Monday, March 22, 2010

In An Off-Season Full Of Distractions, Joe Torre Doesn't Want To Be One

But it's beyond me why Joe Torre, in the last year of his three-year managerial contract with the Dodgers, would break off talks to extend his contract:

PHOENIX -- Manager Joe Torre said he has suspended talks with the Dodgers on a contract extension to avoid becoming a "distraction" during the season.

"We'll wait until later on in the year," Torre said. "I mentioned that to Ned [Colletti, general manager]. I'll have a better grip of what I want to do. The last thing I want is to be a distraction. I don't want it to be talked about."

Torre said that negotiations with the club have included a significant front-office advisory role after the 2011 season and he's not sure if he'll want that kind of workload. Torre turns 70 in July.

Torre was asked whether the ongoing divorce of owner Frank McCourt and the possibility of related ownership questions led to the decision to stop the talks.

"No. It's where we are in Spring Training, with the season about to start, and I still have to decide what I want to do after managing ends," Torre said. "We're both interested in doing something. But it depends how much I want to work, and I don't know."

Ken Gurnick's piece goes on to say how Torre's protege, Don Mattingly, has been game-managing all summer under Torre's tutelage, and that this option is still lurking, despite the fact that Mattingly already interviewed with Cleveland and turned down the Nationals. So perhaps Torre just wants to make sure that the succession plan to bring Mattingly on happens sooner rather than later.

Or another way of reading this is that Torre has had enough of the McCourt circus. While Torre's stellar reputation and 14-consecutive-playoff appearances will not be besmudged by any of the litigation and media antics involving the McCourts' very public divorce, one could also see Torre just realizing that the mayhem--which likely contributed to the Dodgers' lack of major financial or player acquisition moves this winter--isn't worth sticking around to watch, especially when a lifetime supply of calming Bigelow Green Tea awaits.

If this latter conspiracy theory is indeed the case, though, it's a sad commentary on the tailspin that all Dodger fans are trying not to see, but have catalyzed sick feelings in their stomachs nonetheless. McCourt could do a lot to emphasize a foundation of stability, amidst a swirling tornado of gossip and hearsay, by signing Torre up for another year after 2010. We could use the stability. We could use another lefty bat and a decent (read: non-garage-sale) starter, as well.