Torre's managerial career may not be finished
Well-established skipper may find numerous attractive openings
Joe Torre has had enough of managing the Los Angeles Dodgers, but has he had enough of managing?
The Dodgers announced Friday that Torre will step aside as Dodgers manager and his hitting coach and protégé, Don Mattingly, will manage the club in 2011. That ends Torre's three-year tenure in Los Angeles, but will it end his managerial career?
Torre is 70 years old, but there could be numerous managerial openings after this season -- and his record of success will make him an attractive candidate, regardless of age.
This season has been disappointing for both the Dodgers and Torre, but the lack of success is atypical for him. Prior to this year, he had guided 14 straight teams to the postseason -- 12 with the Yankees and two with the Dodgers. Over those 14 seasons, Torre had a .597 winning percentage and four of his Yankee teams won World Series championships.
The Dodgers, who had not won a postseason series since 1988, twice advanced to the National League Championship Series under Torre's leadership, sweeping Division Series in 2008 and '09. Torre's success with the Dodgers undercut the arguments of the naysayers who suggested that he could only be successful with the Yankees, baseball's richest franchise.
Torre has more postseason victories than any other manager in Major League history and ranks fifth among managers on the all-time list of regular season victories.
It is probably unfair to judge Torre on the basis of the 2010 season. The future of the Dodgers franchise, the issue of franchise ownership itself, is awaiting the outcome of the McCourt divorce case. This is not a situation conducive for the organization, or anyone in the organization, to be producing at peak capacity.
There has already been considerable speculation that Torre might be interested in managing elsewhere, but he has typically refused to engage in that speculation. But there is no question that if he wants to continue managing. he would be a prime candidate for another job.
Torre's strengths as a manager would work well in any franchise. At this late date, he probably isn't going to want to undertake a full-scale rebuilding job, but any franchise that would hire him would send a signal that it is serious about winning immediately.
Torre has the ability to relate on human terms with a wide variety of players. He treats his players as men and the quality of compassion is genuine with him, but he is no pushover. His record says that he knows what it takes to win, and he has successfully managed both veteran and young talent.
He also is as good as any manager in the game at dealing with the media. This doesn't spring from any kind of Machiavellian framework as media manipulation. Torre enjoys the give and take with the media and his patience and dignity don't wear thin. For good or ill, an increasing amount of a manager's time is spent presenting his club to the public through the media, and Torre absolutely excels in this part of the job.
If the Mets' managing job becomes open, a Torre return to New York could be seen as something of a coup. The Mets' situation may be more promising for 2012 than for '11, but Torre has proven himself to be an ideal big-market manager.
The Chicago Cubs? Mike Quade is doing well in his managerial audition, but if the Cubs chose to go with an established manager, Torre is the exact definition of an established manager.
There will be other managerial openings, openings with clubs that have not won recently but have the potential to win. If Torre is on the open market, it is difficult to see any team dismissing his candidacy out of hand.
If Torre decides that this is not only retirement from managing the Dodgers, but retirement from managing, that's fine. He's had a Hall of Fame managing career and he can walk away with his head held high.
But if Torre decides that he still wants to manage, there should be another opportunity for a man whose managerial record speaks not only of success, but of success achieved with class.
Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.