"I think you're going to hear people in baseball, every area of baseball, say probably very, very kind, respectful things about Joe the next couple days, and they're all deserved. I just hope he's happy."
The Yankees offered the 67-year-old Torre a one-year contract with a base salary of $5 million. The deal included incentives based on postseason performance that could've bumped Torre's pay as high as $8 million, and a vesting option for 2009 would've kicked in if New York reached the World Series.
Torre decided that the deal wasn't for him. He flew to Tampa, Fla., where the Yankees were holding organizational meetings, and he informed New York that he wasn't interested in its offer. Over the past 12 seasons, Torre compiled a 1,173-767 record as Yankees manager, won four World Series crowns and captured 10 AL East Division titles.
This past season, Torre helped lead the Yankees to the playoffs as the AL Wild Card winner, ending New York's nine-year run as division champs. After New York lost the first two games of the Division Series against the Indians, principal owner George Steinbrenner said that Torre's job was on the line.
Cleveland finished off the Yankees in four games, bringing questions about Torre's future to the forefront. Indians manager Eric Wedge said that Torre, who ranks eighth all-time with 2,067 managerial wins, should've had the right to decide when it was time to step down. In the end, that's exactly what Torre did.
"I said in New York, I think Joe Torre is one of the greatest managers of all-time," Wedge said. "I've got a great deal of respect for him as a human being as well as a baseball man, and with what he's accomplished, I think that he should manage as long as he wants to manage.
"I know there's a business side of it, but from what I understand, for him to look at that and say 'No,' good for him. You know what, he's earned and deserves to do whatever he wants to do."
|ALL-TIME WINNINGEST MANAGERS |
|1. Connie Mack
|2. John McGraw
|3. Tony La Russa
|4. Bobby Cox
|5. Sparky Anderson
|6. Bucky Harris
|7. Joe McCarthy
|8. Joe Torre
|9. Walter Alston
|10. Leo Durocher
Earlier during the ALCS, Francona acknowledged that he called Torre after the Yankees were eliminated from the playoffs. Now, with Torre removed from the bitter rivalry between the Yankees and Red Sox, Francona was asked if he intended to call the future Hall of Fame manager again to talk about his situation.
Francona smiled and tried to steer the press conference back toward the matter at hand, trying to stave off being eliminated by the Indians.
"You'll have to forgive me, but that's not right on the front burner tonight," Francona said. "There will be a time for that, but we really have other things on our plate right now -- no disrespect to any organization or any person.
"This is sort of a big day for us to try to win this game," he added. "This probably isn't the time for [talking about Torre]. We need to try to win this game tonight, or I might be getting phone calls. Joe might be calling me."