Joe Torre has $13 million owed to him and the Yankees owe Torre $13 million. Many reasons were cited yesterday why the marriage between Torre and the Yankees was preserved. But there is only one with currency, only one that blends both common sense and dollars and cents.
Torre was going to find a reason to protect the $13 million he has coming to him, and that way was to actually suggest a better line of communication and trust can exist with George Steinbrenner and his henchmen. The Boss, not wanting to pay so much money for nothing, decided to act more like a caring grandfather than vengeful Godfather in a face-to-face meeting with Torre on Monday in Tampa.
There is a Russian proverb, “When money speaks, the truth keeps silent,” and, right now, the power of money is drowning out all hints at candor. Let’s put it this way: If Torre’s contract had just expired, do you think the media would have been invited to the Stadium yesterday for his explanation of how his relationship with Steinbrenner was salvaged or for the introduction of Lou Piniella to his third term as Yankees manager?
For a brief period last season, the Yankees used the marquee at the Stadium to count down days until the opening of their new stadium in 2009. If they want to try some frankness now, they can put “$13 million” up on the marquee and, with each paycheck to their manager, count down toward the closing of his term. The less he is owed, the less job security he truly will have.
Torre actually showed yesterday why he is such a good manager for Steinbrenner and the Yankees by defusing a potentially messy situation, finding the positives to build on. He talked about starting fresh, about not letting ill will “fester,” and instead talking through problems with Steinbrenner, Levine or a Tampa henchman. It is all very Kumbaya.
But if Torre really wants to remain Yankees manager, he had better win and win early next year.
Because as that $13 million drains away, so does his last, best defense.