Some of the Yankees who can become free agents in November include catcher Jorge Posada, pitchers Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte and, of course, Alex Rodriguez. Wonder how they would view re-upping and retiring in pinstripes with Bo at the helm.
Me? I'm thinking about how it might have worked in reverse, had Manuel's insistence on a 2-year deal here have lead to an impasse and departure. Would the next move have been to see if Torre wanted to continue his managerial career 90 miles south with a team filled with young superstars and young arms, with more purportedly on the way?
In some ways, it makes perfect sense. Like Torre, Manuel is appreciated by his players because he respects them, respects the difficulty of the job, handles his dissatisfaction and theirs through closed-door meetings. When Adam Eaton complained about the "short leash" he was given in his final start of the season, he was beckoned into the manager's office for a chat. Afterward, when Eaton was left off the playoff roster, he said he understood.
I believe Torre's deft handling of Rodriguez during his disappointing and divisive 2006 season had something to do with the monster MVP season the third baseman produced this year. Sure, A-Rod's postseason was disappointing again, but so was Derek Jeter's - again. The Yankees got there through no small effort by both.
But Torre is no longer Teflon. Truth is, his status as a great baseball manager has taken a big hit this decade by the Yankees' repeated postseason failures. Do we overlook that four wild-card teams this decade have won or reached the World Series by going through New York - Florida, Anaheim, Boston, and Detroit last year? Or that no one has had more money to work with, or a more willing boss when it comes to spending to fix things? When Yankees pitching fell apart last June, New York spent an additional $28 million on Roger Clemens. When pitching fell apart for the Phillies, they trotted out J.D. Durbin - who, for a few starts anyway, pitched as well as Clemens.
Backers will point to Torre's steady hand when the Yankees held a worse record than the Phillies in mid-July this season. Like Manuel, he never panicked, never blamed his underachieving players, never made a bad situation even worse.
They responded with a 73-39 record after May 29.
And their third first-round exit in a row.
Which lends to an alternate interpretation of Torre's steady hand. Namely, has he made his teams too comfortable?
Here's what is certain: Between the high-priced stars and the high-profile team, Torre operates under a different set of standards than his peers. Bobby Cox hasn't been to a World Series since Torre's Yankees beat his Braves in 1999. Yet he's emperor for life down there.
One rumor being floated by Yahoo.com yesterday was that Steinbrenner would let Torre go in the next few days and hire Tony La Russa, whose contract with the Cardinals ran out after this season. This would seem a recipe for disaster for at least two good reasons. One is that La Russa's thin skin, which has rubbed raw even in the small markets where his aura has been built, can not survive the heat from the daily scrutiny of this team. The other is that La Russa has been known to deal very publicly when it comes to confronting his stars - Scott Rolen last year, and Albert Pujols this season.
That said, there is no doubt La Russa is a fine manager, and Dave Duncan an even finer pitching coach. Presumably, they would come to the Bronx as a package deal.
Me? I'm pulling for Bo. For one, it would put to rest this notion that I, or anyone else, ran him out of town here. We simply found him a better-paying job.
For another . . . Well, Bowa, in the Bronx, with a team full of underachieving, highly paid stars? ESPN would have to scrap that whole "The Bronx Is Burning" DVD box set.
Why pay for something you can get for free?
Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. For recent columns, go to http://go.philly.com/donnellon.