Report: Torre won't survive Yanks' collapse, to be fired

10/9/2006 - New York Yankees

NEW YORK -- Joe Torre was absent Sunday. Alex Rodriguez,
too. And the New York Yankees made no announcement about changing

While several players and coaches packed up in a quiet
clubhouse, Day 1 of what figures to be a wild offseason in
Yankeeland provided few definitive answers.

Torre still has his job -- for now. Hours after New York was
eliminated in the first round of the playoffs again, the Daily News
reported Sunday that demanding owner George Steinbrenner was likely
to fire his longtime manager and replace him with old favorite Lou

Newsday reported Sunday that Steinbrenner would like to fire Torre, but that no decision has been made just yet, according to several people familiar with the situation. The Long Island-based newspaper said Yankees officials were expected to meet to discuss Torre as early as Sunday, with Piniella the likely favorite to replace Torre.

When approached by Newsday and asked if he would like to give Torre a vote of confidence, Steinbrenner responded: "No I don't."

In a public statement he issued Sunday, Steinbrenner called the result
"absolutely not acceptable" and "a sad failure." But he had not
yet consulted with Yankees executives about any change, at least
not yet, a baseball official said Sunday, speaking on condition of
anonymity because no statements other than Steinbrenner's were

"I am deeply disappointed at our being eliminated so early in
the playoffs," Steinbrenner said in the statement, issued by
spokesman Howard Rubenstein. "This result is absolutely not acceptable to me
nor to our great and loyal Yankee fans. I want to congratulate the
Detroit Tigers organization and wish them well. Rest assured, we
will go back to work immediately and try to right this sad failure
and provide a championship for the Yankees, as is our goal every

Steinbrenner specifically had Rubenstein change the wording in his statement from "not acceptable" to "absolutely not acceptable" about 90 minutes
after it was first issued.

Rubenstein said he spoke with Steinbrenner on Sunday.

"Clearly he was upset," he said.

Rubenstein said Steinbrenner would not comment on the Daily News report.

Piniella, in San Francisco while preparing to call the AL
Championship Series on FOX, told the network he hadn't talked to
the Yankees and was "stunned" by the report.

"We have heard from absolutely no one from the Yankees'
organization, so as far as we're concerned, it's all speculation,"
said Piniella's agent, Alan Nero. "Lou is seriously considering
the four jobs that are open."

After winning the World Series in four of his first five seasons, Torre has weathered many storms since then, but Saturday's 8-3 loss left him emotional as he pondered his future in the Bronx.

"We felt pretty good about ourselves," Torre told the Daily News. "But again, that's something for [general manager Brian Cashman] and I and other people to talk about. But right now, it's just ..." and choking back tears, he concluded "... it's just tough."

Cashman and most of the front office employees are expected to keep their jobs, the Daily News reported.

Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson, a special adviser to the Yankees who watched the final two games in Detroit while sitting next to Cashman, told The New York Times that while he was not surprised that Torre's job status was in question, he didn't know what Torre could have realisitically done differently.

"It seems like the great job he was doing all year, all that's forgotten," Jackson told the newspaper.

"I imagine you could blame a guy for making bad moves, but I don't know how you can blame a guy for the team going 20 innings in a row without scoring a run. I don't know how you get to be a bum when those things happen. Like him or not, agree with his decisions or not, that's what happened."

Jackson suggested that the decision on whether Torre stays would show a lot about Cashman's influence.

"Brian Cashman's a pretty smart guy," Jackson told the Times. "If he's going to have some input, I don't have any doubt he'll make the right decision."

Several Yankees players told MLB.com that they would be surprised to see Torre go.

"That's pretty drastic," outfielder Johnny Damon was quoted as saying by the Web site. "Joe has been awesome. You never know what's going to happen, but I think Joe should be safe. For all he's done and had to put up with, he's been incredible."

Torre's fate, however, is far from the only big question facing
the $200 million Yankees after they lost the AL Division Series to
Detroit on Saturday. There also is speculation the team would like
to get rid of Rodriguez, a postseason bust again this October.

