This has been expected but now it will become official — Joe Torre is walking away from the Dodgers at the end of the season. The slightly bigger surprise is that another Yankee legend — Don Mattingly — is taking his place.
Torre released the following statement Friday afternoon: "It has been an incredible honor to wear the Dodger uniform, and I will always carry with me some very special memories from the past three seasons. This was not a decision I took lightly, but I believe it's the right one for myself and my family, and I'm truly thrilled that Donnie will be the one leading the Dodgers. It's time that the Dodgers had a new voice, and I have the utmost confidence in him. I know he's ready for the challenge."
Multiple sources are reporting that an announcement that the change will come at the end of the season will be made Friday night at Dodger Stadium before the team’s game against Colorado.
While the Torre announcement isn’t a surprise, the timing with 15 games left is a little odd. However, this will end the speculation about what is next for the Dodgers on the field.
Mattingly, the Dodgers hitting coach, had been considered a leading candidate to replace Torre heading into this season, but as this season spiraled out of control a lot of chatter about Dodgers AAA manager Tim Wallach taking over the team came up. Wallach meant making a clean break from a season everyone wanted to forget. Plus Mattingly has filled in for Torre and made mistakes. But apparently he is the man.
"The opportunity to manage the Los Angeles Dodgers is truly an honor," Mattingly said in a statement. "There are few organizations in the world with the history, tradition and track record of success as the Dodgers. I'm looking forward to continuing what I came here to accomplish with Joe, and that's to win a world championship."
Torre had success as a Dodgers manager — the Dodgers went to the playoffs and got farther in them than they had in two decades under his guidance the two previous seasons. He has a 471-251 record in LA after three seasons. It looks impressive as long as you don’t line it up next to his run as Yankees manager (12 years with four World Series titles).
This season has been a step back for the Dodgers, who are currently fourth in the National League West. But that has little if anything to do with Torre and more to do with regressions by young players and the handcuffs on the front office that did not allow them to go get name free agent replacements.
What’s next for Torre is a more interesting question.
Already Chicago Cubs and New York Mets fans want their teams to go after him. Torre has options. But he may decide the best option is retirement.