A matter of respect
Despite fair offer, Torre knew it was time to go
Posted: Thursday October 18, 2007 9:03PM; Updated: Thursday October 18, 2007 9:01PM
The New York Yankees did the right thing by offering Joe Torre a fair contract that would have kept him the highest-paid manager in the game. And Torre did the right thing by rejecting the offer.
Torre will be remembered in New York for many more right decisions than wrong ones, and his last call was another one that was right on the money.
This marriage of the storied team and its Hall-of-Fame-bound manager has been fraying for years, and Torre knew it. Good for him that he knew when to walk away.
George Steinbrenner didn't like Torre personally, and he didn't want him as his manager. Torre is a smart man who knew this. He knew he got the offer he did -- and $5 million for one year was by no means a terrible offer -- because it would have appeared cold-hearted and wrong to many to give him nothing, to fire the great Torre, who'd won four World Series titles in the Bronx (though none since 2000).
The Yankees come out looking fine by proposing the deal they did. They still offered $5 million, which while representing a pay cut from Torre's absurd $7.5 million salary in 2007, was still significantly more than any other manager made, more than Tony La Russa, more than Lou Piniella, two and half times more than his New York counterpart Willie Randolph.
The pay cut was no insult. The $7.5 million salary he made in 2007 was actually completely out of whack compared to his peers. He made double what the next highest-paid manger made, which was Lou Piniella at $3.5 million.
There was nothing wrong with the pay-for-performance aspect of the Yankees' offer, either. Torre understood the mandate was to win the World Series, and after seven consecutive failures (at least that's the way they see it in Yankeeland), they wanted to hold him to it.
The $1 million-per-round incentive package they offered was more than fair. Torre had an incentives package in an earlier contract, and plenty of other managers do, too. The only difference in this contract than in others is that the incentives were for more money.
An additional incentive in the rejected contract proposal was the option for 2009 that would have kicked in had Torre made it to the World Series in '08. This may seem tough. But they gave him a $200 million payroll and the best shot of making it there every single year, and an eighth straight year on the October sidelines should have been the final chapter, anyway.
But in the end, like most players, Torre preferred more guarantees and less incentives. And that's OK, too.