The two-time MVP, owed $66.6 million by the Yankees over the
final four years of his record $252 million contract (after
accounting for $28.4 million Texas is paying New York), went
1-for-14 during the four-game loss to the Tigers. He was dropped to
eighth in the batting order for the first time in a decade
Saturday, and is
3-for-29 (.103) in his past two playoff series.

That makes Rodriguez 4-for-41 (.098) without an RBI in his last
12 postseason games -- and he is yet to reach the World Series.

Cashman dismissed the idea of either Torre or Rodriguez leaving, telling MLB.com, "Why wouldn't they be coming back? That's not something that I'm even thinking about."

During A-Rod's three seasons in New York, the Yankees have
squandered a 3-0 cushion against rival Boston in the 2004 AL
Championship Series, and lost in the opening round of the playoffs
the past two years.

By now, maybe the Yankees have seen enough.

The third baseman has had more than his share of
public-relations problems lately, which his teammates are asked
about. Perhaps the Yankees are beginning to think that's a

Either way, it doesn't sound as though A-Rod is particularly
popular in his own clubhouse.

But if the Yankees want to ship him out of town, Rodriguez would
have to waive his no-trade clause for a deal to be completed.

He has said he doesn't want to do that, saying he is "100
percent committed to being a Yankee" and he thinks he can be
"part of the solution."

Several other teams would probably be interested, though,
especially if New York agreed to pick up part of the tab on the
rest of his contract. After all, the 31-year-old Rodriguez is still
one of the most talented players in baseball. He hit .290 with 35
homers and 121 RBI this season -- and that was a down year.

Perhaps he could flourish under October pressure in another

But make no mistake, the Yankees wouldn't just give him away.
They would certainly want something valuable in return, and most
teams are hesitant to hand over pitchers -- whether they're proven
winners or promising youngsters.

Rodriguez wasn't the only star on a star-laden team that
struggled mightily against the Tigers -- and there could be plenty
of changes in the Bronx before next season. Gary Sheffield, Mike Mussina and Bernie Williams could all become free agents.

As for Torre, he has guided the Yankees to the playoffs in all
11 seasons of his tenure -- including nine straight AL East titles.

"I am deeply disappointed at our being eliminated so early in
the playoffs. This result is absolutely not acceptable to me
nor to our great and loyal Yankee fans. I want to congratulate the
Detroit Tigers organization and wish them well. Rest assured, we
will go back to work immediately and try to right this sad failure
and provide a championship for the Yankees, as is our goal every
-- Yankees owner George Steinbrenner

But after winning four World Series championships from
1996-2000, New York has come up empty since. And the Yankees have
been knocked out in the first round three of the last five years.

Pitching coach Ron Guidry and first base coach Tony Pena
defended Torre, saying he did an outstanding job this year
throughout a trying season. Three All-Stars missed extensive time
with injuries: Sheffield, Hideki Matsui and Robinson Cano.

The 66-year-old Torre has one year and $7 million left on his

"To find anybody to manage this ballclub the way Joe Torre has
the last 10 years would be very, very hard," Pena said. "There's
no way you can find anybody that can replace him."

Yankees players still sounded a little stunned by the loss.

"I think we got taken by surprise. I think we got matched up
with a team that was a little more ready to play than we were,"
said pitcher Cory Lidle, who also can become a free agent.

Or, as Guidry put it: "We really had a better team than we

The 63-year-old Piniella is a former Yankees star and managed
them in 1986-87 and for most of 1988. He guided Cincinnati to the
1990 World Series title and managed the Seattle Mariners from 1993-2002 and the Devil Rays for the next three seasons.

The Chicago Cubs, San Francisco, Texas and Washington have open
manager's jobs.

"I've been talking to all four. We're in different stages with
each one of them," Nero said. "In the meantime, Lou and I are not
thinking about the Yankees and we would never disrespect Joe or the
Yankees by joining in on the speculation. That's the furthest thing
from our minds right now."

Torre has won more than 1,000 games as manager of the Yankees, but after beating the Mets in the 2000 World Series, the Yankees have fallen short of always high expectations despite having the highest payroll in baseball.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.