5 Teams That Could Coax Joe Torre out of Retirement If WBC Gig Inspires Him
Joe Torre is going to put on his managerial hat again in the near future. When he does, the fate of United States will hinge on his every move.
My bad. That's supposed to say United State baseball team.
As reported by the Associated Press, it was announced this week that Torre will be managing the USA squad in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
"I have been fortunate to have many different experiences throughout my career, but being a part of Team USA will be a first, and I am very excited about it," said the former New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers skipper.
Torre hasn't managed since 2010, so it will be cool to see him in a dugout once again when the WBC gets underway. And since he managed in New York for over a decade, he won't be overwhelmed by the pressure. In fact, he'll probably enjoy himself.
So here's an interesting possibility: What if Torre enjoys managing Team USA so much that he actually feels inspired to go back to managing in the big leagues? What if he gets the bug?
I'd put the odds of him actually getting the bug right around 100-1, mind you, but there's no harm in entertaining hypotheticals.
If Torre does get the bug, here are five MLB teams that could be interested in hiring him.
San Diego Padres
When the San Diego Padres hired Bud Black before the 2007 season, it was widely agreed that they had made a great hire. Black was coming from a winning organization in the Los Angeles Angels, and he came with a reputation of being a shrewd baseball man.
This is the sixth season of the Bud Black experiment, and things aren't going so well. The Padres are on pace to lose 100 games, which would make it six straight losing seasons for Black in San Diego.
It's not Black's fault, of course. He's never had an excess of talent on his Padres rosters, and there's only so much a manager can do without talent.
The talent is coming, though. The Padres have one of the deepest farm systems in baseball, and they have some good young players on their roster who have the potential to develop into solid major leaguers. A year or two down the road, the Padres are going to be a good team.
It's a longshot, but imagine a scenario in which the Padres have the talent to win the NL West, but fail to do so under Black. That's when the Padres would have every excuse to stop giving him the benefit of the doubt and decide to part ways with him, which wouldn't be hard to do given the fact he's only signed through 2013 with options for 2014 and 2015. If they were to do that, they'd surely look to replace him with a more experienced manager.
Somebody like Joe Torre, for example.
For Torre, the appeal in managing the Padres would be twofold. It would be a chance to manage a young, talented ballclub in a very low-pressure environment, which would be a nice change of pace for him. It would also be a chance to live and work in San Diego.
And let's face it, all of us want to live and work in San Diego. I assume Torre is no different.
This is a make or break year for Dusty Baker in Cincinnati. His Reds are very talented, and both the organization and the fans have high hopes for this team. Making the postseason would be good, but winning at least one postseason series would be better.
So far, Dusty is on the right track. The Reds are in first place in the NL Central, and they've got a good mix of pitching and hitting that will play well in the postseason (assuming the Reds make it that far).
If Dusty fails to deliver, however, the Reds could easily cast him aside. He's only signed through the end of the 2012 season, and there won't be much incentive for the organization to re-up with him if it feels that the team underachieved under his watch.
If so, Torre would be an excellent replacement. The Yankees were a talented young team with championship potential when he took over in 1996, and he'd be walking into more or less the same situation in Cincinnati.
Managing in Cincinnati would obviously come with more pressure than managing in San Diego, but it would still be a far cry from managing in New York or Los Angeles. Torre would thus have a chance to chase a fifth World Series title with a talented team without having to deal with the constant needling from the media.
If anything, Reds fans would be harder on Torre than the media. They are a passionate bunch (not a dis).
When Torre took over the Yankees in '96, he was taking over a team that had been prepared for him by Buck Showalter. He came in, whipped the Yankees into shape, but was fired after the Yankees were bounced out of the postseason in 1995.
This has become the story of Showalter's career. He comes in and fixes teams up, and then he is replaced by somebody who can take his teams the rest of the way. It happened with the Yankees, then it happened with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Texas Rangers. It will happen with the Orioles too.
Showalter is signed through 2013, and my guess is that he'll manage in Baltimore right up until the end of his contract. The future immediately after the 2013 season will be bright, as the Orioles have some good young players in their farm system who should be ready for The Show right around 2014.
The O's are good enough to contend for a postseason berth this year, but we haven't seen anything yet. Just wait until Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman and Manny Machado are ready.
If (okay fine, when) the O's decide to part ways with Showalter, Torre is a guy who could be on their radar because of what he did with the Yankees in the 1990s and because he has a track record of winning in the AL East.
Going back and managing in the AL East is something that could pique Torre's interest, as it would give him a chance to stick it to the Yankees, who didn't treat him with a whole lot of kindness towards the end of his tenure.
Boston Red Sox
This would be even more interesting.
...And I fully realize it sounds ridiculous, so you're going to have to hear me out on this one.
For all the nonsense he's had to put up with since getting the job, Bobby Valentine has done a pretty good job as the manager of the Red Sox. He hasn't had a healthy squad all season and he's had to deal with underperforming pitchers and hitters, yet the Red Sox are hanging in there in a very tough AL East.
However, the Red Sox only signed Bobby V to a two-year deal, and there's at least an outside chance that he won't make it to the end of the 2013 season. If the Red Sox struggle and the fans get restless, Valentine is a guy who could be easily fired.
Whether they fire Valentine or just decline to extend him, the Red Sox will want their next manager to be a guy who can both calm the storm and keep the team's talented and high-priced house in order.
These are things that Torre does better than anyone. And if he really, really, really wanted to stick it to the Yankees, what better way to do that than by joining the enemy?
It's the longest of longshots, but I'll be damned if it wouldn't be an awesome story.
Los Angeles Angels
Okay, back to reality. If there's a team for Torre out there, it's the Angels.
Yeah, yeah. I know. They have Mike Scioscia, who has been there ever since 2000. He's also under contract through the 2018 season, which is a long time compared to most manager contracts.
But let's not kid ourselves. Scioscia doesn't have as much control over the Angels as he used to. The organization made that clear when it fired hitting coach Mickey Hatcher in May. Scioscia didn't like it, but it's fair to say that the Angels made the right call. They've played great baseball since Hatcher's firing.
Hatcher wasn't the right man for the Angels' current roster, which is a true American League lineup as opposed to the NL-style lineups that were so great for the Angels for so many years. Scioscia himself is an NL-style manager, meaning he's quickly becoming a bad fit for an Angels team that is becoming more and more like the Red Sox and Yankees every year.
Make no mistake about it, Scioscia doesn't have nearly as much job security as he used to. If the Angels think there's a better manager out there for them, they'll cut ties with Scioscia and go and find that better manager.
Torre would be perfect. He's managed in Southern California before, and he knows how to handle a high-priced roster loaded with superstars.
The interest would be mutual. Because, honestly, who wouldn't want to manage a roster that features guys like Albert Pujols, Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo, Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson?
If Torre were to manage the Angels, he'd have a very good shot at at least one more ring.
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