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Talking Turkey
2004-03-04 08:48
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Good Guh-News

According to reports in the Daily News and the New York Post, Joe Torre and the Yankees are talking extension. Yesterday, Torre told reporters:


"I think I'm leaning toward wanting to do it again," Torre said.

John Harper notes that this is great news for the Yankees and Yankee fans:


There are no Lawrence Franks [rookie head coach of the New Jersey Nets] in baseball, because the job isn't about film study and long hours and halftime adjustments. It's about presence and personality and, particularly in the case of a team like the Yankees, knowing how to lead star players across the desert of a 162-game season.

Cashman said Torre has a feel for it that you can't teach.

"It's a gift he has," Cashman said yesterday. "He was a great player himself who can relate to today's players. He just has that Midas touch of knowing when to be forceful and knowing when to pull back. The combination of his touch and the talent here has been lethal."

It's the reason that Steinbrenner, with more to lose now than ever, has gone sweet on Torre again. He's romanced him this spring and probably will pay him something like $15 million for two more years.

Joel Sherman continues:


"I just love the players and the game itself," Torre said in explaining why he now wants to extend his deal. "I am looking forward to the job every day. I am not ready to pack it in. I'm just happy I feel the way I do."

Yankees president Randy Levine handled the previous negotiations with Torre. Swindall, Steinbrenner's son-in-law, has been in charge this time and developed a rapport with Torre that helped ease the manager's mind. Torre also conceded that sidekick Don Zimmer's departure could have fostered a better bond with Steinbrenner, who detests Zimmer.

"That [Zimmer's presence] was part of the stress," Torre said.

So it appears as if Torre will be around for a little while longer (by the end of spring training, the Yankees could also reach an agreement with closer Mariano Rivera to keep him in pinstripes for at least another two seasons too). Naturally, Torre will have his hands full, but that is nothing new. Yesterday, the Yankee manager took some time to talk with Jason Giambi, whose personal trainer Bobby Alejo will not rehired by New York. It has been a tough camp for Giambi, and there is a lot of pressure on the slugger this season. In Bob Ryan's column yesterday, Johnny Damon all but called Giambi out as a steroid-user:


Damon played with one of the players named (do your homework, people). Says Damon, "I know he's done stuff in the past. He's made a lot of money. Hopefully, he's aware, he'll stop, and he'll continue to play well."

Ouch. If Giambi starts off slowly this year, expect Yankee fans to be all over him. He's in a tough spot. I wonder how much this pleases the good people of Oakland.

Speaking of the Sox, according to the Dirt Dog, Bob Hohler's story about Curt Schilling brushing back teammate Kevin Millar is largely fictitious.

Questions and Answers

Travis Nelson has an impressive and thorough article about the possibilites of baseball coming to New Jersey, while my neighbor Dr. Manhattan asks himself the same set of questions I asked my Roundtable Group over the weekend. Dr. M even adds a few questions of his own. Here is my favorite:


Dr. M: Who will be the starting pitcher acquired by the Yankees in midseason?

A: Al Leiter, assuming he doesn't suddenly collapse. He's a lefty and still throws reasonably hard with good breaking pitches, which will be an asset against David Ortiz and Trot Nixon (the only real problem with the Yankees not having a lefty starter). As an old pitcher on a bad contract (and a no-trade, I believe), he can probably be had cheaply (and he will almost certainly waive his no-trade for a chance at the World Series without leaving home). And Jim Duquette has (properly) not been afraid to trade with the Yankees.

I was talking with my cousin Gabe--a Mets fan--the other day about how Leiter would likley end up in Boston by the end of the year. He corrected me and said that it is more likely that he'll go to the Bronx. What do you think?

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