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If NY loses, will Torre be back?

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Joe Torre
How close is Joe Torre to taking his final bow in New York?

The contracts of Yankees manager Joe Torre and general manager Brian Cashman expire in less than six weeks, and there are rumblings throughout the entire organization that if they don't win another World Series -- much less get out of the American League playoffs -- George Steinbrenner might make drastic changes. Whether he'd actually replace Torre with Buck Showalter, as speculated, remains to be seen. But as one of the only team owners anticipating a major boost in revenues because of his new cable network, Steinbrenner likely will make a major leap into the free-agent market, which features the likes of Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, Moises Alou, Juan Gonzalez, Johnny Damon and John Smoltz.

  • Despite obvious economic-disparity issues, there is a growing sentiment to roll the current labor agreement over for a year. But some owners still would like to see a couple of teams -- such as the Devil Rays and Twins -- bought out and the Expos moved to Tampa Bay. This would mean that Thursday's game could be the Expos' last in Montreal. But while owners may want contraction, the odds are still long against it.

  • John Schuerholz sat down with John Smoltz this week and made it clear that the Braves want to re-sign their prospective free-agent pitcher, and also may want to keep Smoltz in his present role of closer. This will be a winter of major decisions for Atlanta; Javy Lopez and Steve Karsay are also free agents, and long-term decisions need to be made on Andruw Jones and Kevin Millwood (both are at the end of their contracts, are a year from free agency and are represented by Scott Boras).

  • Speaking of Boras, remember Matt Harrington, the California high school pitcher who was the darling of the 2000 draft? Harrington turned down $4 million from the Rockies, ended up with a 9.56 ERA and 0-2 record in the Northern League, arm troubles and a minimal contract offer from San Diego after this June's draft. He fired his agent and hired Boras.

  • Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty has known manager Tony La Russa since they were together in the minors in the 1970s. Jocketty insists that getting the Cardinals back into the NL Central race this season is the best managing job of La Russa's very successful career.

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  • Gammons: Steinbrenner reportedly in second-guessing mode

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