I'll start at the end and work backward from there - bottom line, Joe Torre should return as Yankee manager should he want to come back.
Has he hasn't been perfect - which MLB manager has? I do think he mismanaged the pitching rotation down the stretch and into the playoffs. And I question some of his substitutions and non-substitutions. Maybe some managers would have handled things differently I don't know.
What I do know is that when you take into consideration the numbers that have been compiled over his tenure, that the players are fiercely loyal to him, his handling of the media, his ability to work with Yankee management and how he deals with The Boss - is there anyone out there that would be an upgrade?
My biggest knock on him has been the lack of intensity the team seems to display either at the outset of the playoffs (leading to quick exits) or during periods of the regular season. I am now of the mind that my anger has been misplaced. Torre is still the same game as he was during the 1996 to 2001 stretch (the Torre calm, treat players with respect, shield them from the nonsense of the media etc.). The difference is the players. He had guys like David Cone, Joe Girardi, Tino, and Paul O'Neil that would get the team fired up when the situation called for it. And while there are traces of those kinds of players emerging (Duncan and Joba for example), it is still not a strong enough clubhouse force like a Cone or O'Neil - not even close. And that should fall on the GM, maybe the captain, not just the manager.
It's the players stupid! They didn't step it up. It wasn't managers or coaches.
As far as possible replacements, the media has speculated on Ton La Russa (who would be a disaster), Don Mattingly (who is trying to distance himself from consideration), and Joe Girardi (I wouldn't mind him). I for one would like to see Tony Pena given a shot at a possible replacement if it really does happen.
Anyway, the reality of the situation is we won't know for sure what the deal is until next week. My feeling is he's not coming back - I think he has earned another season though.
Torre snapshot with the Yankees:
12 seasons - .604 winning pct
12 post-season appearances
10 Division Crowns
6 AL Penns
4 WS Championships