Topping the news today is the announcement that, despite the hype and agitatin' by members of the Yankee front office, the media, Joe Torre is goin' nowhere. Here's a link:
Torre Says He Is Staying With Yankees (AP)
The more I thought about Piniella, or Girardi, or Showalter coming back to manage the Yanks, the more I wondered if it wasn't worthwhile to get one more year out of Joe. First of all, I really want Torre to retire from managing as a Yankee. Few things would be more depressing than Joe Torre coming back to beat the Yankees with another team. Second of all, all the candidates to replace Joe are flawed--Piniella might light a fire under the Yanks' behinds, but he'd be just as likely to slag Chien Ming Wang's and Phil Hughes's arms. Ditto two times for Dusty Baker. Showalter's a control freak who would polarize the clubhouse; and Girardi has the same micromanaging reputation, plus he's been billed as Joe Torre, Jr.--which would probably obviate the purpose of getting rid of the original Joe Torre.
Now that Torre's coming back, he gets his hands on the biggest job he's had since 1996. Can this team function again, without some big names walking out the door? Is Torre the peacemaker, or does his problem with the number eight batter, Alex Rodriguez, qualify as a personal feud?
I'm sure we'll be discussing this all winter.
In less happy news, the Big Unit's gonna have to go under the knife, joining Jason Giambi and Andy Phillips among the Yankees who are going to use their early vacation to get that out of the way:
Johnson Likely To Need Surgery on Herniated Disc (ESPN News Svcs)
Better now than in Spring Training, I guess. There go all illusions that we'll see the Diamondbacks-vintage Randy Johnson during his time in pinstripes, as if anyone was still holding out hope for that.
In related news, the hottest international pitcher out there could be headed to the Show:
Prized Pitcher Matsuzaka Given OK to Pitch in MLB (AP)
Matsuzaka is 26 years old, and he showed some nice stuff in the WBC. In the Bronx, his first name might as well be "Prized." The Yankee pitching staff has featured some pretty serious duds over the past couple of years, and back surgery for the Unit suggests there might be even less depth next season.
In case you're confused about the posting process--that's the way which non-free agent pitchers in Japan get offered to Major League clubs--the good folks over at USS Mariner have put together a handy primer on the posting process. Long story short? Posting is the method by which the Mariners acquired Ichiro Suzuki--a blind bid to the Japanese team that controls the player's rights, for the exclusive right to negotiate a contract with the player. I can't recall if this was also the way the Padres got Irabu. Other Japanese players have come to the U.S. simply by waiting until they are free agents in Japan, then signing with an MLB team. That free agent route is how the Yanks acquired Hideki Matsui, and how the Mets got Kaz Matsui. Here's hoping the Yanks bid high--what's the use of eating all the crap that Yankee fans have been eating for the few days if our team doesn't leverage its financial advantage to the hilt?