phillies lineup would look with Red Sox 3rd baseman Mike Lowell in Phillies pinstrips. Frankly, with A-Rod’s baggage and high-maintenance act, the Phillies don’t need the aggravation, nor do the Red Sox even if he’s the best hitter and one of the top fielders in baseball.
AP baseball reporter Ronald Blum reports for Yahoo sports;
The timing left baseball officials livid, and Boras apologized Monday evening, just after Rodriguez filed with the players’ association and became a free agent for the first time since 2000.
Rodriguez signed his record $252 million, 10-year contract with Texas before the 2001 season. By cutting the deal short, he will have earned $180 million over seven seasons in signing bonus, salaries and his assignment bonus from when he was traded. In addition, he has earned $3.65 million in award bonuses and is in line to gain as much as $1.8 million more for postseason awards this year.
Terminating the contract saved the Texas Rangers $21.3 million they owed the Yankees over the next three years, payments agreed to at the time of the 2004 trade.
Hank Steinbrenner said the team left messages with Rodriguez, and “we really wanted to meet with him.”
“We wanted him to stay a Yankee. We wanted to let him know how much we wanted him,” he said. “The bottom line is … do we really want anybody that really doesn’t want to be a Yankee? How the heck can you do that? Compare him with (Derek) Jeter. Jeter, since he was a little kid, all he ever wanted to do was play shortstop for the Yankees. That’s what we want.”
New York was preparing to offer Rodriguez a four- or five-year extension worth between $25 million and $30 million annually and had hoped to meet with A-Rod to present the offer.
“We expressed our interest in keeping him in pinstripes, and requested the opportunity to convey those feelings to him directly with the Steinbrenner family in an open, face-to-face dialogue,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said in a statement.
Cashman sounded as if Rodriguez’s stay in the Bronx was over.
Another possible piece of fall-out from Torre’s departure could be vetern Yankee closer Mariano Rivera’s next move.
The New York Daily News staff reports;
“I don’t feel good about it,” Rivera said Wednesday, two days after the Yankees were bounced from the playoffs by the Indians. “I don’t see why they’re even thinking (about letting Torre go). I wish he’s back, definitely. If you ask me what I would want, I want him back.”
The future Hall of Famer’s contract is expiring and he is eligible to become a free agent.
“I mean, I’ve been with Joe for so many years, and the kind of person he has been for me and for my teammates. It’s been great. The thing is that I don’t see why they have to put him in this position.”
Rivera, who recorded 30 saves after a slow start to the ‘07 campaign, says he hopes to speak with Torre soon.
The 1999 World Series Most Valuable Player is looking for a multiyear contract. He wanted to negotiate an extension during spring training, but the Yankees opted to delay talks until after the season.
“I’m going to be open to hear all offers,” said Rivera, who made $10.5 million this season. “The Yankees had the opportunity but didn’t do nothing with it.”
When asked if the Yankees are his first choice, he responded:
“Right now, I can’t tell you that.”
The future Hall of Famer’s contract is expiring and he is eligible to become a free agent.
A more recent report written by Daily News sports writer Mark Feinsand indicates that Torre’s departure does not necessarily mean Rivera’s.
Feinsand quotes Rivera;
“I know the Yankees are going to do whatever they think is best for the team. I always respect them for that,” Rivera told Sirrius Satellite Radio when asked if he needs to know who the new manager will be before he starts to negotiate a new contract. “The Yankees always have given the opportunity to give us the best everything: the best players, the best coaching staff. They always tried to do that. I don’t think it (Torre leaving) has (anything to do) with me, in terms of signing with the Yankees.”
Those must be welcome words for the Yankees, especially after Rivera spoke out in favor of Torre after the playoffs, saying that Torre’s situation would play a major role in his own pending free agency.
Finally, Associated Press reports for ESPN that the Atlanta Braves dealt shortstop Edgar Renteria to the Detroit Tigers for a young righthanded pitcher, a minor league prospect and cash.
AP reports on the deal;
Detroit filled its No. 1 void Monday, acquiring shortstop Edgar Renteria and cash from the Atlanta Braves for two prospects.
Shortly after reaching the World Series last season, the Tigers pulled off the first major move when they traded for Gary Sheffield.
Detroit hopes this year’s deal at the start of the offseason, necessitated by shifting Carlos Guillen to first base, helps the franchise get back to the postseason after falling short this year with 88 wins.
Renteria, a five-time All-Star, hit .332 with 12 homers and 57 RBIs in 124 games with Atlanta this season.
In exchange for the 32-year-old Renteria, Detroit gave up right-hander Jair Jurrjens and minor league outfielder Gorkys Hernandez.
I’m real happy to be a Detroit Tiger player,” Renteria said. “I know… Jim Leyland and I think I’m going to be comfortable in Detroit.”
Leyland said the Tigers are “thrilled to death” to add Renteria.
“He was a part of the biggest night of my life in 1997,” Leyland said. “To be reunited with Edgar is a thrill.”
Stay tuned to this blog during the off-season as a blogger’s work doesn’t stop with the conclusion of the World Series.