Where are Yankees going?

BOB ELLIOTT -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:03 AM ET

Never mind that Tampa Bay is home to the last-place team in the American League East for nine of the Devil Rays' 10 seasons.

Tampa remains the division's off-season seat of power, home of the New York Yankees ... like President George Bush's western White House in Crawford, Tex., or President Ronald Reagan's Santa Barbara, Calif., home where decisions are made.

A decision on the future of manager Joe Torre was not made yesterday. Does the longer this goes on not indicate he will return?

As Yankees brass meets again today to try to decide on Torre and 101 weighty decisions, it is reasonable to ask will the AL East balance shift?

Not likely.

In 2008, it probably will be same old, same old for the Yankees.

The Yanks, who had a team payroll of $189 million US next season, won't show up with, say, a $54-million payroll like the Colorado Rockies have this season.

The Blue Jays will still have the Yankees to complain about no matter who is at the helm in the Bronx.

George Steinbrenner, 77, has health problems, which never have been explained by the family of the Yankees.

He attended only two games at Yankee Stadium this season.

His sons, Hank, 50, and Hal, 38, are in charge, which makes this meeting all the more unpredictable.

In a rare Steinbrenner interview, the outgoing boss said on Oct. 6 that Torre had to win the AL division series against Cleveland or he'd be fired.

Since then, the Yanks lost as fans chanted Torre's name in a show of support.

Andy Pettitte has a $16-million option but could opt-out and pitching being what it is would easily gain a multi-year deal. He's a Torre loyalist and could go if Torre is not retained.

Also on the agenda are what to do with Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and Bobby Abreu. Posada and Rivera have said they remain loyal to Torre. Loyal enough to ignore Yankee offers to go elsewhere if a new manager is named? We doubt it.

The other problem is who replaces Torre. One day Yankee coach Don Mattingly says he does not want the job, the next his agent says that he does.

These were matters which possibly had not occurred to Hank Steinbrenner when asked about Torre's future when he told the New York Post "nothing lasts forever."

One theory is that the Yanks could bring Torre back by asking him to take a cut from the $7 million to an amount where he still remains the highest-paid manager.

Rodriguez is meeting with agent Scott Boras and no doubt A-Rod will opt-out into a better bargaining position.

Then, do the Yanks dive into the free-agent pool to re-sign him, as he could earn as mush as $30 million a season according to some executives, battling the Angels and the Cubs.

The Yanks likely will exercise their $16-million option on Abreu for 2007.

Off the books for next season is the $14 million the Yanks paid Roger Clemens to make 18 starts.

It's becoming routine that the organizational meetings are staged before the World Series. The Yanks have not won since 2000, have not reached the Series since 2001.

Steinbrenner named his son-in-law, Steve Swindal, as his successor in 2005. But Swindal and Steinbrenner's daughter, Jennifer, divorced and Swindal is now out of the organization.

Now, the sign on the Yankee letterhead should read: "Owned by Steinbrenner and Sons."


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